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Canadian Wetlands: Places and People
 9781783201761, 1783201762

Table of contents :
Cover
Half-title
Title
Copyright
Dedication
Contents
Acknowledgements
Preface
Chapter 1: Canadian wetlands culture: Past and present
Notes
Chapter 2: Wetlands in anglophone pioneer settler literature and nature writing of the Canadian canon
Notes
Chapter 3: ‘In the Acadian land’ of Evangeline: The marshlands of Grand Pré, the wetlands of the Bay of Fundy and Longfellow’s literary legacy
Acadian Grand Pré
Longfellow’s Evangeline
Present pressures and future prospects
Chapter 4: ‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead
Charles G. D. Roberts
Douglas Lochhead
Present pressures and future prospects
Notes
Chapter 5: ‘Noisome marsh’ and ‘incurable marshes’: Wainfleet Bog, Point Pelee Marshes and the falls on the Niagara Peninsula
Note
Chapter 6: ‘A swampy flat’: Vancouver and the wetlands of the Fraser River delta
Chapter 7: A city ‘set in malarial lakeside swamps’: Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh
Marshy and military beginnings
Sublime city in a swampy wilderness and in a melancholy marsh
Disease and health
Waterbird habitat and uncanny place
Marshlands as liminal space
Mourning and reclamation
Mapping the marsh and the metropolis
Chapter 8: ‘Land and water disputed empire’: Holland Marsh, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau
Note
Chapter 9: ‘Quaking morass’: The marshes of Manitoba, Frederick Philip Grove and Aldo Leopold
Chapter 10: ‘Smelling the Old Marsh, I knew I was home’: Harry Thurston’s marshes of Nova Scotia and the future of Canadian wetlands culture
References
Index
BackCover

Citation preview

Giblett

“One can’t help but reflect that this book is an important piece of Canadian cultural history, an exploration of environmental historical geography and a superb contribution to an interdisciplinary literature in Canadian Studies.” Robert Summerby-Murray, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, Dalhousie University

Gregory Kennedy, Université de Moncton, author of Something of a Peasant Paradise? Comparing Rural Societies in Acadie and the Loudunais, 1604-1755.

In Canadian Wetlands, Rod Giblett reads the Canadian canon against the grain, critiquing popular representations of wetlands and proposing alternatives by highlighting the work of recent and contemporary Canadian authors, such as Douglas Lochhead and Harry Thurston, and by entering into dialogue with American writers. The book will engender mutual respect between researchers for the contribution that different disciplinary approaches can and do make to the study and conservation of wetlands internationally. Rod Giblett is associate professor in the School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. He is the author of many books on wetlands, culture, history and ecology, including most recently Black Swan Lake: Life of a Wetland published by Intellect Books in 2013. This book is about Forrestdale Lake, the internationally important wetland next to which he lives in Western Australia. Rod is also secretary of the Friends of Forrestdale, a local wetland and bushland conservation group.

Canadian Wetlands

“Ambitious in scope and compelling in vision, this book promotes a national and indeed a universal view of humans living in mutually beneficial reciprocity with nature and each other. I challenge anyone not to be moved by the author’s impassioned plea for a symbiotic relationship with a living earth.”

Canadian Wetlands Places and People

Rod Giblett intellect | www.intellectbooks.com

Canadian Ramsar Sites Arctic Dewey Soper Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Northwest Territories McConnell River, Northwest Territories Polar Bear Pass, Northwest Territories Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Northwest Territories Rasmussen Lowlands, Northwest Territories Subarctic Old Crow Flats, Yukon Territory Polar Bear Provincial Park, Ontario Southern James Bay, Ontario Boreal Chignecto, Nova Scotia Grand Codroy Estuary, Newfoundland Hay-Zama Lakes, Alberta Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island Mary’s Point, New Brunswick Matchedash Bay Provincial Wildlife Area, Ontario Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia Peace-Athabasca Delta, Alberta Shepody Bay, New Brunswick Southern Blight-Minas Basin, Nova Scotia Tabusintac Lagoon and River Estuary, New Brunswick Whooping Crane Summer Range, Alberta and Northwest Territories Prairie Beaverhill Lake, Alberta Delta Marsh, Manitoba Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba Quill Lakes, Saskatchewan Temperate Baie de I’Isle-Verte, Quebec Cap Tourmente, Quebec Lac Saint-Francois, Quebec Long Point, Ontario Mer Bleue Conservation Area, Ontario Minesing Swamp, Ontario Point Pelee, Ontario St. Clair National Wildlife Area, Ontario Mountain Alaksen, British Columbia Creston Valley, British Columbia Oceanic There are no Ramsar sites within the oceanic wetland region.

Canadian Wetlands

Cultural Studies of Natures, Landscapes and Environments Series Editors: Rod Giblett, Warwick Mules and Emily Potter Coming out of cultural studies, this series examines nature as the largely forgotten other of culture. It also considers landscapes and the environment, as well as the political, economic, semiotic, philosophical and psychological dimensions of all three terms. Firmly placed in the tradition of cultural studies of nature and landscape begun by Raymond Williams and continued by Alexander Wilson and others, it will publish interdisciplinary work that draws on established approaches within cultural studies, as well as developing new ones. It will make a unique and vital contribution not only to academic enquiry but also to new ways of thinking, being and living with the earth. The series will be of interest to a wide range of theorists and practitioners who are seeking directions out of, and solutions to, our current environmental and cultural malaise. Published previously: Rod Giblett, People and Places of Nature and Culture, and Black Swan Lake: Life of a Wetland Warwick Mules, With Nature: Nature Philosophy as Poetics through Schelling, Heidegger, Benjamin and Nancy

4HE4RUSTUS0LAYS Why WeWetlands: Make Art Canadian at why it is taught Places and People

byRichard Rod Giblett by Hickman

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First published in the UK in 2014 by Intellect, The Mill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 3JG, UK First published in the USA in 2014 by Intellect, The University of Chicago Press, 1427 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA Copyright © 2014 Intellect Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Cover designer: Holly Rose Inside front cover: Contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence - Canada Copy-editor: MPS Typesetting: John Teehan ISBN 978-1-78320-176-1 ePDF ISBN 978-1-78320-251-5 ePub ISBN 978-1-78320-252-2 Printed and bound by Short Run Press, UK

Dedicated to Matthew Hatvany

v

MARSHLANDS A thin wet sky, that yellows at the rim, And meets with sun-lost lip the marsh’s brim.

The pools low lying, dank with moss and mould, Glint through their mildews like large cups of gold.



Among the wild rice in the still lagoon, In monotone the lizard shrills his tune.



The wild goose, homing, seeks a sheltering, Where rushes grow, and oozing lichens cling.



Late cranes with heavy wing, and lazy flight, Sail up the silence with the nearing night.



And like a spirit, swathed in some soft veil, Steals twilight and its shadows o’er the swale.



Hushed lie the sedges, and the vapours creep, Thick, grey and humid, while the marshes sleep. – E. Pauline Johnson (1861–1913)

vii

Contents Acknowledgements xi Preface

1

Chapter 1:

Canadian wetlands culture: Past and present

7

Chapter 2:

Wetlands in anglophone pioneer settler literature and nature writing of the Canadian canon 27

Chapter 3:

‘In the Acadian land’ of Evangeline: The marshlands of Grand Pr�, the wetlands of the Bay of Fundy and Longfellow’s literary legacy 47

Chapter 4:

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead 71

Chapter 5:

‘Noisome marsh’ and ‘incurable marshes’: Wainfleet Bog, Point Pelee Marshes and the falls on the Niagara Peninsula 95

Chapter 6:

‘A swampy flat’: Vancouver and the wetlands of the Fraser River delta 113

Chapter 7:

A city ‘set in malarial lakeside swamps’: Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh 133

Chapter 8:

‘Land and water disputed empire’: Holland Marsh, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau 153

Chapter 9:

‘Quaking morass’: The marshes of Manitoba, Frederick Philip Grove and Aldo Leopold 173

Chapter 10: ‘Smelling the Old Marsh, I knew I was home’: Harry Thurston’s marshes of Nova Scotia and the future of Canadian wetlands culture 193

References

211

Index

233

Acknowledgements I am grateful for the assistance of the government and taxpayers of Canada for giving me an ‘Understanding Canada’ grant that funded my airfare and some of my accommodation for my trip to Canada from July to October 2011. This funding and support enabled me to visit all the wetlands mentioned in the book, to undertake embodied and emplaced research in and about them, to see and experience them in the flesh, to appreciate their conservation and aesthetic values and to talk about them to knowledgeable local residents and outside experts. Many people helped with the research for, and writing of, this book. Without them it would not have been possible. Canada is an immense country, bigger than Australia. I often remarked to Australian and Canadian friends that the reason why there has been no book published to date about the cultural and historical aspects of Canadian wetlands is that no Canadian was mad or silly enough to undertake such a mammoth task and write such a book. Only a mad or silly Australian would try to do it. In order to do so I needed to learn a lot about Canada and typically I was on a steep learning curve. Many Canadians helped with this process and all of them were immensely helpful and patient, though occasionally bemused by my naivety in undertaking such a huge project with so little background in Canadian culture, literature, history and geography. Naturally and culturally I take full responsibility for what follows and apologize in advance to all Canadians for any faux pas or embarrassing gaffes I have made. In trying to help me correct and avoid faux pas or embarrassing gaffes I made at the manuscript stage, and for providing comment, input and feedback, I am grateful to Matthew Hatvany for organizing and participating in a roundtable discussion with Salvatore Ciracono, Gregory Kennedy and Robert Summerby-Murrary at the 5ème Colloque international du Groupe d’Histoire des Zones Humides (5th International Conference of the Wetlands History Group) held at Université Laval in Quebec from 26–29 August 2013. All five provided valuable and helpful comments, feedback and suggestions for which I am immensely grateful, as I am for those made by anonymous publisher’s reviewers. These have made for an immeasurably better book. I am responsible for any problems that they pointed out which persist. In various provinces across Canada and in Australia I received a lot of individual help and assistance for which I am deeply grateful. xi

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

Western Australia Jonathan Mustard for initial research into the literature on Canadian wetlands. CREATEC for funding research assistance under RIBG. ECU for granting me 6 months’ Study Leave, three of which were spent touring Canada and conducting field work at selected wetlands, undertaking archival research, and three spent writing this book. Professor Jon Stratton for writing a reference in support of my application for the ‘Understanding Canada’ grant. Anusha Beechowa for translating Andrew Gann’s chapter on Antonine Maillet’s work from French into English and David Elder for arranging for Anusha to do the translation. British Columbia Thelma Poburko for her hospitality in Vancouver. Jan Kirkby, Andrea Tanaka and Kathleen Moore of the Pacific Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada in the Alaksen National Wildlife Sanctuary for discussions, references and a guided tour. Margaret North, formerly of the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, for her helpful comments and suggestions regarding the Fraser River wetlands. Catherine McPherson and Lea Edgar of the Delta Archives for references, materials and information regarding the wetlands of the Fraser River delta. Matthew Evenden of University of British Columbia for giving suggestions for further research and reading. Derek Hayes for a copy of George Reifel’s map, the reference to a letter by Colonel Moody and Ireland’s article about it. Sandra Wooltorton for alerting me to Nancy Turner’s The Earth’s Blanket. Karl Neuenfeldt who in 1991 gave me a copy of Peggy Ward’s two reports about the wetlands of the Fraser Lowland. For nearly 20 years they sat in a folder marked ‘Canadian wetlands’ until I finally read them and they proved invaluable. They are now in a folder marked ‘BC wetlands’. Manitoba Cliff Yerex for his hospitality in Winnipeg, for his boat and car, and for waterborne and carborne tours of Manitoban wetlands. Bryan Oborne of the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Trust for a brilliant itinerary that enabled me to visit many Manitoban wetlands and make contact with key people at important wetlands, including: a guided boat tour of Netley-Libau Marsh with Richard Grosshans, a guided tour of Big Grass Marsh with Arnold Coutts, a guided tour of southern Manitoban wetlands with Bill Paton of Brandon University and a guided tour of Prairie pothole country and farms with Wes Pankratz of MHHT. John Selwood of the University of Winnipeg for setting up the contact with Bryan. Michele Kading, head of interpretation at Oak Hammock Marsh for a guided xii

Acknowledgements

tour and discussion of the marsh and the interpretation centre. Shannon Stunden Bower, author of Wet Prairie: People, Land and Water in Agricultural Manitoba, for discussions about the wet prairie in Manitoba. Ontario Ted and Jean Minhinnick for their hospitality at their homely and rustic cottage by peaceful and secluded Britain Lake over the Labour Day weekend in 2011 and then at their home in London, and Laura Weaver for setting up the contact. David Bentley of the University of Western Ontario for advice, references and materials regarding Charles G. D. Roberts and for meeting with Alan MacEachern (also of UWO) and me for a discussion over coffee about Canadian wetlands. Alan, also, for running the Network of Canadian Environmental Historians (NICHE) and putting me in contact with many people in these acknowledgements, beginning crucially with Matthew Hatvany and Andrea Wilson. Andrea Wilson then of Balls Falls Conservation Area and now Curator at Fort Erie Museum Services for tips on many texts to read, especially the canonical ones, and advice on contacts to make. Rachel Thorndyke and Tammy Dobbie of Parks Canada for providing materials and a guided boat tour of the marshes of Point Pelee National Park. Kim Frohlich of the Niagara Peninsula Nature Conservation Authority for a guided tour of, and references and materials regarding, Wainfleet Bog. Jody Berland and Cate Mortimer-Sandilands for invitations to give a lecture and lead a seminar at York University on ecocultural studies and for publishing the chapter on Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh and Toronto in Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies (2013) 29, 113–132. Jennifer Bonnell of Toronto University for access to her PhD thesis on the Don River, especially the chapter on Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh, and meeting me for a discussion over coffee in Toronto with Gene Desfor of York University. Gene for generously giving me a copy of his and Jennifer Laidley’s edited collection Reshaping Toronto’s Waterfront (University of Toronto Press, 2011). Quebec Matthew and Sheryl Hatvany for their hospitality in Quebec City and to Matt for his reference in support of my application for an ‘Understanding Canada’ grant from the Canadian government, for a guided tour of St Lawrence marshes on both the north and south sides of the river, for passing on many useful references to me. The dedication of this book to him is a token expression of my gratitude to him for his generosity in all these aspects. Of course, he bears no responsibility for the result. I am also grateful to Matt for his various emails cited in the present book and for his translation of the epigraph and first couple of sentences in the conclusion of the French version of his study of Kamouraska. xiii

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

New Brunswick Robert and Susan Summerby-Murray for their hospitality in their stunningly located house in Westcock overlooking the Bay of Fundy, its tidal mudflats and the Tantramar Marshes, and Rob for guided tours of these areas. Vanessa Bass of Sackville for a long conversation about the threats to, and opportunities for, Tantramar Marshes, for reading and correcting the chapter on them and for passing on, and for permission to quote, Douglas Lochhead’s letter expressing his concern about the impact of ‘windmills’ on the marshes. Al Hanson of the Atlantic Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada in the Sackville Waterfowl Park for a discussion and for references to the usual suspects, but also to a new one for me, Franklin Russell’s Watchers at the Pond. Nova Scotia Ed and Mary Ann Sulis for their hospitality in Kentville and Ed’s guided tour of the Grand Pré dykes and marshlands. Brian Bartlett for providing helpful references on the work of Harry Thurston and for making contact for me with Lisa Szabo-Jones and to her for providing the link to her interview with Harry Thurston.

xiv

Preface

I

n the beginning there was the sky above, and the earth and water below. In the middle was the wetland. The earth and the water were without form and were chaotic. Darkness and light moved over the face and body of the earth and water. Earth and water were wetland. This was the first act of creation, the first coming into being, the first and best work of creation. The world was wetland, and the wetland was the womb from which all later life sprung. Including human life made, not out of dust, into and for a desert people, but out of mud into and for marsh people. The wetland is the womb, and the womb is a wet land; both are a slimy swamp of embryonic life. The wetland is not only the womb but also the tomb into which all life died and from which new life was, and is, born. This was the world before the fall when the world was good, before the world fell into the knowledge of good and evil. This was the world before the swamp and the marsh became the home alone of darkness, disease, death and to grotesque monsters lurking in the uncanny depths of their murky waters evoking horror and fascination in any who should be so (un)fortunate as to stumble into them. Fast-forward a few million years and cut to the chase of yours truly en route to undertake fieldwork in a few Canadian wetlands, to conduct archival research about Canadian wetlands and to make contact with fellow wetlanders in Canada. I made a short detour to visit friends in Portland, Oregon where I had my first encounter with a North American wetland and wetlander. Knowing of my interest and my imminent trip to Canada, my friends had told me about a friend of theirs who was rehabilitating his own wetland. They suggested that I might like to visit Tom and see his wetland. I agreed to do so as the picture that came to mind was of a Thoreau-like backwoodsman in his bayou, marsh or swamp, a fellow wetland conservationist and kindred spirit who might appreciate my retelling of the biblical story of creation with which I began this ‘Preface’ and who was rehabilitating his own wetland in keeping with Thoreau’s own love for swamps that I will relate in later chapters and in which I call him the ‘patron “saint” of swamps’. My friend drove us out of Portland to Tom’s cabin located right on the banks of the Columbia River. ‘Cabin’ may not give the right impression as the building was a log mansion that my friend had built as he is a builder. Tom met us warmly and effusively at the big timber front door and invited us in. Tom is a big man, and he is bigger than life. Everything about him, his ‘cabin’, his ‘shed’ and his wetlands is bigger than life. He has had brain cancer and his head is like a road map with scars criss-crossing it. He took us into the main sitting area – more like a hall – with stuffed animals mounted on the walls 3

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

(and the place smelt like dead animals too, musty and meaty). Tom boasted that he had shot, and had stuffed and mounted on his wall, every species of North American duck, except one. Tom was no Thoreauvian swamp lover but a professional hunter and trophy collector who hunted year round and around the world. He has been to Australia and hunted native kangaroo and crocodile, and feral boar and camel. His cabin was his own private hunting lodge and his wetland was his own private hunting domain to which he invited friends, including the head of the Oregon wildlife service. He reminded me of something out of an Ernest Hemingway novel, or of Ernest Hemingway himself, a big game hunter, both a hunter of big game and a big hunter big on hunting. Tom took us on a guided tour of his house that included a cool room and freezer. Everything he shot was eaten eventually. Tom showed us a photo album of his hunting buddies stretching back thirty years. He also showed us an album for 2011 with piles of dead ducks of varying sizes heaped up on a low wall in front of his cabin, with groups of male (only) hunters of varying ages and sizes dressed in their hunting gear proudly displaying their kill. His wetlands were impounded fields that had previously been dyked and drained. Local and exotic plants were revegetating his fields, and Tom sowed wild rice, but he did not sow it and plant plants in order to rehabilitate the native flora of an indigenous wetland, nor to create a bio-diverse habitat for a suite of native animals; they were intended as a food source to attract ducks who were a target for hunters. After all, he was located on the Pacific flyway. He and his buddies had shot a total of 1,200 ducks in the 2011 season. My friend pointed out that this was out of probably 250,000 ducks that flew through his property that year, half of one percent. I eat duck too and no doubt fresh-killed duck, and other ‘game’ meat, tastes fantastic. No doubt, too, his duck-‘hunting’ may be sustainable in the short and long term, though sitting in a bird hide and popping off ducks flying overhead seems to me less like hunting and more like live clay-pigeon shooting. There is no thrill of the chase and no possibility of a contest of wits, strength, stamina and determination between hunter and hunted however idealistic it may be on my part to think that hunting is a contest or involves these things. There is no chance for the hunted to escape, or to become the hunter, though this reciprocal role reversal is impossible for ducks. Some do escape, some don’t, but this is due to statistical averages and the fickleness of fate in being caught in the line of shotgun fire. Perhaps some good male bonding goes on in Tom’s cabin and impoundment, and perhaps fathers and sons and other men develop some productive male solidarity and get to talk about men’s stuff (as well as a lot of masculine banter, or bullshit, no doubt), but the fact that this was a male-only activity made it all too blokey and masculinist for me. Tom was like a one-man Ducks Unlimited for hunting and for conservation for hunting, perhaps (un)like the other Ducks Unlimited for men and women, for hunting, for conservation for hunting and for conservation for ducks, for other wetland animals and for wetland plants. This was my first introduction to a North American wetland, and it is an emblematic story of the tension between hunting and conservation that I found in other North American wetlands in Canada. 4

Preface

A couple of months later and near the end of my trip to Canada, in Westcock, New Brunswick at a dinner party of academics from nearby Mount Allison University one guest asked me what I thought about Ducks Unlimited and I replied that I was deeply ambivalent. I went on to relate my story about Tom — irrespective of whether he is a member of Ducks Unlimited, a question that did not occur to me to ask him at the time. I went on to relate that at a meeting with the staff of the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Trust I had asked them what was the leading non-government organization for wetland conservation in Canada and they had replied ‘Ducks Unlimited’. There are no Canadian wetland conservation societies, as in Australia, though there are some ‘Friends of ’ groups of individual wetlands, as in Australia, but these people seem to be volunteer staff at wetland interpretation centres rather than hands-on wetland conservationists. At a meeting with Ducks Unlimited in their Canadian headquarters at Oak Hammock Marsh outside Winnipeg in Manitoba, I asked them about the composition of their membership and they said that 80% of their members were not hunters. This divide between conservationists and hunters can highlight competing and often diametrically opposed objectives, as the story about Tom indicates. A large percentage of the 80% non-hunter membership of Ducks Unlimited seem to me to be armchair wetland conservationists (and not hands-on volunteers, though Ducks Unlimited has these) who pay their membership subscription and may attend fund-raising events. Ducks Unlimited seems to function like a charity or philanthropic institution, just like a number of other charities, with a lot of its energy and time spent in fund-raising to finance its worthwhile activities, including its field officers and volunteers who do great work in wetland conservation in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and no doubt other provinces. Like most charities, it can be a salve for its members for not actually doing anything concrete themselves by way of hands-on wetland rehabilitation of their local wetland. Perhaps Australian wetland conservation groups could learn a lot about fund-raising for wetland conservation from Ducks Unlimited; conversely, perhaps Canadian wetland conservationists could learn a lot about local ownership and hands-on volunteering for wetland conservation of their local wetland from Australian ‘Friends of ’ groups. Comparison between non-government wetland conservation organizations in Canada and Australia is telling, as is comparisons between the federal and provincial (state) governments of Canada and Australia when it comes to wetland interpretation. I visited a number of excellent interpretation centres based at ‘Ramsar Convention Wetlands’ across Canada, such as at Alaksen National Wildlife Refuge in British Columbia, at Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba, at Point Pelee National Park in Ontario and at Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Refuge in Quebec. These centres compare favourably with the non-existence of such centres at Ramsar Wetlands in Western Australia, where the only interpretation centre based at a ‘Ramsar Convention Wetland’ is the ‘Bird Observatory’ run by Birds Australia, a non-government organization, at Roebuck Bay near Broome. Of course, Canada is not a paradise for wetlands, nor is it a utopia for wetland conservation 5

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

(as I will indicate shortly), but it is streets ahead of Australia when it comes to wetland interpretation centres. These anecdotes highlight the tensions between government and non-government involvement, between institutions and locals, between hunters and conservationists, and between interpretation and conservation in wetlands across Canada. In this book, I propose no easy resolution to these tensions, but in making some international comparisons between Canada and Australia I hope to further the cause of wetland conservation and interpretation in both countries. By examining in the subsequent chapters the position and functioning of wetlands in Canadian culture and literature from their beginnings to the recent past, I aim, on the one hand, to critique the negative press generated for wetlands and the exclusively pejorative associations made with them by some Canadians and, on the other, to advance the appreciation of their unique and life-giving features in the present and for the future as presented and celebrated by other Canadians who do not deny or repress and often appreciate their sometimes unpleasant features. Forrestdale, Western Australia 2013

6

Chapter 1 Canadian wetlands culture: Past and present

C

anada has approximately a quarter of the world’s wetlands (marshes, swamps, bogs, wet prairie, etc.) (see the inside front cover to the present book; see also Niering 1991: 16). It has a larger area of wetlands than any other country. Canada is the wetland country par excellence. It is also the lake country par excellence with about 60% of the world’s lakes (Casey 2009: 6). For Casey (2009: 2) in his award-winning book, Lakeland, Canada is thus ‘the greatest lake country in the world’. Canada is also the greatest wetland country in the world. Would it be too much to suggest, by tracing a dubious bilingual etymology and perhaps by making a bad pun, that Canada is in fact ‘Canarda’, literally ‘Duckland’? Would ‘Duckland’ have been a better title for the present book than Canadian Wetlands? Duckland would have made a nice pair of books with Lakeland. Canada, of course, means ‘big village’. Should not the big village of Canada also include its ducks and other nonhuman beings, as well as their habitats and human habitats, such as lakes and wetlands? Canada is Cana(r)da. Lakes are found across the country and are probably to be found in every province – and so are wetlands. For Casey Canadian lakes not only make Canada the greatest lake country globally and internationally, Canadian wetlands make it the greatest wetland country globally and internationally. Canadian lakes are also, for Casey (2009: 4), ‘Canada’s defining landscape feature’, geographically and nationally, as they are ‘quintessentially Canadian in a way that the country’s other signature tableaux are not’. For Casey these other signature tableaux include the Rocky Mountains, the boreal forests and the prairie grasslands. Wetlands are not included in his list of the country’s signature tableaux, even though they stretch extensively through the country from the north-west to the southeast as a map of Canadian wetlands shows (see inside front cover). Geographically, wetlands dominate the landscape and map of Canada. Wetlands in the form of muskeg, or bogland, cover roughly 1,300,000 square miles of the deep north of Canada. Wetlands in the form of wet prairie butt up against the Rocky Mountains of western Canada, extend through the Arctic boreal forests and spread out through the grasslands of mid-western Canada. Wetlands in the form of marshes dot the mixed wood plains of south-central Canada and lap the shores and intertidal zones of the Atlantic and Pacific maritime littorals of south-eastern Canada. Casey’s signature tableaux dominate Canadian culture artistically too; there are no paintings of Canadian wetlands in Marylin McKay’s (2011) recent monumental survey of Canadian landscape painting, Picturing the Land. Picturing the wetland has not been a 9

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

fitting activity for Canadian artists, nor a high priority for Canadian landscape painters, though writing a word for wetlands has been both for some Canadian writers (as we will see later in some notable and canonic cases). Perhaps Casey does not include wetlands among the country’s signature tableaux for the simple reason that the recreational use of wetlands for leisure activities is largely not the national pastime whereas for him the recreational use of lakes for cottaging, camping, boating and swimming ‘is the national pastime’ (Casey 2009: 4; his emphasis). Curiously, Casey does not include canoeing in his list of recreational uses of lakes – a surprising omission for a book about Canadian lakes, given the role canoeing plays in Canadian cultural history and the nostalgia with which some Canadians imbue this activity. Canoeing on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park (as I did in 2003 on my first visit to Canada), or any Canadian canoeing lake for that matter (such as on Britain Lake on Bruce Peninsula as I did on the Labour Day long weekend in 2011 on my second visit), must be the quintessential Canadian leisure activity, though perhaps not these days when ‘the love of Tim Hortons unites Canadians’ across the country, class and the political spectrum, at least according to the results of a poll conducted in the Toronto Star in 2009. This result, however, overlooks the dominance of television-watching as the major leisure activity of Canadians by a wide margin, according to Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey for 2010. It also overlooks the fact that Canadians do not tend to agree on anything beyond the fact that they are not-American. A love of lakes and wetlands could unite Canadians too, as much as love of Tim Hortons, watching television and not being American. Canadians are lakelanders and wetlanders. Canoeing in a marsh is not a Canadian leisure activity if the image on the front cover of the present book is anything to go by, though the absence of people from this place may have more to do with the conventions of wilderness photography, which generally do not include people, than with Canadians not canoeing in wetlands.1 Certainly, slogging and sloshing through Canadian bogs and marshes is definitely not the national leisure activity, nor even a tourist activity as I found when I went to Wainfleet Bog not far from Niagara Falls, where there were no doubt thousands of visitors that day (8 September 2011) whereas Kim Frohlich of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and I were the only visitors and walkers in Wainfleet Bog. Considering canoeing as a quintessential Canadian activity, when it is associated primarily with pre-European-contact societies and with the early stages of European colonization, and focusing on First Nations, French and English perceptions of Canadian wetlands (as this book does) leaves out of focus the views of wetlands of other peoples who have made Canada their home. Their views may not, however, be as prominently positioned in non-white texts, possibly because immigration to Canada over the past decades has been mainly to urban centres where wetlands have largely been degraded. This is a topic outside the scope of the present book and one for further research. Wetlands may not rate as recreational sites in Canada but they should figure in the national psyche and Canadian culture as important biological zones. Not only is, as Casey 10

Canadian wetlands culture: Past and present

(2009: 7) puts it, ‘the sprawling Lakeland of northern North America […] surely one of the great life zones on earth’, but also the rambling wetlands of the same region are undoubtedly one of the great life and death zones on earth in which old life dies, decays and decomposes and new life is born. As Casey (2009: 56) puts it, ‘lakes, ponds, wetlands and marshes are at the busy end of the biodiversity spectrum’. Love of North American wetlands and lakes could unite Canadians and Americans across their border. Biologically Canadian wetlands sustain a vast array of non-human animal and plant life and human life, or at least their relics do, with over 80% drained and/or dyked for agriculture (see inside front cover). Much of Canada’s freshwater is found in its lakes and rivers, and it is these, and its mountains, waterfalls, forests and prairie grasslands, that have become the national landscapes and signature tableaux rather than its wetlands, its muskeg, bogs, swamps, marshes and prairie potholes. Yet these have played a significant role in Canada’s political and cultural history and continue to do so in contemporary Canadian life, as the present book will trace. Historically, Canada is the wetlands settler country par excellence as its first European settlements were founded next to marshes. French, or Lower, Canada was founded in 1641 when Jacques Cartier established the first French settlement at Cap Rouge in Quebec next to a marsh that provided feed for cattle. English, or Upper, Canada was founded in 1793 when John Graves Simcoe established its capital at Toronto in Ontario next to Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh where a French fort had been located from 1750 to 1757 and which provided military defence against the United States. Canada’s rich wetland history has not been well recognized. In the present book I aim to remedy this situation by tracing some of Canada’s wetland history and promoting appreciation for it among Canadians. Canada has a marshy beginning that has largely been forgotten. Culturally, Canadian wetlands have figured strongly in its literature, both anglophone and francophone, unlike lakes that, for Casey (2009: 10), ‘seldom appear in Canadian literature’. He goes on to argue that ‘when they do, they never play themselves, but serve a metaphor for unconscious stirrings, mostly of the dark and murderous kind. Literary lakes are psychological stages for felony, death and madness’. Similarly, and even more so than lakes, literary swamps and marshes have been stages for horror, the monstrous and the uncanny, as demonstrated in the work of some canonic Canadian writers in the anglophone pioneer settler tradition, such as Susanna Moodie (as we will see in Chapter 2 and as noted briefly 40 years ago by Margaret Atwood [1996: 50–51]). Besides this pejorative portrayal of wetlands, Canada also has a strong literary tradition of celebration of swamps and marshes, one that should be recognized and upheld more than it currently is. Some prominent exemplars spring readily to mind, such as Charles G. D. Roberts (1860–1943) and Douglas Lochhead (1922–2011) with the Tantramar Marshes in New Brunswick, Bliss Carman (1861–1929) and Frederic Herbin (1860–1923) with the marshes of Grand Pré in central Nova Scotia, and Harry Thurston (1950–) with marshes elsewhere in Nova Scotia. Although some literary historians remark on the value and prominence of poems written about particular wetlands and the centrality of these 11

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poems to the oeuvre of the individual poets concerned, and even to Canadian literature and its canon, they do not add up these individual instances and notice the importance of wetlands in general to Canadian literature and to Canadian culture as a collective national achievement of the expression of appreciation for wetlands. Canada has a rich wetland literature found predominantly in the form and genres of local history, memoirs, poetry and nature writing when compared to Australia, which has very little in these genres, with the exception of Leona Woolcock (1993), Eden in a Bog: A Mt Lofty Ranges Swamp in South Australia, and my own work on Forrestdale Lake, a Ramsar Convention Wetland in Western Australia (Giblett 2006, 2013a). Wetlands have figured occasionally in contemporary Australian fiction, such as Liam Davison’s (1993) Soundings whose exemplar is Graham Swift’s (1984) Waterland; as it has in contemporary Canadian fiction, such as Margaret Atwood’s (1991) short story ‘The Bog Man’ in Wilderness Tips whose precursor may be T. Coraghessan Boyle’s (1986) short story ‘Greasy Lake’ as both are fascinated with the horror of dead and decaying bodies in wetlands.2 The richness of Canada’s wetland literature has largely gone unrecognized and undervalued, including acknowledging their occasionally unpleasant features. In the present book I aim to remedy this situation by celebrating some of Canada’s wetland writers and promoting their appreciation for Canadian wetlands among their fellow Canadians. Besides being the world’s greatest wetlands country, Canada also probably has the dubious distinction of having destroyed a greater area of wetlands than any other country. Canada has certainly destroyed or damaged nearly all of its urban wetlands. A recent government report on biodiversity in Canada calculated that ‘up to 98% of the wetlands near Canada’s urban centres have either been lost or degraded’ (Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada 2010). One’s loss is another’s gain, as Salvatore Ciriacono pointed out to me. Losing wetlands means gaining ground; drylandmaking for cities in or near wetlands means wetland loss (to reuse some of the terms Seasholes [2003] uses in the case of Boston’s Back Bay Fens). Wetlands and urban centres historically up to recent times have not been able to successfully co-exist. Indeed, it has been a marker of modernity for urban centres to dredge, drain and fill wetlands precisely so that those urban centres can be created in the first place, or so that they can expand and develop in the second place. Many modern cities, including Toronto and Vancouver in the case of Canada, are no exception as they were built next to wetlands. The expansion and development of the city meant the destruction or degradation of the wetlands. In the case of Toronto, Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh was degraded and destroyed (I return to this topic in Chapter 7). In the case of Vancouver, it was False Creek (to which I return in Chapter 6). Prior to destruction or degradation of most of its wetlands, Canada would have had a much higher percentage of the world’s wetlands than the 25% it currently has. Canada would have been even more so the world’s wetland country par excellence in taking account of those wetland areas it has destroyed or degraded. This destruction impacts ecologically, economically and culturally. For instance, in her book on British Columbia 12

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and the traditional teachings of First Nations about sustainable living, Nancy Turner (2005: 204–205) relates how it is estimated that 80% of southern Canada’s wetlands have been converted to agricultural lands. Similar stories could be told in many places about peoples’ loss of their traditional wetlands and the consequences of this loss, not only in ecological terms, but in cultural and economic terms. Fortunately, there is a growing appreciation for wetlands’ conservation in Canada, though First Nations have always known the value of wetland habitats. Yet the specific value of the wetlands habitats of British Columbia for First Nations is not elaborated upon anywhere in her study, nor are wetland habitats, such as those of the Fraser River valley and delta in British Columbia, acknowledged as one of ‘the ecological regions of British Columbia [that] are highly diverse’ (Turner 2005: 12–13). This is despite them, and their biodiversity, being extensively studied and documented over the past 20 years (as we will see in a later chapter). Turner lists the forest types and the major tree species of the province, but can’t seem to see the wetlands for the forests and the trees. This is by no means an atypical blind spot amongst British Columbian, or even Canadian, writers, who, like Casey, seem to be fixated on its forests, lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and prairie grasslands to the detriment of its wetlands (as we will also see in later chapters). Yet the draining of wetlands in Ontario for instance, as John McLaughlin (1995: 2) points out, was ‘as an important provincial development as the clearing of forests. Drainage accompanied, and helped make possible, the settlement process in much of the southern half of the province’. No doubt the same conclusion applies in other provinces, and their southern halves (as we see will later in the present book). Indeed, McLaughlin (1995: 2–3) goes on to point out that ‘more than half of the wetlands in southern Canada have disappeared. Losses are highest in Ontario where approximately 80% of the wetlands south of the Laurentian Shield have been drained or converted to other uses’. One of the underlying reasons for this loss in McLaughlin’s (1995: 103) view is that pioneer European settlers in nineteenth-century Canada generally regarded wetlands as wastelands in keeping with the dominant view of them. Yet wetlands, as the eminent American wetlands scientist William Niering (1991: 15) insists in Wetlands of North America, ‘far from being waste places, sustain more life than almost any other ecosystem […] as much as many tropical rain forests, and more than most good farmland’. Yet these settlers in the nineteenth-century Canada and earlier wanted to convert wastelands, or at least marshlands, into farmlands and saw, and used, drainage as the means to do so. McLaughlin (1995: 103) concludes that ‘this philosophy of land use was to lead to the loss of more than half of southern Ontario’s wetlands by the end of the [nineteenth] century’. The present book documents some of these losses in southern Ontario, such as Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh, Holland Marsh, Black Swamp and Canby Marsh and celebrates some of their surviving remnants, such as Wainfleet Bog. 13

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Unlike the coastal marshes of Atlantic and maritime Canada that were productive agriculturally (and McLaughlin [1995: 105] goes on to refer to the Acadians of Nova Scotia [and New Brunswick] as being exemplary in this regard) what McLaughlin calls ‘the inland swamps’ (though it applies also to inland marshes) ‘began to be seen as a waste of good agricultural land’. As European settlers edged westward, they began draining the swamps [and marshes], a necessary step in the conversion of landscape to agricultural homesteads’. Wetlands were like heathen savages to be converted by the gospel of discipline and drain in order to lead clean and useful lives. An important step in this process, though, was the perception of wetlands as landscape, as a surface phenomenon of visible aesthetic deprecation that repressed the invisible depths of wetland life and its dynamics, and First Nations’ valuing and use of them. While McLaughlin (1995: 106) does not acknowledge this step, he does discuss ‘another factor that prompted more extensive drainage’. This is the association of wetlands with malaria (literally ‘bad air’) in the miasmatic theory of disease in which ‘the poisonous vapours that arose from undrained soil were blamed for the ague’, an archaic name for ‘malaria’ (which I discuss in greater detail in Chapter 2). The lack of attention to, and discussion of, First Nations’ valuing and use of wetlands is generally commonplace amongst Canadian social and cultural anthropologists, historical geographers, environmental historians and wetland specialists. As the present book is not an ethnographic study, and as I am heavily reliant on archival and published sources, and largely on non-First Nations’ informants and first-hand personal observations of Canadian wetlands in the field, its picture is far from complete, especially regarding First Nations’ valuing of and use of wetlands. Further research is certainly needed in this area by someone with greater ethnographic skills, more local knowledge, a more extensive network of people contacts, longer lead-time and deeper cultural empathy with First Nations than I was able to gain during my brief visit in 2011. My aim and approach is more archival, textual and personal, but still ecological and political. By deconstructing and decolonizing anglophone pioneer settler literature in the Canadian canon and more recent writings in which wetlands figure pejoratively, or not at all, I aim to create a space, like an opening in a marsh or swamp, in which old and new writing about Canadian wetlands can join, in order to celebrate their value and uses. To this end I assemble preand postcolonial voices that speak about wetlands in a counter-language and countertradition that values their unique features, forms and functions, celebrates slimy swamps and muddy marshes, and acknowledges and respects, without denying or repressing, their dark underside and their uncanniness. The present book asks, and tries to answer, a number of questions: wherever documented, how did indigenous First Nations value and use wetlands in Canada? What were the cultural (including agricultural), social and political forces and factors brought from Europe by settlers that led, and still lead, to the denigration, destruction or degradation of Canadian wetlands in the past and in the present? Finally, what are the cultural, social and political forces and factors indigenous, imported or local that can lead 14

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to the conservation of current Canadian wetlands and to the rehabilitation or restoration of degraded ones now and into the future? One of the major cultural, social and political forces and factors that can lead to conservation and restoration is acknowledging and appreciating the role wetlands have played in Canadian culture and in the lives of Canadians. Besides serving geographical and biological purposes, Canadian wetlands have also functioned culturally, metaphorically and historically. Wetlands have played a significant role in First Nations’ culture in North America for tens of thousands of years. They have sustained human life from the time the first indigenous peoples traversed the land bridge from Asia into North America. They also have played a significant role in settler cultures from their beginnings in North America in the sixteenth century. They sustained the lives of the first French settlers who crossed the Atlantic to settle in Quebec, and later in Acadia where they became Acadians. They later played an important role in the lives of subsequent settlers. Canadian understandings of their wetlands have various functions: either in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies of oppression and repression of the grotesque and the monstrous, or in resistance to them and in support of the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality as well as its valuing of the grotesque and the monstrous (see Giblett 2011: ch. 1, especially fig. 2, pp. 32–34 for a tabulation of these two paradigms). Not all writers fit neatly into either one of these paradigms and subscribe completely to their categories. Some writers discussing Canadian wetlands, such as Franklin Russell (as we will see in Chapter 2), flirt with both views and perhaps try to have a bet both ways, but, and in his case, end up plumping for the dominant paradigm. Other Canadian writers who appreciate wetlands, such as Daphne Marlatt (as we will see in a later chapter), both reproduce uncritically (perhaps unknowingly) the dominant view of wetlands and critically produce the alternative view. Wetlands have also been employed pejoratively in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies as a figure for the backward and stagnant. For the backwoods Canadian demagogue William Lyon Mackenzie, writing in the nineteenth century, ‘Canada was a stagnant backwater compared to the United States’ (cited by Gray 1999: 122). Canada is figured as a wetland – still, slow, sluggish, disease-ridden and bypassed by the United States –  with the United States figured as a river – flowing, fast, dynamic, healthy and at the forefront of ‘progress’. A similar figuration persists into the twentieth century. For art historian and critic William Colgate (cited by Marylin McKay 2011: 245), writing in 1944, ‘the stagnant waters of Canadian art […] much needed the freshness of a stirring breeze’. For Colgate the ‘Group of Seven’ Painters, led by Tom Thomson, ‘supplied the invigorating and life-giving element; and there has been since then no dead or miasmatic calm’. Yet stagnant waters are life-giving and miasmas are undead as they were for Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) (as we will see in a later chapter). Perhaps not surprisingly, the ‘Group of Seven’ painted no paintings of Canadian wetlands that I have seen during a couple of visits to exhibitions of their work in the Ontario Museum. 15

