La rivière Ste-Croix

En 1993, la rivière Ste-Croix devient la première Rivière du patrimoine canadien. Ce programme est une initiative fédérale et provinciale établie en 1985 et compte aujourd'hui 26 rivières.

lee1.jpg (12902 bytes)
(photo: St. Croix International Waterway Commission)

Au cours du dernier millénaire, ses eaux ont servi aux canots, aux vaisseaux, ont transporté des billots et ont nourri moulins et turbines. Les activités que cette rivière a rendu réalisables a conduit le commerce local vers la prospérité.

Afin de préserver le patrimoine de cette voie navigable qui sépare le Canada des États-Unis, plusieurs solutions innovatrices ont été mises de l'avant, telles : la planification de la gestion, l'appréciation du patrimoine, la gestion des rives, la restauration de la vie aquatique, le développement urbain et, enfin, la conservation d'aires naturelles.

L'implantation de la gestion à long terme de la rivière Ste-Croix est à base de bénévolat.

















from readers,
on this article /
des lecteurs
concernant le
présent article

A Water Heritage:
The St. Croix River System


Lee Sochasky
St. Croix International Waterway Commission
April 4, 1998


i.gif (173 bytes)n 1993, the St. Croix became the first Canadian Heritage River in Atlantic Canada. This designation placed it among an elite number of other waterways across the country that have been recognized formally for their outstanding role in our nation’s natural, cultural and recreational heritage.

The Canadian Heritage River System was established as a federal/provincial initiative in 1985 and now includes 26 rivers. The St. Croix has set precedent among these rivers in its designation and in the management initiatives that have been taken to preserve its heritage values.

Its recognition is well-deserved.

The St. Croix is a landmark in a region forged by volcanic and glacial action and continental drift. The watershed contains the greatest concentration of lakes in the province, countless eskers and boulder erratics, and a massive, active underground fault running the length of its 18km estuary.

lee03.jpg (21937 bytes)
(photo: St. Croix International Waterway Commission)

Forest and water mark 45 miles of
undeveloped St.Croix corridor

For millennia its waters drove the canoes, logs, ships, mills and turbines that guided local commerce to a prosperity that yielded to other regional centers only in the last century. The rail station of McAdam, landmarks built in St. Stephen and heritage buildings of St. Andrews echo this past. The same resources and locational assets that settled the St. Croix area still remain as the cornerstones of the local economy.

However it was an event on June 26, 1604 that affected the St. Croix more than any of these. On that day Sieur de Mons and his shipmates (including Samuel de Champlain) stepped ashore on an island in the middle of the St. Croix estuary to found the capital of the new colony of Acadia. This simple settlement not only marked the beginning of a continuing French cultural heritage in North America but also irrevocably altered the future of the St. Croix - marking it as the future dividing line between neighbouring colonies and, later, the United States and Canada.

lee02.jpg (18999 bytes)
(photo: St. Croix International Waterway Commission)

The beginning of Acadian history at St.Croix Island,
in the background, right

An international boundary now divides the length of the St. Croix system from source to sea. Although largely ignored until the early part of this century, the border raises difficulties in appreciating and preserving an exceptional waterway heritage. This has led to creative solutions, including these:

Management planning. Through a consensus process, New Brunswick and Maine developed a policy-and-action ‘blueprint’ for future management of the St. Croix boundary corridor. This is implemented with facilitation from a small, locally-based commission established by the two governments. Under this plan, common goals are achieved using often different means in the two jurisdictions.

Heritage appreciation. Local residents, working with agency representatives, have formed an international committee to coordinate delivery of the 400th anniversary celebrations for the St. Croix Island settlement. The island itself is the first US/Canada international historic site, with national park services on both sides collaborating on its interpretation.

Shoreland management. New Brunswick has made creative use of existing legislation to adopt, for the length of the St. Croix, a near "mirror image" of shore development standards in place on the Maine side of the waterway. Together these protect water quality, shoreline habitat and a locally-desired rural setting.

lee01.jpg (15279 bytes)
(photo: St. Croix International Waterway Commission)

Rebuilding a native salmon run


Fisheries restoration
. Partnerships between local interests and agencies have been formed on both sides of the estuary to tackle bacterial pollution problems that have kept the St. Croix’s extensive soft-shell clam beds closed for nearly 50 years. Similar partnerships are at work to restore the St. Croix’s native Atlantic salmon run to the river and a major smallmouth bass fishery in one of the largest boundary lakes.

Urban development. The twin communities of St. Stephen (NB) and Calais (ME) hired the same consultant to produce redevelopment plans emphasizing the heritage, open space and public use opportunities of their facing waterfronts. These distinct but complementary plans will have social and environmental benefits for the waterway.

Natural area conservation. Agencies, land trusts and residents have combined efforts to preserve the natural shorelands and recreational traditions of a 45-mile ‘backcountry’ section of the St. Croix. This major initiative will help to maintain an outstanding outdoor heritage for future generations of people -- and wildlife.

Implementation of the St. Croix’s longterm management plan is entirely voluntary. These examples show that governments and residents can find creative ways to preserve and appreciate a shared heritage, when committed to do so. This, in itself, has become part of the St. Croix legacy.