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

In resistance to the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies, and in support of the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality, wetlands have been employed appreciatively as a figure for the permeable, porous and marginal. In discussing the vexed relationship between Canada and its neighbour to the south, touched upon by Mackenzie, contemporary Canadian cultural studies professor Jody Berland (2009: 3) notes ‘the porous quality of Canada’s borders’. Canada’s border with the United States is not only porous figuratively but also porous literally in many places. This border, Bower (2011: 111) calculates, ‘runs approximately 8,900 kilometres, of which some 3,500 kilometres traverse water bodies’. Indeed along the 49th parallel in the mid-western prairies and through the Great Lakes down to the 42nd parallel, sections of Canada’s border with the United States are literally porous with water. The Red River, for example, flows from the US into Canada. Other parts of the shared border are porous with prairie potholes. Canadian wetlands cannot be considered in isolation from American wetlands. Both are North American wetlands, part of a continent whose political borders carve up bioregions, including their wetlands. Canada, notes Berland (2009: 51 and 17) in North of Empire, is for some commentators ‘the world’s first postmodern country’ and is marked ‘as an exemplar of the postmodern nation’. If wetlands, as I have argued elsewhere (see Giblett 1996), are the postmodern landscape par excellence, then Canada as the wetland country par excellence is also the postmodern nation par excellence. Its border porosity makes it a distinctively postmodern nation and country in both its cultural and natural landscapes. Canada for Kroetsch (cited by Berland 2009: 51) is ‘supremely a country of margins […] in which almost every city borders on a wilderness’. That border, though, has encroached upon and destroyed wilderness, often in the form of wetlands, in the case of ‘almost every city’. Wilderness in Canada could be a wetland if the figure of 98% cited earlier for wetlands destroyed or degraded close to urban centres is anything to go by. Canada is not only supremely a country of urban margins, but also superbly a country of supine wetland margins between water and land; many cities do in the present, or did in the past, segue into a wetland with a porous border between them. Canada for McLuhan (cited by Berland 2009: 52) is ‘a land [and partly a wetland] of multiple borderlines, psychic, social and geographic’. It is a mind-space of multiple borderlines, a culture of such lines. It is a wetland of dynamic processes with a porous border, literally and metaphorically, with the United States. It is a wetland of permeable membranes between land and water, French and English, east and west, north and south, Canada and the United States, the American sublime (epitomized in Niagara Falls) and Canadian slime (its bogland, bogs and marshes), the sublime and slime, where the exchanges between all of these parties are never even and equitable, nor mutually beneficial, but are always dynamic and mutable in the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality. This porosity and permeability of Canada as nation and country perhaps constitutes its postmodernity. Canada for Schecter (cited by Berland 2009: 53) is ‘the first postmodern state willing to do something about postmodernity’. In relation to its wetlands, this 16

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could mean for Canada being in the interstices between, and being both, land and water, French and English, east and west, north and south, empire and counter-empire, sublime and slime in the alternative cultural and its avowal of equality. This relates to its – and wetlands’–  ambiguous status and function. For Charles Levin (cited by Berland 2009: 38), ‘everything about Canada is vague, ambiguous, unknown’. A wetland is a fitting figure for Canada as wetlands are ‘vague terrains’ to use Victor Hugo’s term taken up and developed by Sola Morales (1995) (without acknowledging Hugo) for those places on the outskirts of cities and towns on the edges of wilderness, places where meanings slip and slide and sink in the slime of ambiguity, a place unknown, the uncanny place par excellence. Indeed, Sola Morales explicitly invokes ‘the Freudian theme’ of the uncanny in relation to vague terrains (Sola Morales 1995: 122). By virtue of being the wetland country par excellence, perhaps Canada is also the uncanny country par excellence, filled with fascination and horror at its own wetlands, and sometimes repressing them, hence its lack of acknowledgement of, and appreciation for, them that this book aims to remedy and the conservation of whose wetlands this book aims to promote. The wetland is a fitting figure for Canadians themselves as they, for Berland (2009: 67), ‘occupy neither the center nor the margin’, but both, or the interstices between them. Berland (2009: 67) suggests that ‘the margin is a geophysical, cultural and political entity’ and ‘marginality is now largely a metaphorical rather than spatial term’. Yet marginality is a spatial (and metaphorical) term when it comes to wetlands. As the wetland is the marginal place par excellence between land and water and is both land and water, it is the perfect place for re-construing marginality in terms of space and place, deconstructing and decolonizing the metaphor and the wetland, and constructing, as this book aims to do, a new relationship between people and place, and the environment and culture around wetlands. Wetlands themselves are also as porous as they are absorbent, permeable and spongy. They are porous borders between land and water, with dry land and wet land being in transition, spatially and temporally, back and forth from one to the other. As with a number of other wetlands, Hatvany (2003: xix) remarks that tidal marshlands are ‘a place not quite land nor quite sea’ and calls this the ‘enigma of marshlands’. He states later that tidal marshlands are ‘neither land nor sea’ (Hatvany 2003: 2). They are both, or more precisely are in spatial and temporal transition from one to the other and back again. Wetlands are porous borders between time and space for, as Niering (1991: 21) puts it, ‘all wetlands are highly dynamic ecosystems’ as they ‘often represent a temporal and spatial transition from open water to dry land’. Niering is writing in Wetlands of North America whose title alone highlights the difficulties of separating the wetlands of Canada from those of the United States. Canada is the ‘world’s greatest’ wetlands country not only because of its total geographical area of wetlands but also because of its geographical, economic and cultural relationship with its southern neighbour, or ‘empire’. Rather than manning the barricades against cultural imperialism with Canadians merely being antiAmerican, I promote greater dialogue between the two countries about wetlands, some 17

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of which they share in common, such as ‘wet prairie’, and suggest that both should be pro-wetlands. The wetland border between Canada and the United States is porous not only hydrogeographically but also culturally. Three prominent pioneer American conservationists, John Muir (1838–1914), Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) and Henry David Thoreau travelled across the border into Canada. In Muir’s and Leopold’s case, they wrote appreciatively about particular Canadian marshes (as we will see in later chapters). Thoreau wrote instructively about swamps and marshes elsewhere in North America in ways that are applicable to Canadian wetlands (as we will also see in later chapters). Generally their writings on wetlands are not well known in the United States, where they are usually regarded as nature or wilderness writers. It is my contention that the porous border between the two countries should be a zone of cultural exchange and dialogue, in which both parties can learn from the other rather than remain locked within an imperial ‘Americentricity’ or a reactionary anti-American ‘Canadianism’. Americans pioneered not only wetland conservation theory and practice in Thoreau, Muir and Leopold, but also the cultural and historical study of wetlands (albeit their own) in such books as David Miller’s Dark Eden: The Swamp in Nineteenth-Century American Culture and Ann Vileisis’s Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America’s Wetlands. To date, there have been no Canadian counterparts or equivalents to either of these studies on the history and role of Canadian wetlands in Canadian culture. The present book aims to do so to some extent. The fact that a multi-voiced dialogue is being orchestrated and mediated in the present book by an Australian wetland culturalist and conservationist highlights the international nature and network of wetland study and conservation, the ubiquity of wetlands on a planet of wetlands (what I have elsewhere called ‘aquaterra’ [Giblett 1996]) and testifies to the commonality of concerns. Researching and writing the present book was an opportunity to extend and develop my previous work on American, British and Australian wetlands to embrace Canadian wetlands whilst being mindful and respectful of the cultural differences, geographical variations and historical contingencies of all four cultures and countries, and also being cognizant of the similarities in the settler traditions between Australia, Canada and the United States. It also highlights the importance of Thoreau’s, Muir’s and Leopold’s thinking about wetlands, from which Canadians, Americans and Australians can learn a lot. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of two Canadian writers Douglas Lochhead and Harry Thurston and their thinking about wetlands, from which Canadians, Americans and Australians can learn a lot too. Perhaps Americans and Canadians will learn something from this Australian, not only from the present book but also from my previous ones. Perhaps more Canadians, Americans and Australians will write about their wetlands as a result. In the case of Canada, the present book presents only the tip of a very big iceberg about a very big country with lots of wetlands and with a rich and interesting history and culture whose place in the wider world, especially in relation to its near neighbour to the south in ‘empire’ or the United States, is endlessly 18

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analysed and debated by Canadians. This analysis is one of the distinctive and enduring Canadian pastimes, alongside cottaging, canoeing, coffeeing at Tim Hortons, watching television and not being American. Several disclaimers are necessary at this point: the present book is not an exhaustive inventory of Canadian wetlands as such; inventories have already been assembled of Canadian wetlands in general (National Wetlands Working Group 1988) and of the Canadian Ramsar Wetlands of international significance in particular (Gillespie, Boyd and Logan 1991), though I do discuss some of these. Moreover, there are thousands of wetlands in Canada covering millions of hectares in total, some of which are in remote or inaccessible areas that I was unable to visit with the time and resources I had available. Nor does the present book survey all the writing (literary, historical, eco-critical, creative, etc.) about Canadian wetlands, nor even all of the writing about the ones it discusses (both of these tasks would have been an impossible within the word limit set by the publisher and the time I had available to me). This book is not a scholarly compendium or review of the ‘literature’ (writing) about wetlands. Moreover, it does not cite all the literature about the authors and texts that it discusses. Yet it does assemble much of this work relating to the geographically, historically and culturally important wetlands I visited and discuss, and to the authors and texts relevant to these wetlands and to my discussion of them and of wetlands in general. Nor is it an historical account proceeding chronologically from some arbitrary point in the past to the present (though it does begin with the first French and British settlers and ends with recent new settlers). It is a diachronically and synchronically informed study that respects history by both acknowledging change and identifying common themes in and across Canadian history. Nor is it a geographical and scientific study that proceeds regionally across Canada. Such a study has been completed in Wetlands of Canada (National Wetlands Working Group 1988). By contrast, Canadian Wetlands is a bioregionally and continentally focused discussion that celebrates the specificity of some Canadian wetland places and their people. It is a study of Canadian wetlands culture that is a counterpart, from within the humanities (principally history, philosophy, literary and cultural studies), to the scientific classification and inventory of Canadian wetlands organized in Wetlands of Canada, where information is arranged by biogeographic regions and taxonomically by wetland type. The scope of Canadian Wetlands is much narrower than Wetlands of Canada in terms of the variety of wetland types discussed and geographical coverage of them. Rather than providing, as Wetlands of Canada does, a systematic inventory of the wetlands of Canada and a linear account of them across Canada, the historical and geographical trajectory of Canadian Wetlands is largely circular, focusing in this chapter briefly on the first French settlers in Quebec and in the final chapter on new settlers in Nova Scotia first settled by the French. Its agenda is political: a cultural calling for conservation of wetlands and for change in attitudes, values and behaviour towards wetlands. It aims to promote what I elsewhere call bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods in bioregional home habitats of the living earth, including its wetlands (see Giblett 2011). 19

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

In terms of its theoretical framework, disciplinary location and methodology, the present book is situated specifically within what Mortimer-Sandilands (2009) calls ‘environmental cultural studies’ or what Slack (2008) calls ‘ecocultural studies’. It is also located within the interdisciplinary environmental humanities more generally, especially, in my case, literature, history and philosophy. Environmental cultural studies, for Mortimer-Sandilands, ‘profoundly challenge[s] any neat nature/culture divide’ whilst ecocultural studies, according to Slack, considers the ecological to be integral to the cultural, rather than a belated ‘add-on’ (see also Giblett 2012, 2013b: 112–121). The present book is also located within my ‘take’ on the environmental humanities and on environmental cultural studies, or ecocultural studies, including the formulation of the five cultures of natures, the tabulation of two cultural paradigms, and the development of a political, postmodern, psychoanalytic and Taoist ecology (see Giblett 1996, 2008a, 2009, 2011). This approach considers the investments of desire and capital, the relations of power and labour, and the yields of pleasure and profit in humans’ relations with the earth. Psychoanalytic, postmodern and Taoist ecology address the personal, political, corporeal, cultural, spiritual and historical dimensions – the psychodynamics, economics, semiotics, symbiotics and spirituality – of our relationship with the living earth at local, regional and global levels and micro- and macro-scales. It also re-reads critically the use of the (psychoanalytic) vocabulary of melancholia, mourning and the uncanny in relation to Canadian wetlands within the intertwined eco- and psycho-dynamics of aesthetic appreciation, bodily engagement, ambulatory movement, sensory experience and environmental conservation. Yet rather than simply diagnose and engage in a talking cure for the symptoms of the psychogeopathology of greed and gluttony manifested in the oral and anal sadism directed towards the earth in general, and the will to fill, dredge, drain or reclaim wetlands in particular, the drive for psychoanalytic and Taoist ecology is to try to prevent the manifestation of these symptoms in the first place by promoting gratitude for the generosity of the living earth by developing bio- and psycho-symbiotic lives and livelihoods with it and its wetlands. For wetland conservationists, the past death of wetlands is an act of willful destruction, which should be mourned, as well as a stimulus to act in order to prevent its repetition in the future and to promote the protection and conservation of wetlands in the present. For cultural environmentalists or ecoculturalists, the draining, dredging, filling or reclaiming of wetlands, in an act of what I call ‘aquaterracide’, is a memory to retrieve and a story to retell about the fraught relationships between culture and nature, city and wetland, past and present, then and now, place and people. When we tell this story we begin to think about how to achieve a rapprochement between all of these factors now and into the future. Environmental cultural studies, or ecocultural studies, deconstructs and decolonizes the binary opposition between culture and nature in what Alexander Wilson, in his foundational text of ecocultural studies and urban ecology (1992), called ‘the culture of nature’. It also deconstructs and decolonizes the binary opposition between culture and 20

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nature in what Michel Foucault (1970) called ‘the discourse of nature’, in which nature is constituted as object in, and by, the science of natural history. Environmental cultural studies, or ecocultural studies, deconstructs and decolonizes C. P. Snow’s ‘two cultures’ of the sciences and the humanities. In the ‘two cultures’ divide nature is assigned to, and colonized by, the sciences in its empire of nature that it does not want to be decolonized. Moreover, in this divide, culture is assigned to, and colonized by to and by the humanities. Environmental cultural studies enters into dialogue between the sciences and the humanities but is, more often than not, forced to exist in the no-man’s land between these two disciplines where both sides shoot it down. Yet rather than one unitary and homogeneous ‘culture of nature’, as Wilson implies or suggests, a number of cultures of natures succeed and overlap each other historically and are engaged in a struggle for hegemony in dominant, emergent and residual forms and in various unholy alliances. These cultures of nature range from the first culture of nature of First Nations, of hunting, gathering and small-scale agriculture, through the second culture, labour-intensive agriculture and its cities, the third culture, modernity and industrial capitalism, agriculture and its cities, the fourth culture, hypermodernity and communication technologies, and the fifth: postmodern bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods lived in bioregional home habitats of the living earth that hark back to the first culture, where ‘the land is us’.3 The second, third and fourth cultures of nature serve the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies, whereas the first and fifth cultures of nature operate in the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality. Similarly, rather than one unitary and homogeneous ‘discourse of nature’ as Foucault implies or suggests, a number of discourses of natures – scientific, aesthetic, nationalist, conservationist, etc. – are engaged in a struggle for hegemony in various unholy alliances between them, and have been for some time, both in the dominant cultural paradigm and against it, and through its alternative (see Giblett 2011: 19–38). For Raymond Williams (who I call ‘the founder of ecocultural studies’ [Giblett 2012; 2013b: 112–121]), the cultural and natural were integral to each other in the concept and practice of what he called livelihood. Developing his earlier work on the country and the city, and acknowledging that the distinction he drew between them was too stark and that they are, in fact, ‘indissolubly linked’, Williams (1984: 209) developed and used the concept of livelihood as a term that mediates both. Livelihood takes place in both the country and the city. The livelihood of the inhabitants of both the country and the city is dependent, and impacts on, the livelihood of the inhabitants of the other (see Giblett 2011: ch. 12; 2012; 2013b: 112–121). Livelihood also deconstructs the culture/nature binary and hierarchy of culture over nature. It is both cultural and natural. Livelihood decolonizes the oppression of the natural environment. Livelihood embraces both one’s work and one’s physical surrounds, their environmental supports and effects. It is both cultural and natural. Livelihood for Williams is a concept and practice that cuts across the rural/country (though these cannot be simply equated as Williams argues), the capital/ city, and nature/culture distinctions and divisions. 21

Canadian Wetlands: Places and People

Livelihood deconstructs the culture/nature binary by showing how the relationship between these terms is hierarchical, with the former privileged over the latter. Culture is valorized over nature in culturalism and nature is denied and repressed; nature is exploited and oppressed in, and by, capitalism and nation-states. The valorization of nature in naturalism is merely the flip side and reactionary mirror image of culturalism. In order for a clear relationship between the two terms to be established, another term has to be introduced and this term is livelihood. Livelihood is both cultural and natural. There is no livelihood that is not both cultural and natural. Livelihood is cultural and natural. Livelihood unites city and country in common dependence and impact on a bioregion. Livelihood takes place in a particular bioregion. Country and city are part of a bioregion. Neither country nor city can survive without their bioregion. Both are dependent, if not parasitic, on it. Ideally they should be in mutually beneficial symbiosis with each other. The present book builds on this previous work and references it when pertinent. It does not presuppose an intimate knowledge of the field, nor of previous work in it (including my own). The book is an attempt to appreciate the value of some selected Canadian wetlands of historical and/or geographical and/or cultural importance as indicated in the table of contents. It focuses on some of the Ramsar Wetlands of international significance across Canada. All of the Canadian Ramsar Wetlands are indicated by red ducks on the map in the inside front cover. Duckland indeed. Canada is Cana(r)da where the ‘r’ stands for ‘Ramsar’ and registers Cana(r)da as a Ramsar country. Canadian Wetlands explores the cultural and natural history of selected Canadian wetlands by assembling some of the previous research about them, analysing their representation in written records, engaging in dialogue with a range of American and Canadian writers about North American wetlands and learning from these writers by undertaking case studies of the most famous wetlands and their writers, as well as some obscure wetlands and their writers, in order to give a sense of the breadth and depth of their cultural and natural values. Most research and publication about Canadian wetlands to date falls into three broad categories: • • •

General governmental policy documents about their conservation with site descriptions Overall scientific classification and documentation of their biotic features and conservation values; and Site-specific studies or place-based landscape or nature writing focusing on individual wetlands, or the wetlands of one region, coming out of one approach or discipline.

Previous work in historical geography and environmental history on Canadian wetlands (such as that of Bleakney 2004) focuses on specific wetlands, such as those of the Bay of 22

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Fundy. Literary scholars and historians (e.g. Bentley 1992) have noted the importance of the marshes of Manitoba as the main setting for Settlers of the Marsh, a classic of Canadian literature, by Frederick Philip Grove (1879–1948). Place-based landscape and nature poetry and prose in the work on Charles G. D. Roberts, Bliss Carman, John Frederic Herbin, Douglas Lochhead and Harry Thurston focuses on the Tantramar Marshes, the marshlands of Grand Pré and other marshes of the Maritime provinces. Much cultural and environmental history has been written about Acadia and the dyking of marshlands using aboiteaux (e.g. Ross and Deveau 1992; Hatvany 2002). Turning to central Canada and Ontario, VanderMey’s (1994) local history of the Holland Marsh north of Toronto does not acknowledge the fact that John Muir, the later father of the American Conservation Movement, dodged the draft for the Civil War there and had an epiphany there that converted him to conservation (see Giblett 1996). Ornithologists such as Fairfield and others have mourned the loss of the Ashbridge’s Bay marshes in Toronto Harbour (see Fairfield 1988). Historians of Toronto (most recently Hayes 2008) note the marshy location for the original settlement and trace the filling of the marshes, but do not mourn the long and protracted death of the Ashbridge’s Bay marshes, unlike the ornithologists. No book to date has brought all these strands together to address the place and role of these and other wetlands in Canada, such as those of the Fraser River delta in British Columbia, in Canadian culture, history and ecology. Other studies of individual wetlands, such as those by Hatvany (2001; 2003; 2009), have addressed the cultural and geographical history of some other notable wetlands in Canada, such as those in the Kamouraska region on the St Lawrence River in Quebec and on Prince Edward Island. Hatvany touches briefly on the literature and nature writing about the Kamouraska region when he cites the francophone writer Anne Hébert and her book on the Kamouraska as an epigraph to the conclusion to the French translation of his own study of Kamouraska. Hébert describes how: The river mouth exhales its full lungs [...] The odour of the marshes lifts more and more strongly [...] Prairies of marsh! Rushes, sedges, seaweeds and marsh grass take to the wind [...] Summer landscape, blue with warm mist. Long stretches of muddy tidal flat. The odour at low tide fills the heavy air [...] Fall, Kamouraska, everything is delivered to the snow geese, ducks, teals, Canada geese. Thousands of birds filing away into the distance. All along the marshes. You who so love the hunt, do you not feel utterly fulfilled? (Hebert cited by Hatvany 2009: 159; translated by Hatvany) This is an exemplary expression of appreciation for the smells, sights and habitat of the marsh as the lungs of the living body of the earth, as distinct from urban parks as the lungs of the city. This wet land is not waste land. Quite the contrary. It is living land and part of the body of the earth. 23

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After citing Hébert, Hatvany goes on to comment that: The adoring description of the marshes of Kamouraska that Anne Hébert shares with us at the time of the writing of her book, coming at the end of the industrial era, illustrates a changing perception of the marshes, a return to what it had once been in its earliest days. Hébert writes that ‘memory must be cultivated like the land. It should be set on fire occasionally. Burn the weeds to the roots’ (Hebert cited by Hatvany 2009: 159). Who can not see in that description of the seasonal return of the geese a metaphor written for her contemporaries to cultivate the cultural memory of the past and rediscover the understanding of the land that the Native Americans, Europeans in the Middle Ages and the French settlers all shared? Rediscover what was been forgotten in the race to industrialization  – that the landscape is alive and that flora, fauna and humans are all linked in a cyclical process of change and transformation. (Hatvany 2009: 159; translated by Hatvany) I have argued along similar lines, following Australian Aboriginal people and Walt Whitman (strange bedfellows perhaps), that the earth is all alive and humans should live bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods in bioregional home habitats of the living earth (Giblett 2011: ch. 12). With the exception of this and the following brief discussion, these and other wetlands in Quebec are a glaring omission and notable absence from this book, due mainly to my limited French, and should be the subject of further research, especially into francophone literature and nature writing about wetlands and their history. Canadian francophone literature about Acadia is touched upon briefly in Chapter 3 where I discuss Antonine Maillet’s writing. The French role in relation to wetlands in Canada is especially important for the major reason that, according to Hatvany (personal communication), the first French settlement in North America was founded by a marsh at Cap Rouge in Quebec in 1541. In an e-mail to me dated 6 September 2013, Matthew Hatvany said: Jacques Cartier at one point in his journals [Cartier 1993: 101] mentions bringing domestic animals to the colony which signifies for me that the colonists would have benefitted immensely from the availability of marsh hay (American bulrush or Scirpus americanus) for the animals, for thatch and bedding (both for animals and humans), and for the eels and waterfowl that would have been taken from the marsh. Certainly, the marsh would have been interpreted in a very positive light by these colonists as Cartier implies when he mentions that it is a beautiful natural grassland [Cartier 1993: 101]. Was the marsh the determining factor in Cartier’s choice of a colony site? No, I think that security and a good harbour for his ships were his first concerns. But, I do think the marsh would nonetheless have been an important factor in the choice – 24

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especially since a source of immediate fodder would have been necessary for the animals. In 1608, when Champlain founds Quebec, he specifically mentions cutting the same type of marsh hay for the animals along the Cote-de-Beaupré. Canada has a marshy beginning. This beginning and heritage, spanning more than four and a half centuries, should be honoured and respected, and wetlands should be conserved as sites of cultural and natural heritage. The present book has an unashamedly cultural, political and conservationist agenda and calls for the protection of, and care for, the remaining wetlands in Canada and the rehabilitation of degraded ones. It also has an explicit cultural and political project to change attitudes, behaviour and values about wetlands in Canada for the better. Much further research needs to be undertaken into Canadian wetlands, especially into First Nations’ appreciation for, and use of, them as there is so much that the descendants of settlers can learn from First Nations’ people about how to value and care for wetlands. The present book is a beginning and so should not be considered to be the final word about Canadian wetlands and about their place and role in Canadian culture and history. In the next chapter, I explore an ecocritical reading of the representation and figuring of swamps in anglophone pioneer settler literature and nature writing within the Canadian canon. Notes 1. For a critical discussion of wilderness photography, see Giblett and Tolonen (2012). 2. All of these works of fiction are discussed in Giblett (1996). 3. For the distinction between hypermodern/ism and postmodern/ism see Armitage (2013: 104–105; 157–161)

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Chapter 2 Wetlands in anglophone pioneer settler literature and nature writing of the Canadian canon

T

here is probably no better way to begin reconstruing marginality in terms of space and place, deconstructing and decolonizing the use of the wetland as metaphor in service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies, and constructing a new relationship between people and place around Canadian wetlands within the alternative cultural paradigm than by considering anglophone pioneer settler literature. Wetlands figure prominently in it from its beginnings, though literary critics and historians have not remarked upon their presence in this section of the Canadian canon. Although wetlands have not had the same status and role as Canadian national landscapes and signature tableaux like forests, lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and prairie grasslands, they were noteworthy for four pioneer anglophone women writers: the two sisters Catherine Parr Traill (1802–1899) and Susanna Moodie (1803–1885), whose work I consider in this chapter, and Mrs Simcoe (1766–1850) and Anna Brownell Jameson (1794–1860) whose work I consider in Chapter 7. For Charlotte Gray (1999: xiii) in Sisters in the Wilderness, her best-selling, doublebarrel sisterly (or sororal) biography of Moodie and Traill, ‘the two sisters laid the foundation of a literary tradition that still endures in Canada’. This is debatable and greatly overestimates both their originality for, and influence in and on, Canadian culture as they were writing within a transatlantic European and English tradition (including when it came to wetlands) that still endures. This was part of the cultural baggage of the dominant cultural paradigm they brought with them from England.1 This early European and English view of wetlands later morphed into a locally grown and avowedly nationalist Canadian culture, such as in the work of Charles G. D. Roberts in which he, as the sisters did, both wrapped up the marsh in a romanticizing pastoral vision when viewed from a distance and conveyed much of the same antipathy to wetlands when up close and personal with, or in, them. The Moodie and Traill English literary tradition concerns the pioneer settler experience of ‘roughing it in the bush’ in ‘the backwoods of Canada’ (to re-use the titles of their most well-known books) and the telling of a triumphalist tale of ‘settlers taming the bush’, as Gray (1999: 117) puts it, as if the bush were a wild beast to be subdued and mastered, part of the stock-in-trade vocabulary and values of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Part of that pioneer settler tradition also lies in their transplanting aspects of the European landscape aesthetic to Canada that valorizes the sublime, picturesque and beautiful in mountains, lakes, waterfalls and forests over the slimy and uncanny in swamps and marshes (see Glickman 1998; Marylin McKay 2011). This valorization in the service of the dominant 29

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cultural paradigm and of its landscape and land-use hierarchies also persists in some classics of anglophone Canadian canonic nature writing, such as the work of Grey Owl, the English backwoodsman, hunter, trapper and beaver-lover who took a First Nations’ name, and in Franklin Russell’s Watchers at the Pond, though he also flirts with aspects of the alternative. This chapter concludes with a discussion of both their work. Both pioneer sisters participated in conveying and reproducing aspects of a settler literary, aesthetic, ecological and cultural tradition of deprecation of wetlands that persists in Canada today. This is not to imply or suggest that either or both of them are somehow to blame for the negative press about wetlands in Canada then and now as they brought with them and reproduced a fairly conventional English and European view of wetlands within the dominant cultural paradigm. Yet their work as two ur-texts of the anglophone settler tradition in the Canadian literary canon is symptomatic of the dominant view of the land in general and of wetlands in Canada in particular. As such, their work has been invoked and pressed into service recently to further the claims for a current Canadian, or at least Ontarian, cultural preference for open water to muddy swamps when Susan Glickman (1998: 62–63) writes of Moodie that ‘like most folk living in Ontario, then as now, she prefers open vistas of water and hills to impenetrable barriers of trees or muddy swamps’. Glickman’s ‘then as now’ not only collapses the past into the present, elides history and colonizes time, but also press-gangs the past into the service of reinforcing the present and subjects the present to the past in a mutually reflective mirror, rather than placing them in dialectical critique in which the present can critically regard the past and vice versa. ‘Then as now’ indicates the durability and domination of a couple of highly conventional, historically contingent and colonizing aesthetic preferences over time and through space within the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies of chronological time and linear space over cyclical circadian and seasonal time and open space. Decolonizing time and space involves acknowledging the dialectic between then and now in the now-time of the present by historicizing and geographizing them in spatial history and temporal geography.2 This genealogy and geography of the here and now is concerned with people and place in the past, present and future in cyclical time and the height, depth and breadth of space in the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality. Glickman goes on to refer to these preferences as ‘rational preferences’, yet this is an overly optimistic and benignly sanguine view of most ‘folk’ as they are also in my experience given to irrational prejudices. Glickman constitutes most living Ontarian folk on the basis of shared ‘rational preferences’, but these are culturally constructed and historically contingent prejudices of aesthetic taste shared by an imagined community of Ontarian folk against ‘muddy swamps’, or such a community who at least evince a strong preference for open vistas of water over closed muddy swamps, if not an intractable prejudice for the former over the latter in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchy of landscape aesthetics. Perhaps the airing of these preferences or prejudices under the guise of ‘rational preferences’ is not surprising in a book devoted precisely to celebrating the sublime and the picturesque in Canadian 30

Wetlands in anglophone pioneer settler literature and nature writing of the Canadian canon

landscape poetry, and not (unlike the present one) to celebrating slimy swamps and muddy marshes in Canada, despite their undeniable presence in canonic Canadian landscape poetry, such as in that of Charles G. D. Roberts, and in Canada itself. Roberts’ poetry is briefly touched upon by Glickman (1998: 87–88) but equated with the sublime (to which I return in subsequent chapters). Glickman’s celebration of the sublime and the picturesque is performed partly by constituting ‘muddy swamps’ as their other so that the former can be valorized over the latter in the service of the hierarchies of the dominant cultural paradigm. Such rational preferences, or irrational prejudices, not only perpetuate the denigration of slimy swamps and muddy marshes in and by the dominant cultural paradigm but also the rationalist draining and filling of them. The present book aims in part to deconstruct and decolonize this anglophone pioneer settler tradition, to critique these rationalist preferences for vistas of open water over muddy swamps in the dominant cultural paradigm, and to advance the claims of the alternative cultural paradigm that values muddy swamps equally with open water. Writers about the representation of the Canadian landscape in painting and literature have generally concentrated on the established and legitimate aesthetic modes of the sublime, the picturesque and the beautiful (Glickman 1998: esp. 9–10; Marylin McKay 2011: esp. 48–49) in the dominant cultural paradigm and its aesthetic hierarchies. They do not consider the anti-aesthetic and illegitimate mode of the uncanny and the role it plays in the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality; with one very recent exception being when Marylin McKay (2011: 262) uses the term ‘uncanny’ in relation to a few paintings by Canadian artists, but here she neither defines nor elaborates upon the term. She dips her toes into the swampy water of the uncanny only to quickly pull them out.3 Earlier she states that Moodie in Roughing it in the Bush ‘moves back and forth in her description of the landscape from the sublime to the picturesque to full blown Romanticism’ (Marylin McKay 2011: 86). One wonders what is ‘full blown Romanticism’ if it is not the sublime; there is arguably nothing more fully blown about Romanticism than the sublime. Perhaps, however (though again she does not elaborate), full-blown Romanticism is the sublime shadowed by its dark other, the gothic, or the uncanny. This was certainly the case for Moodie, but not for Traill. While both Moodie and Traill deprecated swamps and marshes in a show of sisterly solidarity, they did so in different ways in a display of sibling rivalry, albeit while still both operating within the dominant cultural paradigm. Although Traill, as an amateur natural historian, or naturalist, appreciated the flora of wetlands, she abstracted them from their wetland habitats, viewed them taxonomically as species within a grid of genuses and regarded wetlands as obstructions to beautiful views and as depressing places. By contrast, Moodie, as a purveyor of the gothic, projected fears and phantasies onto them as screens for horror and the monstrous, and then moralized and denigrated them as places of darkness and evil. Both sisters constructed wetlands as object and thereby constituted themselves as subjects in contradistinction to themselves in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm with its distinction of subject versus object and its 31

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hierarchization of the former over the latter. This construction of the subject was carried out in contradistinction either, in Traill’s case, to flowers or beautiful views or pleasing picturesque prospects as object or in Moodie’s case in conjunction with hyper-subjective sublime scenery with the wetland either construed as the impediment to those views or prospects to be cleared away in both sisters’ case, or counterpointed to the sublime as its dark underside to be repressed, or by which to be fascinated and horrified in a frisson of the uncanny. The foundations for Traill’s view were laid when she first set eyes on a Canadian wetland and recorded her impressions in The Backwoods of Canada, ‘one of the most widely circulated and best-known books about Canada’ according to Gray (1999: 178). Despite this reputation and perpetuating their literary sibling rivalry in the Canadian canon, Gray (1999: 205) personally prefers her sister’s Roughing it in the Bush as ‘the best of all the books that she and Catharine wrote’ as ‘Susanna was at pains to show the dark underbelly of experiences that her own sister Catharine had written about with gentle joy’ (1999: 206). These experiences included horror at the quite literal dark underbelly of wolves, those monstrous inhabitants of swamps, as well as fascination with the ‘dark side of the emigrant’s life’, as The Athenaeum reviewer of the book put it (cited by Gray 1999: 210) associated metaphorically with swamps and marshes as the black waters and dark underside of the colonizing enterprise of enlightening the land. Both sisters subscribe to and support the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies that valorize the light over the dark, the solid over the slimy. Similarly for Glickman (1998: 80), Moodie is ‘the most complete chronicler of the settlement experience in English Canada’. Glickman goes on to claim that in this chronicle she wrestles with ‘the imperial discourse’. In her bout with the imperialist and rationalist discourse of swamps, Moodie loses the fight in the first round in her struggle with its landscape aesthetics in her preference for open water over muddy swamps (as we saw above). In her bout with the non-rational and populist discourse of the gothic, she meekly succumbs and throws in the towel to the prevailing view of muddy swamps in the dominant cultural paradigm as exclusively the sites of horror and the monstrous (as we will see below). It is then perhaps no surprise that ‘most folk living in Ontario’ still have a ‘rational preference’ for ‘open vistas of water’ to ‘muddy swamps’ given Moodie’s horror of them and the canonical status of Roughing it. Glickman studiously avoids the gothic aspects of Moodie’s work in her discussion of the sublime and picturesque in Moodie’s and others’ Canadian ‘nature writing’, perhaps with good reason. Arguably, the sublime is always limned by the gothic. The sublime and the gothic are locked in perpetual struggle with the gothic as the sublime’s dark shadow, its doppelganger. Moodie does not utilize the power of the gothic to contest the dominance of the sublime, unlike, for instance, her contemporary Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), or to support the claims of its alternative and double in the slime as Poe did (see Giblett 1996: 172–175). Catharine Parr Traill is much more comfortable than her sister with reproducing the imperialist discourse of natural history and the rationalist preferences of the European 32

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landscape aesthetic within the dominant cultural paradigm. Her first sighting of Canada in 1832 is from the decks of the ship on which she had made the transatlantic crossing. She describes the Isle of Bic in the St Lawrence River as ‘a pretty low island, covered with trees and looking very pleasant. I felt a longing desire to set my foot on Canadian ground’ but is advised by the captain to stay on board with no reasons being given at the time. Traill takes his advice and ‘so I contented myself with leaning over the ship’s side and feasting my eyes on the rich masses of foliage’ on the island. Not only does the captain’s advice enact the dominant masculinist construction of gender and gendered division of labour with men going ashore to set foot heroically on Canadian ground and women staying on aboard to watch meekly from afar, but also the difference between the remote view of pleasant scenery from a distance reproduces the European landscape aesthetic in which the ambulatory desire to experience it first hand, or foot, is thwarted and displaced, if not sublimated, into the consumption of visual delights and the satiation of visual pleasure in an oral metaphor of greedy and sadistic consumption. The long distance and sublimated view of pleasurable scenery is later contrasted with the recounting of a close and bodily encounter with place: On the return of the boat I learned that the ground was swampy just where the party landed, and they sunk over their ankles in water. They reported the island to be covered knee-deep with a most luxuriant growth of red clover, tall trees, low shrubs, and an abundance of wild flowers. (1836/1989: 22) Traill’s description contrasts with Jacques Cartier’s description of the marshes of Cap Rouge of three centuries earlier in 1541 (Cartier 1993: 100–101). Whereas Cartier described and appreciated the marshes in terms of their value as cattle-feed, albeit in service of the dominant (agri)cultural paradigm, Traill sees and describes this swamp in botanical, floristic and bodily terms also in service of the dominant (horti)cultural or botanicultural paradigm. Her desire to set foot on Canadian ground would presumably have been to set down her feet onto firm, dry land not to sink down into soft, wet land as had the men who went ashore. This wetland is calibrated and its value assessed in terms of human bodily scale and contact with the water coming above their ankles and vegetation coming up to their knees. A later description of ‘a great cedar swamp’ also calibrates the depth of the water in terms of the human bodily scale as ‘one might sink up to one’s knees’ into it (1836/1989: 92). The adherents of the dominant cultural paradigm deprecate wetlands in terms of their human scale and the fear of being sucked into them whereas such proponents of the alternative paradigm as Aldo Leopold and Henry David Throeau appreciate being ‘chin-deep’, or even ‘eye-deep’, in the marsh (as we will see in later chapters). The vegetation in Traill’s earlier description is abstracted from the wetland habitat and ecosystem in which it lives. Traill on the next page proclaims that ‘it is fortunate for me 33

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that my love of natural history enables me to draw amusement from objects that are deemed by many unworthy of attention’ (1836/1989: 23). ‘A most luxuriant growth of red clover, tall trees, low shrubs, and an abundance of wild flowers’ are all objects that amuse Traill, but the wetland habitat in which they live only amuses her as a landscape from a distance as an object of visual consumption and pleasure. This distinction is a disjunction of scale between floral species on the one hand and landscape for Traill, or habitat, on the other. Natural history abstracts species as objects and as specimens from their habitat, in this case, from the abject wetland. Natural history, as Foucault (1970) argues, constructs a subject/object distinction and relationship between the subject of the viewer and the viewed objects of plants and animals. It also constructs the subject, and a position for the subject to take up in relation to objects. It does so in service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchy of the subject privileged over the object. Trees, shrubs and flowers for Traill are objects, but their wetland habitat is abject (neither subject nor object [Kristeva 1982: 1]). The abject is in-between the subject and object; it is mere swampy ground; it resists the dominant cultural paradigm and supports the alternative paradigm and its avowal of equality. Traill retained her view for nearly 60 years, for in Pearls and Pebbles she proclaims to her fellow Canadians that ‘to the eye of the botanist our cranberry marshes are fields of beauty and of great interest’ (1894/1999: 123). These cranberry marshes are not so much ‘fields of beauty and of great interest’ in their overall effect at the macroscopic level, nor in their biological operations at the microscopic level, but cabinets containing and sequestering botanical curiosities. They are plant ‘nurseries’. Their role as zoological habitats is denigrated as the ‘haunts of [both] harmless species of snakes’ and of ‘obnoxious reptiles’ in ‘this paradise of wild flowers’. Traill recommends on the following page that ‘the naturalist must not be afraid of mosquitoes or wet feet, nor must he mind tripping in a hidden network of tangled roots’ if ‘he’ wants ‘to be rewarded by finding many a rare bog orchid’. The naturalist is an orchid hunter and collector in the inhospitable but floristically paradisiacal marsh who has come to pluck the flower, to collect the prized specimen for taxonomic display in his or her cabinet of botanical curiosities. The naturalist does not appreciate the wetland garden in which the flower grows and in which reptiles live, but appreciates the Edenic flower and deprecates the serpent that lives in the garden in a reprise of the biblical story in service of the dominant patriarchal paradigm and its hierarchical privileging of garden over swamp. The resisting, subversive and alternative view of Henry David Thoreau is that the swamp is a garden. Swampy ground in nineteenth-century European culture and its settler diasporas was regarded as pleasant to view from above and from a distance and unpleasant to sink into, in conformity with the conventions of the European landscape aesthetic of viewing a piece of land as landscape from a raised vantage point or ‘eminence’ in order to ‘command’ ‘the pleasing prospect’ and master it from above. Swampy ground was also reviled and vilified as unhealthy, following in the footsteps of the prevailing miasmatic theory of disease (Gray 1999: 71 and 127). Traill is told that the shores of Rice Lake: 34

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Are not considered healthy, the inhabitants being subject to lake-fevers and ague, especially where the ground is low and swampy. These fevers and agues are supposed by some people to originate in the extensive rice-beds which cause a stagnation in the water; the constant evaporation from the surface acting on a mass of decaying vegetation must tend to have a bad effect on the constitution of those that are immediately exposed to it pernicious influence. (Traill 1894/1999: 60–61) This is a precise description of the miasmatic theory of disease. Bad air not only arose from swamps but also from any ‘spongy ground’, including from a cellar as occurs later when Traill elaborates how ‘the effluvia arising from this mass of putrifying water affected us all’ (Traill 1894/1999: 242). Although Traill conveys the view of ‘some people’ regarding swamps and malaria and does not endorse it as her view, she still subscribes to the miasmatic theory of malaria (literally ‘bad air’). It is thus anachronistic on Gray’s part to claim that as ‘malaria […] was rampant on the frontier, […] settlers were struggling to drain mosquito-infested swamps’ there (1999: 125). After the 1890s they may have done so in order to eradicate mosquito habitat, and in turn eradicate mosquitoes as the vector for malaria, but not before then when they drained miasma-infested swamps in order to try to eradicate bad air. It is necessary at this point to trace briefly the provenance of the miasmatic theory of malaria and other diseases as it has not merely been discredited and thrown in the dustbin of history, but has had a strange kind of afterlife that reflects badly on wetlands and contributes to devaluation of them. Miasma, as David Miller (1989: 190: 1, 2) has pointed out, is ‘an infectious air said to emanate from decaying matter and swamps and marshes’ and ‘originally stood for any pollution or polluting agent’. A common complaint about some Canadian wetlands, such as Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh near Toronto and Black Swamp on the Niagara Peninsula, was that they caused malaria. The miasmatic theory of disease produced an anti-ecology that destroyed habitats and wetlands in a bid ostensibly to minimize disease and improve health. Many Canadian wetlands are testament to this destruction and on occasion make it into the testament, for example with Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh in Toronto and False Creek in Vancouver (as we will see in later chapters). Yet rather than the wetland, it was the anthropogenic unsanitary conditions of waste disposal and pollution with pathogens in and by the city that were unhealthy. This was the case with the modern industrial cities of Toronto and Vancouver (as we will also see in later chapters). The miasmatic theory prevailed over the germ theory for two millennia until the late nineteenth century with the establishment of the anopheles mosquito as the vector for malaria. Swamps per se are not malarial, nor unhealthy for that matter, though of course they are the habitat for anopheles mosquitoes. Swamps were only malarial or unhealthy places in the misconception of the miasmatic theory of the origins of disease. 35

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Of course, it is unfair to overly criticize premodern people for their assumptions. No doubt the judgement of history will criticize modern, or hypermodern people, for our assumptions. One might ask what difference did it make anyway whether disease came from rotting organic matter or mosquitoes, since both are found in wetlands? Either way, one would get sick and die. Didn’t it make sense to avoid or sanitize these places? Of course it did and the point is not that the miasmatic theory was wrong (as many theories turn out to be wrong and it would be an endless task to correct them), but that it moralized and politicized wetlands as a source of evil and/or subversion (and not just of disease) and that it failed in some cases (such as Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh) to distinguish between the marsh as a wetland ecosystem and source of malaria (an airborne disease in either the miasmatic or mosquito theory) and the marsh as a sink for industrial and urban wastes and source of cholera (a waterborne disease). This pejorative view of wetlands from the medical and moral points of view tends to get tied up with adverse aesthetic, agricultural and ambulatory valuations with all five mutually reinforcing each other. Besides the visual pleasure of viewing wetlands from a distance and the bodily drawbacks of wetlands that the viewer’s feet could sink into and their health be adversely affected by, ‘low land’ could also be ‘too swampy to be put under cultivation’ (Traill 1894/1999: 63) as was remarked upon regarding one particular area of Rice Lake. European dry land agriculture was not suitable for Canadian wetlands in their undrained state, though presumably First Nations’ wetland agriculture did cultivate and harvest rice in them, but Traill does not discuss this. Nor does she discuss European wetland agriculture in Canada undertaken by French settlers who successfully drained and farmed Canadian wetlands, including along the St Lawrence River (through which she passed) for a hundred years before she arrived (Hatvany 2003) and for a further hundred years before that in Acadia. European modes of transportation were also impeded by low swampy ground over whose ‘mud-holes’ (Traill 1894/1999: 95) corduroy roads of logs were inadequately constructed. The driver of a wheeled vehicle could be catapulted into ‘the very midst of a deep mud-hole’ and find him or herself ‘lodged just in the middle of a slough as bad as the “Slough of Despond”’ (Traill 1894/1999: 97) in which Christian found himself mired in John Bunyan’s allegorical The Pilgrim’s Progress on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Within the dominant cultural paradigm, wetlands were bad not only for physical health in accordance with the prevailing miasmatic view of malaria, but also bad for mental health in conformity with the prevailing miasmatic view of melancholia. The association between wetlands and melancholy (and boredom and bitterness, sadness and solitude) has its roots in the western theory of the elements and the humours. European culture was founded (and with its settler diasporas still functions when it comes to wetlands) on the philosophy of the four elements of earth, air, fire and water and their modern counterparts of the solid, gaseous, hot and liquid. Wetlands have always been problematic, indeed aberrant, from this point of view because they mix 36

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the elements of earth and water (and even air and ‘fire’ or heat in the tropics), solid and liquid. They cross the boundaries between land and water, and can even be in transition spatially and temporally between open water and dry land. They are a troubling and unsettling category mediating between land and water. Glickman’s insistence on Ontarian folk’s rational preference for open water over muddy swamps is a case in point as this convention of European landscape aesthetics is based on keeping the elements of earth and water separate (as in open water) and not mixing them (as in muddy swamps). In the western theory of the elements, the four elements combine to form, or are associated with, psychosomatic states or ‘humours’. As wetlands mix the four elements, they also produce an aberrant ‘humour‘, or psychosomatic state, strictly a kind of phlegmatic melancholy. Traill later links the ‘malady’ of malaria with the melancholia of ‘depression’ (Traill 1894/1999: 242), though she does dissociate malaria and wetlands by conveying ‘the observation of a blunt but experienced Yankee doctor: ‘“Do not tell me of lakes and swamps as the cause of fevers and agues; look to your cellars”’ (Traill 1894/1999: 244). Following in his footsteps, Traill differentiates effluvia arising from the decaying vegetable matter and stagnant water of swamps from the effluvia arising from decaying vegetable matter and stagnant waters of cellars (and of other built structures such as drains, streets and sewers, a commonplace of the nineteenth century [see Giblett 2009: ch. 3]). The European landscape aesthetic is reiterated throughout The Backwoods of Canada with its valorization of picturesque pleasing prospects (see, for example: 59, 77, 93) and of ‘the sublime scenery of the arctic regions’ (Traill 1894/1999: 245). Swamps and marshes in winter could be pleasant to look at from a distance and easier to walk on as they became solid whereas in summer the walker sank into them. They also had no insects in winter compared to summer during which season the walker was attacked by their voracious insect life. Similarly to her sister, Moodie (1852/1989: 8) refers in her poem ‘Canada’ in Roughing it in the Bush to ‘thy scenery sublime’ made up of ‘thy mountains, streams and woods’ and ‘thy everlasting floods’, not made up of swamps and marshes, but of lakes presumably, a presumption confirmed later in the poem when Canada is referred to as ‘the land of lake and wood’, not the land of marshes and swamps. The Canadian signature tableaux for Moodie are lakes and woods, not marshes and swamps. The swamps and marshes of Canada are perhaps only referred to as ‘the desert solitude/Of trackless waters’. Presumably they are not trackless for their indigenous inhabitants, nor for native animals, one species of which in the wolf is not only stereotyped, but also located in (and associated with) the swamp. In a discussion of ‘Nature the Divine Mother’, Margaret Atwood (1996: 51) notes in Moodie’s Roughing it in the Bush a ‘markedly double-minded attitude’ towards the sublime and the swamps of Canada with the former valorized and the latter deprecated. Moodie’s view of Canada is split between an appreciation for the monumental God-the-father sublime in the upper drylands and an antipathy towards the monstrous goddess-the-mother swampy in the lower wetlands. In a fitting motto for pioneer anglophone settlers to express their horror of swamps, Moodie (1852/1989: 147) in a later poem describes how ‘from the cedar swamp the gaunt 37

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wolves howl’. The swamp for Moodie is the haunt of horror and the monstrous, if not downright evil, embodied in and by wolves. Moodie (1852/1989: 188) describes a pack of ‘fierce wolves’ as ‘black devils’ with ‘fiery eyes and bristling hair, and paws that seemed hardly to touch the ground in their eager haste’. The wolves are fallen swamp angels flying above the swamp. The wolves are demonized, the swamp theologized as hell and both moralized as evil, as with the miasmatic theory of malaria and melancholy, in support of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies rather than seeing the swamp and its creatures as divine in accordance with the alternative cultural paradigm that regards the swamp as the great goddess or mother and gives homage to, and treats with respect, horrifying marsh monsters. This is neither to deny nor underplay the very real threat that wolves did pose to life, limb and health (in the form of rabies), but to acknowledge and respect them as denizens of their own bioregional home habitat. The fallen angel of the swamp is a persistent figure in canonic anglophone settler literature and culture in Canada and the US. Ethel Wilson notes as the epigraph for her novel Swamp Angel, ‘swamp angel’ was the name for an 8-inch, 200-pound gun mounted in a swamp at the siege of Charleston, South Carolina in 1863 during the American Civil War. She goes on to note that ‘subsequently there was an issue of small revolvers inscribed “Swamp Angel”’ (Wilson 1990: iii). A monstrous war machine in a swamp aimed to deliver damnation to the firee and salvation to the firer gives birth to a miniaturized version militarizing civilian life and delivering death and destruction. This swamp angel encapsulates a potted history of weaponry; Moodie’s swamp angels adumbrate a potted history of swamp demonology. The wolves for Moody are not only fallen swamp angels but also gothic monsters of the night, more specifically of the moon. They are not creatures of the sun and the day, for Moodie (1852/1989: 193) describes later how, ‘just as the moon rose, the howling of a pack of wolves, from the great swamp in our rear, filled the whole air’. The swamp is the nether land, the grotesque lower earthly stratum whose slime engenders monstrous things. The howls of the wolves arise from the slimy mixture of the elements of earth and water and fill the element of air. These howls telecommunicate across the divide between upper and lower strata via the sense of hearing and bring the distant close. The wolves can be heard, but not seen, so they defy mastery by the sense of sight. Their howls are vehicles and vectors for the uncanny as they are heard at a distance and enter the portals of the ear overcoming the distance between hearer and heard, and bringing the horror home, inside the mind. Moodie figures the swamp in service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies that valorize the upper strata of the earth and the body over their lower strata, demonize the creatures of the swamp and psycho(geo)pathologize the swamp as an horrific and monstrous place. The light of day is the perfect antidote for these horrors of the night, for Moodie goes on to relate how, ‘just as the day broke, my friends the wolves set up a parting benediction […] But their detestable howls died away in the distance, and the bright sun rose up and dispersed the wild horrors of the night’ (Moodie 1852/1989: 194). The pack of wolves is 38

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the anti-Christ who, as it departs, bestow on Moodie an ironic benediction, literally a ‘good word’, but here ironized as a bad word, a black malediction. This word, however, is no match for the bright light of the sun/son of God in a re-enactment of the first fiat of creation, ‘Let there be light’. The light of day and of divine revelation theologizes the swamp and night as hell and its denizens as devils, and moralizes both as evil rather than celebrating the first act of God in creating the world as wetland (as I do in the ‘Preface’ to the present book). The swamp for Moodie is not only hellish but also apocalyptic. The swamp could even be ‘the end of the world’, or ‘the end of swamp’ could lead ‘to the other world’ as one man related to Moodie (1852/1989: 278–279). Or should that be the ‘nether world’, or ‘nether land’ of hell? The swamp is located in time and space as, and at, the end of the world rather than at is beginning. Similarly for her sister in Pearls and Pebbles, ‘a forest wilderness [lying northward] beyond the infant settlement of Peterborough’ was ‘the ultima thule’, literally ‘the end of the world’, of ‘civilization’, that is, of white settlement (Traill 1894/1999: 10; 188, n.3). Yet ecologically, the swamp is the beginning of the world and new life. It is located in time and space at and in the beginning when God created ‘heaven and earth and darkness was upon the face of the deep’ and before He divided land and water and uttered His first fiat, ‘Let there be light’. In other words, in the beginning the world was wetland, God’s first, and arguably, best work. Rather than ascending the hierarchical great chain of being in the dominant cultural paradigm in which ‘man’ is at the top, the alternative paradigm refuses hierarchy and values land and water mixing in the swamp. The swamp for Moodie (1852/1989: 169–170) is not only the haunt of the demonic and monstrous but also the epitome of the monotonous and melancholic. In a later poem she bemoans: Oh! land of water, how thy spirit tires, In the dark prison of thy boundless woods; No rural charm poetic thought inspires, No music murmurs in thy mighty floods; Though vast the features that compose thy frame, Turn where we will, the landscape’s still the same. The swampy margin of thy inland seas, The eternal forest girdling either shore, Its belt of dark pines sighing in the breeze, And rugged fields, with rude huts dotted o’er, Show cultivation unimproved by art, That sheds a barren chillness on the heart.

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Swampy margins are cultivated, but in an artless and melancholic sort of way. Swamps are marginal places indeed. Wolves are bad and their howls horrifying but they are not orally sadistic monsters, unlike ‘man’ for Moodie’s husband, John:

Some men, like greedy monsters of the deep, Still prey upon their kind;–their hungry maws Engulph their victims like the rav’nous shark.

They are orally sadistic monsters, unlike the wolves that howl from a distance. Also, unlike a litany of other animals, such as alligators and sharks:

[…] man–he never hath enough; He feeds on all alike; and, wild or tame, He’s but a cannibal. He burns, destroys, And scatters death to sate his morbid lust For empty fame. (Moodie 1852/1989: 245–246)

‘Man’, that gendered creature of modern secular humanism, is a monster, not the swamp, nor its denizens. Moodie’s value-laden hierarchy of the landscape in service of the dominant cultural paradigm is summed up later when she relates that ‘no language can adequately express the solemn grandeur of ’ the ‘sublimity of the Canadian waters’ (referring to lakes and rivers). Language cannot adequately express her delight in the waters of lake and rivers where ‘no dreary breadth of marshes, covered with flags, hides from our gaze the expanse of heaven-tinted waters; no foul mud-banks spread their unwholesome exhalations around’ (Moodie 1852/1989: 285). Language can convey her horror of marshes though. Waters within the dominant cultural paradigm should be open to reflect the light of the sun from the heavens above. Waters should also not emit unhealthy effluvia. On the following page Moodie finds herself in ‘the heart of a dark cedar swamp, and my mind was haunted with visions of wolves and bears; but beyond the long, wild howl of a solitary wolf, no other sound awoke the sepulchral silence of that dismal-looking wood’ (Moodie 1852/1989: 286). Dismal was a stock-in-trade cliché of nineteenth-century anglophone settler diasporas and their association with, and naming of, swamps. It was instituted most prominently in the previous century by William Byrd in naming the Great Dismal Swamp between Virginia and North Carolina (see Giblett 1996). It persisted in Canada in the century following Byrd, not only for Moodie but also for Edmund Collins (1886: 29) in The Four Canadian Highwaymen who calls Markham Swamp ‘that dismal swamp’. Moodie figures the swamp as tomb, as place of death, which indeed it is, but it is also womb, place of new life. In the dominant cultural paradigm the swamp is exclusively a place of death, a tomb, whereas in the alternative cultural paradigm the swamp is also 40

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a place of death and new life, both tomb and womb. Moodie separates life from death in a Judeo-Christian biblical binarism that John Muir, among other conservationists, bemoaned as detrimental to conservation and for whom life and death are intermingled (as we will see in a later chapter). Traill has the perfect solution for her sister to the problem of the swampy margins of lakes when she tells her that ‘when that black cedar swamp is cleared away, that now hides the lake from us, you will have a very pretty view’ (297). The swamp is an impediment and a hindrance to having and experiencing a pleasing prospect of open water. The hand of man clears away the impediment to viewing the lake. The swamp impudently hides the lake so the swamp must be cleared away to reveal the lake. The swamp is an impediment to progress and improvement, and to the enacting of European landscape aesthetics in the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. As such, it must be removed. Moodie does not mention the fact that for settlers to purchase or be granted lands in Upper Canada (as in Australia), the British government required them to subject the land to agricultural improvement, such as filling or draining wetlands. Moodie’s response to the black cedar swamp and Traill’s suggestion of removing the trees are not related to these sort of legal constraints and pragmatic uses of the (wet)land but are solely couched in the aesthetic terms of producing a pleasing prospect (though this is also an agricultural and pastoral landscape) in service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its landscape and land-use hierarchies. Moodie’s husband duly obliges and takes up Trail’s suggestion, for: when the dark cedar-swamp fronting the house fell beneath the strokes of the axe, and we got a first view of the lake, my joy was complete; a new and beautiful object was now constantly before me, which gave me the greatest pleasure. By night and day, in sunshine or in storm, water is always the most sublime feature in a landscape. (Moodie 1852/1989: 329) The lake is constituted as beautiful object and Moodie as beautifying subject in whose eyes the beauty of the lake is produced in a mutually constructing and self-fulfilling conjunction of subject and object that is the modus operandi of the European landscape aesthetic within the dominant cultural paradigm. The lake as beautiful object and Moodie as beautifying subject are also constituted as static and fixed entities, compared to the dynamism and mobility of the water construed and evoked as sublime. The twin Burkean and Kantian aesthetic modes of the beautiful and sublime are found in the lake and water respectively (and not in swamps) as they were for Wordsworth. The swamp is neither subject nor object, but in-between subject and object. The swamp, in a word – Kristeva’s word – is abject (1982: 1). The abject swamp is to be ‘cleared away’ so the beautifying subject can see the beautiful object of the lake and experience the sublime hyper-subject of water. But without the abject there can be no subject or object; without the swamp and 41

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clearing it away there is no view of the lake or experience of sublime water; the abject was there before the subject and the object; without the abject of the swamp there can be no beautifying subject of the viewer and object of the beautiful view; without the slime of the swamp, there can be no sublime of water for slime is the secret of the sublime. Slime and the sublime come together in the s(ub)lime with slime as the repressed and necessary ‘other’ of the sublime that makes the latter possible. The dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchy that valorizes the sublime over the slime are dependent upon and repress the slime. The slime for its part resists and subverts the dominant cultural paradigm in support of the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality. Slime, swamps and bogs figure briefly in the writings of ‘Grey Owl’ (Archibald Belaney, 1888–1938), the canonic anglophone Canadian nature writer of the 1930s. He deprecated slime as a feature of muskegs that are ‘frequently little more than moss-covered bogs that offer not one solid piece of footing in miles’. Bogs are not solid ground and do not provide a sound footing for a man to take a stance or to undertake a journey. Synonymous with muskegs as moss-covered bogs and operating in the same landscape lexicon in the dominant cultural paradigm are such terms as ‘this morass’, ‘this swamp’ and ‘a quaking bog’ from which ‘mosquitoes in countless myriads swarmed on us from the pools of slime on every side’ (Grey Owl 1999: 11). Grey Owl concludes ‘the whole thing was a hideous nightmare’. Other wetland writers, such as Henry David Thoreau, are more appreciative of what he calls ‘the quaking zone’ of bogs and other wetlands and were more inclined to see them as a glorious vision in the alternative cultural paradigm. In the first dozen pages of his first book, Grey Owl wastes no time in denigrating and dismissing wetlands, a view he seems to have upheld and not altered in his later writings. Grey Owl adds oral sadism to the horrific features of muskegs 20 pages later in a chapter entitled aptly ‘The Land of Shadows’, a kind of secularized ‘valley of the shadow of death’ of Psalm 23, when he reiterates that: those immense muskegs or swamps […] make overland travel in whole sections of this territory impossible in the summer time. These consist mostly of stretches composed of deep, thin mud, covered with slushy moss […] Bright green, inviting-looking fields show up in places, luring the inexperienced into their maw with their deceptive promise of good footing […] There are holes between hummocks that are filled with noisome stagnant water, which would engulf a man. The whole thing is practically a floating bog. (Grey Owl 1999: 31) Grey Owl, despite his otherwise exemplary resistance to the dominant cultural paradigm and support for the alternative in general and for First Nations’ people and their cultures in particular, subscribes to the view of the dominant cultural paradigm when it comes to wetlands: that water should be both flowing (not stagnant) and pleasant (not noisome), and that wetlands are orally sadistic monsters that would consume a man. 42

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This is neither to deny nor underestimate the impediment that muskegs and other wetlands pose to backwoodsmen, hunters and trappers such as Grey Owl trying to traverse through or over them as one of ‘the men of the last frontier’, the title of this, his first book, published in 1931, from which the passages cited come. Yet to consider wetlands largely in terms of their transportational difficulties is not only pragmatic (and praiseworthy) and understandable for hunters and trappers, but also reductionist (and problematic) as it ignores the ecological ‘goods and services’ wetlands provide for their bioregion and humans, including First Nations. Grey Owl does not acknowledge or discuss the role wetlands play for First Nations in providing food, materials and habitat for native fauna and flora. He reproduces the dominant cultural paradigm’s view of wetlands, including their association with melancholy. He does not explore the alternative view, nor learn from First Nations about their views of wetlands. When Grey Owl becomes ‘a pilgrim of the wild’ (the title of his next book), he devotes a chapter to ‘How We Crossed the Slough of Despond’, drawing on John Bunyan’s famous Christian allegory. Although the Slough of Despond for Grey Owl is primarily a psychological trope for his depressed and melancholic mental state, this state is triggered just after ‘fighting my way through one of the densest cedar swamps I had ever encountered’ and finding ‘a swamp road that lay in muskeg, which […] was […] a treacherous […] piece of going’ (Grey Owl 1999: 295). On the same page, Grey Owl relates later how ‘my mind was oppressed by a deep foreboding’ and on the following page how he suffered ‘a forlorn hope’. He is only able to extricate himself from this Slough of Despond by climbing to the top of a ridge and taking in the prospect: not only a displeasing one of ‘this vast and terrible desolation of a ruined and broken forest’ but also a pleasing one of ‘the tiny glow of the lighted tent that sheltered all I cared for in the world’. This beacon of light in the darkening gloom and this haven in a heartless world ‘did much to dispel the fog [rising from a swamp?] of apprehension that was settling on me’ (Grey Owl 1999: 297). Grey Owl is able to cross successfully on his pilgrimage from the earthly City of Destruction through the Slough of Despond of the wilderness to the Heavenly Country of the national park by becoming a ranger. By contrast, Thoreau sees fog rising from a swamp as homely as it rises like steam from a kettle. The deprecation of wetlands in the dominant cultural paradigm Moodie and Traill imported from Europe and England in the mid-nineteenth century and Grey Owl perpetuated in the early twentieth century, Franklin Russell (1922–1970) also reproduced largely in the mid-twentieth century. In the 1960s Russell wrote evocatively in Watchers at the Pond about an archetypal Canadian pond bordered on one side by a marsh and on another by a swamp. In the ‘Preface’ to the Time Readers’ Program edition, the Time Editors (Russell 1966: vii) note the location of the pond in the ‘borderland’ between the north and the south, between the Arctic and the Boreal Shield and Mixedwood Plains. Whereas Moodie focuses on the horror of the wetland for the settler and Grey Owl on the transportational difficulties they pose for the hunter and trapper, Russell evokes the terror of the hunted in pond, swamp and marsh and the ability of the hunter to produce terror 43

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in the hunted, or what he euphemistically calls ‘the quarry’ (title of ch. 7). Horror and terror are two ruling passions of modernity with terror being aligned with the sublime and the law of the father in the dominant and dependent cultural paradigm, and horror being associated with the slimy and uncanny and the body of the mother in the resistive, repressed and alternative cultural paradigm. In describing ‘the hunt’ (ch. 6), Russell militarizes the pond as ‘the battleground’ (Russell 1966: xi). Certainly there is a strong association between war and the sublime (see Giblett 2008b, 2009) and war has been seen as a sublimation of hunting. Of course, hunting is part of nature, but to emphasize hunting to the detriment of, say, gathering is to create a macho picture of the pond as a site of dog-eat-dog winner-takes-all violence. It is to project a social Darwinian view from the culture of the capitalist city onto nature that had ostensibly been derived in the first place from observing the survival of the fittest in nature in which nature and culture reinforce each other in a mutually self-regarding mirror in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies of culture over nature and city over country. Nature is not only red in tooth and claw, as Tennyson said, but also green in leaf and branch. Competition and cooperation are both aspects of nature. Russell presses the pond into the service of the dominant masculinist cultural paradigm and its militaristic hierarchies instead of seeing the pond as a maternal homehabitat for plants and animals. He also presses the pond into the patriarchal service of the law of father in the dominant cultural paradigm and its masculinist and macho hierarchies instead of seeing it as a place of the body of the mother in the alternative matrifocal cultural paradigm, its avowal of equality and its valuing of gylany in which the sexes are equal and the gendered construction of reality in which the genders are in balance (see Giblett 2011, ch. 1). Russell makes the customary acknowledgement of the awakening of the pond each spring in ‘a prodigious expansion of life, diversified and interrelated’ (Russell 1966: 66). He also emphasizes that ‘in the fullness of life, death is imminent’, that ‘throughout all pond life, there was death’, that ‘in death there was life’ and that ‘life stirred amid death’ as part of the ‘cycle of birth and death that regulated the life of the pond’ (1966: xii, 111, 116, 184, 35). These pronouncements draw together both the dominant cultural paradigm’s morbid cult of death (whereby in the midst of life we are in death) in a chronological view of time with the alternative cultural paradigm’s acclamation and celebration (whereby in the midst of death we are in life) in a cyclical view of time. This drawing together of aspects of both paradigms achieves a momentary rapprochement between them. Yet in keeping with the dominant cultural paradigm, death in Russell’s pond is violent, not peaceful; death is the result of the hunt, not the end of one life and the beginning of another, the passing away of one and the coming into being of another. The hunt (and the hunter) is the bringer of death; copulation is the instigator of life. In Chapter 5, Russell describes in graphic detail copulation between a wide variety of animal species. On Russell’s macho battleground, vigorous sex and violent death rule. The hunter is the purveyor of terror in the hunted; the copulating couple is the procreator 44

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of new life. In birth there is joy at new life, and at death there is horror and new life. In wetlands there is birth and death, new life and old life, horror and joy. Other writers about Canadian wetlands (such as Douglas Lochhead, Harry Thurston, John Muir, Aldo Leopold) and other writers about wetlands elsewhere in North America (such as Henry David Thoreau) are much more attuned than Russell to the intertwining of life and death in the wetland’s ecology. Other Canadian writers, such as Daphne Marlatt and Don McKay, are similarly attuned to this and other ambiguous aspects of wetlands, too. McKay’s poem ‘Pond’ seems to counter Russell directly, or at least resist the view of wetlands in the dominant cultural paradigm: For pond is not pool, whose clarity is edgeless and whose emptiness, beloved by poets and the moon, permits us to imagine life without the accident prone plumbing of its ecosystems. No, the pause of pond is gravid and its wealth a naturally occurring soup. It thickens up with spawn and algae, while, on its surface, stirred by every whim of wind, it translates air as texture – […] Suppose Narcissus were to find a nice brown pond to gaze in: would the course of self-love run so smooth with that exquisite face rendered in bruin undertone, shaken, and floated in the murk between the deep sky and the ooze? (Don McKay 2006: 12–13) Narcissus could not fall in love with his own self-image as other if he had looked into a wetland. A wetland refuses to give back this image and only presents the other as the counterpart to the self with which to engage in dialogue. Leopold and Lochhead, Thoreau and Thurston, McKay, Marlatt and Muir all wrote a word for wetlands in appreciation and support for them and participate in an intracontinental and international dialogue for the conservation of wetlands. This book orchestrates and conducts this dialogue, turning now to the French settlers and their settlement of Acadia in the marshlands of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and to its cultural history and literary refraction. 45

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Notes 1. For an extensive discussion of the European tradition of landscape aesthetics and wetlands that Moodie inherited and brought to Canada see Giblett (1996: ch. 2 and 2011: chs 3 and 4). 2. Spatial history is Paul Carter’s term; temporal geography is mine. For a discussion of both see Giblett (2013: ch. 18). 3. The uncanny, particularly in relation to wetlands, is discussed extensively in Giblett (1996: ch. 2; 2009: ch. 2).

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Chapter 3 ‘In the Acadian land’ of Evangeline: The marshlands of Grand-Pré, the wetlands of the Bay of Fundy and Longfellow’s literary legacy

47

T

he first European settlers in Canada were the French who settled briefly by the marshlands of the St Lawrence River at Cap Rouge from 1541 to 1543, and then settled the marshlands of Acadia on the Atlantic littoral from 1604 to 1755, with remnants returning later after the British deportation. They became known as the Acadians by virtue of settling ‘Acadia’, roughly portions of the present-day provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (for the origin of the name ‘Acadia’ see Herbin 1898: 14; Bible 1906/1998: 18; Clark 1968: 71, n.1; Ross and Deveau 1992: 7–8). Using the small-scale technology of timber and sod construction (aboiteaux) that they brought with them from marshlands in France, the Acadians dyked and drained the rich and fertile soils in and around the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, most famously in the Grand Pré area. These soils were created by the tidal action of the Bay of Fundy as it has the highest tides in the world. These tides create not only fertile soil for humans but also the ideal type of a temporally variable wetland for waderbirds with the land remaining wet after the ebb of the tide and never becoming completely dry as the tides ebb and flow on a six-hour cycle. The land is gradually inundated on the flow of the tide and exposed on the ebb. The spatial and temporal intertidal zone is ideal habitat for wader-birds as they feed on crustaceans in the mud. The intertidal zone also constitutes a permeable border between land and sea. A line marked on a map representing the edge of the land and the sea is a geographical and historical construction. Dyking created such a line and is intended to maintain it to greater or lesser extent. The dyking technology of the Acadians did not try to create a bulwark against the sea (unlike that of the Dutch and British) but created a controlled, permeable barrier in which fresh water from rainfall was allowed to drain out from behind the dyke and salt water was prevented from intruding through the dyke, except occasionally (to which I return below). The line demarcating the edge of land and water is thus historically and geographically contingent on a wetland ‘coast’ on the north-western side of Nova Scotia with its marshes. This side of the province is entirely different from the south-eastern side with its rocky coast. The Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia is the site not only of Acadian dyking and settlement but also of the Ramsar Convention Wetlands of International Importance of Southern Bight-Minas Basin comprising 26,800 ha. The Grand Pré area is on the shores of the Basin. An information sheet on this Ramsar Wetland outlines the conservation values, both ornithological and human, of the site:

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• • •

Noteworthy Fauna: At peak times, Minas Basin supports flocks of over 400,000 Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla, along with thousands of Semipalmated Plover Charadrius simipalmatus, Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Shortbilled Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus and up to 10,000 Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla […] Social/Cultural Values: Evangeline Beach is a popular summer vacation area […] Current Conservation Education: A sign identifying the significance of the site is located at Evangeline Beach Current Recreation and Tourism: Visitor facilities are available in the nearby Evangeline Beach Provincial Park

The description of the social/cultural values and current conservation education is underwhelming to say the least. ‘Facilities’ is a euphemism for ‘rest rooms’, itself a euphemism for toilets. Far more impressive visitor facilities and site interpretation are located at nearby Grand Pré National Historic Site that, like the Beach and the Provincial Park, commemorates Longfellow’s fictional poetic character of Evangeline and her tragic love story in the eponymous long poem of that title as well as the life and culture of the Acadians and their distinctive dykeland technology and farming techniques, including an impressive display of a recovered aboiteaux. Grand Pré is the setting for Longfellow’s story. It is a distinctive dyked marshland as Longfellow points out early in his long poem, but this is not crucial to the story and it could have been set virtually anywhere, and in any period, though the style and genre in which it is told are quintessentially nineteenthcentury, a century after the events on which it is based. Tragic love stories of separation and loss have been set in a variety of locales and times. The setting is not vital to the story and is not a character in its right with a part to play. In my story of Canadian wetlands, as with my previous books on wetlands, the wetlands are characters in their own right, and have agency and a role to play. The almost total lack of interpretation about the Southern Bight-Minas Basin Ramsar site located on-site contrasts not only with Grand Pré National Historic Site Visitors’ Centre but also with the interpretation centre located at Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Canada’s, and North America’s, first Ramsar site. It is located on the banks of the St Lawrence River in Quebec province. It is a famous staging point for thousands of migratory Canada geese on the west Atlantic flyway. Three hundred other species have been recorded there. The interpretation centre (rather than mere ‘visitors’ centre’, or even ‘visitor facilities’) is impressive. It houses many displays about both the geography and history of the site and its importance as a bird habitat. It also has an extensive network of boardwalks stretching for kilometres and a huge bird hide down on the marsh close to the mud flats. The site is renaturalizing dyked and drained marshland. This history is acknowledged, as is the history of hunting beginning with First Nations people and continuing as a current activity. 50

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As the first Ramsar site to be nominated to the convention in North America, it seems as if the Canadian government was trying to be impressive with the facilities and services it provided here as a one-off, though other Ramsar sites across Canada, such as at Point Pelee in Ontario, have impressive interpretation and visitor centres, often combined, as in this case, with offices of Environment Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service. At Cap Tourmente, the offices of Environment Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service are located in a restored old farmhouse. The Cap Tourmente interpretation centre is the only stand-alone, dedicated interpretation centre based on a Ramsar site that I saw in Canada. The interpretation centres at other Ramsar sites in Canada, such as Alaksen National Wildlife Area in British Columbia and at Point Pelee National Park in Ontario are combined with the regional offices of Environment Canada, and the one at Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba is combined with the headquarters of Ducks Unlimited Canada. The Grand Pré visitor centre, by contrast, does not provide any interpretation about the nearby Ramsar Wetland of international importance on its very shores. It commemorates Evangeline and the Acadians, both their dyking of the marshlands and their deportation by the British in 1755. Some visitors to this centre would also go to the Evangeline Beach Provincial Park to view the famous French Cross of deportation located there. One wonders how many visitors to the centre or to the cross would also visit the Ramsar Convention Wetland of international importance of Southern Bight-Minas Basin unless they are interested in wetlands. No doubt some dedicated birdos or twitchers go to the Ramsar site and ecotourism is certainly a niche market. Vacationers would largely be Nova Scotians from the nearby large towns of Wolfville and Kentville and further afield in the province. This contrasts with the many more thousands of visitors who go to Grand Pré National Historic Site mainly because of Evangeline and partly because of the Acadians and their dyking technology, and not because of the marshlands of Grand Pré, let alone the wetlands of the South Bight-Minas Basin. These variations in the sites and their interpretation produces a disjunction between past and present, people and place, cultural and natural heritage and history, National Historic Site and Ramsar Wetland, tourist attraction and bird habitat, whereas historically, geographically and biologically they are intermingled and intertwined in their bioregion. The dyked and drained farmlands were originally marshlands. The Acadians dyked and drained marshlands to manage grassland and thereby create farmland whereas the current internationally important wetland is intertidal mud, not marshland; it is bird habitat, not human habitat. Grand Pré was a marshland worked by Acadian hands, whereas Southern Bight-Minas Basin is not, and never was, an area worked by them. Grand Pré is now an area of permanent human settlement whereas Southern Bight-Minas Basin is an area of temporary human and ornithological visitation. Grand Pré was a marshland that was not amenable to European settlement until and unless it was dyked and drained whereas Southern Bight-Minas Basin is not amenable to it but is nevertheless targeted for tidal power development. 51

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Acadian Grand Pré Calling Grand Pré marshland, or even simply marsh, is to engage in a politics of naming. Over one hundred years ago, for Ganong (1903: 177, n.16), writing in a footnote about this area, ‘the word marsh itself is rather a misnomer and is said locally to do the country some damage by giving an unfavorable impression of its character’. He does not go on to specify why the word marsh gives an unfavourable impression of the character of the country. Certainly ‘marsh’ has a number of pejorative connotations, such as dismal, melancholic, miasmatic and malarial. Some writers on marshes, most recently and notably John Stilgoe (1994: 47), have reconstructed the word ‘marsh’ as ‘alongshore’ in his eponymous book of this title in order to value its unique biology, physical features and aesthetic qualities and to ground what he also calls ‘the marshland vocabulary’ in the rich history of ‘estuary English’ to which he devotes a lovely small glossary essay. Rather than marshland, Sheldon (1886: 24) used the term, or euphemism, ‘grass land’ when he described the Grand Pré area as ‘a large area of what is probably the finest grass land on the American continent or in any other country’. Misperceiving and renaming marshland as grassland was a way of rendering it amenable to cattle-grazing and to dyking and draining, and so transforming it into farmland, another grassland, albeit an agriculturally managed and productive one. Seeing and naming marshland as grassland in the first place was a way of justifying its transformation into grassland by dyking and draining. Creating farmable grassland out of unfarmable marshland or grassland was merely a way of bringing to fruition the potential of the original marshland, or grassland. Grassland to grassland was the simple, tautological trajectory of development, except that the process belied the two different types of grasslands at the beginning and end of the process (marshland and farmland). Even naming the area ‘Grand Pré’, literally ‘Grand Prairie’, was a way of making it into grassland whereas it would have been more accurate to name it Grand Marais (Grand Marsh). The dyking and periodic rejuvenating and flushing of the tidal marshlands became the quintessential landscape of the Acadians. These marshlands were transformed into what Bible (1906: 45, 48 and 76) calls ‘rich meadow land’. ‘Medow’ and ‘medowe’ are also variously used in Henry Biggar’s mock Tudor English translation of Jacques Cartier’s journal of 1541 to describe the marshes of Cap Rouge as ‘full of as faire and goodly grasse as ever I sawe in any Medowe in France’ (Cartier 1993: 101). Bible goes on to relate that the marshlands of Acadia were ‘reclaimed from the sea by the erection of dykes’ and ‘yielded most bountifully’ as a benign Mother earth in the service of the dominant (agri)cultural paradigm and its patriarchal hierarchy. ‘Reclaimed’ is the stock-in-trade of triumphalist accounts of draining, as if the sea wrongfully claimed the land and the drainers rightfully reclaimed it back. Of course, the sea could always, and often did, re-claim the reclaimed land. Yet the sea, or more precisely its tidal action, created the bountiful land, or more precisely wetland, or marshland in the first place. According to Doucet (1999: 150), the Mi’kmaq calls ‘the marshes the belly button of the universe’. They are a reminder of, 52

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and are a severed connection from, the nourishing maternal body of the earth, the ‘prepatriarchal’ or matrifocal Great Mother earth in the alternative cultural paradigm, with the vestige of the umbilical cord that once connected them in symbiosis. Reclaiming the land from the sea created the patriarchal Mother earth, the dryland for agriculture in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm. As with a number of other Canadian wetlands (as we will see later), Grand Pré attracted a posse of poets. Bliss Carman’s first collection was entitled Low Tide on Grand Pré and was published in New York in 1893. In the eponymous poem of the title first published in 1887, Carman contrasts the ‘barren reaches by the tide’ (though they are in fact highly fertile) with ‘the waving meadow lands’ (that appear fertile and are fertile because of the tides). For Carman, ‘a grievous stream, that to and fro/Athrough the fields of Acadie/Goes wandering’ is also ‘a drowsy inland meadow stream’. Carmen splits the stream into good and bad aspects. It is destructive and pastoral, malign and benign, bad and good in accordance with moralistic binarism of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchy that privileges the latter over the former. With the latter terms, Acadia is figured as Arcadia, as a pastoral idyll, and the Acadians and their work in making the meadow and building the aboiteaux that regulate the streams are rendered invisible. With the former terms, the tidal marshlands are rendered as ‘grievous’, barren and infertile. In the same vein and several years later, the poet and champion of the Acadians, and an Acadian himself, Frederic Herbin (1899: 16, lines 1–3), exclaims in ‘The Dykes of Acadie’:

Oh, marshes green, the dykes of Acadie. I have been nursed upon thy ancient breast; I know the patience of thy lap’s calm rest.

In Melanie Klein’s terms, the dyked meadows are the good breast that nourishes; they are ‘kind Nature’ as Herbin (1899: 16, line 9) puts it in another poem. The undyked marshes are presumably the bad breast that does not nourish. The dyked meadows are also the womb out of which Herbin (1899: 16, line 6) is born, an autochthonous son ‘new-born to life, by thee baptized and blest’. The dynamic and holistic ecosystem of land, water, air and weather has become split into moralized components. Presumably the bad breast is too much water in the wrong place at the wrong time with breached dykes in storm surges and flooded farmland in heavy rains. The tidal marshlands in the Bay of Fundy have played a vital role in its agricultural and cultural life and history. In a classic discussion of them, Andrew Hill Clark (1968: 28, 53–4) argues that they: largely supported Acadian people for more than a century and contributed so much to the economy of both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for another century and a half […] From the middle of the seventeenth century to the deportations of the 53

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mid-eighteenth, most of the Acadians depended primarily on the seasonally deep and fertile soils of the tidally flooded salt marshes. They were able to do so by: the dyking of the marshes to exclude salt water, the cutting of drainage channels on their surfaces, and the construction of sluice gates (aboiteaux) [or what Clark later calls ‘clappervalve gates’ (238)], large and small, which allow the fresh water to drain out at low tide but exclude the salt water automatically when they close with the incoming tide. (Clark 1968: 30) Despite this classic discussion, the pivotal role marshlands and dyking technology played in Acadian agriculture and culture have not always (and only recently) received the attention they are due by some anglophone scholars and historians who, for instance, privileged the later Anglo-Celtic rocky southern coastal heritage over the earlier French-Acadian northern marshland coastal one, with the rocky Atlantic coast privileged as the quintessential Nova Scotian landscape over the grassy marshlands of the Bay of Fundy, except for a discussion of the fascination with the Evangeline mythology. Aboiteaux were also employed in the marshlands of the St Lawrence River, which have only recently received the attention they are due by some bilingual scholars and historical geographers such as Hatvany (2003: especially 6). This divide in Canadian studies is symptomatic of the greater divides between English and French language speakers, between central and western Canada on the one hand, and eastern Canada on the other, and between rocky coast and grassy marshlands, in all of which the former is privileged over the latter. For instance, in Ian McKay’s (1994) The Quest of the Folk, an otherwise exemplary work of cultural materialist history, these divides are writ large. McKay discusses the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and the English and Scottish traditions rooted there, but largely ignores the Bay of Fundy, its marshlands and the Acadian-French tradition rooted there, with the exception of a couple of brief and tokenistic mentions of French settlement by the Acadians and their ‘expulsion’ in Anglocentric terms (McKay 1994: 26, 27, 229), the later captioning of pertinent photographs (269, 284) and a brief discussion of the Evangeline mythology (229). There seems to be for him a kind of Mason-Dixon line between the northern marshlands and southern rocky coast of Nova Scotia. In the twentieth century, in his view: the people of the fishing villages [on the ‘South Shore’ of the province from Halifax to Yarmouth (27)] came to be seen as bearers of Nova Scotia’s cultural essence: they became archetypal [Anglo-Celtic?] Nova Scotians living not on a barren patch of the 54

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Atlantic shoreline but on a mythified ‘Coast of Songs’ […] who led a ‘simple life’ in ‘a rockbound landscape’ and so ‘draining their history of specificity’. (xv–xvi) Yet equally in the twentieth century, the people of the farming villages on the northwestern shores of the province from St Mary’s Bay to Chignecto Bay came in similar ways and by similar means to be bearers of Nova Scotia’s distinct French-Acadian cultural essence (albeit shared with their New Brunswickian and Prince Edward Islander fellowAcadians) and so different from their Anglo-Celtic neighbours in both provinces: they became archetypal Acadians living not only on the marshlands of the Bay of Fundy, ‘the Acadian heartland’ for Ross and Deveau (1992: 21), but also in a mythified ‘Land of Evangeline’ where the Acadians led a ‘simple life’ in a grassy wetlandscape and so draining their history of specificity, just as McKay does here (but rectifies later and recently with Bates in their In the Province of History [2010] to which I return below), and just as their dykes that drained the marshland, but rendering them into fertile, not barren, farmland. What McKay (1994: 4) calls the mythification of the ‘Coast of Songs’ begins: on the margins: at the edge of the ocean […] on the borderlands of land and water, the city and the countryside, the modern and the pre-modern […] the dark, entrancing, romantic Otherness of the countryside […] this liminal space. Similarly the mythification of the ‘Land of Evangeline’ begins in the moving margins of the intertidal zone of the Bay of Fundy, on the borderlands of land and water in the marshlands of Grand Pré, in the liminal space between the land and water of the wetland. Here, both the living black waters and rich black soils of the wetlands of the tidal marshes of the Minas Basin and others in the Bay of Fundy – with what Ross and Deveau (1992: 35) call ‘their extraordinary fertility’ – constituted the dark, entrancing, romantic otherness of the countryside. The Bay of Fundy ‘and its numerous basins and inlets have the highest tidal ranges in the world – up to 15 meters in Minas Basin where the Acadians settled in the 1680s’ (36). Grand Pré (literally ‘great fields’ [Doucet 1999: 144]) is located in the Minas Basin and set in what le Blanc (2003: 13) describes as ‘the most fertile agricultural area of Atlantic Canada’ because of its marshlands and the native grasses edible by cattle. The marshlands of Grand Pré for Ross and Deveau (1992: vii) are ‘one of the most historically significant landscapes in Nova Scotia’. It would probably not be going too far to say that the dyked and drained marshlands of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in general are the most historically significant landscapes for the Acadians. Or even to say that the dyked and drained marshlands of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are the Acadian cultural and national landscape par excellence. They are and were their homeland, and their identity is deeply rooted in the lush grasses and wetands of these marshes. They are significant, not least because they were one of the most important 55

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places for the dykeland farming that took place over a hundred-year period. Ross and Deveau relate how ‘the first dykes were probably constructed between 1640 and 1650’ (33). They go on to relate that by, ‘the end of the French regime in 1710, the Acadians had built dykes and aboiteaux in all the great marshland regions bordering on the Bay of Fundy’ (36). Dykeland farming was for them ‘to characterise the Acadian way of life in Nova Scotia until 1755’ (21). 1755 was the year of the Grand Dérangement or Great Upheaval from the Acadian point of view, or the Great Deportation or Expulsion from the British point of view (Ross and Deveau 1992: 64). This event for Doucet (1999: 2) ‘was an eighteenth-century precursor to ethnic cleansing’. For Johnston and Kerr (2004: 6), it was ‘ethnic cleansing’, albeit avant la lettre, before the term was invented. It was also an act of dispossession that permitted a new wave of anglophone settlers to take over Acadian lands in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and to reap the benefits of Acadian dyking and draining. Dykeland farming, or what Ross and Deveau (1992: 33) later call ‘lowland farming, which entailed the reclamation [sic] of salt marshes by means of co-operative dyking, became the single most distinctive characteristic of Acadian culture’. Or more precisely, dykeland farming was the single most distinctive characteristic of the Acadian culture of nature, specifically a second culture of nature that worked the land in labour-intensive agriculture using small-scale technologies (see Giblett 2011: ch. 1). On this foundation, as Ross (2002: 9) puts it, ‘the Acadians built a society based on the solidarity of mutual cooperation’. Acadian society, however, did not extend to, or embrace, mutual cooperation and solidarity with the non-human inhabitants of the salt marshes as dyking destroyed them and their habitat, nor did it respect the marshes themselves as dyking modified them highly. The Acadians lived on the border not only between land and water but also between the French and English empires. The Acadians for Griffiths (2005: 238), in her monumental study of them, ‘lived the experience of a border people’ located ‘on the border between warring empires’ and ‘on a border between two great powers’ in ‘zones ruled by two different and competing empires’ (2005: 184, 418, 438). They were borderland and marginal people living between empires and on the margin between wet and dry land. They were precursors for today’s Canadian living on the border of empire to the south and in wetland country par excellence. Today’s Canadians in their relation to empire are latter-day Acadians, and not just as near anagrams for each other. Just as empire cannot abide neutrality and wetlands that are betwixt and between land and water, so it cannot abide a people who live in this place and claim neutrality. The result was that the British deported the Acadians from their homeland with its distinctive dykeland technology and agriculture. Dykeland farming was the single most distinctive characteristic of the Acadian culture of nature because it clearly and distinctively differentiated it from European settlements elsewhere in North America. For Ross and Deveau: 56

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no other group which colonised North America developed settlements based on the reclamation [sic] of salt marshes. No other group perfected the techniques of dykebuilding. No other group preferred to settle on lowlands rather than clear the forests on higher ground. (1992: 35; see also le Blanc 2003: 27, 29) In contrast to English colonization, which for Frederick Jackson Turner (1893/1961: 45), in his famous discussion of the frontier, employed a farming frontier in North America (and cut down forests to do so), the French for Turner used a trading frontier (and did not cut down forests to do so). By contrast with both of these frontiers, the Acadians used a distinctive dyking frontier with their aboiteaux (and cut down trees to construct them). Turner does not acknowledge the Acadian dykeland frontier, nor does Eccles in the standard discussion of the Canadian frontier and how it differed from the English one. Eccles (1969: 172) condescendingly describes and dismisses the Acadians as ‘simple, peasant farmers’, whereas they were cooperative dykeland farmers using the simple, but effective, technology of the aboiteau and so were quite sophisticated. Their labourintensive agriculture was potentially sustainable in the long term, though they never had the chance to prove this beyond one hundred years. No doubt their dyking also had a devastating and destructive impact on the marshland ecology and they did not live in mutually beneficial symbiosis with it and a lot of other, non-human creatures in their bioregion. The Acadians differed from both the standard French trading and English farming frontier and their modes of colonization and cultivation. When it (or they) came to wetlands, the English employed a draining and filling frontier converting wet land to dry land suitable for dry land farming, whereas the Acadians used a dyking and reclaiming frontier transforming them into productive grasslands. The English also employed a clearing and tree-felling frontier when it came to forest or woodland as they often mistakenly thought these were fertile lands to create farmland whereas the Acadians preferred to drain and manage the productive and rich soils of wetlands and to avoid forests and their dangers. Greg Kennedy (forthcoming 2014) argues that the Acadians in part chose to live in coastal marshlands because they brought with them a fear of wolves from living in deep woods in western France. In fact, he has found proof of wolf attacks in the very parishes from which some of the colonists originated. Rather than a frontier that implies a strict demarcation and a clear line between civilization and wilderness as Turner did, more recent work on European settlement in and of North America (such as McKay and Griffiths referred to above) and on Canadian culture (such as Jody Berland discussed in Chapter 1) has employed the concept of borderland. This suggests a zone of interaction and interchange as well as a shifting and dynamic liminal space between, on the one hand, settlers and their settlements, and indigenous peoples and their lands on the other. The Acadians are certainly a case in 57

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point as they lived (on) the borderland between the French and English empires and lived on the border between land and water. Canadians today in general are a borderland people, too, as they live on the border of empire to the south and in a wetland country of borders of land and water. Canadian and Acadian are near anagrams for each other. The Acadians carried out dyking in such a way that salt and fresh water were drained out on the ebb and salt water was allowed to occasionally ‘enrich the marshes’ (Ross and Deveau 1992: 36) on the flow, but prevented from constantly inundating the marshes. The central control mechanism of this small-scale technology and its agriculturally sustainable practices was the aboiteau, defined by Ross and Deveau as ‘the wooden clapper valve that controlled the flow of salt water on the marshes’ and that enabled them ‘to exploit [and replenish] the natural fertility of the marshes’ (35, 36). Aboiteaux for McKay and Bates (2010: 75) were ‘marvels of early modern engineering’ using sod, tree trunks as sluices and woven branches as the simple and sustainably deployed materials in their construction, and special sod spades as the tools for their construction. Aboiteaux for Ross and Deveau (1992: 35) ‘has no equivalent word in English or modern French’, though for Herbin (1898: 31) ‘the word is doubtless of French origin’ and for Ganong (1903: 177, n.16; see also Kennedy: 2013) it is ‘a word introduced by the Acadians from Saintonge, France, where it is still used in the form aboteau’ [sic]. Aboiteaux contribute markedly to the construction and maintenance of Acadian cultural identity, distinct from both English and French culture, if not constituting Acadian ‘exceptionalism’. The aboiteaux with their clapper valve were the distinctive feature of the Acadian wetlandscape of Nova Scotia. Yet, as an aside here, Griffiths (2005) in her monumental study of the Acadians, neither mentions aboiteaux specifically by name as such, nor acknowledges their distinctive technological features, such as the clapper valve. Although she discusses dyking and draining (e.g. 67–69, 284–285, 310–311) and their important role in agricultural production where they were ‘the key to the obvious success of Acadian agriculture’ and in community building demanding ‘a high level of cooperation’ (132, 182; see also, e.g. 69, 311), she does not mention, describe, or use the word aboiteaux, a curious absence from her definitive 600-page study of the Acadians given the prominence they give to aboiteaux as a distinctive device in their cultural and agricultural history. Perhaps it is a case of not being able to see the trees (of the aboiteaux) for the wood (of Acadian dyking, draining and agriculture). The process of mythification on both the rocky coast and grassy marshlands did not merely occur on the margins and in the borderlands of the city and the countryside, as if the two co-existed side by side in blissful harmony and mutual respect. Rather it involved what McKay (1994: 9) calls the ‘aesthetic colonization of the country by the city’. The aesheticization of the country by the city was colonization by other means. As well as guns and germs, aesthetics and introduced plants and animals colonized native ‘nature’ and transformed land into landscape, both a visual phenomenon and a capitalist commodity (as Raymond Williams argued 40 years ago). This process had been going on for a long time before the twentieth century when there was both an aesthetic exo58

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colonization of the colonies by the colonial power and aesthetic endo-colonization of the country by the city both at ‘home’ and ‘abroad’. Both sorts of colonization were also taking place in that most intractable and recalcitrant of places for aestheticization: the wetland. Aesthetic endo-colonization of the country went hand-in-hand and sat cheek-by-jowl with tourism. McKay (1994: 33) notes the rise of the tourism economy and the tourism state in the 1920s and 1930s. This occurred equally (if not more so) in the ‘Land of Evangeline’ as on ‘The Coast of Songs’, and the former had been occurring from the late nineteenth century as McKay (1994: 229) briefly notes in passing later and discusses at length recently with Bates (McKay and Bates 2010: 71–129). The development of the ‘Land of Evangeline’ as a tourist destination and site is explored in much greater detail by le Blanc (2003) in her appropriately entitled book Postcards from Acadie, beginning with the inclusion of a logo for the Dominion Atlantic Railway’s ‘Land of Evangeline Route’ (le Blanc 2003: 60, fig. 14) and culminating in 1926 with the formation of the ‘Land of Evangeline Tourist Association’ (McKay and Bates 2010: 71–98). Le Blanc’s 2003 book seems to have provided the corrective stimulus for McKay, who takes up his earlier 1994 book and develops it in 2010 with Bates. Despite the aesheticization and exploitation of both the rocky coast and grassy marshlands for economic and nationalist purposes, neither landscape was considered as nationalist. Canadian nationalism for McKay (1994: 36) ‘fixated on central Canadian symbolic landscapes [such as lakes, forests and mountains] and historical myths created very little room for Maritimers’ which should include both Acadian-French and AngloCeltic Maritimers, and quintessential Maritime landscapes, both rocky coasts and grassy marshlands. Longfellow’s Evangeline The rise of tourism in the ‘Land of Evangeline’ in the late nineteenth century was due entirely to the publication in 1847 of Longfellow’s long poem, Evangeline. Its opening line sets the scene for the first part of the poem ‘in the Acadian land’. McKay describes Evangeline as ‘an epic poem on the Acadian expulsion’ (McKay 1994: 229). After the publication of the poem, McKay relates how ‘Americans began to arrive in Nova Scotia to seek out the landscapes evoked by the poem’ (1994: 229) in an early instance of literary tourism involving holding book in hand with landscape (and wetlandscape) before one seeking out the scenes described. The Currier and Ives 1864 print, ‘Home of EvangelineAcadian Land’ (McKay and Bates 2010: 82–83), perfectly illustrated Longfellow’s poem with its visual representation wherein, as McKay puts it, ‘Acadia was clearly a pseudoEuropean Arcadia’ (1994: 229; see also McKay and Bates 2010: 73) precisely located temporally in the period pre-‘Expulsion’ or pre-‘Derangement’. The story of the fictitious character Evangeline for le Blanc (2003: 57) ‘immortalized Grand Pré. For many readers, the poem also evoked images of an Eden on earth’ albeit prior to the ‘Expulsion’. 59

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This vision of Arcadian, prelapsarian bliss contrasts with what McKay (1994: 284) calls the ‘ersatz Acadian chapel erected at Grand Pré’ to commemorate the Expulsion or Grand Dérangement (or Great Upheaval, or Great Dispersal) or Deportation, described by le Blanc (2003: 35) as ‘the most traumatic and pivotal event [for many Acadians] in their collective history’. The British forcibly removed the Acadians for refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. The reasons for the deportation are complex, with political and military ones being the most compelling. Economic reasons were probably secondary and after the fact. Herbin claims that ‘the great purpose of the deportation’ was that the Acadians’ ‘land was offered to English settlers’ (1898: 126). But, as Greg Kennedy (personal communication) points out, why burn everything if you just intend to steal it? The aftermath of the deportation certainly resulted in English and Scottish settlement of Acadia that took possession of their vacant lands and reaped the rewards of both Acadian dykeland farming and land ownership as the economic basis for agriculture. The British transported the Acadians to the British American colonies. Some Acadians, as Herbin (1898: 129) argues, ‘made their way to Louisiana and settled’ there. This was not a British colony as Ross and Deveau (1992: 64) point out. It was Spanish. The Acadians were encouraged to settle there by the new Spanish authorities. The Acadians, as Greg Kennedy (personal communication) points out, were drawn by the opportunity to be autonomous and live in community, and not live under French control. They could thus continue to live their borderland life, albeit with another empire, this time the Spanish. The chapel and statue of Evangeline erected at Grand Pré in 1922 and 1920 respectively were both commemorated in a Canadian 50-cent stamp of 1930 (le Blanc 2003: 127, fig. 30) in perhaps the only instance of a fictional character being commemorated by a chapel, statue and postage stamp. Grand Pré thus became the capital and spiritual heartland of ‘the Land of Evangeline’ (McKay 1994: 269), though one should not forget ‘the Land of Evangeline’ in Louisiana represented in a painting of this title by Joseph Rusling Meeker (Miller 1989, Plate 2: Ellis 1998b: 192) with its themes of what Ellis (1998b: 192) calls ‘loneliness and loss […] in the mythic and melancholy Louisiana Bayou country’, stereotypical affects evoked by a wetland. For Ross and Deveau (1992: 63), Grand Pré was the place from which more Acadians were ‘deported than from any other location’, not only because it was ‘the most populated of all the Acadian settlements’ but also because it was ‘the most important Acadian agricultural and commercial centre’. The views of Eden before and after the fall added poignancy to the story, and to the melancholy of the story and of the ‘Land of Evangeline’. The pastoral perfection of, then expulsion from, the Nova Scotian ‘Land of Evangeline’ of Longfellow’s historical romance segues into the tragedy of the Louisianan ‘Land of Evangeline’. Both were wetlands, one the pastoral marshlands of Acadian Grand Pré and the other the swampy underworld of the Louisianan bayous that form a counterpoint to each other in the poem. Vileisis (1997: 101) notes that the result was that, ‘even though Longfellow had never traveled in southern swamps himself [just as he had never travelled in northern marshes], his poem made a local Louisiana legend into the national rage’, not only for Americans but 60

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also for Canadians. Equally, if not more so, his poem made a local Acadian legend into a Canadian national rage. Louisianans, and Americans more generally, claim the story originates from Louisiana, whereas Acadians claim the story originates from Acadia (le Blanc 2003: 53–55). Evangeline is a site of struggle between Americans and Canadians, between empire and border, for cultural and national ownership of the story. Evangeline is thus a site of struggle in cultural politics over what and how it shall mean. Evangeline also manifests the taste for sentimental poetry prevalent in the nineteenth century. Evangeline, as New (1989: 38) remarks, ‘was to become (for all its literary sentimentality and the plain fact of its American origin) a kind of talisman for the Acadians, who still resented the expulsion of 1755 and still preserved their separate culture’. One may dispute the claim for Evangeline being of exclusively American origin. Of course, its writer was American, but the tale has Acadian roots, certainly in its initial setting and main events, if not in its peoples. One may not be surprised that the Acadians ‘resented the expulsion of 1755’ – who would not? One may also dispute to what extent Evangeline is a marker of a separate Acadian culture. Evangeline was appropriated by mainstream Anglo-Canadian culture as a marker of Canadian national culture into, and by which, Acadian culture was subsumed. For instance, the first Canadian film of 1914 was Evangeline and the tourist documentary The Land of Evangeline was produced in 1936 (le Blanc 2003: 62, 96). At the time of his death in 1882, according to le Blanc (2003: 52), Longfellow ‘was considered the most popular poet writing in the English language and Evangeline is regarded by Zichy (1983: 241) as ‘one of the most famous works in the English language [as it] appeared in some 270 editions and 130 translations between 1847 and 1947’. Longfellow is the only American poet to be honoured with a bust in the famous Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. A replica bust was unveiled at Grand Pré in 1955 (le Blanc 2003: 134–137, fig. 31). Longfellow, le Blanc (2003: 98) concludes, was ‘the best publicist the province could have ever had’, but he was a publicist for a sentimentalized construction of the province and its history that was the mere backdrop for the romantic story of thwarted young love that ended in tragedy – a real tearjerker. Taking their cue from le Blanc and beginning where she leaves off, McKay and Bates (2010: 72) begin their recent discussion of Evangeline and Nova Scotia by arguing that ‘the publication of Longfellow’s masterwork ushered in a wholesale reorganization of an actual landscape in order to make it conform to a bestselling historical romance’. Evangeline was no mere publicity pamphlet for Acadia, nor a tour guide to it, nor a literary representation of a landscape and its history, but the template to which Acadia was cut. ‘With only slight exaggeration’, McKay and Bates (2010: 77) suggest, ‘one could acclaim the nineteenth-century Land of Evangeline as the very early beginnings of the twentieth-century theme park’ entailing what they later call ‘a thematization of landscape’ (105). More precisely, this thematization was of a drylandscape and a parklandscape of Acadia, and of the wetlandscape of the Bayou ‘with a maze of sluggish and devious waters’ (Longfellow 1895/2004: 64), and not of the wetlandscape of Grand Pré with its grid of 61

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flowing and controlled waters, nor of the Southern Bight-Minas Basin wetland of which it is a part. Longfellow’s Evangeline for le Blanc (2003: 51) ‘symbolizes […] the ideal Victorian woman’. Eve + angel = the angel Eve? In the Garden of Eden of Aca(r)dia, Evangeline is the prelapsarian Eve and not the later temptress of Eve who was the vector for Satan to tempt Adam into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The British are the fallen angels who threw the Acadians out of the Garden of Eden. There is no Eve who is a temptress in this Garden of Eden, but there is the Eve of Evangeline who is expelled with her Adam Gabriel (also the name of a biblical archangel) from Eden. Evangel is also the ‘Christian gospel’ as McKay and Bates (2010: 86) point out. Evangeline is a secular gospel, though there is no good news in it. The primary booster for the ‘Land of Evangeline’ in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was John Frederick Herbin (le Blanc 2003: 115–118; Herbin 1898). In 1906, Bible (1998: 66) claimed that Herbin is ‘the only living descendant of the Acadian exiles now residing in or near Grand-Pré’. Herbin had boldly made this claim himself on the title page of his 1898 book. Although he refers to Longfellow’s ‘beautiful poem’ and asserts that it is ‘a remarkably correct page of history’ (1898: 7, 8), he is at pains later to point out the mistakes that he thinks Longfellow makes. Not least are the early lines (6–8) in which Longfellow describes how: Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant, Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will o’er the meadows. (Longfellow 1895/2004: 13) Herbin (1898: 159) states emphatically that the ‘gates are not opened to let in the salt water’. Yet Ross and Deveau (1992: 35), as we saw above, have suggested that salt water is occasionally allowed in to flush and replenish the meadows whereas Ross (2002) later illustrates the aboiteaux to show them excluding all salt water, as does Bleakney (2004, figure 5.4: 52). Matthew Hatvany (e-mail 4 March 2011) confirms the flushing thesis: In some of the Bay of Fundy sources, I have come across farmers who would periodically open the tidal gates for an entire season in order to allow the tides to deposit new sediment on the fields. This was a means of renewing the fertility of the fields and to raise the height of the fields which, after years of being dyked, would begin to compact, subside and become too low to permit good drainage. This technique was referred to as Warping, a European technique going back to the Middle Ages. John McLaughlin’s 1995 Queens University PhD thesis on wetlands in Ontario discusses how the Acadians managed the sea meadows by dyking the lands (without using the term 62

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aboiteaux) in the tidal basins at the head of the Bay of Fundy (McLaughlin 1995: 105– 106). He goes on to say, unremarkably, that the ‘sluice gates in the dykes allow the fresh water creeks to pass through, but prevented tidal flooding’. He then says (remarkably in my view) that ‘after about seven years of cropping, the gates were opened and the tides were allowed to pour in, replenishing fertility with nutrient-rich sediments; even though the land had to be left fallow for one to two years to allow the salt to leach out’. He then cites Clark’s 1968 book on Acadia in support, without giving a specific page number. McLaughlin’s flushing thesis prompted a further exchange of e-mails with Matthew Hatvany, who cited Longfellow as above and then went on to argue that: he is clearly referring here to the purposeful opening of the floodgates to allow the sediment-laden waters of the bay onto the dyked fields in order to restore their fertility and raise the level of the dyked marsh. How often? My guess is that it wouldn’t be less than every 20–30 years. Why? Because once a field is inundated by salt water it takes 2–3 years for the salt to leach out and the upland grass to recover. That is a long time for a farmer to lose the use of his/her field. (e-mail 6 December 2011) Hatvany cited a famous 1903 article in support of this view in which Ganong states that ‘this flooding, however, is by no means as extensively used as it should be, for many owners are unwilling, or cannot afford, to lose all return from their land for several years’ (1908: 178). Yet rather than referring to opening of the floodgates, Ganong is referring to breaking down of the dykes in order to flush the fields. Given the time and investment of labour in constructing them, this seems improbable. More probable is the practice of propping open or removing the clapper valve to allow temporary and controlled incursion of salt water to replenish the soil and stimulate growth in the grasses. This seems to be the scenario Sheldon described in 1886 (referred to by Hatvany) which was called ‘warping’: [T]he dykes keep out the sea-water, which, however, as occasion may require, is let into the land, and escapes again through the aboideaux [sic]. When it is thus let in, it deposits a coating of finely granulated mud, which serves as a dressing of the best possible, manures, and operates for many years in this capacity, freshening up the land in an extraordinary manner. This system of warping is conducted with marked success in many places around the Bay of Fundy, on some of the land that was first dyked in by the French. (Sheldon 1886: 24–25)

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Along similar lines, ‘top-dressing’ grass, or lawn, is a well-known gardening practice to stimulate new growth of grass. Hatvany’s view is also confirmed by Harry Thurston (2004: 131–132; see also 170) in a recently documented account of his neighbour in north-west Nova Scotia who, as a salt marsh farmer of living memory, would: remove the clapper on the aboiteaux to allow the rides to flood his hay field, since the seeds of Spartina patens require soaking in salt water to germinate. This time-honored practice is called tiding and has a secondary benefit of renewing the fertility of the soil, as each tide brings a dressing of natural fertilizer from the sea to the marsh. In this way the productivity of the salt marsh has been maintained for centuries, since the time of the Acadians, without need for manure or artificial fertilizers. Longfellow thus got something right when it came to the Acadians and their dykes that has been amply acknowledged, but generally his otherwise saccharine account of Acadia has not been allowed to go unchallenged. Antonine Maillet’s works for New (1989: 287) ‘at once acknowledge and reject Longfellow’s popular, familiar, but inauthentic “Evangeline” version of history’. Maillet’s novel La Sagouine (first published in 1971), the confessional life and times of an older Acadian scrubwoman that began literary life as a one-woman play, is the de-romanticized counterpart to Longfellow’s younger romanticized Acadian virginal woman. Along similar lines and unlike Longfellow who recounts the expulsion from Acadia, in Maillet’s later novel, Pélagie, her first-person narrator tells the other end of the story, the return to Acadia as the subtitle of her novel indicates. Maillet was awarded the prestigious Prix Goncourt for this novel. She was the first francophone writer not living in France and the first non-French citizen to be awarded this French equivalent of the Man Booker prize. In her acceptance speech she said, ‘I have avenged my ancestors’. She did not say how. Perhaps she has avenged them against the British deportation and Longfellow’s Evangeline. The return to Acadie narrated in Pélagie begins by the Acadians avoiding floundering in Georgian swamps of ‘Acadie-in-the-South’ and ends up refounding Acadie in the Tintamarre (Tantramar) marshes of ‘Acadie-in-the-North’ (Maillet 2004: 11, 50). Aboiteaux mark the difference between the two places, and their wetlands, and their people. The novel begins and ends in wetlands and has its climax in a wetland too. Pélagie, the central character of Pélagie, wonders ‘how had a place like Georgia drained its fields without aboiteaux […] those wide dikes [in Acadie] that bordered the meadows and stole land from the sea […] with their clappers opening and closing under the weight of the water’ (23). The return is an exodus of Acadian exiles transported in ‘the Cart of Life’ pursued by ‘the Wagon of Death’ (11). The latter catches up with the former in the marshes of Salem where the Acadians struggle against both ‘the sinking mud’ and the Grim Reaper in the climax of ‘the combat of the carts’ (203, 211) set, like the novel’s beginning and ending, in a wetland. This is a place of ‘the earth moving’ with ‘nothing solid anywhere’ and ‘the 64

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earth itself caving in’ (203, 205). In ‘the sea of mud’ (206) Captain Beausoleil builds a road of stones ‘sunk in the mud’ over ‘the slippery mire’ to try to extricate one of the carts from ‘the ooze’ (206, 211, 207, 208). At the same time he also has to extricate himself from the ‘shifting mud that is trying to suck him down like a gaping mouth’ (209). Beausoleil’s struggle is taking place in the quaking zone of ‘the moving slime’ of the marsh while in the meantime the centenarian Bélonie, who is rooted in the liminal and quaking zone of ‘the clay of the marsh between earth and sea’ of Acadie-in-theNorth, repulses the Wagon of Death on her mission to claim an Acadian that day (213, 212). Pélagie eventually drives her off with the cry of ‘Life’ and so ‘the Cart of Life […] vanquished the Wagon of Death that day’, but not later when her cart becomes ‘mired in the marshes of Tintamarre’ (Tantramar) (215, 252, 252). Yet despite, or because of, her death, new life is born out of death and so with the ‘coming home out of exile, Acadie was really born, like the first man, from a handful of mud’ (252). Maillet rewrites the verse of the biblical book of Genesis that says God ‘formed man from the dust of the ground’. In Maillet’s rewriting of the biblical book of Genesis as a genesis from a wetland for a wetland people, the Acadians are born from the mud ‘in the Tintamarre marshes […] the cradle of the country’ (254). They are not born in the marshlands of Grand Pré, nor anywhere near the ‘formerly flourishing, lively town’ (249) of Grand Pré, ‘burned and deserted since that fatal day in September 1755. Out of superstition or fear of God, they hadn’t dared settled anyone there’ (249). The marshes in the novel for Gann (1987: 31; all translations by Anusha Beechowa) are ‘the prime place for the action in the story’ as for him they form ‘the dominant component of the landscape that Pélagie and her fellow travellers experience in their memory, in their present reality and in anticipation of their return’. The action shifts and time moves on, but the scene of action stays the same in the marshes and the past, present and future stay in the same place of the marshes. For Gann, ‘as in a classical play, the exposure, the development of the action, the crisis and the outcome, everything happens in the same place, the marshes, no matter where they are located geographically’ (31). Gann notes the ironic connection between the wetland location of southern American swamps to which the British in 1755 deported some of the Acadians (such as Georgia and South Carolina), or in which they ended up by necessity or choice (such as Louisiana), and the Acadian marshes from which they were deported. He describes southern American swamps as ‘the most unhealthy places in the American colonies, ironic reflections of the country from which they were torn away’ (32). The former are more precisely ‘the ‘putrid swamps’ of Georgia or South Carolina, the Coosawatchie, a kind of river that swamps the marshlands, making them uninhabitable’ (32). These American swamps are unlike the Acadian marshes that were made inhabitable by the Acadians and their aboiteaux. The antinomies of these wetlands are further adumbrated and nuanced by the American marshes in Salem. For Gann, ‘the stages of their journey home are also outlined by this negative reflection of the maternal landscape, of their civilisation: in North Carolina, in Virginia-Maryland and finally in Salem, the hostile marshes are present throughout the 65

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narrative’. More precisely, the hostile, unhealthy and death-dealing American marshes and swamps in the dominant cultural paradigm are posed against the nurturing, maternal and life-giving Acadian marshes in the alternative cultural paradigm. Gann goes on to comment that: It is mainly during the fight of the two carts, the clash between human heroism on one hand and cold death on the other that occurs in the very heart of the marshes of Salem, where the American marsh shows its significance. Far from nurturing and forming a new nation, this hostile landscape tries to swallow the carts and their carters. It is the last attempt of the Americans to absorb and assimilate these ‘refuseniks’ of the eighteenth century. (32) Gann aligns the deported and exiled Acadians with the diasporic and wandering Jews, and the Soviet Union with the United States. ‘Refusenik’ is an individual who has been refused permission to emigrate. It was a term mainly used by the Soviet bureaucracy against Jewish people who wanted to emigrate to Israel. Gann goes on to comment that: Stubborn, the travellers refuse to concede that the marshes flooded by the spring rain are more dangerous than those in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia; the desire to move ahead towards their goal prevails over caution. Yet the winds and the sea shout their warnings, and become those of the screams of the witches of Salem or those of the shipwrecked in the imagination of the travellers. The landscape of sounds becomes a premonition. (32) The screams of the Salem witches are a premonition of the soundscape of the Tantramar Marshes as the marshes are both life-giving and death-dealing. They claim Pélagie and Catoune when, as Gann puts it (and then concludes by quoting Lochhead to whose work I turn in the following chapter in greater detail): a scream from Catoune ‘that shook the dirty hay of the marshes of Tintamarre’ announces his death. Since then, every windy night the voice of Catoune can be heard singing in the marshes of Tintamarre: there is song in these seasons. the Tintamarre. ghost birds over the centuries. voices in the tape of 66

‘In the Acadian land’ of Evangeline



wind. caught to come back in their times. Tintamarre (Gann 1987: 33)

The Tantramar Marshes, like all wetlands, are both life-giving and death-dealing (as we will see in the following chapter). Present pressures and future prospects The Grand-Pré National Historic Site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Landscape of Grand-Pré 2012). It is described on the Grand-Pré National Historic Site website as ‘the rural and spiritual landscape of Grand Pré’ (Société Promotion Grand-Pré nd). It is not described as a wetland, or even as a dyked and drained wetland. A hyperlink from this page takes the web surfer to the Nomination Grand Pré website with a media release on it that announces that the Province of Nova Scotia: Pledges $2.5 Million to Landscape of Grand Pré World Heritage Trust Kentville, Nova Scotia, November 14 2011 The province of Nova Scotia today announced the creation of a $2.5 million contingent trust to help preserve and interpret the Landscape of Grand Pré upon successful inscription as a World Heritage Site. The announcement was made this morning by the Honourable Dave Wilson, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, at the Grand-Pré National Historic Site in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia [despite the site being officially closed for a month for the winter]. Today’s announcement comes as the nomination proposal is being evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in anticipation of a possible inscription in July 2012. (Nomination Grand Pré 2011) Which did transpire. This funding is to help preserve and interpret the drained and dyked agricultural drylandscape of the Acadians and not the wetlands of the Bay of Fundy. The proposal was first submitted in February 2011. The media release concludes by stating that: The UNESCO World Heritage Convention aims to encourage countries to protect their cultural and natural heritage and identify those properties that have outstanding universal value to inscribe them on the World Heritage List. Grand Pré and area [sic] is a dynamic agricultural landscape claimed from the sea, a powerful symbolic landscape for the Acadians, and an inspiration for all those who come here. The World Heritage 67

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List is the highest possible international recognition for natural and cultural heritage sites. Grand Pré is again not described as a wetland, nor even as a dyked and drained wetland, merely as ‘a dynamic agricultural landscape claimed from the sea’. This is only one better than Bible’s ‘reclaimed’ from the sea. In both cases, the sea could reclaim the land. It would be more precise and appropriate to describe Grand Pré as a successful agricultural wetlandscape worked in the dynamic and fertile intertidal zone between sea and land within its bioregion. What may have been ‘claimed’ from the sea could always, and often was, reclaimed back by the sea when dykes broke during storm surges. It was a temporary claim, never permanent. No mention is made of the aboiteaux and their use as the distinctive Acadian dyking technology that is worthy in itself of World Heritage recognition as unique among settler societies. Nor is any mention made of the fact that Grand Pré is located on the shores of Southern Bight-Minas Basin and that this is a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance. In its own words, the ‘World Heritage Convention aims to encourage countries to protect their cultural and natural heritage’, yet no mention is made in the nomination of the natural heritage values of the area, such as the tides and marshlands. The nomination focuses on the cultural heritage of the Acadians and largely ignores the natural heritage of the area. The nomination reproduces a hard and fast divide not only between culture and nature (rather than celebrating the culture of nature there), but also between people and place, present and past, geography and history, environment and culture. This place has a history of its transformation from marshland (or grassland) through dyking and draining to farmland (or grassland). While the last transformation is celebrated, the original marshlands of Grand Pré are lost in the mists of time, buried beneath the farmland drained by ditches and managed by aboiteaux, and so drained of significance. This place is not only the land but also the sea, and the wetland between them; not only Grand Pré but also the Southern Bight-Minas Basin. Both are part of their bioregion. This combined area of Southern Bight-Minas Basin and Grand Pré should be a World Heritage site to recognize the current unique natural values of the area, such as its tides, and to protect the area from tidal power development that has been periodically proposed for the area. The Ramsar nominating document for Canadian wetlands published in 1991 states in relation to the Southern Bight-Minas Basin site that: the possibility of building one or more tidal barrages for the generation of electric power has been a potential threat to this and other areas in the upper Bay of Fundy for many years. So far the schemes have not gone beyond the stage of engineering feasibility studies […] If a barrage is ever built, the Minas Basin seems to be the most likely site. (Gillespie et al. 1991: 28–29

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In other words, the Ramsar Wetland of Minas Basin is the most likely site. By not including the Southern Bight-Minas Basin Ramsar site in the nomination of Grand Pré as a World Heritage site, an opportunity seems to have been missed not merely to afford it greater protection from damaging tidal-power development but also to celebrate the cultural and natural-heritage values integral to both in their bioregion. By not including interpretation of the Southern Bight-Minas Basin Ramsar site in the Grand Pré visitors’ centre, another opportunity seems to have been missed to showcase and interpret an important aspect of the cultural and natural heritage of the bioregion. By not including both the Southern Bight-Minas Basin in the nomination of Grand Pré as a World Heritage site and interpretation of Southern Bight-Minas Basin Ramsar site in the Grand Pré visitors’ centre, two opportunities were missed to celebrate the Acadians and their distinctive dykeland farming in the larger context of their bioregion. These tensions between natural and cultural heritage are also played out in the Tantramar Marshes, the topic of the next chapter.

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Chapter 4 ‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

71

B

esides Grand Pré, another Canadian wetland is central to Canadian colonial, cultural, environmental and agricultural history, to the formation and fracturing of Canadian national identity, to the construction and deconstruction of the anglophone Canadian literary canon and to the colonization and decolonization of Canadian wetlands. This wetland is the Tantramar Marshes in New Brunswick. Like Grand Pré, the Tantramar Marshes are an important agricultural site and ecological habitat, as well as the scene of mythology and of literary place markers. Like Grand Pré with Evangeline and Longfellow, the Tantramar Marshes have their bard in Charles G. D. Roberts and their ‘poet laureate’ in Douglas Lochhead (pronounced ‘Lock-heed’), though more precisely, and officially, he was the poet laureate of the nearby town of Sackville from 2003 to his passing in 2011. I prefer to call Lochhead ‘the patron “saint” of marshes’ as a Canadian counterpart to the American Henry David Thoreau who I call ‘the patron “saint” of swamps’ (as we will see in Chapter 8). Lochhead’s writings should be as well known in both Canada and the United States as Thoreau’s are. Like Grand Pré, the Tantramar Marshes were dyked and drained by the Acadians. Like Grand Pré, they were the site of dispossession and repossession, first, by the Acadians dispossessing First Nations, then by the British dispossessing the Acadians, those of English and Scottish descent repossessing Acadia, and later by the Acadians returning from exile and repossessing Acadia, too. In this chapter I trace these intertwined natural and cultural histories and ecologies of the peoples and the place of the Tantramar Marshes, especially as these processes have been mediated or not by the two leading poets of the place. My discussion and reading of their work advances the overarching argument of this book that Canadian understandings of their wetlands function variously either in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies (as I will argue is the case with Roberts’ work) or in resistance to them and in support of the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality (as I will argue is the case with Lochhead’s work). In conclusion, I argue that the Tantramar Marshes should be nominated as a World Heritage Site, like Grand Pré and Southern Bight-Minas Basin, in order to acknowledge, conserve and convey their natural and cultural heritage values. The agricultural potential of the Tantramar Marshes, as Snowdon (1974: 14) points out, ‘had long been realized as the economic basis of the region’. The economic base has an environmental foundation. In this case it was the marshes themselves. The same could be said of Grand Pré and its marshland region. The Acadians realized this potential in both places with aboiteaux, their dyking and draining technology. Snowdon describes how, ‘for 73

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over a century [from 1672 to 1755], the Acadian population had dyked, reclaimed and cultivated the [Tantramar] marshes’ (5). As an aside here, do I detect a modicum of antiAcadian prejudice, if not racism and ethnocentrism, in Snowdon’s reduction of Acadians to ‘the Acadian population’ and in his previous description of the Acadians in disparaging terms as ‘an alien population of French extraction and Roman Catholic religion’ (2)? Alien to whom or what? Alien to the ruling English elite? Certainly they were alien to the alien population of English and Scottish ‘extraction’ and Protestant ‘religion’ that dispossessed the Acadians and repossessed Acadia. This sense of reciprocal alienation on the grounds of ethnicity and religion does nothing for reconciliation between the various settler diasporas that historically make up Canada and continue to make up Canada, nor for mutuality between people and place, especially wetlands, in Canada. Constructing Acadians as aliens of foreign ethnicity and religion (and of language and culture in general) has unfortunate, monstrous and extraterrestrial connotations. These connotations make it seem as if the Acadians were from another planet instead of being terrestrial beings of their own territory of Acadia. Despite its age and these outdated prejudices and unfortunate connotations, copies of Snowdon’s thesis are readily available from the Tantramar Heritage Trust in the town of Sackville situated on the western edge of the Tantramar Marshes. In mitigation, the Trust has also published recently Paul Surette’s Atlas of the Acadian Settlement of the Beaubassin that helps to balance or counter Snowdon’s aspersions. Canada is a nation positioned not only geographically and politically on the margins of the American empire but also divided within by its own internal geographical and cultural lines, including alienation and prejudices between various ‘populations’. Bentley (1992: 4, 5) remarks on the divides in Canada between north and south, the hinterland and the baseland, wilderness and farm. He could also have remarked on the divide between margin and centre, swamp and city, Acadians and norm ethnicities. Bentley (1992: 35) locates the baseland in a specific region and by implication relegates the rest of Canada to the hinterland when he refers to ‘the cultivated and built-up baselandscapes of southeastern Canada’. This is a broad-brush approach for although 25% of all Canadians live along the Windsor to Toronto corridor (Graham nd: 1), this is only a small section of ‘southeastern Canada’, or more accurately it is south-central Canada. In the south-east nowadays when one goes into the marshes of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia one is in the new hinter-wetlandscapes of crumbling aboiteaux, breached dykes, impounded ponds and renaturalizing marshes, as well as in the old base-wetlandscapes of maintained aboiteaux, functioning dykes, remnant marshes, productive agriculture and economic activity. These marshes are highly variable landscapes to say the least and cannot all be relegated to, or designated by, the homogeneous category of the ‘hinterland’. The ‘baselands of eastern Canada’ for Bentley (1992: 43) are ‘circumscribed and Eurocentric’ and the site of what he earlier called ‘a benign nationalism’, ‘a tolerant and protective nationalism, a nationalism rooted in local pride and responsibility’ (Bentley 1992: 7) implicitly posed against the malignant and transnational ‘cultural imperialism’ 74

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

and bellicose, if not jingoistic, nationalism of its near neighbour (‘empire’) to the south. Yet Canada was and still is the site of competing European (French, English, Scottish and Acadian) nationalisms in different locales where, for instance in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, English imperialism and nationalism came up against Acadian localism and anti-nationalism against both English and French nationalism. Acadia was not the site of a harmonious pan-European nationalism but the site of intra-European and international conflict over neutral Acadians and their lands (as we saw in the previous chapter in relation to Grand Pré in Nova Scotia and as we will see in this chapter in relation to the Tantramar Marshes in New Brunswick). This conflict has been played out in cultural politics, in particular the perhaps unlikely arena of poetry and two poets of the Tantramar Marshes in Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead, both residents at different times in their lives of nearby Westcock and Sackville. Charles G. D. Roberts The distinction between baseland and hinterland is pressed into further service by Bentley in his various discussions of the work of Charles G. D. Roberts. Bentley (1984: 23) explores ‘the contrast and tension in certain of the Tantramar poems between near and far, pastoral and open, baseland and hinterland’. More specifically, and later for Bentley (1992: 8), ‘in the New Brunswick of Charles G. D. Roberts, Fredericton [where he went to university] was the baseland and the open spaces of the Tantramar Marshes the hinterland’. Yet the marshes are both pastoral and hinterland as in Roberts’ day they were not a pristine or wilderness hinter-wetland but a managed agricultural baselandscape. As such, and as Bentley (1984: 22–23) points out (albeit uncritically), the marshes were subject to the European landscape aesthetic of the picturesque and pleasing prospect and transformed into ‘the Tantramar’ in which the specific substantive ‘Marshes’ gets dropped. The labour of the initial Acadian agricultural worker in managing the depths of land and water, and the flows of water over the land, are elided in Roberts’ preference for the visual surface of the landscape of ‘the Tantramar’. Roberts writes the marshes out of Tantramar. He is in good company (as we will see in later chapters) with the geographers who write the wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and the wetlands of the Fraser River delta in British Columbia out of these regions and out of their accounts of those regions. In Roberts’ most famous poem, ‘Tantramer Revisited’, the poetic first person narrator relates how:

Here, from my vantage-ground, I can see the scattering houses, Stained with time, set warm in orchards, meadows, and wheat, Dotting the broad bright slopes outspread to southward and eastward. (Roberts 1886: lines 11–13) 75

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The first-person poetic narrator takes a commanding position to look down on, and master from above, the pleasing, picturesque and pastoral prospect below him in accordance with the conventions of the European landscape aesthetic and its hierarchies. He is looking southward and eastward from the Westcock parsonage where he lived as a boy. It was located, as Scobie (2008: 1) puts it, ‘on the slopes of Westcock Hill and commanded a wide view of the Westcock marsh’, and so not of the Tantramar Marshes to the north of Westcock. From the dormer windows of the parsonage Roberts had, as he puts it, ‘a vast, aerial view of the marshes’ (cited by Scobie 2008: 2), or at least of the Westcock Marsh ‘southward and eastward’. Similarly, many years later, the Nova Scotian poet and nature writer Harry Thurston (2004: 1) relates on the first page of A Place between the Tides how his mother lifted him up when he was a young boy to look out through the dormer windows of their farmhouse at the nearby marsh. In an interview with Lisa Szabo-Jones (2011: 85), Thurston said, ‘to me the central metaphor in A Place between the Tides is a boy at the window’. For what or for whom a boy at the window is a metaphor Thurston does not say. Perhaps it is a metaphor for the sense of wonder at the sight of the marsh, or more generally at ‘the complexity of the material world’, as Thurston put it earlier in this interview (Szabo-Jones 2011: 83). For both Roberts and Thurston, being a boy at the window looking at a marsh was a formative (and figurative) experience. For Roberts, though, the position is a commanding position to constitute a pleasing prospect whereas for Thurston it is a place from which he saw a flock of ducks. Roberts sees a static tableau of human artefacts whereas Thurston sees non-human beings living in their dynamic habitat. Thurston (2004: 2) draws the conclusion that ‘from my earliest days I was always looking for something alive in nature’ (I discuss Thurston’s writings on marshes in detail in the final chapter). Although Roberts’ Westcock parsonage burnt down, the site can readily be visited as I did in September 2011 in order to get a sense of what Roberts saw as a boy and what he wrote about as an adult (for the location and surrounding area see Scobie 2008 map B: 116). My visit to the site confirms Scobie’s comment about the parsonage commanding a view of the Westcock Marsh. My sense is that the parsonage did not ‘command a view’ of the Tantramar Marshes as it was located on the south-eastern slopes of Westcock Hill. The forested brow of the hill to the north-east would have obscured the Tantramar Marshes. I was able to see these from where I was staying as I was fortunate to be staying in Old Hospital Loop Road on the eastern slopes of Westcock Hill. From this vantage point I could see not only southward and eastward over the Westcock Marsh as Roberts did, but also northward to the Tantramar Marshes, as well as over the Bay of Fundy with its twice-daily tides exposing vast acres of shiny and slimy brown mud. Roberts takes the long view and does not get down and dirty in the marsh and its mud, and in its messy processes and history of dispossession and repossession. In fact, he actively represses this history and the dykes become a figure for doing so. He goes on to describe the ‘long clay dykes’ which are ‘bulwarked well from the sea’ and ‘a riband of meadow’ which is ‘fenced on its seaward side’ from ‘the turbid/Surge and flow of the 76

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

tides vexing the Westmoreland shores’. The dykes for Roberts are a bulwark against the surging tides, not only of the water in the Bay of Fundy, but also of the repressed and violent history of the Tantramar Marshes which is not mentioned in any of his Tantramar poems. He does not acknowledge the Acadians, or their history and their work in constructing the dykes, or relate the British dispossession of their lands. These are all subsumed beneath the surfaces of both the landscape and of what Bentley (1984: 18) calls Roberts’ ‘landscape poetry’ (not wetlands poetry, unlike Lochhead). Roberts writes the Acadians out of the history and geography of the region as he writes the marshes out of the Tantramar. Like Wordsworth, Roberts is a landscape poet and not a nature writer. Both are concerned with the sense of sight and the surface of a place and not with its processes and depths, nor with its address to the other senses.1 Both subscribe to the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies of senses, sights and sites. The primary feature of the surface of the marshlandscape for Roberts is that it is flat and horizontal. For him ‘the Westmoreland marshes’ ‘lie broad, –/Miles on miles they extend, level, and grassy, and dim’ (Roberts 1886: lines 19–20). Roberts prefers to remember this landscape than to see it, and one or the other is preferable to going down to, let alone into, it. He concludes the poem with a statement of resolute refusal:

Yet will I stay my steps and not go down to the marshland, – Muse and recall far off, rather remember than see, – Lest on too close sight I miss the darling illusion, Spy at their task even here the hands of chance and change. (Roberts 1886: lines 61–64)

Roberts seems to be expressing and presaging a kind of proto-anti-John Masefield sentiment, ‘I will not go down into the lonely marshland’ as an anti-marsh counterpart to Masefield’s later pro-coastal ‘I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky’. Despite this refusal and his preference for taking a commanding view of the Westcock Marsh, it is hard to this day, and on the days I stayed in Westcock in September 2011 and in the places he is imagining, not to avoid seeing the signs of ‘the hands of chance and change’ in the marshland. These signs include the dykes that can be readily seen and visited at Westcock. Storm damage to the dykes reveals the underlying wickerwork of interlaced branches constructed by the Acadians. The history of Westcock can be easily read by anyone with a cursory knowledge of Acadian and New Brunswickian history readily available today from all the surrounding tourist attractions, such as Fort Beauséjour. Perhaps in Roberts’ day that history was suppressed, though given the prominence of Evangeline and Roberts’ promotion of Herbin’s writing and the similarity in themes between them, it is difficult to believe that Roberts would have had no knowledge of the Acadian history of the Tantramar Marshes (which has since then been well-documented; see Surette 2005). 77

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The words ‘Acadia’ and ‘Acadian’ are absent from Roberts’ poetry. To caption a map of southern New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as ‘Roberts’ Acadia’ as Scobie (2008, map C: 118) does is thus a misnomer. It was Acadia, but not Roberts’. It was ‘Roberts Country’ as Scobie elsewhere calls the much smaller area from the Memramcook River in the west to Amherst in the east and from Midgic in the north to Minudie in the south (see Scobie, 2008, map A: 115). ‘Roberts Country’ is now also what could be called ‘Lochhead Country’ covering roughly the same area (see Holownia and Lochhead 1989: ‘Map of the Dykelands’ unp. covering roughly the same area, though with ‘marsh’ and ‘mudflats’ indicated, unlike the Scobie map). The map of ‘Roberts’ Westcock’ (Scobie, 2008: map B 116) shows Sackville, including Mount Allison University where Lochhead taught for many years, and the southern part of the Tantramar Marshes that he wrote about. A map of ‘Lochhead’s Tantramar’ would include Sackville and the entire Tantramar Marshes. As these maps indicate, his is the marsh country (as it was for Pip in Dickens’ Great Expectations and as it is for Harry Thurston, as we will see in the final chapter). Roberts returned to the topic of the Tantramar several times in the following years in such poems as ‘The Tide on Tantramar’ and ‘Ave!’ In the former poem he begins by acknowledging the presence of the dykes (the first third of the poem was originally titled ‘The dykes of Tantramar’ (Roberts n.d.) for its first publication in the Montreal Star), but not the absence, work and traces of the Acadian dyke builders:

I see thy cool green plains afar. Thy dikes where grey sea-grasses are, Mine eyes behold them yet.

(Roberts 1893b: lines 2–4)

Roberts can conjure up the Tantramar landscape before his outer and inner eye where it has a timeless, immutable quality. Roberts privileges the mastering and distancing sense of sight (outer and inner) over the other, more visceral and immediate senses. Roberts begins ‘Ave!’ with his invocation to:

O tranquil meadows, grassy Tantramar,

Wide marshes ever washed in clearest air […] You strike with wondering awe my inward sight. (Roberts 1893a: lines 1–2, 10)

Roberts privileges the sense of sight and its inner counterpart as the master aesthetic sense. The washing of the wide marshes in clearest air sublimates the solid matter of the land into the ethereal and gaseous heights. The combined feeling of wonder and awe the 78

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

marsh evokes for Roberts’ inner eye also places his aesthetic experience specifically in the modality of the sublime and in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its aesthetic hierarchies that privilege the sublime over the slimy and uncanny. Furthermore, ‘the wonder and awe’ with which the ‘wide marshes’ strike Roberts’ inner eye and the ‘far horizons’ (Roberts 1893a: line 24) of Roberts’ Tantramar are more specifically an instance of what Rudolf Otto (1950: 69) in The Idea of the Holy called ‘the sublime in the horizontal’. For Otto, this type of experience is produced by ‘empty distance, remote vacancy’ exemplified and evoked in the desert and steppe, but extendable and applicable also to a large marsh like the Tantramar Marshes. Since the Old Testament prophets and for the New Testament Jesus, the desert and the wilderness are places of spiritual trial and temptation. Since ‘the death of God’, the sublime is a secular theology in which the Romantic poet experiences awe and wonder as the adult Roberts does. Yet Roberts remembers that as a child he had a much more immediate engagement with the Tantramar Marshes when, ‘since first, a child,/Amid your wastes of green I wandered wild’ (Roberts 1893b: lines 19–20). Rather than the adult Roberts’ sublime wonder, the child Roberts wanders wild (though not as a wild child). His wildness is confined to wandering in the ‘wastes’ of the Tantramar. Yet even when Roberts was a child the Tantramar Marshes were not wastelands in the sense of being unproductive or ruined or unsettled land as they had been modified and used productively for many years by human hands – indigenous, Acadian, English and Scottish. To regard a wetland as a wasteland was a typical settler construction of previously used or settled lands, both by indigenous and previous European settlers. It was a pretext for turning wasteland into productive land, for taming the wild, for sublimating the wandering wild into wondering awe, for aestheticizing the (wet)land. Farmland reverted to wasteland when, as Porter (2001: 1) puts it of the Tantramar Marshes, ‘farmers abandoned the land and it was no longer used in a productive manner; in an economic sense the marsh became a wasteland’. The marshlands were considered to be wastelands as ‘wetlands were “unproductive and an economic waste”’ (Marlin 2001: 8). Like the desert and the wilderness for his biblical precursors and like the lake country and mountains for Wordsworth, the Tantramar for Roberts is a holy place:

Purged with high thoughts and infinite desire I entered fearless the most holy place, Received between my lips the secret fire, The breath of inspiration on my face. (Roberts 1893a: lines 31–34)

Roberts enters the Tantramar as ‘a sanctum sanctorum’, the holy of holies, just as Henry David Thoreau entered a swamp, though Thoreau was more a seeker of the slime and the uncanny in the depths of swamp than of the sublime in the surface of the horizontal. 79

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Thoreau sought the sublime in the vertical, such as in the mountains of Maine and the slime in the horizontal, such as in the bogs of Walden Woods. As for Thoreau, the sublime for Roberts is always shadowed by its dark other, yet whereas Thoreau warmly celebrated the swamp’s underside, Roberts evoked the underside of the Tantramar area warily when he addressed ‘your strange unquiet waters’ (Roberts 1893a: line 46) of the Tantramar River agitated with ‘the urge and fluctuation of the tide’ (Roberts 1893a: line 50). Land is sublimated into air for Roberts, but water is uncanny as it desublimates the solid into the liquid. The landscape of the Tantramar produces awe and wonder for the inner eye (and is sublime, and so aesthetic) whereas the waters of the Tantramar River are wild and discordant to the ear (and so anti-aesthetic):

The mystic river whence you take your name, River of hubbub, raucous Tantramar, Untamable and changeable as flame […] Its waves ran crying of the wilderness.

(Roberts 1893a: lines 51–54, 57)

Roberts is alluding to how the Tantramar River (for the Acadians ‘Tintamarre River’) got its onomatopoeic name. Its discordant sounds do not sound inviting and it does not sound like a river with which one would want to be joined in mystic union, despite Roberts calling it ‘mystic river’. Roberts did not want to be baptized in the Tantramar Marshes as we have seen, nor does it now seem he wanted to be baptized in the Tantramar River, though its sounds were a kind of siren song that seem to have attracted and repulsed, fascinated and horrified him, as if he wanted to jump into and be merged with it but was afraid of doing so. As the sounds of the river are discordant and as they fascinate and horrify, they are in a word, Freud’s word, uncanny. This is the strongest instance in Roberts’s poetry of the anti-aesthetic modality of the uncanny that upsets the privileged and distancing sense of sight and the aesthetic modality of the sublime, and threatens to submerge the body in the life-giving and death-dealing element of water. Nevertheless, for Roberts, the sound of the waves is the voice of a John the Baptist crying in and of the wilderness and preparing the way for the messiah of Roberts, despite his refusal to be baptized in the marshes and him preaching his gospel of secular redemption through poetic inspiration and appreciation for the sublime in the horizontal. On the Tantramar, Roberts ‘companioned’ ‘the wilderness/And winds and stars and dawn’ ‘in speed sublime’ (Roberts 1893a: lines 58–59) in a sublimated sexual metaphor. In other words, he was not a companion of the wetland of water, slime and darkness in the Tantramar Marshes in a desublimated sexual metaphor. As a companion of sublime speed, Roberts is an avatar of modernity and its sublime technologies of passive speed (see Giblett 2008a, 2008b) in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies rather than a devotee of the traditional body techniques of active rest (to use the terms of Marcel Mauss 1992) in support of the alternative cultural paradigm. 80

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Roberts is not companioned by water and mud in slow slime, unlike the anti-modern or primitivist Thoreau; he is not baptized in water, unlike his biblical, messianic counterpart. Roberts is a kind of modern, secular, unbaptized messiah. Given Roberts’ high-flown biblical analogues, his championing of modernity, his invocation of the sublime in the horizontal, and his weighty scriptural legitimation for his poetry all in service of the dominant cultural paradigm, it is not surprising that he enjoys a privileged place in the canon of Canadian literature, certainly in the anglophone division. Scobie (2008: vii) remarks that Roberts is ‘often referred to as “the Father of Canadian literature”’. This pronouncement implies the question: Who is its mother? Perhaps Moodie and Traill are its sisterly (or sororal) mothers, though this conjures up a picture of bigamy. Roberts’ reproduction of the European landscape aesthetic coupled with his overlooking of Acadian history and dispossession, his celebrating of the sublime in the horizontal and his refusal to be a companion of the waters of the marshes constitutes a founding moment of (anglophone) ‘Canadian literature’. Similarly, Moodie’s and Traill’s pejorative pictures of Canadian wetlands also constitute a founding moment of (anglophone) ‘Canadian literature’. In the beginning was the wetland, but in the beginnings of Canadian literature the wetland was not. Although wetlands are mentioned in the beginnings of canonic Canadian literature, wetlands constitute the dark underside and the chaotic other of ordered and enlightened literature and the dominant paradigm of anglophone settler culture. Yet the Tantramar Marshes do have their ‘darker side’, as Marlin (2001: 6) puts it, as they are ‘a landscape of resistance and transgression’ as she earlier called it (2001: 2) against the dominant cultural paradigm and in support of its alternative. Unlike Moodie and Traill, who remain resolutely Canadian, if not European, or English in the worldview, Roberts for Scobie (2008: 6) can also be ‘accorded a certain priority in Canadian literary history as the first Canadian author to achieve international recognition’. More precisely and to the point, his most famous work is rooted in a specific place, ostensibly ‘the Tantramar’ but specifically Westcock, for which he gained international recognition. Yet, as we have seen, his vision of the place was very limited and it was not specifically a marsh or a wetland that he celebrated, but a landscape viewed largely from above, both from a commanding position and from afar with ‘inner sight’. As with a number of other landscape and nature writers, he made a local landscape both national and global in its appeal and audience. Roberts for Scobie (2008: 10) is ‘the Bard of Tantramar’. He is not ‘the Bard of the Tantramar Marshes’ for Scobie and me. Scobie studiously avoids the word ‘marshes’ here, in his ‘Preface’ (2008: vii) and in the subtitle of his book. Roberts for Scobie is the Bard of the Tantramar region in which the Tantramar River, despite its disturbing qualities for Roberts, gets higher billing than the Tantramar Marshes. Roberts’ ‘Tantramar Revisited’ is not only rooted in a specific local place but also enjoys broader national esteem in the canon of Canadian literature. ‘Tantramar Revisited’ for Bentley (1984: 24) ‘has been the focus of more critical commentary and controversy 81

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than any other poem by Roberts’. My critical commentary on this poem will hopefully only add to the controversy. Also for Bentley (1992: 22), ‘Tantramar Revisited’ is one of ‘many acknowledged classics of Canadian poetry’. For Glickman (1998: 88) ‘‘Tantramar Revisited” is his most famous poem’ and for Scobie (2008: 55) ‘his finest poem’. Bentley (1992: 40) describes how Roberts’ “Tantramar Revisited” is ‘a treatment of one of the most prairie-like landscapes in eastern Canada, the tidal marshes’ with all the features ‘that have become standard […] in depictions of the hinterland in Canadian poetry’. Roberts’ predilection for the sublime in the horizontal was also pressed into service in the prairies of the mid-west of Canada. Eastern and mid-western Canada participated jointly in the construction of a common, nationalist pan-prairie landscape of the sublime in the horizontal. By representing the Tantramar as prairie-like, Roberts combines maritime and mid-western landscapes into a concocted national hinterlandscape that ignores, like Roberts himself (and Scobie), the specificity of the geography and history of the Tantramar Marshes. The Tantramar Marshes, reputedly the world’s largest, are located at the head of the Bay of Fundy with the world’s greatest tidal range (Summerby-Murray 1997: 158), and with what Roberts called ‘the world’s largest hayfield’ (cited by Scobie 2008: 64). They are not only ‘the landscape and the seascape he loved so well’ (Scobie 2008: vii; see also 56), but also more precisely the distinctive wetlandscape he wrote so little about. Scobie (2008: vii) goes on to evoke some of the prominent features of the landscape that made it so special for Roberts (and of the wetland that made it more so for Lochhead as we will see shortly) ‘with the ebb and flow of its tides, the broad red-brown mud flats, the dykes built originally by the Acadians, and the famed marshes through which meanders the River Tantramar, which gives its name to the region’. Yet Roberts does not mention the Acadians. The Tantramar Marshes are wetlands watered by river and sea, and made into alternatively dry and wet lands; they are land wrested from the sea by dyke, drain and aboiteaux built by Acadians and made productive by them for agriculture by regulating the flows of fresh and salt water. They are the sites of the distinctive Acadian wetland agriculture on moist soils that are fecund and fertile. Roberts is not averse to acknowledging these feminine aspects of the marsh by evoking ‘the deep-bosomed fertility of the marsh-level’ (cited by Scobie 2008: 3). The marsh is both the nourishing good breast and the fertile womb of Mother earth in the dominant (agri)cultural paradigm. Bentley (1992: 163) asks ‘was nature in Canada […] a fertile wife […] or a stingy step-mother?’ Or both? It depended on when, where and how the settler and poet looked on her. Nature cannot be feminized in one singular and homogeneous way as a number of natures and feminized figures for nature are extant (see Giblett 2011: ch. 1). The marsh is for both Bentley and Roberts the withholding bad breast and the barren womb that does not provide nourishment in times of drought and that does wreak havoc in times of flood. Both only consider the nourishing good breast and the fertile womb of Mother earth in the dominant cultural paradigm and one side of the Great Mother of the marshes who is both life-giving and death-dealing in the alternative cultural paradigm. 82

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

Along similar lines to Scobie with ‘Roberts Country’, Bentley (2010) recently names ‘Roberts’s Tantramar’ as a distinctive locale to be put on a par with literary locations such as Dickens’ London, Hardy’s Wessex, Twain’s Mississippi and Wordsworth’s Lake District. To this list of literary luminaries and their locales could be added some prominent nature writers and their bioregional home habitats, such as Thoreau’s Walden Pond, Muir’s Sierra Nevada and Leopold’s Sand County  – and Lochhead’s Tantramar Marshes, and other writers and places, such as Longfellow’s Acadia. Many of these places have become literary tourist sites, and problematically so as we have seen in the case of Acadia. ‘Roberts’s Tantramar’ and ‘Roberts Country’ are no exception, with Roberts’ writing the Acadians out of his account. Shauna McCabe (1998: 231–245) explores the creation of ‘Roberts Country’ as a marketing theme, part of the presentation of Sackville and its Tantramar Marshes environment in a heritage (and maybe even ‘eco-cultural’) narrative – but with significant contestation from Acadian and other interests (as we have also seen). Moreover, Robert Summerby-Murray (2002: 48–62) argues that the adoption of an environmental (wetlands/marshlands) positioning for the town’s cultural heritage in the Sackville Waterfowl Park represents a conflicted view of its industrial past, the systematic and conscious erasure of these elements of collective memory and their overlaying with an ersatz touristic vision of a functionalist past propped up by Roberts’ pastoral poetry. Scobie, (2008: 56) notes that ‘Roberts’ Tantramar verse is usually classified as “nature poetry,” or as Roberts liked to term it, “the poetry of earth”’. His is not the poetry of water, to which he seemed to be averse (as we have seen). Roberts is a landscape writer as Bentley (1984: 18) says (and as we saw above), and not a nature writer. (In this respect he is like Wordsworth; see Giblett 2011.) He aestheticizes and inscribes the surface of the land in terms either of the pleasing and picturesque pastoral prospect or of the sublime in the horizontal in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. He does not celebrate and trace the messy depths of the geography and history of the wetland in support of the alternative cultural paradigm. Not so Douglas Lochhead. Douglas Lochhead Lochhead was born in Guelph, Ontario in 1922 and passed away in Sackville, New Brunswick in March 2011, ten days before his 89th birthday and six months before my visit there. I had hoped to meet him and chat with him about his writing and Canadian wetlands. I was fortunate, though, to speak to many people who knew him, to go out on the High Marsh Road and walk out on the Tantramar Marshes as he did, and to follow in his footsteps and muddy footprints as it were. In 2003 he was appointed the ‘Poet Laureate of Sackville’ after living in the town and teaching at the town’s Mount Allison University since 1975. A bust of him is on display in the visitors’ centre and tourist bureau at Sackville Waterfowl Park, a kind of counter to Longfellow’s bust in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey and its replica at Grand Pré. 83

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The Tantramar Marshes were a preoccupation in his poetry after his arrival in Sackville, beginning with High Marsh Road: Lines for a Diary first published in 1980, probably his most well-known book. In the second poetic diary entry for ‘September 2’, Lochhead (1980: unp.) asks:

here, right where my foot takes weight, what Acadian sweated and froze in the ever-wind to make these dykes? there is a sense of history here and all across this marsh.

In this, his first published collection on the Tantramar Marshes, Lochhead, unlike Roberts, acknowledges immediately the Acadian presence on the marshes, the place where he is walking, and their history sensed across them, not least in the dykes. Lochhead walked on the Tantramar Marshes every day for many years. Thaddeus Holownia’s cover photo for High Marsh Road shows him doing just that. Walking, as a number of writers from Thoreau to Solnit have pointed out, is a way of engaging in a visceral, proximate and multi-sensory closeness with place, with here and now in space and time in support of the alternative cultural paradigm. Walking enabled Lochhead to read the signs of history in the land, and the history of water management, of the human body and the messy bodily processes that built the dykes. Lochhead’s poetry now contributes to the sense of history of the marsh and is a part of that history. Rather than Roberts’ commanding position of the pleasing prospect, his experience of the sublime in the horizontal, his companioning of sublime speed and his sublimated history of the marshes, Lochhead is in the marsh foot deep and in its corporeal history. Rather than the anti-aesthetic and raucous hubbub of Roberts’ mystic river, for Lochhead (1980: unp.) in ‘September 3’:



the river, the Tantramar, is narrow, deep. tidal, to fall in is not to be found. so close to all that power, cleansing

Lochhead is again engaged in bodily proximity, but not in bodily immersion or baptism in the cleansing power of the river rushing powerfully in or out of the marshes with their broad and shallow waters on the ebb and flow of the tides. Lochhead does not succumb to the siren song of the river as he knows it would be fatal to fall in and he respects its cleansing power without regarding it as mystical or baptismal, unlike Roberts for whom the river is a ‘mystic river’ with which he would like to merge in mystical union but whose discordant sounds horrify him. As a place of water, the marsh is also a place of beginnings. For Lochhead (1980: unp.) in ‘September 23’: 84

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead



this is the place. the marsh. to keep beginning from such horizons. it is the fact, the main one, the constant looking out.

Rather than looking down on Roberts’ ‘far horizons’ that evoke the sense of an ending, looking out at Lochhead’s horizons one finds a place of beginning. And they are a place of ending for some. For Lochhead, in ‘October 2–3’ the marsh is a place not only of new life but also of the slaughter of the innocent by ‘the rum-dipped duck hunters’ whose:

[…] mindless/conspiracy to kill, to kill with as much as a glare, the innocents, the good ones, this is what gets me down (Lochhead 1980: unp.; 2007: 106)

The line of sight of the glare is the line of fire for the gun that kills. Rather than Robert’s privileged sense of sight that sees from afar, for Lochhead the sense of sight armed with a gun is lethal for wildlife. According to Lochhead in ‘October 9’, Roberts relied on the telescope for his longrange, over-arching view of the pleasing pastoral and picturesque prospect of the marshes:

the total glimpse of it as Roberts took to Tantramar. using his telescope his eye revisited. (Lochhead 1980: unp.; 2007: 108)

Lochhead seems to be implying that Roberts’ inner eye that revisited the Tantramar is a kind of telescope, literally a means for seeing from afar. How even more am I seeing the Tantramar Marshes from afar writing this by Forrestdale Lake in Western Australia on the opposite side of the globe? Certainly I can conjure up before my inner eye some of the scenes I saw as I write about them, but in my case the drive is not nostalgic for childhood, nor mourning for a lost place as with Roberts. Roberts’ point of view can be contrasted with Lochhead’s for in the very next lines of the same poem he relates how:

now I search the same dykes for details of shore-birds. 85

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the weirs hold straggler ducks. it is good to have such footsteps. (Lochhead 1980: unp.; 2007: 108)

Lochhead is walking and searching, not from afar from a commanding prospect with a telescope, nor telescoping with inner sight time and history together, but as an embodied being in a particular place in the present. Relying on the sense of sight as Roberts does becomes problematic when, as Lochhead relates in ‘October 12’, ‘in the/fog the marsh vanishes’ (Lochhead 1980: unp.; 2007: 110). I can attest to this phenomenon on the Tantramar Marshes as one morning in September 2011 they did vanish as I was driving in a thick fog across them on the Trans Canada Highway. They were nowhere to be seen. All that I could see was about 20 metres of road in front of me. Fog and marsh took on the same grey, watery hue. The fog was localized to the marshes as there was no fog in Westcock that morning when I left and none on the other side once I had crossed and driven up the Aulac ridge. The fog had congregated in the low-lying area of the marshes. The heavy, humid air had fallen and settled in the bottomlands of the marsh. It is an eerie feeling being in fog. Everything is still and quiet. It is like being suspended in a cloud. Which is exactly what it is, just very low-lying cloud. Rather than climbing up into cloud as one does when going up a mountain or ascending in a plane, the cloud has come down and settled around in a process of desublimation in which the gaseous has become solid and the world has been turned upside down in carnivalesque and subversive play in the alternative cultural paradigm. I was not above the marshes with a commanding view of them but down on the marshes with no view of them. Rather than adopting a commanding prospect to look out over the land as Roberts did, Lochhead in ‘October 21’ wants to go underground and nestle lovingly with a local animal. His inner sight takes him inside the earth for:

[…] the mole is my nestling lover. roots I trace and cover myself with the green and brown rot. (Lochhead 1980: unp.; 2007: 112)

Lochhead becomes mole to tunnel underground and immure himself in decomposing and life-giving vegetable matter. Following High Marsh Road, Lochhead continued to write about the Tantramar Marshes in a number of subsequent books, beginning with Dykelands in 1989 with photographs by Thaddeus Holownia shot in panoramic banquet format. As the endpapers put it, ‘the large, horizontal photographs are well-suited to preserving the remarkable 86

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

detail of this vast, flat expanse of mud and marshland’. Rather than Roberts’ sublime in the horizontal, Holownia’s photographs are panoramic in breadth and exquisite in depth, both horizontal in sweep and vertical in detail. Holownia’s and Lochhead’s written account of the marshes is also broad and deep in providing general historical background and specific details about the marshes, especially about the dykes built by the Acadians. They jointly wrote a ‘Preface’ in which they describe: dykelands – lands built up and taken from the sea – kept. The waters are held back by sea-walls made of marsh grasses, wooden posts, mud and tree branches. Dykes as high as two metres and as thick as four. Over years the Bay of Fundy tides have left their red silt forming a gradual rise of field along the marsh edges where hay is grown and cattle feed. The seventeenth and eighteenth century Acadian walls provide long, ranging contours of protection against the sea. Rich land. Today the dykes are sometimes weaving ruins, made skeletal by erosion and the pressures of tides. Some have become bolstered walls to hold the sea back, as below Beauséjour, where trucks dump rock-fill to keep out the rip-tides of Cumberland Basin. (Holownia and Lochhead 1989: unp.) That was over 20 years ago. In 2011, trucks continued to dump rock-fill below Fort Beauséjour and at Westcock. In fact, half of Westcock Hill has gone into bolstering dykes. Yet also below Beauséjour a breach in the dyke has deliberately not been repaired and the marsh is renaturalizing in this section. Ducks Unlimited Canada has also impounded water in a section of the Tantramar Marshes below Beauséjour. Sackville Waterfowl Park and Tantramar Wetlands Centre on the western side of the Tantramar Marshes and in the township of Sackville are also impoundments and so are ponds, rather than wetlands. Tintamarre National Wildlife Area in the Tantramar Marshes contains several impoundments (and a checklist of birds for the wildlife area names them as impoundments on its accompanying map). None of these four areas is strictly renaturalizing wetlands as such as they are no longer subject to tidal flows that characterized the marshes prior to dyking. They are remnants of the ruins of the dykelands, and the resurrected remnants of the ruined marshlands that are more ponds than wetlands. Yet the dykelands for Holownia and Lochhead are both: ruins and new places for living […] The dykelands form a living, breathing place […] Dykelands are elemental. Entwined in their outwardly deceptive simplicity, there is in their very existence a constant, living change […] All of the dykelands are nature’s places. They are no backgrounds for anyone or anything. (Holownia and Lochhead 1989: unp.) 87

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Dykelands are not only decaying monuments to the past but also living places in the present and for the future. They are elemental as they mix the elements of earth, air, fire and water, or, in other words, the categories of solid, gaseous, heat and liquid. They belong to no one element in particular but to all four in general. They can also be in transition from one to another, such as solid land to liquid water and back again; water into gaseous and semi-solid fog; fog into rainwater; heat and air mixing in humidity. The ruined dykes, for Lochhead are ‘necessary ruins’, ambiguously both necessary that they be ruined and ruins that are still necessary for living, a necessity of and for life (Holownia and Lochhead 1989: 4; Lochhead 2007: 52). And they are necessary for giving birth to new life. Like Roberts, Lochhead feminizes or, more precisely, maternalizes the marshes as a fertile and fecund place, though not only creatively but also destructively; more in keeping with the creative and destructive matrifocal Great Mother in the alternative cultural paradigm than with the benign and malignant patriarchal Mother earth in the dominant cultural paradigm:

a sudden wound, a heavy sex, and the marsh lies rich and wanton



bare as she waits open for the questing hand and plunge,



but, as always this is only part of the heady show of dyke and ditch



the earth is whored out to farmers who feed her until she bursts



their barns with hay, it is their taking, it is natural, it is their time



of rounding it into balls and bales and hiking heaves into the lap of harvest. (Holownia and Lochhead 1989: 5; Lochhead 2007: 53)

The hay rolls are now a metonym for the marshes and the town of Sackville. One of Thaddeus Holownia’s iconic banquet black and white photographs of hay rolls on the marsh from Dykelands now adorns both the billboards by the side of the Trans Canada highway outside town on the marshlands and the cover of Sackville’s tourist guide. The town is now using the Tantramar Marshes and their rich history, including visual culture, in order to market the area as a tourist destination or stopover point. The earth is now ‘whored out’ 88

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

to tourists (including myself), the marshland is subject to (gyn)ecological investigation of internal examination by tourists, geologists and scientists, and the farmers who still see and use it as a benign Mother earth of second nature with her bountiful lap, a great good place pressed into the service of the dominant cultural paradigm of capitalist commodification. Lochhead contrasts the exploited roundness and softness of the feminized or maternalized marshlands with the hard masculinized structures that have been erected across it or in it:

the hard statements of bridge and rail lines of poles and staggered fences



all give the hard edge of man’s plotting patterns, of his unsubtle strictures



over the great marshes. (Holownia and Lochhead 1989: 26; Lochhead 2007: 51)

Two road bridges for the dual carriageway Trans Canada Highway and a railway bridge for the Trans Canada Railway cross the Tantramar River just outside Sackville, and Radio Canada has a transmitter station with a large field of huge pylons on the marshes by the side of the Trans Canada Highway. These hard horizontal and vertical structures contrast sharply with the soft horizontality of the marshes. The Trans Canada Highway is not only a spatial barrier but also a temporal vector as it speeds drivers locked in their metal boxes and in hypermodern time across the ‘timeless’ or time-full marsh, a place where ‘a sense of time hangs heavy’ as Leopold said and as Lochhead concurred when he said (as we have seen) that ‘there is/a sense of history here and all across/this marsh’. Sylvain Hudon, the Mayor of La Pocatiere with its marshes on the St Lawrence bifurcated like the Tantramar Marshes by the Trans Canada, says ‘the Trans Canada Highway is an anachronism’. It is not only a relic of a bygone era but also a chronological mistake, a mistake in chronology, both in terms of the historical timescale and of the cyclical seasonal cycle of the marshes through which it cuts for some of its journey across Canada. Lochhead’s last published foray into the Tantramar Marshes is his long poem Love on the Marsh published in 2008. The first stanza begins with:

the marsh: this is our stage wide green place of discovery, of love. (Lochhead 2008: 7) 89

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Unlike Roberts, the marshes for Lochhead are not green waste and their width is not an entrée into the sublime in the horizontal but a means ‘of venturing into caves/where clouds live’, and so of combining the sublime above in the vertical of the clouds with the slime below in the depths of the marsh. The marshes for Lochhead, unlike Roberts, are not a site for wandering wild nor for wondering awe but ‘backyard Eden./this is our place’ and later ‘the marsh, this our playground’ (Lochhead 2008: 75) as one would expect of a backyard Eden. The wetland as Eden is a persistent trope in the settler tradition, not only of Canada with Lochhead, but also of the United States as in Miller’s study Dark Eden and in Australia with Woolcock’s celebration of Eden in a Bog. For Lochhead, unlike Roberts, marshes are not a place for viewing from afar and refusing to go down into. For Lochhead:

marsh. I lie in you face down. to listen. it is for signals we wait. come signals let me read you. (Lochhead 2008: 29)

Signals of what, he does not say. The point is to be attentive and waiting. Lochhead enacts what could be called the slime (rather than sublime) in the horizontal by lying prone in the marsh, listening to its voice, reading its signals in the earth, breathing its air and drinking its water in a multi-sensory and embodied dialogue with the elements of the marsh. And with the body of the marsh for Lochhead, as in Dykelands, the marsh is feminized, or more precisely maternalized:

marsh as mother. her wide apron covers the place. we will listen to her words. (Lochhead 2008: 65)

The marsh speaks; it is not speechless. It is not a dumb and incoherent wild child, nor is the poet playing at wild child. The marsh is not mute and it does not have to be made to speak. It has its own language. The signals for which Lochhead waits and asks permission to read are holy writ; the words he will listen to are her divine words; the words he and others utter to her are prayers to the great mother marsh.2 The marsh for Lochhead, like Roberts, is a holy place as:

the marsh is God’s church, a prayer place for lovers.

(Lochhead 2008: 103) 90

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

If there is to be no contradiction between the marsh as mother and the marsh as God’s church, God is a woman for Lochhead. Lochhead enters the Great Mother marsh as a sanctum sanctorum, the holy of holies. He is the patron ‘saint’ of marshes. Present pressures and future prospects Despite the iconic status of the Tantramar Marshes in Canadian history and culture, and for Sackville, and its identity and tourism industry, they face some serious threats, including ‘wind farms’ and shale gas drilling (or ‘fracking’). On 27 September 2011, I paid a visit to Vanessa Bass who lives in Middle Sackville on the western edge of the Tantramar Marshes. She opposes both the ‘wind farms’ and shale gas drilling proposed for the marshes. Vanessa is a member of the Parks Canada coordinating group for the Tantramar Marshes. She wants to conserve the cultural and natural heritage values of the marshes. The only area within them that has protection for conservation is the Tintamarre National Wildlife Area. This area includes some impoundments. It includes some remnant wetlands as 10% of the Tantramar Marshes were not farmed for salt marsh hay in the early twentieth century at the height of the market for horse-feed. According to Al Hanson (personal communication) of Environment Canada’s Atlantic Wildlife Research Centre in Sackville, 90% of the marshes were farmed at that time for this purpose. Currently it is 65%. Perhaps the 35% not farmed for marsh hay is the total area of all the impoundments, including Sackville Waterfowl Park, Tantramar Wetlands Centre and Tintamarre National Wildlife Area. Vanessa Bass also has an impoundment as she bought the paddock between her house and the marsh. Ducks Unlimited Canada reconstructed the pond, probably a remnant of the marshes. Vanessa is opposed to ‘wind farms’, or industrial wind sites as she calls them, for health, aesthetic and environmental reasons. She suffers from vertigo and believes that the infrasound made by the rotating blades will only exacerbate her condition. She is also concerned that the towers would be a form of visual pollution on the marshes, particularly destroying their strong sense of horizontality celebrated in different ways by Roberts, Holownia and Lochhead. Vanessa knew Lochhead personally. Lochhead was so worried about the impact of wind farm towers on the Tantramar that he wrote a letter dated 20 July 2009 addressed ‘To Whom It May Concern’ in which he voiced his concern for: the Tantramar marshes and their preservation as one of Canada’s great landscape treasures. The introduction of windmills along the marshes would greatly interfere with this beautiful and famous landscape and would change and alter the private properties along its routes. I urge you to support the termination of plans, which I understand are in the early stages.

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Lochhead gave this letter to Vanessa for her to use when the right time came. I am grateful to her for passing it on to me and giving me the opportunity to cite part of it in Canadian Wetlands, which does seem like an appropriate place and time. She sadly recollected his death six months before I met her and said she missed him. He is a great loss as a spokesperson for the marshes who listened to their voice and related their words. That voice and those words continue to speak through this letter and his poetry. Vanessa is also worried about the impact that the towers would have on a raised acid bog on the marshes: I am concerned that installation of these towers will cause enough soil disturbance that the drainage pattern around the bog will be altered. The bog is a raised acid bog which implies that the acid condition of the sphagnum moss is not flooded with near neutral pH water flowing in from the surrounding fields. This neutral pH water would destroy the acid conditions and ruin the bog habitat. It would take very little change in the drainage patterns to shift the direction of the flow of surface water. It would be a pity to see this unique and interesting bog destroyed. I may stand corrected but it and its sister bog on the other side of the High Marsh Road may be the only raised peat bogs existing in what was once a salt marsh. The fact that they existed in the middle of a salt marsh may be unique in itself but their survival after the surrounding marsh has been converted from salt marsh to fresh marsh is an additional characteristic which sets them apart.  Shale gas mining by fracking is also another threat to the Tantramar Marshes. This has had a devastating impact on Penobsquis in New Brunswick. During the week I was staying in Westcock a feature article appeared in Saltscapes: Canada’s East Coast Magazine in which Quentin Casey (2011: 48) related, how: since 2004, nearly 60 Penobsquis families have lost their well water. At first, water was trucked to local homes two or three times a week. By 2009, the province had spent $10 million to set up a new water system. Shale gas mining is a continuing controversy in New Brunswick, not to mention elsewhere in North America as documented by a couple of films, and currently in Australia. A protest march against shale gas mining had been held in Moncton, the largest city in New Brunswick, in the week before I arrived in Sackville. Tantramar Marshes should be a World Heritage area to protect and promote both its natural and cultural heritage values to locals and visitors. Grand Pré is a World Heritage area for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to commemorate a fictional character created by an American poet and to celebrate its history as a heartland of Acadia. The Tantramar Marshes have their own characters and Canadian poets who should be commemorated and celebrated as a heartland of Acadia too. The same 92

‘The marsh lies rich and wanton’: The Tantramar Marshes, Charles G. D. Roberts and Douglas Lochhead

courtesy and protection given to Grand Pré as a World Heritage Site should be extended to the Tantramar Marshes in order also to protect them from industrial wind sites and shale oil mining, and to commemorate, celebrate and conserve their rich cultural and natural heritage. The Tantramar Marshes are also a wetland of international significance as habitat for humans from the Mic’maq through the Acadians and British settlers and back to Acadians, and as the habitus for two major Canadian and internationals poets in Roberts and Lochhead. Notes 1. For an extensive reading of Wordsworth’s work (both poetry and prose) on landscapes (including country houses) and for a critique of ‘Romantic ecology’, especially as espoused by Jonathan Bate, see Giblett (2011: chs 3 and 4). 2. For an extensive discussion of the feminization of nature and of wetlands that discusses and references many of the key ecofeminist texts see Giblett (1996, 2011).

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Chapter 5 ‘Noisome marsh’ and ‘incurable marshes’: Wainfleet Bog, Point Pelee Marshes and the falls on the Niagara Peninsula

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iagara Falls is an iconic tourist destination that needs no introduction whereas the wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula, such as Wainfleet Bog, certainly do. Niagara Falls is not only one of the most famous tourist sites in North America but also one of the first such sites and one of the most durable, whereas the wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula are not tourist sites at all. Niagara Falls has proven to be what Paul Shepard (1967/1991: 179; see also 145) describes as ‘a supreme spectacle’ for the touristic gaze whereas the wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula are what could be called supine specular debacles for the touristic sensorium. Niagara Falls is also an object of repeated aesthetic representation in painting and photography, and of sustained cultural attention and historical research resulting in many articles and books whereas the wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula are not in either account. At the time of writing, a simple and cursory search in Amazon.com of the number of books about ‘Niagara Falls’, or books that mention them, produced 32,480 results. No books in Amazon.com are devoted to, or mention, the ‘Niagara wetlands’ of the Niagara Peninsula (past and present), or specifically ‘Black Swamp, Niagara’, ‘Canby Marsh’, ‘Cranberry Marsh’ and ‘Wainfleet Bog’. Rather than aesthetic objects for the aesthetic subject, they have proven to be unaesthetic abjects for geographical and historical research and for aesthetic appreciation and representation. Niagara Peninsula is a region where the struggle between the dominant and alternative cultural paradigms is played out in relation to the sites of Niagara Falls and Niagara wetlands located in close proximity. The dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies are evident in a recent and prominent account of the geography and history of the Peninsula from whose introduction mention of wetlands here is surprisingly absent. In his introduction to a broad-ranging collection of articles on Niagaran landscapes, Hugh Gayler (1994: 1–2) does not acknowledge the existence of wetlands on the Niagara Peninsula at all, neither in the past when they were much more extensive than they are today, nor in the present when their extent has shrunk but they are still present. He acknowledges that the Niagara Escarpment gives rise to rivers and streams that cross the escarpment and ‘result in a number of waterfalls, but the most spectacular is without doubt Niagara Falls’. So fixated is he on the iconic Niagara Falls that he does not acknowledge the fact that the escarpment also results (or resulted, as many have now been destroyed or damaged through drainage, filling or peat mining) in a number of wetlands, two of which, Black Swamp and Canby Marsh, were once prominent on the peninsula. This chapter remembers these two wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula in southern Ontario, celebrates their history and promotes the conserva97

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tion of their surviving remnants, such as Wainfleet Bog. It also considers the nearby Point Pelee marshes in southern Ontario, celebrates their history and promotes their conservation as a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance. Of the two wetlands that were once prominent on the Niagara Peninsula, Black Swamp on the northern, or Lake Ontario, side of the Peninsula was smaller than Canby Marsh on the southern, or Lake Erie, side. This Black Swamp is one of a number of Black Swamps in North America, including one in Ohio, all of which suffer from the denigratory and racist connotations of the descriptor and colour ‘black’.1 Yet despite its smaller size, Black Swamp was the more prominent of the two in the war of 1812–1814 with the United States during which it played a pivotal role. The Black Swamp of the Niagara Peninsula is no exception if the testimony of a soldier on the Canadian side is anything to go by. The 104th foot New Brunswick regiment was stationed there for nearly two months in 1813 where it ‘suffered dreadfully from disease’ (Graves 1993: 16). Lieutenant John Le Couteur of this regiment wrote in his journal that: We were thoroughly rejoiced at getting out of the Black swamp. The exhalations of a morning from this pestiferous and noisome marsh were so heavy that I used to amuse myself by lifting my knees slowly when all the little globules of moisture used to run down my blanket into a small pool which I then emptied on my rich green carpet of verdant grass. Drains round the Tent were constructed so as to draw off the water to some stagnant receptacle. Fever and ague, with dysentery, prevailed to an alarming extent. I escaped it by temperance and early habits. (Graves 1993: 136) From what did he escape? To what does ‘it’ refer? It does not refer to the diseases, or to the marsh’s exhalations as they are both in the plural. Perhaps ‘it’ refers to the marsh or swamp itself from which le Couteur and his fellow soldiers escaped as if they were escaping from a prison. This exit passively rejoices them. They do not actively rejoice; they are not the agents of rejoicing, but the object of the order to leave the Black Swamp. Or perhaps ‘it’ refers to the fate (worse than death?) of dying a dirty and muddy death in a swamp, a fear that was to fill soldiers with horror during a number of subsequent conflicts, including the First World War and the Vietnam War (see Giblett 1996: 217– 226). Le Couteur escapes the fate of contracting disease (and perhaps dying of it) figured as a prison through a moralized abstinence from alcohol and the exercise of good habits, presumably early rising and personal ablutions. Le Couteur’s view of wetlands was typical for the time and was taken through the mistaken view of the miasmatic theory of disease that blamed the swamp and not the unsanitary conditions of the military camp in the Black Swamp for the outbreak of diseases. Alan Taylor (2010: 241) in his recent history of the war refers more precisely 98

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to ‘a mosquito-infested swamp’ (rather than to a disease-ridden swamp), which was by no means a healthy place as ‘the Britons’ encamped beside it ‘sickened with ague’, an archaic term for malaria. As with most wars, casualties were higher from non-combatant causes than from combat. Taylor (2010: 241) goes on to relate that, ‘routing both armies, the disease-bearing mosquitoes were winning the war’. Yet despite the dangers to health posed by the mosquitoes in the swamp, it also was a refuge and, like most wetlands in war, easy to defend and hard to attack. These military features of wetlands had been well known and recognized by practitioners of war from Alfred the Great and Hereward the Wake to General Francis Marion, the ‘Swamp Fox’ who, according to Robert Bass (1959: unpaginated head note and 4), was ‘barely able to read and write‘, yet was ‘a tactical genius‘, ‘a wily guerrilla leader’ and ‘one of the most extraordinary heroes of the American Revolution’ to boot. ‘[S]econd only to George Washington’, he held ‘the vital woods and boglands of South Carolina’ against the British from August 1780 to September 1781. For William Gilmore Simms (cited by Miller, 1989: 86) in his biography of Marion, ‘the swamps of Carolina furnished a place of refuge to the patriot and fugitive’. Here Marion ‘developed a new type of warfare’, according to Noel Gerson (1967: 254), which could best be described as amphibious guerrilla warfare or wetland warfare employed so effectively against the American army by both the Seminoles in Florida in the nineteenth century and the Viet Cong in Vietnam in the twentieth century, both of which wars the American military lost. Swamps are sites of resistance for the marginalized against the dominant forces of empire; swamps are sites for the alternative cultural paradigm to resist the force of the dominant cultural paradigm. General Carl von Clausewitz theorized amphibious guerrilla warfare or wetland warfare in his classic treatise On War first published in 1832. For Clausewitz (1968, II: 289 and III: 29), on the one hand, ‘low lands and morasses, if means of crossing are not too numerous, belong to the strongest lines of defence which can be formed’ and, on the other, ‘morasses, that is impassable swamps […] present peculiar difficulties to the tactical attack’. Wetlands warfare, in addition, fulfils three out of five of von Clausewitz’s criteria for waging what he called a successful people’s, or guerrilla, war: first, by being carried out in the interior of the country; second, by taking place in a theatre of war that ‘embraces a considerable extent of country’; and third, by occurring in country that is ‘irregular, difficult, inaccessible’, or of ‘a broken and difficult nature’, by reason of, amongst other things, marshes. Black Swamp fulfilled all three criteria in the 1812–14 war. Wetlands, and Black Swamp, also fulfil Clausewitz’s (1968 III: 343) two remaining criteria: the war cannot hinge on a single battle; and the national character must support the war. Wetlands provide the opportunity for quick skirmishes, for stinging attacks, for hasty retreats and for holing up for months in relative safety, though sometimes in unhealthy camp conditions as Le Couteur testifies. Canadian national character supported and was tempered in the heat of battle during the war of 1812–14, not least in Black Swamp, a fact overlooked by some historians of this war such as Latimer and Taylor who concentrate 99

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on human action and ignore environmental conditions and the lay of the (wet)land as strategic and tactical factors in the war. Land plays a part in war, as does air and water. All wars take place in an environment and theatre whose constituents are earthly. Despite referring repeatedly to Le Couteur’s journal, Taylor does not comment on his view of swamps, nor does he mention the presence of swamps and marshes on the Niagaran front, except for the one instance noted, nor does he acknowledge their role in the war, nor their strategic and tactical importance, except for their contribution to the appalling conditions of the camps detrimental to soldiers’ health. He makes no mention of either their strategic or tactical importance in the war. The biogeographical features of the Niagaran front are not even a backdrop to the theatre of war but more like a blank sheet against which the human, political drama of conflict is projected and played out. The war is thereby reduced to a human drama played out between human actors with little acknowledgement of the land on which, and wetland in which, the war was fought and the role they played in the conflict, and with no consideration for the theory of war and wetlands, such as Clausewitz’s, nor for the history of warfare waged in wetlands, such as Francis Marion and the swamps of Carolina. The landscape of war has agency in warfare that can be construed in terms of the four traditional European elements of earth, water, air and fire that are produced by combinations of heat, cold, dry and wet. In this account, earth is cold and dry, water is cold and wet, air is hot and moist, and fire is hot and dry. These elements and qualities play a role in war as materials, contexts, constraints, opportunities and threats. The variables of the contours and shape of the land (flat or vertiginous, smooth or rugged), the volume and type of water (flowing or stagnant, frozen or liquid), the quality and temperature of the air (hot or cold, moist or dry, pure or poisoned) and the disposition and intensity of fire in ballistic weaponry and incendiary devices and their impacts all combine to produce the landscape of warfare. In warfare these factors are not only strategically and tactically important but also the combinations between them, such as wet land, makes for the distinctive landscape of war that plays a role in the fighting and outcomes of all wars, and suffers damage. All wars are fought against the earth in a number of senses. In 1814 the Black Swamp made another brief, albeit anonymous, appearance in the 1812–1814 war. In his recent monumental history of the war, Jon Latimer (2007: 287) describes how the British commander Drummond withdrew some of his forces to ‘Twenty-Mile Creek to avoid being trapped’ between the Americans advancing on land from the east and on water from the north. This withdrawal would have been into the Black Swamp, but Latimer neither mentions it nor shows it on his map of the Niagara Frontier (2007: 70). Despite either citing or referring to Le Couteur’s journal on a number of other occasions, Latimer (like Taylor) does not refer to his description of the swamp, or acknowledge the biogeographical features of the Niagara front and the landscape, and wetlandscape, in which this episode of the war took place. To the south, on the Lake Erie side of the peninsula, Canby Marsh was the more extensive of the two wetlands. In 1798, according to Nagy (1992: 76), this marsh comprised 100

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an area of ‘52,185 acres (21,119 hectares)’ and she cites ‘Burtniak 1992’ as her source for this figure. Her references list ‘Burtniak, J. 1992’ as ‘Chronicals [sic] of Wainfleet Township Wainfleet Historical Society’ (Nagy, 1992: 114). Yet Chronicles of Wainfleet Township: 200 years of history (Wainfleet Historical Society 1992: 139) indicates 12,912 acres of marshlands in 1851 (53 years after Nagy’s 1798), quite a discrepancy with Nagy’s figure. This could be a misreading of acres and hectares, or a typographical error (21,119 instead of 12,912), or a wilful exaggeration. Elsewhere in the Chronicles, this figure of 12,912 acres is rounded up to ‘about 13,000 acres’ and then later increased to ‘over 13,000 acres’ in the early 1800s (1992: 19 and 110). Margaret Canby and Samuel Stevenett are credited respectively with submitting this information to the Chronicles (Wainfleet Historical Society 1992: 111 and 140). Whichever figure is correct, and there seems no easy way to get to the bottom of this messy quagmire of statistics, the marsh was once very large and is now greatly reduced. The most reliable source is the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority which states in a factsheet entitled ‘Restoring the Wainfleet Bog’ that ‘extensive drainage projects and 80 years of peat extraction have shrunk the bog to 1,200 hectares (approximately 3.000 acres)’. The proud boast or horrified confession of the drainer to his wife was, ‘Honey, I shrunk the bog!’ Draining the water out of a bog will shrink it, just as wringing the water out of a wet cloth will reduce its overall volume. Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area purchased by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in 1996 covers a mere 801 hectares (1,980 acres) (NPCA 2011: 41). Yet despite its reduction in size, Wainfleet Bog is ‘significant’ as it is ‘the largest, least disturbed peatland feature in the Niagara Peninsula’ (NPCA 1997: 2). Indeed, the factsheet states that ‘this bog is the largest, least disturbed bog in southern Ontario’ (NPCA nd). The fifth edition of the brochure, Niagara Peninsula’s Conservation Areas, published in 2011, concurs, though it prefers initially the more euphemistic term ‘peatland’ to ‘bog’ (2011: 41). Nevertheless, it acknowledges that the Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area is ‘part of the largest, least disturbed peatland in southern Ontario’ and later that ‘the site is a provincially significant wetland known as a bog’. Prior to drainage and peat extraction the bog was probably even larger than 3,000 acres. Indeed, the factsheet states that ‘the Wainfleet Body once covered more than 200,000 hectares (approximately 500,000 acres) stretching inland along the north shore of Lake Erie from Port Colborne west to the Grand River’ (NPCA nd). Historically, this description of the extent of Wainfleet Bog concurs with Francis Hall (1818: 239) who in 1816 travelled the Niagara Peninsula. By no means was he the first European to do so or to describe Niagara Falls, though he was one of the few to describe how ‘Canby Marsh […] covers all the interior of the frontier, from the Grand River’. Hall’s map of ‘The Niagara Frontier’ shows this exact same extent for ‘Canby Marsh’; his map is reproduced in Berland (2004: 44–45) and available online on the Brock University library website (Hall 1816– 17). Hall may have accurately described and mapped the extent of Canby Marsh, but in his descriptions of the nature of the country he is dismissive of it. He describes the area and the river as ‘properly a long stagnant creek, or drain’. In doing so Hall was largely 101

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following in the footsteps of Mrs Simcoe two decades earlier for whom ‘The Chippewa River […] is a dull muddy River running thro’ a flat swampy country’ (Innis 2007: 108). On a number of counts, Canby Marsh fails to meet the criteria for water in the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarches which required that it should be: flowing (whereas Canby Marsh is stagnant for Hall and merely ‘running’ for Simcoe); bright (it is dull); pure (it is muddy, composed of earth and water); passing through rolling country (it is flat); and separate from land and forest (it is swampy, a wooded wetland, where land and forest mix). On all four criteria Canby Marsh compares unfavourably with Niagara Falls, and so fails by contrast. Hall (1818: 230–238) devotes nine pages of his published travel journal to Niagara Falls whose affect he sums up in one word: ‘sublimity’, the pinnacle of the aesthetic hierarchy in the dominant cultural paradigm. He describes ‘the rapid motion of the water, the stunning noise, the mounting clouds’. These features contrast not only with the stagnant or running water of Canby Marsh but also with its presumably serene quietness and sticky humidity, all associated with the slimy by contrast with the sublimity of the falls. The dullness of Canby Marsh also contrasts with what Hall describes as ‘a most brilliant rainbow’ famously produced by the mist of the falls, ‘one of those features of softness which Nature delights to pencil amid her wildest scenes, tempering her awfulness with beauty, and making her very terrors lovely’. The rainbow that ‘Nature delights to pencil amid her wildest scenes’ contrasts with the marsh that Nature botches across her blotched scenes, the beauty of the falls with the ugliness of Canby Marsh, the mitigation of the terrors of the falls in the colourful rainbow rising into the heights above it contrasts with the unmitigated horrors of the marsh with its dull, muddy and stagnant water sinking into the depths below it. In the face of the massive and monumental object of the falls, Hall’s senses are startled and he ‘felt the sensation of awe’ associated with the sublime. Hall does not describe the effect that Canby Marsh had on his senses, nor the sensation, if any, that it produced on him. Perhaps the marsh did not have any effect on his senses, nor elicit any sensations in him whatsoever. Perhaps he became insensible and insensate in face of the marsh. Yet wetlands have a wide range of effects on the senses and produce a number of sensations. Their scenes and flora are exquisite to see and look at; their perfumes and their rank and musty smells are a mixed bouquet to breathe in; their sounds and quietness are soothing to the ear; and their smooth and rough textures, wet and dry materials are varieties of surfaces to touch with the whole or part of the body. Being confronted by, or immersed in, a marsh not only addresses the senses but also produces sensations ranging from fear to reverence, horror to fascination depending on whether one regards the wetland as either, to use Henry David Thoreau’s terms, a dismal swamp or a sanctum sanctorum (holy of holies), and whether one is either a citizen of the sublime city and a tourist of sublime sites, like Hall, or a saunterer of santé terre (holy earth), like Thoreau (to whose writings on wetlands I return in Chapter 8). Hall is a purveyor of the dominant cultural paradigm and its aesthetic and bodily hierarchies whereas Thoreau is a proponent of the alternative and its avowal of equality. 102

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Although Hall devotes only one sentence to Canby Marsh and does not expend one drop of black ink on describing Black Swamp (perhaps the name says it all), at least he acknowledges the existence of both on his map of the peninsula and describes the extent of Canby Marsh. Unlike Hall, who does not describe Black Swamp, Mrs Simcoe does, or at least describes the road through it as ‘a most terrible road full of swamps’ (Innis 2007: 223; see also 224). Although Hall’s map shows Black Swamp, it is difficult to calculate its extent. It seems to have extended from 10 Mile Creek to 20 Mile Creek (and so was 10 miles long). According to Guillet (1966: 46), ‘the bogs of the Black Swamp sprawled across nearly two miles’ and so covered an area of about 20 square miles (about 5,200 hectares). Maps of the early nineteenth century confirm this extent (see Gentilcore and Head 1984: map 6.1). As with Hall and Canby Marsh, and with Le Couteur and the Black Swamp, J. E. Alexander in Volume II of his Transatlantic Sketches Comprising Visits to the Most Interesting Scenes in North and South America (published in 1833) does not have much to say that is positive about Canby Marsh. Like Hall and Simcoe with Canby Marsh, and Le Couteur with Black Swamp, he takes the typical and dominant nineteenth-century view of Canby Marsh in taking ‘an improper route, through a horrible marsh, the Wainfleet, the seat of agues and actual yellow fever and abounding in rattlesnakes and mosquitoes’ (158). This pronouncement exemplifies what I have called the ‘standard swamp-speak’ of the nineteenth century. The marsh is improper, or at least the route through it is; it is horrible and horrifying, especially as it is the seat of diseases and home to an abundance of horrific and life-threatening animals. Yet the presence of the Massasauga rattlesnake today means that Wainfleet Bog is a special place as the bog is still the habitat for, and a home of, Ontario’s only venomous snake. During the Labour Day weekend in September 2011, I had the great good fortune to see a couple of Massasauga rattlers ‘in the wild’ on the Bruce Peninsula, one of the other few remaining habitats for this species. In fact, I nearly trod on one and heard its rattle before I saw it. Several weeks later when I told a couple of Environment Canada officers at Point Pelee National Park about my encounter with a Massasauga rattler they were envious as they had only ever seen one in captivity. Toronto Zoo has produced a brochure entitled, Wainfleet’s Massasauga Rattlesnakes: Recovery and Conservation, in order to provide information about the joint governmental and university programme to bring about what the subtitle suggests. The brochure begins by stating that Wainfleet Bog is ‘a treasure to recover’, that it is ‘recognized provincially and nationally as a jewel in the Niagara landscape’ and that ‘it is one of the largest wetlands in the Niagara Peninsula’. An accompanying map shows the ‘Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area’ in the middle of the larger ‘Wainfleet Bog’. This bog is a jewel that for many explorers, early settlers, visitors, residents, geographers and tourists remained, and still remains, hidden and undervalued, certainly compared to that other jewel and touristic treasure trove on the Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Falls. Regarding waterfalls as tourist attractions is part of the modern tradition of aestheticizing nature in terms of what Dean MacCannell (1976: 80–81) calls ‘outstanding 103

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features of the landscape’ including not just a waterfall, but ‘a large waterfall’; Niagara Falls is certainly that, though it is not the longest vertical fall of water in North America, which honour goes to Multnomah Falls in Oregon. It is also part of what he goes on to call ‘the modern touristic version of nature’ which treats it as ‘a common source of thrills’. The waterfall is one place where those thrills can be experienced as Hall as an early tourist testifies. The wetland is not a place where those thrills can be experienced as Hall also testifies. Waterfalls, as Paul Shepard (1991: 254) points out, ‘have been primary tourist attractions for a thousand years’. Wetlands have been primary tourist attractions for less than a hundred years, perhaps beginning with the declaration of the Everglades National Park in Florida in 1934. Some wetlands in Canada, such as Cap Tourmente and Oak Hammock Marsh, have impressive interpretation centres, whereas Wainfleet Bog has a few signs about its history and conservation values and no signs on the highway directing the visitor to it. Niagara Falls was an early, iconic tourist destination, partly because of its proximity to large population centres in the north-eastern United States and south-central Canada, partly because of visual depictions of it by painters, such as Frederick Edwin Church, partly because of written descriptions of it by painters, such as Thomas Cole, and partly because of descriptions of it by travellers, such as Hall, Mrs Simcoe and others. Most visual depictions evoked implicitly the sublime, and most verbal descriptions invoked it explicitly too in service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its aesthetic paradigms. Niagara Falls complete with rainbow was for Thomas Cole (cited by Wilton and Barringer 2002: 22), like Hall, ‘where the sublime and beautiful are bound together’. In 1840 Nathaniel P. Willis described the Horseshoe Falls as ‘unquestionably the sublimest thing in nature’ (cited by Ellis 1998a: 165). Perhaps if he had visited Wainfleet Bog he might have described it as unquestionably the unsublimest, or slimiest, thing in nature. The sublimity of the falls was not only invoked in writing by those such as Hall, but also in painting by those such as Church who painted the Horseshoe Falls in 1857 and called the painting ‘Niagara Falls’ (for a reproduction see Ellis 1998a: 165; Wilton and Barringer 2002: fig. 32, 56). Adam Badeau wrote of this painting that ‘if it is inspired by Niagara, it is grand and sublime; it is natural to the nation’ (cited by Ellis 1998a: 165). Church’s painting is sublime itself and its subject matter is sublime too. Niagara was, as McKinsey (1985: 31) puts it’ ‘the real sublime’ and ‘the epitome of the sublime nature’. The Niagara Falls were specifically natural to the nation of the United States as it saw itself as what Perry Miller (1956: 209 and 1967: 201) calls ‘nature’s nation’. But it was not just any old nature that claimed and possessed the nation but monumental and sublime nature, in such places as the Sierra Nevadas and Niagara Falls. It certainly wasn’t the messy and slimy nature of swamps and marshes. Ellis (1998a: 165) comments that ‘during the nineteenth century, Niagara was seen as a sign from God that America was the Promised Land’. The rainbow in Church’s painting was also a sign of God’s blessing on America harking back to the aftermath of the biblical flood. The irony here for the United States as the promised land and nature’s nation is that Niagara Falls is (on) the border between the 104

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United States and Canada. The further irony is that Church painted his painting ‘from the Canadian shore of the Canadian side’ (Ellis 1998a: 165). Church’s painting may be sublime of a sublime object, but it is a view from the Canadian side of nature’s nation and a sign from God that both nations share the falls, the border between them and much of the North American continent. To compound the irony even further, ten years later Church painted a painting called ‘Niagara Falls from the American side’ so he was painting the ‘Canadian, or British side of the Falls’ (Wilton and Barringer 2002: 152). Despite these ironies, Niagara Falls was a place where the sublime and America were united. The falls were specifically the place where ‘the natural sublime’ (McKinsey 1985: 31) and ‘nature’s nation’ were conjoined in ‘the American sublime’ (see Nye 1994:17–44) on one side of the falls as indicated in the subtitle of probably the first monograph devoted to the cultural history of Niagara Falls, Icon of the American sublime (McKinsey 1985). It was also the place where nation, nature and the sublime were disjoined on the other side in what Revie (2009: 67–110) calls the Canadian ‘anti-sublime’. Or in Canadian slime. Perhaps nation, nature and the sublime were also disjoined in the slime of Canadian wetlands. For Zoë Sofoulis (cited by Giblett 1996: 27), slime is the secret of the sublime that she encapsulates in the parenthetical portmanteau s(ub)lime. Canadian slime is the secret of the American sublime, its repressed other that returns in American jokes about Canada, and Canadian jokes about America. Perhaps the Canadian anti/s(ub)lime is what makes it and its wetlands into the postmodern nation/nature par excellence, especially to counter the American sublime of nature’s nation epitomized in Niagara Falls. Modernity for Jean-François Lyotard (1989: 199) triumphed around the name of the sublime, whereas modernity failed and slid into the ambiguities and swamps of ‘postmodernism’ around the name of slime. The porous border between Canada and the United States, including Niagara Falls, is the place where the s(ub)lime occurs. In this porosity an intra-continental dialogue about wetlands might begin and the two paradigms become conjoined in complementarity instead of being locked in a struggle for dominance and resistance. Not only was it the case that, as for Shepard (1967/1991: 175), ‘in America the sublime was peculiarly suitable to the perception of the Niagara Falls’, amongst other places, but also in the perception of the Niagara Falls America and the sublime were particularly suited to each other for here the mighty nation and awesome nature came together in a single display of power in which nature legitimated the nation. Of Niagara Falls, former president John Quincy Adams (cited by Nye 1994: 21) said that ‘I have seen it in all its sublimity and glory’. Niagara Falls for Adams was the natural equivalent of the opening lines of the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’: ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord’. The Republic and the Falls, nation and nature, met and reinforced each other in the sublime. Niagara may have revealed to the nineteenth-century tourist, like Adams, God’s ‘power and glory’, as Sears (1989: 60) puts it, but it revealed nature’s and the nation’s power and glory for Adams, too. God, nature and nation all got mixed up together in God’s nation’s nature in the sublime. Indeed, the sublime is the site where they can all get 105

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mixed up together in an inarticulate and inexpressible way. Adams goes on to describe ‘a feeling over-powering’ and concludes ambiguously that this feeling or the Falls ‘takes away the power of speech by its grandeur and sublimity’. This speechlessness is quite apposite as the sublime is the conjunction of the affects of awe and terror between subject and object. It is neither a quality of the object, nor an affect of the subject, but both. Like Adams, for Walter Henry (cited by Revie 2009: 121) in 1843, ‘the predominant feeling at first [at the Falls] is the inadequacy of language to express the strength of the emotion’. The sublime cannot be spoken about. The sublime is nevertheless a way of speaking, an enunciative or rhetorical modality, a way of speaking about the unspeakable in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Adams and Henry both seem to be aware of, and allude to, the origins of the sublime in what McKinsey (1985: 31) calls ‘oratorical theory’, in particular Longinus’ treatise ‘On the Sublime’ in which he outlines its features, some of which are pertinent to the rhetoric of the American and natural sublime employed by Adams and Henry about Niagara Falls. The sublime for Longinus (1965): • • • • •

exerts ‘an irresistible force and mastery’ (100) ‘uplifts our souls’ (107) impregnates one with heavenly power (119) inspires one to speak oracles (119) and carries one up close to the majestic mind of God (147)

For McKinsey (1985: 31), ‘it was through rhetoric that most Americans became familiar with the idea of the sublime’. Out of this familiarity, American artists ‘attempted to develop new modes for depicting sublime nature in art’. The result of this process was a flood of paintings and other depictions of Niagara Falls in the mid-nineteenth century that evoked the sublime. In the mid-1980s these and their antecedents were gathered together and displayed in a travelling exhibition of over 250 depictions of Niagara Falls held progressively in three major US art galleries from 1985 to 1986. The exhibition and the catalogue were simply and synecdochally called Niagara, in which the part of the Falls, and part of the Niagara Peninsula, stands in for the whole of the Niagara Falls, and for the whole of the Niagara Peninsula (see Adamson 1985: especially 129–253). ‘Niagara’ is equated with Niagara Falls. Other parts of the peninsula, such as its wetlands, are forgotten, as they are by geographers such as Gayler. There has never been to my knowledge a corresponding exhibition of painting of North American wetlands. In the exhibition devoted to Niagara Falls, Church produced nine pieces out of 250, including studies and paintings, depicting Niagara Falls. His 1857 painting is given pride of place in the catalogue as the first figure laid out in a double-page spread (Adamson 1985: 12–13). Perhaps in both its layout (like the centrefold of a Playboy magazine) and in the subject matter of its plunging cleavage, it is an early instance of ‘eco-porn’. Certainly Church’s 1857 painting is impressive partly because of its massive panoramic scale 106

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measuring over a metre tall and nearly two and a half metres long. Its strongly horizontal proportions and its clear horizon in the background depict and evoke what Rudolf Otto (1950: 69) called ‘the sublime in the horizontal’. The painting also contains strong vertical lines typical of the sublime with white water in the mid ground-falling into the chasm below the Falls. Although the chasm is largely out of sight from the painter’s and implied viewer’s point of view, it strongly conveys the vertical plunge and pull of the water falling over the edge. I saw the painting in an exhibition in Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1998 and I was engulfed by its immensity and detail. It was almost as if I could feel the spray and hear the roar of the Falls. Sublime, indeed. This joint Australian and American exhibition of landscape painting from both countries also included a number of iconic paintings of wetlands, such as W. C. Piguenit’s ‘The Flood in the Darling’ (for a reproduction see Sayers 1998: 185). Unlike Church’s sublime in the horizontal, Piguenit’s painting could be called a depiction and evocation of the slime in the horizontal with its strong horizon in the mid ground and with placid water and marshy vegetation in the foreground. For one critic in 1895 ‘the scene is one of silent desolation’ (cited by Sayers 1998: 185). It is also a scene of both woeful devastation and joyful rejuvenation typical of floods and wetlands. It depicts destruction and creation occurring in the life-giving and death-dealing waters of wetlands in which one cannot occur without the other as acknowledged in and by the alternative cultural paradigm. Also included in the exhibition was Martin Johnson Heade’s ‘View of Marshfield’ characterized by what Ellis (1998c: 190 and reproduced therein) calls ‘the contemplative sublime’ in service of the dominant cultural paradigm. Like the Acadians’ marshland, Heade’s painting is of a dyked and drained farm landscape that could be depicted in contemplatively sublime ways, unlike an undyked and undrained wetland that could be contemptuously dismissed as slimy and horrifying, unlike a waterfall that could confront one with the terrifying sublime. The Canadian anti-sublime of the Niagara Falls counters the American sublime of the Falls and both complement Canadian slime in Wainfleet Bog. The American sublime, Canadian anti-sublime and Canadian slime come together in North American s(ub) lime. Niagara Falls is viewed as sublime whereas ‘originally [presumably for European explorers and settlers] the Wainfleet Bog was viewed as a “wasteland”’ (NPCA 1997: 18), and perhaps still is by many. Presumably it was not regarded as a wasteland by the local Amerindigenes for whom ‘the bog may have been a component of their hunting, gathering culture perhaps providing culinary, medicinal, as well as ceremonial, materials’ (NPCA 1997: 19). Typically, wetlands abound in a wide range of plants and animals for a variety of uses. Even the name ‘Wainfleet’ says it all for those settlers in the know about its historical associations with marshy land. Governor Simcoe is credited with selecting ‘the names for the various townships of what was formerly Lincoln County’. For the Chroniclers of Wainfleet, ‘it was no doubt appropriate to call the one [township] containing a larger area 107

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of marshy land Wainfleet, in order to make the similarity of this Lincoln to Lincolnshire in England more complete’ (Wainfleet Historical Society 1992: 17). The marsh ‘at home’ in England was used to make the marsh away from home in the colonies more homely and familiar, and less unhomely, uncanny and alien. The two towns are now formally linked as twin towns. Both Wainfleet Marshes are now conservation areas, though a remnant of the one in Canada was only conserved after much of it had been destroyed or lost. From 1815 to 1820, much of Canby Marsh was shrinking or had shrunk to Cranberry Marsh (Turner 1994: fig. 7.9, 197 and fig. 7.10, 202) due to drainage and peat mining. The only substantial surviving remnants of Canby Marsh as mapped by Hall in 1816–17 are Wainfleet Bog, Humberstone Bog, Willoughby Bog and Wignell Drain Bog. While the Niagara Escarpment resulted in rivers, streams, falls (including, of course, Niagara Falls) and wetlands to its south and east, it also resulted in them to the north, especially with wetlands, such as Black Swamp on the shores of Lake Ontario. While Wainfleet Marsh or Bog receives some attention in Gayler’s edited collection, the other wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula are largely missing (and conspicuous by their absence) from the written text, though they figure in its maps. It is as if the contributors to this collection could not write about the wetlands but could map them, as if they found the wetlands uninscribable by writing but traceable by mapping, as if they did not want to get bogged down in writing about them and their messy history of colonization, settlement, warfare, drainage and peat mining, but were happy to skate over their surfaces by mapping them. Keith Trinkler (1994: fig. 2.5, 31) describes and maps the geological formation and extent of Lake Wainfleet 4,000 to 5,000 years before the present depending on differing water levels in Lake Erie. Nagy (1992) is much more specific in aging Wainfleet Bog to 4,500 years before the present through peat analysis in the northeast portion of the existing bog. Kim Frohlich (personal communication), who prepared the NPCA management plan, says ‘there may be deeper parts that are older’ and ‘the Bog started 12,000–12,400 years ago with the glacial meltings’. Wainfleet Marsh or Bog, Humberstone Bog, and Willoughby Bog are remnants of Lake Wainfleet (as shown on the map in Gayler 1994: fig. 2.1, 15). Gayler (1994: 8), in giving a résumé of the various chapters in his introduction to the book, states that ‘Trinkler in his Entre Lacs chapter examines the major components in the physical structure of the Peninsula and the way in which these have interacted in postglacial times with ice, lakes, rivers and other subaerial processes to give us our present physical landscape’. Wetlands were one of these other subaerial processes that gave ‘us’ ‘our’ past, and to some extent present, physical landscape, but Gayler does not acknowledge them. In Michael Moss’s discussion of the forests in the Niagara landscape in Gayler’s edited collection, he briefly mentions the fact that ‘a mixed deciduous forest had existed throughout the life of [Wainfleet] Marsh’ (Moss 1994: 140). On the following page he maps (in fig. 6.1) ‘major biological features of the Niagara Peninsula and locations of places mentioned’ in his chapter, including Wainfleet Marsh. It is not clear, however, whether Moss regards the marsh as a major biological feature of the Niagara Peninsula, 108

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or merely as a place mentioned. Hopefully the former applies as mosses need marshes to survive (and sphagnum moss is found in Wainfleet Marsh [NPCA 1997: 11]). Unlike Moss, Thomson (1994: fig. 11.2, 305) clearly indicates Humberstone, Willoughby and Wainfleet Marshes in his map of ‘Intrinsic (natural) features’ of the peninsula. He does not acknowledge, though, that these so-called natural features are also historical products and remnants of Canby Marsh before that, and of Wainfleet Lake before that. Nor does he include these wetlands of the Niagara Peninsula amongst his ‘major water features’. Moreover, although Wainfleet and Humberstone Bogs are mapped and marked as components of environmental corridors on the peninsula (fig. 11.3, 307), they are relegated to a list of possible ‘additional resources’ (307); for what or whom are unclear. This hierarchical taxonomy of geographical features is not explained or justified. Thankfully, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is not so backward in acknowledging the history and value of Wainfleet Bog, in promoting its unique qualities and trying to restore it to something of its former state. According to its factsheet, the NPCA is ‘committed to restoring the bog to a more natural state’ (‘Restoring the Wainfleet Bog’, NPCA). What this natural state might be, though, is not specified. Perhaps some aspects of the natural state of the bog are not so preferable, such as being the habitat for ticks that can transmit Lyme’s Disease, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system. None of the brochures warn you about Lyme’s Disease, but signs at the bog do. Perhaps Alexander needs to be updated to read: ‘a horrible bog, the Wainfleet, the seat of Lyme’s Disease and habitat of rattlesnakes and ticks’, though I saw neither when I was there and certainly wasn’t bitten by either. Certainly, more people died at Niagara Falls during the summer of 2011 (as a cursory Google search will show) than at Wainfleet Bog. Certainly more people visited Niagara Falls on the day that I visited Wainfleet Bog with Kim Frohlich of the NPCA. As I was slogging through the bog along the old railway tracks that had been used for peat mining, I asked Kim if there was a ‘Friends of Wainfleet Bog’ group of local residents and others from the surrounding areas that helped to conserve and rehabilitate it. She replied that there was not. I went on to relate my experience of being a member of the Friends of Forrestdale for over 20 years, the role that we played in conservation and education, and the achievements we had notched up over that time. Kim took the idea on board and mentioned that some local residents had been involved in the initial moves to set up the conservation area but they had not been involved in ongoing management and in being the eyes and ears that helped to minimize vandalism and to promote conservation. ‘Friends of ’ groups are widespread in Australia and I encountered a few in Canada, such as at Point Pelee and Cap Tourmente. No doubt there are many more. Australia can learn a lot about wetland interpretation and education centres from Canada as Western Australia currently has none based at any of its Ramsar Convention Wetlands; Canada could perhaps learn a lot about ‘Friends’ groups from Australia as they have been effective not only in providing docile volunteer labour for hands-on and interpretation work, but also in providing critical comment and input on policy and proposals. This comparison 109

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and contrast between Australia and Canada could be part of an ongoing, international dialogue about wetland conservation and education in the two countries. Other wetlands in southern Ontario are more highly valued than Wainfleet Bog, such as Point Pelee National Park (PPNP), one of eight Ramsar Convention Wetlands of International Importance in Ontario. It is the most southerly point of mainland Canada, located at 42 degrees latitude north (Graham nd: 1). The Point hangs down from the rest of Ontario into Lake Erie like an open quotation mark. It is also located adjacent to the most densely populated region of Canada. The Windsor to Toronto corridor comprises only about 0.25% of Canada’s landmass, yet 25% of all Canadians live along it (Graham nd: 1). Over 5 million Canadians and Americans live within a two-hour drive of the Park. It is no surprise then that ‘it is one of the most-visited parks in Canada’ (Tiessen 2011: 2). Today, approximately 350,000 people per year visit the Park. Numbers peaked in the late 1960s with 760,000 visitors per year (Tiessen 2011: 7). South-eastern Canada constitutes for Bentley (1992: 35) the baseland whereas for Peter Stevens (cited by Bentley 1992: 8) ‘We too have our hinterland and the poetry deals with it’, including his own poem about Pelee Marsh in Pavese Poems. Within the baseland of south-central Canada, Point Pelee is a hinterland hanging off the main land of Ontario like a comedic comma, an afterthought. Point Pelee derives its name from French and means ‘bald point’ (Graham nd: 4; Tiessen 2011: 17), or literally ‘peeled point’ (Graham nd: 31). The Tiessens (2011: 17) claim the name ‘allud[ed] to the fact that the area was devoid of vegetation’ yet go on to quote a Jesuit who visited the area in 1721 and commented on the presence of trees. The east side and the very tip of the Point are sandy and certainly ‘bald’. Early English surveyors regarded the 311 square kilometres of swamps and morasses between Rondeau Point and Point Pelee as ‘perilous, thickety places’ with ‘stagnant and ruinous waters’ and as ‘incurable marshes’. (Graham nd: 5). These pejorative perceptions of wetlands occluded their value for, and uses to which they were put, by First Nations’ peoples. As a result, early settlers saw ‘little value [or use] in them’ and ‘set about to conquer marshes’ by dyking and draining them in order ‘to bring them into a state of cultivation and usefulness’ (Graham nd: 21) in conformity with the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Thomas Smith surveyed, or attempted to survey, the Point Pelee marshes in 1805 and 1806. He described them as ‘a quagmire, not passable’ with ‘morases [sic] perilous’ and water ‘stagnant and ruinous’ (cited by Battin 1975: 94). Over a decade later, David Thompson surveyed the US/Canada border in 1819 and described the Point Pelee marshes as ‘pestilential’ (cited by Battin 1975: 96). Early settlers concurred with the surveyors and so saw ‘little value [or use] in them’ (Graham nd: 21). In fact, engineer Alexander Baird in 1894 saw them as ‘entirely useless’ and so went on a mission to ‘convert’ ‘wild swamp’ to ‘usefulness’ (cited by Battin 1975: 127). To switch metaphors from pragmatism and Christianity to militarism (though they were mutually reinforcing when it came to marshes and other wetlands), settlers ‘set about to conquer marshes’ by dyking and draining them in order ‘to bring them into a state of cultivation and usefulness’ (Graham nd: 21). The marshes were wild, heathen, untamed 110

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and savage, in need both of being converted to Christianity and being made useful in terms of Benthamite pragmatism for the greatest good for the greatest number for the greatest time. This conversion was performed by the exercise of military might with the use of monstrous steam-powered dredgers who undertook the conquest of nature in the dominant cultural paradigm (Battin 1975: 126). As a result, ‘the drainage projects reduced the Point Pelee marsh area by about 50%’ to 2,700 acres (1,100 hectares) (Battin 1975: 56, 158). Point Pelee National Park is 1,564 hectares in size with ‘two-thirds of the Park composed of freshwater marshes’ of 850 hectares in total (Tiessen, 2011: 62). This is ‘one of the last, large, freshwater marshes left on the Great Lakes’ (Graham nd: 1 and 21). Point Pelee is important as a bird stopover and staging point as it is ‘located on both the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways and at the apex of the southern Ontario peninsula which funnels birds and insects through Point Pelee’ (Tiessen 2011: 8). Indeed, Margaret Atwood (2008 online), who has been involved in the conservation of Point Pelee for many years, says ‘Point Pelee is famous as a spring migration landing spot’. Indeed, ‘bird migration has made Point Pelee world-famous, setting it apart from all other national parks in Canada’ (Tiessen 2011: 60), though not from other Ramsar Wetlands that are not National Parks and are designated as National Wildlife Areas, such as Cap Tourmente in Quebec and Shepody in New Brunswick. Point Pelee for O’Neill (2006: title of ch. 1 and 105) is ‘a migration highway through Carolinian Canada’ and ‘arguably the best location in Ontario to observe migrating birds’. A total of 372 species of birds have been sighted at Point Pelee (Tiessen 2011: 8 and 38), ‘more species […] than any other location in Ontario’, making it ‘a birder’s paradise’ (O’Neill 2006: 26 and 105). In addition, approximately 700 species of plants and 30 species of reptiles and amphibians have been recorded to date at Point Pelee (Tiessen 2011: 28 and 43). It is also famous for its butterflies (O’Neill 2006: 18) and so is ‘one of the world’s most famous locations for watching the migrations of both birds and insects’ (Tiessen 2011: 8). In recognition of these features, Point Pelee became Canada’s ninth national park on 29 May 1918 (Graham nd: 2 and 10; Battin 1975: 157). Point Pelee National Park is the second smallest of Canada’s national parks (Canadian Atlas 2004: map 19). Besides its small size, it also seems to lack the aesthetic values of its larger, mountainous counterparts. ‘Unlike the mountain parks’ for Graham (nd: 1), Point Pelee National Park is not ‘noted for its scenic vistas’ due to the fact that ‘most of the Park is flat’. For the Tiessens (2011: 8), it was also ‘the first to be created on the merit of its ecological values’, and not aesthetic values, though the Commission of Conservation noted ‘its scenic value’ (O’Neill 2006: 131). In the nineteenth century, national parks were created in the United States for their aesthetic values  – not their ecological values  – and as tourist destinations and leisure sites, not as conservation areas (see Giblett 2011: ch. 7). The eight previous National Parks in Canada were either mountainous or islands (Battin 1975: 156), and so they were not flat, and so they possessed aesthetic values that wetlands in Canada, such as Point Pelee marshes, did not have according to the conventions of the European landscape aesthetic in the dominant cultural paradigm (see Giblett 1996: chs 1 and 2; 2011, chs 3 and 4). 111

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Wetlands’ lack of aesthetic value is something that has been held against them for a long time, certainly since classical Greek times in the writings of both Aristotle and Plato (see Giblett 1996).. Yet as the exquisite photographs in the Tiessens’ (2011) coffee-table book show, Point Pelee has aesthetic values that can be appreciated in concert with its ecological values. The two sets of values are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and can work and walk hand in hand with each other in landscape and wilderness photography to promote conservation, and even in photography for environmental sustainability, or earthly symbiosis (see Giblett and Tolonen 2012). First nations’ use and valuing of Point Pelee dates from CE 500 to 600, with archaeological evidence suggesting that in summer they ‘relied on the marsh for much of their food’ (Graham nd: 2) since it was, as the Tiessens (2011: 14) put it, ‘a storehouse of edible plants, fish and animal life’. According to Graham (nd: 20), First Nations called marshes ‘the between land’ as ‘they were neither land nor water’. As such, they are a rich intermediate zone for edible plants and animals, aquatic, aerial and terrestrial, and so they were what Graham (nd: 20) calls ‘storehouses for food’. Yet the marsh was no mere warehouse in which food was stored but a living and growing home that produced food. First Nations were aware and appreciative of the biodiversity and fecundity of the marsh as a liminal place between land and water a long time before modern scientists came to this realization. They were a rich intermediate habitat for edible plants and animals, aquatic, aerial and terrestrial to grow and sustain life. The marshes’ mixing of the elements of earth, air and water created the ideal habitat for these plants and animals and for First Nations who sustained their bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods in their bioregional home habitat of the living earth. Note 1. For an extensive discussion of the colour black see Giblett (2013a: ch. 14).

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Chapter 6 ‘A swampy flat’: Vancouver and the wetlands of the Fraser River delta

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hink of British Columbia, and one thinks of mountains, and not wetlands. The province of British Columbia (BC) is most famous for its snow-capped mountains and their ski slopes, and for the recreation amenity they provide all year round, not only for skiing during the skiing season but also for mountain bike riding in the offseason. BC is not famous for its wetlands, though they are a vital part of the bioregion of the southern quarter of the province. Or were, as many have sadly been destroyed and erased from both the landscape itself and from cultural consciousness and history. The association of BC with mountains is hardly surprising as over 90% of the province is mountainous (Ward 1980: unp.). The mountainous topography produces an immense amount of melting snow that flows eventually into its rivers, especially the Fraser River, the largest in BC (Ward 1980: unp.). The Fraser drainage area drains roughly one quarter of the province (Biodiversity BC 2008: 5) and so constitutes a significant bioregion. The Fraser River flows through BC’s largest city, Vancouver, Canada’s third largest metropolitan area (Moore 1990: 1). The Vancouver metropolitan area contains Burns Bog, the largest undeveloped wetland within an urban area in North America. Large rivers invariably flow into, and form, large deltas. The Fraser River is no exception as it ‘forms the largest delta on the west coast of Canada’ (Ward 1980: unp.; 1989: 2). Deltas are by nature wetlands where river, sea and land meet, mix and mingle with shallow waters in ever-changing combinations that support a range of wetland vegetation types which, in turn, support a range of wetland animals. What Murray (2008: 100) describes as ‘the low-lying land in the Fraser delta’ was for her ‘originally a vast wetland, a mix of tidal and freshwater marshes and bogs’. The soil of deltas is usually very fertile as the river deposits rich nutrients there as with the Mekong and Nile deltas. The Fraser wetlands are no exception as the delta is, according to Terris (1973: 39), ‘composed of rich alluvium deposited by the Fraser’. As a result, the delta’s agricultural land is, says Phillips (2003: 31), ‘some of the most fertile in British Columbia’. The delta includes the huge Burns Bog, originally covering about 40 square kilometres (Murray 2008: 20). This was a traditional hunting and gathering site for the First Nations people of the bog, as was the delta as a whole as Terris (1973: 46) indicates. Burns Bog, according to Philips (2003: 12), ‘yielded cranberries, blueberries, Labrador tea and sphagnum moss […] Charcoal layers discovered in Burns Bog indicate that the Tsawwassen people used fire to control the growth of trees, thus improving the berry crops’. Burns Bog is a cultural and natural landscape. More precisely, it was the home-habitat of the first culture of nature of first peoples (for the cultures of natures see Giblett [2011: ch. 1]). 115

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Settlers benefited from the bounty of the delta for a time, and some settlers mourned the loss of cranberry bogs later in life. Hutcherson (1923: 41 and 43) picked cranberries as a child ‘floundering through the deep moss’ ‘knee-deep’ and later bemoaned the fact that ‘the Cranberry Bog, like many another ancient landmark, has disappeared before the ruthless march of change’. This was when Burns Bog became a cultural and natural landscape for the second culture of nature of settler agriculture with dyking and draining of wetlands and with the hand-harvesting of sphagnum peat moss that began in the 1930s, ‘intensified as part of the war effort in 1941’ and ended in 1984 (Murray: 153 and 167). On Kathleen Moore’s 1990 map of ‘Land Use in the Lower Fraser Valley, 1986/87’, Burns Bog is marked in pink as ‘Extraction’ (Moore 1990: fig. 3, 6). This is the ultimate indignity and end-point for a wetland within the second culture of nature: to be reduced to, and used as, the mere site for resource extraction. It is also the pretext for its further abuse in and by the third culture of nature of modernity of industrial capitalism with the construction of bridges and highways through it, the dumping of urban waste in private ‘landfill’ and proposals for a city, racetrack, fairground and sewage plant (Murray: 167), all icons or indices of modernity in the dominant cultural paradigm. These proposals were defeated by ‘ardent bog supporters’ operating within the fifth culture of nature of living and working bio- and psycho-symbiotically in their bioregional home habitats of the living earth within the alternative cultural paradigm. These supporters include the Burns Bog Conservation Society. Today Burns Bog is ‘the largest undeveloped urban land mass in North America’ (Wetland Stewardship Partnership 2010: 13). The core of the Bog is in the hands of the provincial government but the surrounding areas are in private hands and are threatened with development. In 1989, Peggy Ward and Michael McPhee documented nearly 400 wetlands of the Fraser River valley and delta (McPhee and Ward 1994). Yet despite this extensive documentation, the wetlands of the Fraser River valley and delta and the Vancouver region have largely been written out of the geography and history of Vancouver and its region. Along similar lines to Gayler’s collection on the Niagara Peninsula, in an edited collection by geographers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) entitled Vancouver and its Region, the second chapter concludes by noting ‘the large land surface features of Vancouver  – the juxtaposition of land and sea’ (Slaymaker et al. 1992: 37). This summation does not recognize that land and sea (and river) are not only juxtaposed along the mountainous coast of western Vancouver but also transposed into each other where the mountains may form the background rising from marshes in the foreground (as in the cover image of the present book of Pitt Marsh in the Fraser Valley), but also where marshes form extensive flat spaces receding into the distance without coming up abruptly against a mountain. The large land surface features of Vancouver include the intermingling of land, river and sea in its wetlands. Or did include wetlands before many of them were dyked, a fact noted by Slaymaker et al. on the previous page. Vancouver and its Region seems to be an updated version of an earlier collection of essays by UBC geographers entitled Lower Fraser Valley: Evolution of a Cultural 116

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Landscape, published in 1968. This collection also notes the dyking of what Winter (1968) calls ‘lowlands’, rather than wetlands. Perhaps Winter could be excused for not discussing wetlands on the basis that he is contributing to a book about the evolution of the cultural landscape of the lower Fraser valley as its subtitle indicates, though a cultural landscape needs a natural landscape in order to evolve (there are no cultural landscapes without natural landscapes) and the lower Fraser valley was a cultural landscape for First Nations anyway. A cultural landscape always evolves from, and on the basis of, a natural landscape. The former is not possible without the latter. Rather than a hard and fast divide between cultural and natural landscapes, culture and nature are intertwined historically and geographically in a number of cultures of natures. To ignore or overlook the three or four hundred wetlands in the lower Fraser Valley, the region of Vancouver, or to reduce them to, or dismiss them as, ‘lowlands’, is a massive oversight or a huge blindspot, or an act of racism that excludes First Nations as workers of the wetland or reduces the wetlands to terra nullius, no-one’s land, and writes First Nations out of the history and geography of the area. Similarly Matthew Evenden’s 2004 environmental history of the Fraser River, Fish Versus Power, overlooks its associated wetlands. The Fraser River for Evenden seems to end where it meets wetlands along its course through the Fraser valley and where it meets the sea, though the Fraser River, like most rivers, forms and overflows into wetlands along its course and, like most large rivers, merges and mingles with the sea where fresh and salt water and land mix in its estuarine delta so there is no hard and fast divide between the river and its wetlands. Both are one intermingled system. Like many geographers, he treats rivers as arteries of nutrients and commerce in a circulatory system that pumps life and transports energy and goods from the heartland to outlying areas and back again, whilst ignoring the other organs, such as the kidneys/wetlands, and other circulatory systems, such as the digestive, purificatory and excretory systems, that enable rivers and the whole body of the bioregion to function from the head of the catchment to the ‘mouth’ (actually the opposite end of the digestive tract) of the river in its estuaries. Estuaries, in the words of a summary report Taking Nature’s Pulse: The Status of Biodiversity in British Columbia, can be defined as: partly enclosed bodies of coastal bodies where salt water is diluted by river and stream runoff. The ceaseless mixing of ocean, land and river nutrients in constantly flowing water makes estuaries a very rich biological environment. Even though estuaries make up only 2.3% of the length of BC’s coastline, they are used by an estimated 80% of all coastal wildlife. BC’s 440 plus estuaries are rare ecosystems threatened by conversion to human use. (Biodiversity BC 2008: 5) Mountains make up the vast majority of BC’s coastline, but are used by the vast minority of coastal wildlife. Assessing and appreciating biodiversity is a way of rebalancing the dominant physical scale of visible vertical landmasses, such as mountains, in favour 117

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of sustaining life in unspectacular horizontal ecosystems, such as marshes, whose lifegiving processes are often invisible. Taking ‘nature’s pulse’ should not only involve taking the pulse of the river/arteries but taking the pulse of its kidneys/wetlands. Where estuaries are shallow, where land is just above water permanently or periodically inundated, and where bodies of coastal water are partly enclosed by flat land, they form wetlands, such as those of the Fraser River estuarine delta. This report separates estuaries from wetlands by locating the latter in drainage areas, such as the Fraser, with the implicit assumption that they are non-coastal and by doing so the report is perhaps referring to inland bogs, marshes and swamps whereas estuarine wetlands into which drainage areas drain are largely coastal marshes (as a photo on the same page ostensibly depicting an estuary shows). Just as estuaries in this report are ‘threatened by conversion to human uses’, so ‘significant areas of wetlands in British Columbia have been converted or degraded, particularly in the two main drainage areas of greatest conservation concern’, including the catchment of the Fraser River. Both wetlands and estuaries have been ‘converted’ from sinfulness in a religious experience of achieving salvation in and for human use. Unlike the earlier summary, a 2009 compendium of that summary in Taking Nature’s Pulse: The Status of Biodiversity in British Columbia: A Compendium of Conservation Science to Support Action gives wetlands more of their due as ‘nature’s filtration system’ (Biodiversity BC 2009: 4). This metaphor, though, tends to reduce the value of wetlands to the goods and services they provide as a kind of free and natural civil engineering water treatment plant rather than as a common good valuing them for themselves and seeing them as the kidneys of the body of the earth, a vital and integral part of the earth and the body, human and non-human, with purification functions. The focus by geographers on the Fraser River in their accounts of the Vancouver region and the lower Fraser Valley and not on the wetlands is like an anatomist who regards the digestive tract as a conduit transporting food and transforming nutrient into waste without acknowledging the other enabling organs, such as the kidneys, that make the whole body function. Figuring the earth as body with wetlands as kidneys and water as the lifeblood of the body of the earth is one way of revaluing for the better the way wetlands should be seen and treated (and not regarding wetlands simply as the suppliers or deliverers of ‘ecological services’). Wetlands provide disproportionately more ‘outputs’ and benefits compared to the minuscule area they occupy. The Compendium also gives wetlands more of their due by going on to state that ‘wetlands […] make up 7% of the province’s area but provide important habitat for more than 30% of BC’s species of conservation concern’ (Biodiversity BC 2009: 4). They also provide important habitat for other species besides these. According to the Wetlands Stewardship Partnership (2010), wetlands in BC provide ‘habitat for some 600 wildlife species […] Accounting for less than 6% of the province’s total land base, in some areas up to 85% of wetlands have been lost’. These 600 species are a minuscule proportion out of a total of more than 50,000 in BC (Biodiversity BC 2008: 6), but they still have a right to live in their wetland home-habitats of their bioregion. 118

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Up to 85% of wetlands have not only been lost from the physical landscape but also from history and geography, both in the past and the present, if Vancouver and its Region and Lower Fraser Valley are anything to go by. With wetlands presently accounting for a mere 6% or 7% of BC’s total land area, perhaps Slaymaker et al. can be forgiven for largely overlooking them when they concentrate on the spectacular and vertiginous mountainous coast largely to the detriment of unspectacular and horizontal wetlands. One wetland that they do not overlook from a historical perspective is False Creek in central Vancouver famous today for its Granville Island markets and not for its marshes that have been drained and filled. By 1920 its marshes and tidal flats were used, as three of the same five authors describe later in this edited collection, ‘as a dump for garbage and domestic sewerage [sic]’ and so became ‘a rat-infested, unsanitary swamp and an obvious site for reclamation’ as its waters were ‘a stinking slop pool of industrial effluent’. Its waters had become ‘a civic horror’ (Oke et al. 1992: 164–165). False Creek had become an eyesore, an offence to the nose, a threat to health and a horror to civic sensibilities, to which the only response in those days was to blame the victim and fill and reclaim the marsh, not blame the perpetrator and rehabilitate the marsh. Yet using the term ‘unsanitary swamp’ to describe the condition of the industrialized and urbanized False Creek is a misnomer as it had ceased to be a swamp in the sense of a native wetland and had become an industrial and urban sink, cesspool and sump for sewage and garbage. Figuring this dark underside of the modern city as stagnant pool, bottomless abyss, nether world, or dreadful night was a commonplace of the nineteenth century that established a tradition that seems to persist in Oke et al.’s account of False Creek as ‘unsanitary swamp’ indicates. This figuring is ‘placist’ as it ascribes the characteristics and responses of dread and horror to a (‘man’-made) place (the city) that were previously ascribed to a place not made with human hands (the jungle, abyss, nether-land of marshes and swamps, etc.) (see Giblett 2009: ch. 3). The sad and sorry story of False Creek also features in Derek Hayes’ Historical Atlas of Vancouver in which he devotes a couple of sections to it, beginning with the plans to fill it starting in 1905 as it was ‘of little use to the first city-dwellers’ and at ‘low-tide it was a smelly mud flat’ (Hayes 2005: 100). In 1912 an engineer called it ‘a mosquitoinfested swamp’ (cited by Hayes 2005: 101). No doubt it was mosquito-infested, but it was no longer a swamp due partly to being a dump for garbage and domestic sewage, so it had ceased to be a native wetland by then. At least this engineer adhered to the by then accepted germ theory of disease that regarded the anopheles mosquito as the vector for malaria (literally ‘bad air’) and contaminated water as the vehicle for the pathogens of water-borne diseases. At least he did not subscribe to the discredited miasmatic theory that saw the miasma arising from a swamp as the cause of disease. By 1950, it was still being suggested that the only way for Vancouver to get rid of ‘the filthy ditch’ that had been False Creek and that was now ‘the polluted industrial backwater right in [the] centre’ of the city was to fill it in (Hayes, 2005: 168). Eventually, in the 1970s and 1980s, industrial waste was cleaned up and the area gentrified, though there is still industry on 119

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Granville Island and False Creek today is by no means a rehabilitated wetland. On my visit to Vancouver in August 2011, I walked to Granville Island from the southside and can vouch that False Creek is a stagnant pond. A decade before Ward’s mapping of the Fraser River wetlands in the late twentieth century, Margaret North and her colleagues created a map of the Fraser’s downstream delta and upstream floodplain by using surveyors’ notebooks in order to show the vegetation types and classes in the area in the late nineteenth century. Many of these vegetation classes are types of wetland vegetation. Comparing North’s map with Ward’s and her colleagues’ map of the ‘Wetlands of the Fraser Lowland…’ (Ward 1989: unp. endpaper) indicates, as she puts it on the first page of this report, that ‘since European settlement began about 150 years ago […] thousands of hectares of these vital wetlands have been destroyed due to large-scale dyking, draining and filling for urban and agricultural development’ (Ward 1989: 1) in the intervening century. Despite this destruction, Ward and her colleagues documented nearly 400 wetlands of the Fraser Lowland (McPhee and Ward 1994) comprising nearly 42,000 hectares in total (Ward 1989: 9), though they point out ‘it should be remembered that these remaining wetlands represent only about onequarter of the original extent of wetlands in this ecologically valuable area’ (McPhee and Ward 1994: 25). Yet even the original extent of wetlands is minuscule compared to the 90% of the province’s topography that is mountainous. Despite their minuscule area compared to mountains, wetlands are a feature of the province in the past and present that have been documented and mapped. North’s and Ward et al.’s maps, or any others, that show wetlands and wetland vegetation in the lower Fraser valley are curiously absent from Derek Hayes’ Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley. Perhaps he could be excused for this absence on the grounds that his book is an historical atlas, but its most recent map is one dating from 2001 whereas North’s and Ward et al.’s maps date from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. There are no recent maps in this book that show the wetlands of the lower Fraser River valley and there are only a couple of nineteenth-century maps that show the marshes of the Fraser River delta (as we will see shortly). Although Hayes’ Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley does not completely write the wetlands of the Fraser delta out of the province’s history and geography, it seems that, like Fish versus Power, Vancouver and its Region and Lower Fraser Valley, it writes the wetlands of the lower Fraser River valley out of the geography and history of the present. This does not bode well for the future of wetlands in British Columbia when British Columbians should be embarking on a journey of hope for the conservation or rehabilitation of wetlands. They should be using the resources of hope, such as attachment to place and appreciation for wetland’s living processes, made so readily available to them by North and Ward and their successors in wetland science, education and conservation. In examining the surveyors’ notebooks (1850–1880s) in order to plot the vegetation of the Fraser delta and floodplain, Margaret North wrote that she:

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was looking for specific information on the pre-white settlement vegetation. The surveyors were laying out the markers for land sale to farmers therefore they tended to avoid the larger wetland areas. However, they did go through many of the smaller wetlands that occupied the outer edges of the floodplain where finer flood deposits accumulated against the rise of land that marks the edge of the floodplain. Here were cranberry bogs which were managed/harvested by first nations. The larger Burns and Lulu Island bogs were also managed (for several thousand years) to maintain an open shrub vegetation rather than allowing a closed forest to grow up and shade out the preferred lower storey shrubs. The Musqueam people who occupied and still occupy reserve land at the mouth of the Fraser have their own oral history of their use of the Fraser valley, as do the other coast Salish peoples who shared this area with them […] there was certainly hunting and trapping (the wetlands having both resident and seasonal bird and animal populations,) as well as harvesting of sphagnum moss, labrador tea, cranberries and blueberries.  Later, non-native use of the cottonwood islands in the river was as a source of wood for the riverboats that used to navigate the Lower Fraser, up to Hope. And of course the agricultural settlement came even before the Land Surveyors, and was first located on the river banks as transport was originally by river. The farms were established to supply the markets of Fort Langley, probably the earliest in the valley, and later the settlements of New Westminster and Victoria on Vancouver Island. Both these towns grew rapidly as administrative and supply centres for the gold mining (Gold Rush). Agriculture in the floodplain necessitated the development of river dykes to prevent annual floods and drainage to lower the high water-table, and both these alterations changed the natural vegetation. North went on to relate that: the lower reaches of the river in the delta area, mainly the south or main arm, have been altered by the construction of training walls and by dredging in order to maintain a deep and self-scouring channel to the port of New Westminster on the north side of the channel. In the Ladner Bend of the Main arm this has led to the erosion of islands originally located on the outer, north, side of the bend and the deposition of islands in the south side of the channel. This side was originally where the river scoured a deeper channel and was the reason for the location of the port for Ladner. (email to author 7 July 2011) In a similar fashion, Murray (2008: 100) indicates how ‘these beautiful wet prairies have almost vanished’. More precisely, Murray (2008: 99) cites the estimate that ‘at least 70% of the original wetlands of the Fraser estuary were dyked and drained by 1900’. For Murray (2008: 100) this was due to the fact that ‘in the 1800s, wetlands were seldom inherently valued and were often dismissed as wastelands or swamp’ in a standard settler assessment 121

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and dismissal that was a pretext for dyking and draining in accordance with the dictates of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Yet despite dyking and draining, the wetland area is expanding, as Murray (2008: 101) indicates when she goes on to cite more recent vegetation surveys. Settlers in the nineteenth century who dismissed the wetlands of the Fraser River delta as wastelands or swamps were merely following in the footsteps of explorer George Vancouver in the last decade of the eighteenth century who regarded these wetlands as low, or nether, lands and devalued them in comparison to high, or mountainous, lands in a spatial, value-laden hierarchy in the dominant cultural paradigm. In his journal entry for June 1792, Vancouver describes the Boundary Bay and Fraser River delta region as: very low land, apparently a swampy flat, that retires several miles, before the country rises to meet the rugged snowy mountains, which we found still continuing in a direction nearly along the coast. This low land being much inundated, and extending behind Point Roberts, to join the low land in the bay to the eastward of that point; gives its high land, when seen at a distance, the appearance of an island: this, however, is not the case, notwithstanding there are two openings between this point and Point Grey. These can only be navigable for canoes, as the shoal continues along the coast to the distance of seven or eight miles from the shore. (Vancouver 1964: 580; see also n.4) Vancouver does not subscribe to the geographers’ later juxtaposition of land and water, mountain and sea, along the BC coast and of nature and culture in BC life. Yet he does see wetlands as intermediary between the two, and he does devalue coastal wetlands not only as they are low and flat in contrast to high land (both islands and mountains), but also because they have the added disadvantage of not being navigable by ship, a serious disadvantage for a mariner like him! Rugged snowy mountains are valorized over inundated swampy lowlands whereas both are an integral part of BC’s geography as the cover illustration, based on a photograph, of the present book indicates. Rather than evaluating the coast in geomorphological terms as the geographers do, he evaluates wetlands from the point of view of transportation and finds wetlands wanting as they pose an impediment to shipping. (Vancouver was searching for the infamous and mythical ‘North-West Passage’ joining the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.) First Nations’ mode of aquatic transportation by canoe is suited to navigating wetlands whereas the explorer’s mode of ship is not. Yet despite this transportational disadvantage for a ship in navigating wetlands, it provides a positional advantage for looking out over wetlands with its raised and superior point of view compared to the canoe’s low and inferior point of view situated in the marsh. A cultural clash between points of view and technologies of seeing and transportation is played out here with the higher view of low and high land from the deck of a ship looking out over the wetland and up to 122

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the mountains privileged over the lower view from the seat of a canoe navigating the wetlands and seeing them while sitting within them, rather than over them. After the explorer left in his ship unsuited for navigating sloughs, the settlers arrived and either adopted the First Nations’ mode of aquatic transportation by canoe or used the European row boat since ‘the sloughs formed a natural waterway for communication and travel’ as Hutcherson (1923: 14) puts it. As a result, and as she goes on to relate, ‘homes were built, wherever possible, along their banks’. The sloughs that had been an impediment for the explorer to travel were for the settler before the advent of roads a means of travel and communication, and their banks were a desirable site for human habitation. Vancouver describes the delta of the Fraser River in this journal entry. Whether this constitutes discovery of the river itself is a moot point. It is a cliché of BC history that Cook and Vancouver did not ‘discover’ the Fraser River. Terris (1973: 49) claims that the Fraser River was ‘not even discovered by the explorers who visited the Pacific shores of British Columbia in the last quarter of the eighteenth century’. Perhaps more precisely, Vancouver and other explorers did not discover the Fraser River in the sense of sailing up it and exploring its reaches to at least some extent. The reason given for this failure is that they were fixated on finding the North-West Passage. Terris cites Little in support of this argument. Little concludes that this explains why such famous explorers as Vancouver ‘missed what we now know to be important rivers’ (cited by Terris 1973: 49), including the Fraser. Although, as Terris goes on to indicate, ‘the Ladner region was low-lying deltaic land that would have been difficult to see from a ship’, Vancouver did see the delta and saw enough of it to know that it was not navigable by ship (and so could not be the North-West Passage so it is hardly surprising that he explored it no further). Ladner (1972: 125) cites Mayne of 110 years before who alludes to Vancouver in reiterating that ‘the coast is low and swampy’ and then goes on to state that Vancouver: carefully as he examined this coast from all inland waters, penetrating every inlet under the impression that some day he would hit upon the one that should conduct him into Hudson’s Bay, sailed past the mouth of the Fraser without the least suspicion of having passed a river at all. Even if Vancouver had ventured up the Fraser River, it certainly would not have conducted him to Hudson’s Bay via the North-West Passage as is now known. The point for Vancouver is that he considered that the delta was not navigable by a ship, so it is hardly surprising that he did not ‘penetrate’ it in search of the North-West Passage. It only takes a basic knowledge of geography to know that a river is not a passage, and that inlets may lead to passages whereas deltas do not. They lead to rivers, and mighty ones at that. It also may not be surprising that Cook and Vancouver did not ‘discover’ the Fraser River as the ‘mouth’ of the Fraser River may have been a lot narrower at that time than it is now if Colonel Richard Moody’s map of nearly 70 years after Vancouver’s visit is anything to go by (reproduced in Hayes 2005: map 40, 26; Murray 2008: 84). Following 123

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in the footsteps of Vancouver and British settlement, Moody, the commander of the Royal Engineers in British Columbia, the lieutenant governor of the colony and the chief commissioner of Lands and Works (Hayes 2005: 26), was just as appreciative of the rugged, snowy mountains and dismissive of the low marshlands as Vancouver had been, though unlike Vancouver he was an aficionado of the sublime in the mountainous and of transforming the old nether-lands of swamps into the new nether-lands of the pleasing prospect of the pastoral picturesque in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm. In a letter of 1859, he wrote how: The entrance to the Frazer [sic] is very striking – Extending miles to the right & left are low marshlands (apparently of very rich qualities) & yet fr[om] the Background of Superb Mountains – Swiss in outline, dark in woods, grandly towering into the Clouds [– ] there is a sublimity that deeply impresses you. Everything is large and magnificent worthy of the entrance to the Queen of England’s dominions on the Pacific Mainland. I scarcely ever enjoyed a scene so much in my life. My imagination converted the silent marshes into Cuyp-like pictures of horses & cattle lazily fattening in rich meadows in a glowing sunset. One cannot write prosaically of such scenes as these, so pray make allowances when I get into rhapsodies at any time about this most beautiful country. (Ireland 1951: 192) Commenting on Moody’s allusion to ‘Cuyp-like pictures,’ Derek Hayes (2005: 28) notes how ‘Moody was referring to romantic landscape paintings by seventeenth-century Dutch painter Albert Cuyp, and envisaged the Fraser delta as a new Holland’. Moody reproduces the standard European landscape aesthetic hierarchy of the dominant cultural paradigm in which the sublime evoked by mountains, forests and clouds is valorized over the rich and silent marshes that are not good in and of themselves, but are only good for converting into a dyked and drained pastoral landscape based on a painterly model. The mute marshes of the new world are made to speak and signify in terms of the productive nether lands of the old world that dyking and draining and landscape painting had transformed from the older nether lands of marshes into a pleasing pastoral prospect. The native riches of the marshes are to be exploited to yield the values of a pastoral economy. The marshes are not permitted to remain in their rich, or silent, or native, or untouched state as the site of an indigenous culture and economy. The mute marshes are made to speak the European landscape aesthetic and painterly language of the pleasing prospect and pastoral picturesque. The land in Moody’s letter is also feminized and sexualized in two contrasting and complementary ways in the service of the dominant patriarchal paradigm. On the one hand, on the surface it is feminized and sexualized as the voluptuous and enticing body of the Empress. Moody writes how ‘everything is large and magnificent worthy of the entrance to the Queen of England’s dominions on the Pacific Mainland’. The explorer, 124

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surveyor and settler obliges by penetrating through ‘the entrance’ to the Fraser River and taking possession of the land within. Whether this entrance is the mouth of the river Moody does not say, but it is customary for explorers, surveyors and settlers to refer to entering the mouth of a river rather than entering the other end of the human digestive tract – despite the fact that water flows out of the entrance to, and ‘mouth’ of, a river, rather than into it. They usually rightly refer to going up the river as it is flowing down towards them. On the other hand, in its depths, the land is feminized and sexualized as the body of the maternal earth to be inseminated. As Moody later writes that the marshes are rich and silent, they are passive and supine, fecund and fertile, ready for the masculine and virile action of dyking and draining them into pastorally productive land. Out of this union, the settler will bring new life into being without acknowledging or respecting, and certainly not conserving, the wetland that made it possible. The sublime vigour of the masculinist writer is aroused by the sight of the magnificent and fertile land as Moody confesses ‘one cannot write prosaically of such scenes as these, so pray make allowances when I get into rhapsodies at any time about this most beautiful country’. The landscape is feminized as beautiful, but the silent marshes are only beautiful in Moody’s imagination if they are converted into Cuyp-like pictures of pastoral scenes. They have no value, aesthetically, ecologically, or economically, in and of themselves, certainly not in their undyked and undrained state. Rather, the body of the maternal earth is a heathen body to be converted to Christian pastoralism. The land is thereby transformed from the Great Mother earth of gylanic culture, in which the sexes are equal, of the swamps fecund and fertile, into the Mother earth of productive patriarchal pastoralism of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchy of the sexes (see Giblett 2011: ch. 1). Moody does not have the vocabulary to articulate and express appreciation for exquisite, slimy and uncanny marshes. Instead, he uses the terms of the tried and true lexicon of the European landscape aesthetic that has had a detrimental impact on Canadian wetlands (and Australian wetlands for that matter, too) by subsuming them in a hierarchy of aesthetic value in which mountains are valued over marshes, slopes over slime, tended fields over forested swamps. The European landscape aesthetic produced the ways in which European explorers and their settler diaspora have seen and shaped the land in Canada and elsewhere, such as Australia (see Giblett 1996; 2011). The European landscape aesthetic valorizes some landscapes, landforms and objects in, or associated with, them (sublime mountains, pleasingly picturesque prospects, beautiful small things) to the detriment of others (dismal swamps, melancholic marshes, despondent sloughs). Aesthetics and wetlands have thus had a fraught and troubled relationship (see Giblett 1996, 2011). One of the aesthetic deficiencies held against wetlands is their horizontal extension and seeming limitlessness. Moody observed that ‘extending miles to the right & left are low marshlands’. Due to their seeming limitlessness, wetlands constitute a problem for an aesthetics of sight that is accustomed to taking the long view from the deck of a ship (rather than seated in a canoe in a wetland) looking out and down over a wetland framed within 125

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confined borders, down tree-lined avenues, bounded by mountain ranges. Other writers, by contrast, such as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Douglas Lochhead and Harry Thurston, appreciate and celebrate the visual, olfactory, auditory, tactile and other bodily pleasures of being in a wetland (as we will see in later chapters). Despite his purple prose, unashamed rhapsodies and conventional vocabulary, Moody’s map of the Fraser River delta is valuable as it describes and shows the huge extent of marsh in the delta (reproduced in Hayes 2005: map 40, 26; Murray 2008: 84). Murray (2008: 84) suggests that the map ‘shows most of the lowland as marsh’. Or more precisely, as it is difficult to show marsh in a cadastral map due to its lack of contours, Moody described most of the lowland as marsh by writing ‘marsh’ repeatedly on many areas of his map. He names certain areas as marsh without depicting them as such, though there are some conventional cartographic symbols, such as spiky grass, for symbolizing marsh. In 1859, the same year as Moody’s map, the prolific London-based map publisher John Arrowsmith published a map of the delta of the Fraser River that shows similar areas to Moody’s map that the Arrowsmith map calls ‘low and marshy’ (Hayes 2005: map 374, 190). Unlike Moody’s map, Arrowsmith’s employs symbolic cartographic conventions by depicting marshes with long dashes by which to evoke the horizontality of the wetlandscape. As this is the last map in Hayes’ Historical Atlas, it is perhaps a fitting memorial to, and reminder of, the lost wetlands of the Fraser River delta for those who read the cartographical historical record from the point of view of an appreciation for wetlands and their presence in earlier maps and absence from some later ones. By not including any recent maps of the wetlands of the lower Fraser River valley, such as those produced by Ward and her colleagues, Hayes seems to have lost an important opportunity not only to record these wetlands historically and cartographically, and to help overcome the neglect of them, but also to celebrate their life now and promote their ongoing conservation today and into the future for they were, and still are, important habitats for waterbirds. In 1912, the islands of the delta were, according to Henry Boam (cited by Terris 1973: 120), ‘great swampy tracts […] the happy haunt of waterfowl […] but useless as they stood for the purposes of man’, except perhaps for hunting as Terris goes on to remark on the same page and as T. Ellis Ladner (1979: 18) relates of ‘game birds’. The Fraser estuary/delta, according to Peggy Ward (1980: unp.), ‘supports more wintering waterfowl than does any other place in Canada’. The delta is a happy homeland and hunting ground. For this reason, and as Leach (1982) notes in the title of his first chapter, the Fraser delta became known as ‘the hunter’s paradise’ in which ‘waterfowl’ for him (and other hunters) are abstracted from their home-habitat and placed in ‘their setting’ as he calls it (Leach 1982: 1). Here ‘waterfowl’ become targets for shooters, much like the sitting ducks in a shooting gallery at the fairground. They are posed and silhouetted against ‘the natural backgrounds’ of ‘wide marshes’ and ‘open skies’ of the Fraser delta. For the hunter, the Fraser delta wetlands are the mere backdrop for the human drama of ‘hunting’, a euphemism for killing ‘waterfowl’. The hunted – pursued and shot at by the hunter in a punt – does not 126

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have much chance of escape or survival. This is more like harvesting than hunting, another instance of what Phillips (2003) calls ‘harvesting the Fraser’ in his book of that title, though he does not discuss the harvesting of waterbirds from its delta. This ‘hunt’ is not a contest of courage, wits and strength between hunter and hunted, but the inflicting of fire-power upon terrified animals. The hunter is constituted as living subject and ‘waterfowl’ as dead object by the optical and ballistic technology of guns. The possibility of an intersubjective relationship between shooter and shootee is not broached but blasted away in shot. As backdrop, the Fraser delta wetlands are not the home-habitat for the waterbirds and they are not foregrounded as vital ecosystems sustaining bird and human life. The fertile alluvial soils of the delta and the lack of trees due to burning by First Nations made them not only a happy hunting ground but also an ideal target for dyking and draining. Like the Acadians in the maritime marshes of the east coast of Canada who needed to clear few trees and used those they did clear for aboiteaux, the early settlers of the Fraser delta on the west coast of Canada did not need to clear forest for, according to Terris (1973: 94), ‘there were few trees in the Ladner region’. Yet there was a downside as the early settlers of the delta lowland for Winter (1968: 102) ‘did not at first appreciate that the land was subject to nearly annual flooding with periodic inundations so severe as to wipe out landmarks and deposit inches of oozy muck’. Yet it was the ‘oozy muck’ that was fertile and that replenished the fertility of the soil and that made ‘muck soils’ ‘suitable for intensive [vegetable] gardening or fruit growing’ as Winter (1968: 103) indicates on the following page. Nevertheless, for Winter (1968: 103), ‘large portions of the lowlands suffer from extremely poor drainage during the winter months and virtually the entire lowland areas has proved subject to flooding during the worst of the spring flood years’. For Winter (1968: 103), this was one of ‘the region’s physical defects for farm use’ which became compounded by ‘deficiencies shown by early settlers’, such as ‘early farmers [who] did not always know how to proceed’ in the face of these physical defects and their own deficiencies. Winter paints a bleak picture of suffering lowlands, physical defects and settler deficiencies that are part of a deficit model of agriculture in which the fertility of the lowlands is given grudging acknowledgement and the successful dyker and drainer accorded heroic status. In order to relieve the lowlands suffering from poor drainage, to overcome the physical defects of the lowlands for farm use, and to deal with their own deficiencies, farmers learned that they had to try to drain the lowlands themselves. Early farmers for Winter (1968: 103) ‘tried individual dykes and were swamped in the flood as each partially successful dyke made matters worse for the neighbour’. The early attempts to dyke and drain the delta also ended up with horses and oxen ‘mired in the mud’ and ‘stuck in the sloughs’ as the first dykes were for Terris (1973: 98 and 99) ‘often of a temporary nature, being built of earth and sod’. Unlike the Acadians, these early farmers did not know, or had not learned, to reinforce dykes with wickerwork and stakes, nor how to use clapper valves. The east–west and French–English divides in Canada meant that there was not initially at least a free-flow of agricultural knowledge, expertise and transfer of technology across them, especially about dyking and draining. 127

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Successful dyking and draining eventually followed from unsuccessful attempts. John Oliver, who later became premier of BC, is, according to Terris (1973: 104), ‘generally credited as being the first settler to successfully drain his land’. Oliver introduced the use of the sluice gate that would, like the Acadian aboiteaux, ‘open as the ditch water ran against it but close as the tide rose […] to hold back the sea’ (105). Rather than juxtaposing land and sea, the sluice gate regulated the exchange between land and water, and created a manageable border between them to control the porosity and exchanges between land and water. ‘With this simple device’, Winter (1968: 109) contends, ‘Oliver was able to purge the excess water and the salt from his land. Oliver developed this procedure in 1882 and the method became standard throughout the rest of the Delta municipality’. Oliver was a land doctor who administered the purgative of drainage to the lowlands suffering from poor drainage and thereby cured in one fell blow the physical defects of the lowlands for farm use and the deficiencies of farmers not knowing how to proceed. The pioneering Ladner brothers in the Delta region in particular took Oliver’s cure and applied his method (Terris 1973: 104). According to Phillips (2003: 24 and 25; see also Murray 2008: 103), ‘they were the first to bring the grassy marshland into farm production’ as they ‘first dyked and drained the delta prairie to successfully farm its rich soil’. The practice was part of the second culture of nature that employed pre-modern technologies of dyking to create a productive agri-cultural landscape out of natural wetlands. This history is related in and by the ‘History and Management of the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary’ which relates how: By the turn of the [twentieth] century, protective dykes had been built along the Fraser River to protect Ladner’s thriving farming and fishing-based community from the Fraser River and the tidal waters of the Strait of Georgia. Nearby river islands were only partially dyked or left to flood each year naturally, and were often sites of fishing camps which supplied the numerous local salmon canneries […] When George C. Reifel bought his property in 1927, it consisted of land isolated from the rest of Westham Island by Ewen, Robertson and Fuller Sloughs, natural river channels which dissected the island. Although all equipment and building materials needed to be barged in, by 1929, he had consolidated more land, and created a large recreational family retreat in this idyllic location. Dykes and causeways were constructed to create waterfowl habitats and road access connecting his land (‘Reifel Island’) to the rest of Westham Island. (British Columbia Waterfowl Society 2012: online) Wendy Fuchko (1983: 46 and 49) tells a slightly different story:

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During the late 1920s, George C. Reifel became interested in an area of southwest Delta then known as Smoky Tom Island. Close to the mouth of the Fraser River, it was a virtual paradise of bird [sic] and wildlife. As a big game enthusiast, George C. Reifel […] recognized the island as an ideal retreat for pursuing his hobby of hunting and preserving game birds. He realized that, with care and management, the area would remain a haven. In 1927, George C. was in a position to buy a large parcel of land there and over the next few years, he reclaimed a significant amount of land at his own expense. By building dikes, pumping sand, dredging, and installing dams where the river split into three narrow channels, George C. recovered additional land for his retreat and in the process formed three sloughs (Robertson’s, Fuller’s and Ewen’s) that would attract birdlife […] He then proceeded to build the Reifel family home on the property in 1929. The house still stands and the land is now called Reifel Island. Whether Reifel created these sloughs is a moot point. Certainly Reifel and Fuchko belong to the school of dredge, drain, dyke and so ‘reclaim’ and ‘recover’ land from wetland, as if the latter was lost and needing to be saved. A plan of 1929 shows George C. Reiffel’s proposed works for the area (Delta Museum and Archives Society 2012a). This plan for dyking later became a map of the dykes as ‘the dykes were completed in 1930’ (Delta Museum and Archives Society 2012b). Early in 1961, the British Columbia Waterfowl Society was formed as a result of the fact that the Fraser Delta was increasingly becoming recognized as waterfowl habitat and because the emphasis on human use was shifting from hunting to conserving, or at least to co-existence. Barry Leach (1982: 82) was a member of the society and he relates how they approached George H. Reifel who: welcomed the opportunity to fulfil the dream of his father to turn part of his island home into a sanctuary. He generously agreed to lease 16 hectares of foreshore land to the Society for 30 years at $1 per annum. Beyond the sea dyke lay extensive tidal marshes which were Provincial Crown Land. In 1963 the Society succeeded in persuading the government of British Columbia to declare 280 hectares of these marshes a Provincial Waterfowl Refuge. Later the Federal government also made it a Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Reifel’s island home was also an island home for waterfowl before and after he leased part of it. The ‘History and Management of the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary’ goes on to relate that: Ducks Unlimited Canada was brought in to assist with the water management of the many wetland habitats on the site, and has continued to be an active partner in 129

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the management of the area. The provincial government supplemented this effort by establishing a game reserve on the adjacent intertidal foreshore. (British Columbia Waterfowl Society 2012: online) This ‘game reserve’ is now Alaksen National Wildlife Area located on Westham Island. It is a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance, though it is an unusual one as it is mainly made up of dyked and drained fields that the Canadian Wildlife Service leases to local farmers who plant them with crops entirely as an alternative food source for migratory waterbirds to keep them away from their own fields (Andrea Tanaka, personal communication). This seems to be an exemplary instance of dual use and mutual benefit (‘win-win’) in which the competing demands of birds and farmers co-exist with acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the interests of both. The Canadian Wildlife Service Pacific Research Centre is housed in the old Reifel family homestead in the Reserve, and is actively involved in wetland conservation and education throughout the province. British Columbia has an impressive array of organizations and programmes  – both public and private – devoted to wetland conservation and education. Most notable among the private initiatives is the Wetlands Leadership Forum of the Suzuki foundation led by David Suzuki, arguably Canada’s most important and celebrated ecological activist and well known and well read in Australia from his many visits and speaking engagements To what extent these organizations and programmes are changing the attitudes, values and behaviour of British Columbians towards wetlands is another question and would have to be the subject of further research. The Fraser River Estuary Management Program and its partners were established in 1985 and they ‘have provided a framework to protect and improve environmental quality, to provide economic development opportunities and to sustain the quality of life in and around the Fraser River Estuary’ (2012). One wonders whose quality of life is being sustained by the framework and whether this life includes non-human life. One also wonders whether the economic development opportunities being provided are consistent with sustaining the ecological viability and vitality of the wetlands in the estuary. Both quality of life and economic development opportunities should take place within the overarching framework of protecting and improving environmental quality, but the connection between them is not made explicit. Rather than a hierarchy in which the environmental is placed at the bottom and quality of life at the top, as this framework seems to suggest, the economic, the environmental and quality of life (‘the social’) should be nested together in an interlocking and overlapping Venn diagram around the core concept and concern of sustainability. Sustainability is figured here at and as the confluence of the social, environmental and the economic, just as the Fraser delta and estuary are the confluence of the catchment, the river and the ocean, the place where the mountain meets the sea and where they are not juxtaposed to each other but intermingle with each other in the wetland. 130

‘A swampy flat’: Vancouver and the wetlands of the Fraser River delta

Another initiative within BC is the Wetland Stewardship Partnership, ‘a multiagency group dedicated to the conservation of British Columbia’s wetlands and other sensitive ecosystems’ (2010). The group includes Environment Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the provincial government and non-government conservation organizations. The vision of the partnership is to nurture ‘a province where the functions and values of wetlands and the larger watershed of which they are a part are appreciated, conserved and restored for present and future generations’. The Fraser River estuarine wetlands and the Fraser valley wetlands are thus seen as part of the larger Fraser River watershed and bioregion. The mission of the partnership is to ‘work collaboratively with government and non-government organizations to maintain, restore and protect wetland ecosystems throughout British Columbia by implementing the Wetland Action Plan’ (2010). The multi-year Wetland Action Plan ‘proposes to address wetland issues, focussing on promoting collaboration among government and non-government organizations to maintain, restore, and protect wetland ecosystems throughout BC’ (2010). One resource created through the Wetland Stewardship Partnership is the Green Bylaws Toolkit for Conserving Sensitive Ecosystems and Green Infrastructure (Stewardship Centre for British Columbia 2012). Aimed at local governments, the toolkit is designed to provide them with case studies and best-case scenarios, practical tools and theoretical frameworks, and information about policies and procedures for conserving wetlands and other sensitive ecosystems. Besides sound science that appeals to the head and proper policy to guide the hand, moving writing that affects the heart is needed to bring about the change in attitudes, values and behaviours towards wetlands in BC and elsewhere in Canada that is necessary to conserve those that remain and to rehabilitate those that have been degraded. Daphne Marlatt’s Steveston, a book of poetry about the eponymous cannery town and its environs on the opposite side of the Fraser River to Delta and Ladner, is a good candidate here, albeit with some support given for the dominant cultural paradigm. She writes about the marshes of the Fraser delta and celebrates their femaleness in support of the alternative cultural paradigm, though she does also reproduce uncritically, like Moody, the conventional trope of the mouth of the river when she writes of ‘the Fraser, mouth of the Fraser here where it/ debouches, into marsh, delta (Marlatt 2001: 13). Later she equates delta and mouth: ‘delta, mouth of the Fraser where the river empties’ (Marlatt 2001: 56). In human anatomy, the mouth is not the place where the body usually debouches or empties its waste matter. Marlatt’s use of the conventional and inverted trope is somewhat surprising given that later she focuses on the other end of the digestive tract of female anatomy and on female genitalia when she refers to ‘the fishy/odour of cunt’ (Marlatt 2001: 21). The odour of wetlands associated with the ‘odour di femina’ (see Giblett 1996: 33–34) is not only one of their aspects that has been found repulsive for and by the dominant patriarchal paradigm, but also an aspect that resists and subverts this paradigm’s valorization of the sense of sight over the sense of smell and supports the alternative cultural paradigm with its association of fascinating and horrifying odours with the uncanny. 131

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Even more surprising is that Marlatt is generally appreciative of the ‘rank odour’ of ‘stagnant ditch water’ of ‘the body of the earth […]’ (Marlatt 2001: 17), but does not recognize that these odours largely emanate from the grotesque lower body and nether regions of the body of the earth, and not from its mouth. She also appreciates that the stagnant water of the delta is both ‘black waters’ (Marlatt 2001: 18) and ‘living water’ (Marlatt 2001: 45), both death-dealing and life-giving. Moreover, she is appreciative of the slough as ‘this amphibious place,/half earth half water’ (Marlatt 2001: 41) that ‘return[s] what is solid to water’ (Marlatt 2001: 61). The delta is a conventional trope for female genitalia, sexuality and pubic hair made famous by Anaïs Nin in The Delta of Venus. The femaleness of other river deltas, such as the Mekong River in Vietnam, is traced in its name meaning ‘the grand river mother’ (cited by Giblett 1996: 218). The great river delta mother of the alternative cultural paradigm resists and subverts the dominant cultural paradigm, as the Americans found during the Vietnam War (see Giblett 1996: 217–226). The great river delta mother bears us, gives birth to us, nurtures us and we repay this labour by killing her, but we cannot escape the fact that she still holds us in her embrace and enmeshes us:

the accretion of all our actions, how they interact, how they inter/read (intelligence), receive, the reading the sea, a vanishing marsh, a dying river, the mesh we are netted in, makes of us. (Marlatt 2001: 46)

The bioregion of the Fraser River watershed from the head of the catchment to the nether wetlands of its great mother delta is the larger unit of home for the city and residents of Vancouver and the lower Fraser valley. In and upon this home these residents are dependent for their lives. They should derive their livelihoods in bio- and psychosymbiosis with their bioregional home habitat of the living earth.

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Chapter 7 A city ‘set in malarial lakeside swamps’: Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh

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he city of Toronto was founded and built next to Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. The marsh was filled over the next 150 years for reasons of health and industrial development. This chapter considers the history of the city of Toronto as cultural artefact in relation to Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh as natural context and constraint in the intertwined natural and cultural histories and ecologies of the city and the marsh. It also reads critically the symptoms of psychogeopathology of the will to fill and ‘reclaim’ wetlands inscribed on the surface of the earth in the modern city of Toronto and in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. It does so by retelling the history of Toronto’s founding next to the marsh and the city’s pollution and destruction of the marsh. It also does so by retracing critically the history of the marsh in the stories told about it and the maps drawn of it. It rereads critically the history of the capitalist city of Toronto with its industries and inhabitants in relation to its wetland of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. It also undertakes an ecological psychoanalysis of the use of the vocabulary of melancholia, mourning and the uncanny in relation to Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. The loss of the marsh is a memory to retrieve and a story to retell about the fraught relationships between culture and nature, city and wetland, past and present in order to try to achieve a rapprochement between all these factors now and into the future. The aim of the chapter is to promote among residents of Toronto gratitude for the generosity of the living earth by developing bio- and psycho-symbiotic lives and livelihoods with it and its wetlands in support of the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality. Toronto is situated in the Don River catchment whose river flows south and once upon a time debouched through Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh into Lake Ontario. It is also located close to the Holland River catchment that flows north through Holland Marsh into Lake Simcoe. This marsh was drained so that its fertile soils could grow and supply much of Toronto’s fresh produce (as we will see in the following chapter). In a typical gesture for the modern city, one marsh close to the centre of the city was filled to create solid ground for urban development to be inscribed upon while another on the margins of the city was drained so that its fertile soils could grow and supply fresh produce to sustain the city. Toronto and the Don and Holland River catchments and their associated marshes are part of the bioregion of the mixedwood plains in southern central Canada. The polluting and filling of the marsh, such as Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh, marks a shift in terms of a postmodern, political ecology and the cultures of natures from the modern culture of nature to the hypermodern culture of nature and the discourses of natures of aesthetics, industrialization and conservation (see Giblett 2011). Modern 135

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cities like Toronto, founded in wetlands, flounder in hypermodern wastelands of their own making, and so either drain or fill them in response, and flounder in their messy history of intertwined culture and nature. Postmodern ecology critiques this history, commemorates the life of dead and living wetlands and celebrates the living earth more generally. It also tries to prevent the repetition of the mistakes of the past by acknowledging and respecting the ecological role wetlands and other lands play in the present and into the future vital for life on earth. Marshy and military beginnings The city of Toronto had a marshy and swampy beginning that has largely been forgotten. As with a number of other swamp cities or marsh metropolises – such as St Petersburg, Berlin, Hamburg, Jakarta, Kampala, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, London, Paris, Venice, Washington, D.C. and Perth (Western Australia) – built on, or in, or next to a wetland, Toronto was founded and built adjacent to Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. This marsh may have afforded some early military advantages, but these were outweighed by its myriad disadvantages. These disadvantages included that it was malarial, melancholic, monstrous and uncanny in keeping with the dominant cultural paradigm and its pejorative perception and devaluation of wetlands. In keeping with the same paradigm, it was later treated as a sink for industrial and urban wastes, and so became degraded into a wasteland. Cumulatively these perceptions and factors sounded the death knell of the marsh and were the impetus for ‘reclaiming’ the wasteland to create industrial lands by filling the marsh over a 40-year period. The result is that today Toronto has, as Wickson (2002: 159) puts it, ‘lost virtually all of its pre-settlement wetlands, particularly the former Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh’. For historians of Toronto harbour, such as Wickson, the loss of the marsh is merely a fact of history to note and pass over en route to the next one. Of course, it is churlish to critique the mistakes of the past from the privileged vantage point of the present. Yet rather than merely bemoan the acts of the past and the facts of history, the point is to learn from the past and not repeat the mistakes of the past by perpetuating the continued destruction of wetlands, such as those close to Canadian urban centres (as we saw in Chapter 1). The mistaken perception in the miasmatic theory of malaria that wetlands cause disease persists in the perception that wetlands are, or have become, unhealthy without acknowledging that industrial and urban wastes have polluted the wetland in the meantime and that it is these pollutants that cause disease rather than the wetland itself. There is an irony here that the wetland regarded as wilderness, as land ripe for settlement and development, is degraded into wasteland, as a sink for wastes, which becomes the rationale for filling it. The further irony here is that pioneering settlers regarded wilderness as wasteland in the first place (see Cronon 1996a, 1996b). The wetland went from wasteland to wilderness and back to wasteland but the definition and constitution of the wasteland had changed 136

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in the meantime. From the point of view of urban sanitation, the question arises of why alternatives to draining or filling Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh were not considered, such as constructing a trunk sewer to bypass the Don River (instead of treating it as an open sewer), and so either conserving the marsh before it became polluted, or restoring it after it had become polluted. From wilderness to wasteland summarizes the sad and sorry story of the destruction of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. This story is not merely of historical interest but has been one of recent note and discussion in Toronto with the release of the mayor’s vision for the waterfront coinciding with the publication of a volume about the history of the waterfront, including its beginnings adjacent to Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh and subsequent history of polluting, draining and filling (see Desfor and Laidley 2011a; Jackson 2011; Moir 2011). Exception was taken by some Torontonians, including by Desfor and Laidley as the editors of this volume, to what they see as in actual fact the mayor’s plans to sell off the waterfront as a cash cow to ‘retire’ or reduce city debt. This exception spilt out into the op-ed pages of the Toronto Star in an article by the editors that they conclude by calling on city councillors to ‘ensure that our waterfront’s future isn’t compromised by repeating the mistakes of the past’ (Desfor and Laidley 2011b: A27). They are referring to what they call ‘developer-driven, uncoordinated development’ on the waterfront whose wetland has been destroyed, but it could refer to any wetland on the urban fringe that has not yet been destroyed by development. Environmental cultural studies, or ecocultural studies, take an interest in what van Vuuren and Lester (2008) call ‘ecomedia’ and makes a distinctive contribution here as they are alive to the contemporary mediation of nature and the environment (natural, built) in the press, broadcasting and other media new and old. Ecocultural and ecomedia studies are situated in, and write, ‘a history of the present’ as Foucault (1979: 31) called it, and so they are more interested in producing a genealogy of the now (and a geography of the here) than in writing a history of the then and there as environmental history and historical geography tend to be with their chronological approach beginning their accounts at some point in the past and ending at some other point in the past, or in the present. Both of these interrelated disciplines may end their accounts of Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh with these events in the recent past, but would tend to start with the origins of the city, which is where I now turn and return to its beginnings in order to write a genealogy and geography of the here and now rather than a chronology of the there and then. The city of Toronto began life as the fort and town of York founded by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1793. The choice of site, however, was not Simcoe’s prerogative but that of Lord Dorchester (Sir Guy Carleton), the governor-in-chief, who overruled Simcoe’s initial preference for London on the Thames River, both of which Simcoe had renamed in anticipation of it becoming the capital of Upper Canada in keeping with its English namesake as duly noted by Elizabeth Simcoe in her diary (Innis 2007: 121; see also Jameson 1838/2008: 269). Instead, Dorchester ‘directed Simcoe to fix 137

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the new capital at Toronto Bay’ according to Story (1967: 764; see also 799 and Robinson 1965: 185). Simcoe choose the specific location at the swampy eastern end of the bay. It was not an auspicious beginning, or location, for, in the words of Mulvany (1885: 117), Simcoe, in keeping with Dorchester’s wishes or orders: fixed upon a site at the mouth of a swampy stream called the Don […] The ground was low and marshy, but it had the best harbour on the north shore of Lake Ontario, and was comparatively remote from the frontier of the United States. The Governor christened the place York. The site had another transportational advantage besides the harbour: it was also the ‘Toronto Carrying-Place’ at the southern end of the portage from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe (see Robinson 1965: 85). Yet the Carrying Place along the Humber River is at the far western end of the current city – a considerable distance from Simcoe’s original town plot. This was thus only one of a number of regional considerations and by no means paramount. George Glazebrook (1971: 11) concludes that ‘how far Dorchester or Simcoe was influenced by the Toronto portage […] is impossible to say. Toronto was not selected for that reason alone or primarily’. It was one of a number of reasons among which the harbour and the distance from the United States were uppermost. Among these reasons were the fact that ‘Simcoe mainly viewed the village as a commanding position’ (TorontoPlace.com 2003) and founded the capital of the English settlement there where a French fort had been located from 1750 to 1757. Simcoe’s view of the ‘commanding position’ became the prevailing orthodoxy as propounded by his wife. Elizabeth Simcoe (Innis 2007: 137–138) relates how ‘The Gov. [her husband] thinks from the Manner in which the sandbanks [of the Bay] are formed, they are capable of being fortified so as to be impregnable […] though the land is low’. Yet there were some early dissenting views. For Collins (cited by Scadding 1873: 17), the deputy surveyor-general, reporting in 1788 ‘in regard to this place as a military post, I do not see any very striking features to recommend it in that view’. After visiting York in 1816 Lieutenant Francis Hall (1818: 215) wrote that that it was ‘wholly useless, either as a port, or military post’. The ‘commanding position’ is the stock-in-trade of the landscape aesthetics of ‘the pleasing prospect’ so extensively examined by Raymond Williams in a chapter of this title in his best book, The Country and the City (1973), the foundational text of both ecocultural studies and ecocriticsm (Giblett 2012, 2013b: 112–121). For Williams, the commanding position constitutes and makes possible the pleasing prospect. Williams (1973: 121; see also 125) notes how ‘castles and fortified villages had long commanded “prospects” of the country below them’. Colonial settlements, if Toronto and its founder in Simcoe are anything to go by, also commanded prospects of the land and waters below them. The country is a threat, or at least a potential source of threat; the settlement is a military command post against possible invasion and so a refuge against the threat. For 138

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Simcoe, the primary concern was military but the commanding position may also have had an aesthetic pay-off in producing a pleasing prospect. The landscape aesthetic of the pleasing prospect is based on the military consideration of the commanding position. The aesthetic and the military are not two separate categories but are imbricated with each other in the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies (see Giblett 2009, 2011). Along similar lines to Hall, Anna Brownell Jameson (1838/2008: 14–15) in her memoir, Winter Studies in Canada, considers these geographical factors and dismisses the military one: The choice of this site for the capital of the Upper Province [of Canada] was decided by the fine harbour […] [though] from its low situation, and the want of any commanding height in the neighbourhood, it is nearly defenceless […] But the same reasons which rendered the place indefensible to us, rendered it untenable for the enemy [in the American invasion of 1813] and it was immediately evacuated. (Jameson 1838/2008: 14) Jameson acknowledges the transportational advantages of the harbour and dismisses the military advantages of the site. By then, though, the town, and the military orthodoxy, were well established and the latter has been repeated ever since. For Firth (1962: lxi), ‘the establishment of a town and its choice as capital were subordinate to its military importance’. Following in Elizabeth Simcoe’s footsteps Martyn (1982: 8) relates how ‘a defensible site for a capital had to be chosen’ and York provided it in the form of ‘a very fine harbour protected by a sandy peninsula’ to its south. Benn (1993: 11) insists categorically that ‘the founding of modern urban Toronto was a military event’. Besides the harbour and peninsula to its south that were touted as militarily advantageous but were not in fact, the site for York/Toronto may indeed have had a military advantage as it was protected to some extent by a low, swampy marsh to its east of ‘almost 525 hectares’ (Moir 2011: 25). One wonders to what extent the size and position of the marsh entered into Simcoe’s or Dorchester’s thinking about the military advantages of the location. Did Simcoe or Dorchester consider Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh on the eastern flank of the site as protection from, or a deterrent to, a land-borne American attack from this direction? Elizabeth Simcoe is not illuminating on this point. Perhaps ‘the Gov.’ did not divulge anything to her regarding this. Perhaps they were not students of the theory of war and of the role of marshes in military history where they have long played a role as easy sites to defend and hard ones to attack as theorized by Carl von Clausewitz (see Giblett 1996: 205). This had been the case from the time when the ancient Romans were in Britain to the very recent example for them of Francis Marion, the ‘Swamp Fox’, in the American War of Independence in which Simcoe had fought (as we saw in Chapter 5). When the Americans did attack York/Toronto in 1813 from across Lake Ontario and through this lacustrine border, or frontier, they landed to the west and attacked from 139

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this direction. They did not do so from the south-east across or through Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh so this feature of the location did provide protection in this quarter and perhaps it did enter into Simcoe’s choice of site as a factor. In his recent monumental and award-winning history of the 1812–1814 war, Latimer (2007: 130) describes how both ‘a good beach to the west of town made a landing difficult to defend against and a western battery’ that was inadequate contributed generally to what he calls the ‘woeful’ state of the defences of York/Toronto. Latimer does not mention how a ‘bad’ marsh for the Americans but a good marsh for the British to the east of town would have made a landing there difficult and easy to defend against. There seems to have been no eastern battery to defend York/Toronto as no attack was expected in and from this quarter. Despite the good landing beach to the west, both the bad landing marsh and good defensive marsh to the east as well as the good harbour and sandy peninsula to the south of York/Toronto seem somewhat to vindicate in hindsight Simcoe’s choice of the site for gaining some military advantage for the capital of Upper Canada, or at least reducing the military disadvantages of Niagara as the capital in such close proximity to the United States. In the most recent book on Toronto and its waterfront, Gene Desfor and Jennifer Laidley (2011: 11) concur in their introduction with its ‘military origins’, relating how ‘the city began as a military outpost, its location chosen in the mid-eighteenth largely for its harbour, protected by a sandy pit and buttressed by rivers on two sides’. One of these rivers, the Don, debouched into Lake Ontario in and through the delta of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh, a fact that Desfor and Laidley neglect to mention here in this context but do so on the following page when they refer to ‘the harbour’s extensive marshes’. Perhaps they do not regard the marsh as providing protection or buttressing. As the Americans quickly and decisively proved in 1813, Toronto may not have been a very good site for military purposes and it was certainly not defensible from attack from a superior waterborne force. Yet the site did have some redeeming features when the Americans did attack in 1813 as they did not attack through Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. The point, though, is that although the site did not fulfil these expectations as an aid in defence, it was founded with military considerations in mind, however misjudged they may have proven to have been in practice. The city, as Paul Virilio (1983: 3) says, ‘is the result of war, at least of preparation for war’, and Toronto is no exception. Yet rather than the military or transportational advantages or disadvantages of any of the features of the site for the settlement, its marshy and swampy location seemed to have stuck in the minds of early visitors. In 1796, François Alexandre Frédéric Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt (cited by Smith 1849: 244) focused on the location (and overlooked the advantages Mulvany later outlined) when he described York ‘as being a mere swamp’. This became a cliché for Jameson (1838/2008: 15) when she repeats his dismissal of the site as being ‘a mere swamp’ without acknowledging her source, though she cites Rochefoucauld’s description of the town on the same page.

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Sublime city in a swampy wilderness and in a melancholy marsh The harbour may have had some positive qualities but the site for the settlement was, in a word, wilderness both because of its position on the other side of the riverine frontier (of the Niagara River and Peninsula), or border with the United States, and because of its negative location in a marsh. In 1836 Jameson (1838/2008: 7) began her memoirs of Canada by remembering how Toronto ‘– such is now the sonorous name of this our sublime capital,  – was, thirty years ago, a wilderness, the haunt of the bear and deer, with a little, ugly, inefficient fort […] five years ago it became a city’. The sublime capital city arose from, and was founded in, the barbarous and untamed wilderness. In accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies, the wilderness of swamp and marsh was regarded as barbarous and untamed in order to constitute by contradistinction the colonial settlement as civilized and domesticated. Without the former, the latter was not possible in theory and in practice (see Giblett 2011: 99–116). The site for Jameson (1838/2008: 15) was both swampy and a wilderness for ‘when the engineer, [Joseph] Bouchette, was sent by General Simcoe to survey the site, (in 1793) it was a mere swamp, a tangled wilderness’. The founding and construction of a grid-plan town, as Jameson (1838/2008: 15) observed it to be without using this term, in the swampy wilderness was a means of bringing order to chaos, rationality to irrationality, light into darkness, civilization to barbarity, drainage to damplands in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Recently, for Desmond Morton (1983: 31), the lots and roads were laid out in a ‘gridiron’, an appropriate term, ‘through swamp and bush’. To constitute the land as wilderness was to regard it as ripe for invasion and settlement; the grid was the instrument to transform barbarous wilderness into civilized city, the there into the here, the past into the present, the then into the now in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm’s constructions of time and space and the relationship between them (see Giblett 1996: 55–76). Colonization was just as much a matter of the colonization of time as of the space, and of nature as much as of culture. Decolonization is thus so, too. The English settlement of Upper Canada for Mulvany (1885: 116) was ‘a compact and organized invasion of the wilderness by an army of agricultural settlers’. Simcoe was a member of the cavalry of the landed gentry that led this army of agricultural infantry of farmer foot soldiers (Martyn 1982: 9). The sublime city of Toronto was founded for Jameson not only in a swampy wilderness, but also in a melancholy marsh in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm that psychogeopathologized wetlands. In summer, Jameson (1838/2008: 7) relates how ‘they say it [Toronto] is a pretty place’ but in winter ‘its appearance to me, a stranger, is most strangely mean and melancholy’. This was partly because of its location as Toronto for Jameson (1838/2008: 7) was ‘a little ill-built town on low land’ so no wonder it was ‘mean and melancholy’ in keeping with the association of marshes with melancholia (and vice versa, and with mourning; see Giblett 1996:155–178). Jameson (1838/2008: 141

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7–8) goes on to describe how Toronto was located ‘at the bottom of a frozen bay’, on the shores of ‘the grey, sullen, wintry lake’ and backed by ‘the dark gloom of the pine forest bounding the prospect […] This is all very dismal’. In the dominant landscape lexicon of nineteenth-century European culture and its diaspora, marshes were melancholy, swamps dismal and forests gloomy for settlers in the new Europes of North America and Australia. Jameson invokes a number of clichés of the European landscape aesthetic, such as the city in, and versus, the wilderness of melancholic marshes, dismal swamps, gloomy forests, displeasing prospects and despondent sloughs all in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. In keeping with the melancholic marsh, Jameson (1838/2008: 11, 316) invokes specifically the cliché of ‘the slough of despond’ taken from John Bunyan’s seventeenthcentury Puritan classic Pilgrim’s Progress that moralized and theologized the wetland. When Jameson (1838/2008: 316) travels to Chatham she passes through a ‘rank swamp’ with ‘deep holes and pools of rotted vegetable matter, mixed with water, black, bottomless sloughs of despond!’ Her own pilgrim’s progress is through this hellish slough of despond to Toronto that itself has gone from ‘ugly, inefficient fort’ to ‘sublime capital’ over a 30year period. She is fearful of ‘plunging downwards’ into the ‘mud-gulfs’ of Canadian sloughs and much prefers to be ascending into the ‘sublime capital’ despite its historical origins and geographical location. She constructs a spatial, hierarchical devaluation of what could be called the grotesque lower earthly stratum and re-enacts an epic descent into the slimy, swampy underworld from which she emerges heroically into the heavenly, sublime, upper world of the city all in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Disease and health Besides the military advantages and psychological drawbacks associated with the swampy site, the health of the inhabitants and the healthiness (or unhealthiness) of the situation was a consideration, though both have been in dispute ever since the founding of York/Toronto. For Firth (1962: lxxxiii), ‘although Simcoe described the site of Toronto as particularly healthy [Simcoe’s own adjective is ‘exceedingly’ (Firth 1962: 61)], it was found that fevers and agues resulted from the miasma arising from the Don marshes’. Elizabeth Simcoe concurred with her husband when she wrote of Toronto that ‘this place is very healthy’ compared to Niagara ‘where there has been a fever’ (Innis 2007: 138). The Simcoes, perhaps unsurprisingly, seemed to be boosters for the site, whereas Jameson (1838/2008: 15; see also 18 and 22) took a more sanguine view that ‘another objection [to the choice of this site for the capital] was, and is, the unhealthiness of its situation – in a low swamp not yet wholly drained’. Lord Selkirk concurred with Jameson when he stated in 1803 that:

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A city ‘set in malarial lakeside swamps’: Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh

The situation is found to be unhealthy from the neighbourhood of a marsh of 1000 acres formed by the mouth of the Don […] A party of soldiers stationed in the Block House last summer were constantly affected by Fever & Ague [malaria] […] The prevalence of Easterly winds last summer blowing off the marsh rendered the Town more than usually unhealthy. (Firth 1962: 253) Toronto was subjected to the prevailing miasmatic theory of disease of the time (Bonnell 2011: 130; Desfor and Bonnell 2011: 311; Jackson 2011: 78, 80, 82, 86). The view persisted that, as William Davies (Fox 1945: 44) noted in a letter of 1855, ‘the East end of the city is a great place for the ague, there is no one scarcely living there but what has it’. Fox (1945: 44, n. 20) notes here that ‘the part of Toronto bordering on the marshes at the mouth of the Don River has this same reputation for more than half a century’. The marshes were to continue to have this reputation for over a century after Davies. A recent historian of Canada calls early Toronto ‘the muddy little village of York set in malarial lakeside swamps’ (Morton 1983: 31). The ‘bad air’ of swamps, rather than mosquitoes, could convey malaria in the mistaken view of the miasmatic theory of disease, but the ‘good air’ of lakes, forests and rivers could equally house mosquitoes as Jameson (1838/2008: 480–481) relates elsewhere. From the period of Jameson’s visit in 1836, the unhealthiness of the marsh became a cause for concern and a pretext for filling it. Desfor (1988: 79) argues that: As early as 1835 there had been suggestions that the marsh lands of Ashbridge’s Bay should be reclaimed. That year Captain R. H. Bonnycastle […] suggested ‘reclaiming the great marsh of upwards of a thousand acres in extent, which is at present a fertile source of unhealthiness to the city’. As Fairfield (1998: 4) notes, ‘reclaim’ is a common euphemism for the destruction of wetlands; ‘unhealthiness’ was also a common rationale for doing so in the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Whether this unhealthiness was conveyed through the miasma of airborne diseases or through the germs of animal- or water-borne diseases is not clear. Bonnell (2010 online) relates that ‘by the 1880s, and even before, the marsh was horribly polluted with human sewage and liquid cattle manure, gasoline from nearby oil refineries, and animal offal from slaughter houses’ (see also Desfor et al. 2011: 58; Jackson 2011: 86; Moir 2011: 35). The unhealthiness of the city was ascribed to the unhealthiness of the marsh without distinguishing between the miasmatic theory of disease that mistakenly constituted the marsh as malarial or unhealthy and the germ theory of disease in which the impacts of urban and industrial development had progressively made the marsh unhealthy. During the 1880s, Thomas Whillans (1998: 17; see also Jackson 2011: 90) relates how ‘the River Don was […] practically an open sewer for human waste’. 143

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The unhealthiness of the marsh, or more precisely of the impact of the city on the marsh, increasingly needed to be addressed. Wickson insists that during what Desfor (1988: 77) calls ‘Canada’s industrial era’ – the last three decades of the nineteenth century– ‘the need to clean up and develop Ashbridge’s Bay’ and ‘to remedy the unhealthy conditions of the marsh’ became more pressing (Wickson 2002: 13, 36). The discrediting of the miasmatic theory of disease in the 1890s with Ronald Ross’ discovery of the anopheles mosquito as the vector for malaria should have led to reversing the view that marshes and other wetlands were malarial or unhealthy per se, but this view persisted, even into the twentyfirst century as Wickson indicates. Yet the unhealthiness of the marsh and the city was due to the marsh becoming a sink for wastes generated by humans and their industries in a modern city, not to it being a marsh. The marsh had indeed become unhealthy, but the city founded in the swampy wilderness had made the marsh unhealthy. What Desfor (1988: 78) calls ‘the logic of classical industrial location theory’ espoused by Toronto’s industrialists meant the marsh became a wasteland that was then filled to create industrial land in a convenient location next to the harbour. Historically, and ironically, the modern culture of nature of the city that had been founded in, on or by using the materials of the premodern culture of nature of the wetland became the hypermodern culture of nature of the city that floundered in its own wastes deposited in the wetland. The hypermodern city then fills or drains the marsh. For Wickson (2002: 13–14): For decades, its marshes had served as a catch basin for animal wastes […] and raw human sewage. By the end of the 19th century, the foul conditions of the bay had long been linked to the City’s rising death toll from typhoid and cholera. In other words, the foul conditions of the bay had ‘long been linked’ to the city’s rising death toll from water- and food-borne diseases in general. Before the beginning of the nineteenth century, the city’s rising death toll from malaria in particular as an airborne disease had been linked to ‘the foul conditions of the bay’. The two major theories of disease in western medicine contended for supremacy throughout Toronto’s history: the miasmatic theory of disease in which malaria is an airborne disease; and the modern medical germ theory of disease in which malaria is an animal-borne disease and in which cholera and typhus are water- and food-borne diseases (on cholera and Toronto see Jackson 2011: 76). The shift from the former to the latter and the contemporaneous pollution of the wetland signed the death sentence of the wetland. This condemnation was signalled in its being constituted as wilderness ripe for settlement and development, proclaimed in the miasmatic theory of disease, signed in the unsanitary conditions of modern human urban and industrial waste disposal, and then executed under the germ theory of disease – all within the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies.

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A city ‘set in malarial lakeside swamps’: Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh

Waterbird habitat and uncanny place Besides being adjacent to human habitation, Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh was the habitat for non-human animals. Not surprisingly, as well as being ‘the haunt of the bear and deer’ as Jameson (1838/2004: 7, 190) put it, the tangled, untamed wilderness of the ‘mere swamp’ of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh, ‘intersected by inlets and covered with reeds, is the haunt of thousands of wild fowl’. Nearly 40 years after surveying the site for Simcoe, Joseph Bouchette in 1831 could: Still distinctly recollect the untamed aspect which the country exhibited when first I entered the beautiful basin […] [T]he bay and the neighbouring marshes were the hitherto uninvaded haunts of immense coveys of wild fowl [see Innis 2007: 35 where ‘coveys’ is cited as ‘conveys’ ]. Indeed they were so abundant as in some measure to annoy us during the night. (cited by Robinson 1965: 185) In the period to which Bouchette refers, Elizabeth Simcoe also wrote of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh how the ‘Low lands covered with Rushes [were] abounding with wild ducks & swamp black birds with red wings’ (Innis 2007: 138). In her introduction to Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary, Mary Quayle Innis (2007: 37) waxes lyrical about the fact that ‘loons floated on the bay uttering their uncanny cry’. Uncanny cry indeed as the marsh and swamp is arguably the uncanny place par excellence as it is in Freud’s psychoanalytic terms fascinating and horrifying and a return to the repressed. Yet rather than a pretext for abhorring or demonizing it in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies that devalue the wetland, the uncanniness of the wetland for a psychoanalytic ecology places it in the alternative cultural paradigm where it is valued precisely for its uncanniness (see Giblett 1996: 25–51; 2009: 17–35). Elizabeth Simcoe similarly places the cry of loons in the lower psychopathological register as she says ‘they make a noise like a Man hollowing in a tone of distress’ (Innis 2007: 137). Over two years later she notes that ‘we heard a wild kind of shriek several times in the night, we thought it was Loons which scream in that way’ (Innis 2007: 233). In both Innis’ and Elizabeth Simcoe’s account, the cry, noise or scream of the loon telecommunicates invisibly across the space between them and the loons. This sound affects the hearer more viscerally than the sight of the loons as the sense of hearing is more immediate and intimate than the distancing sense of sight. This cry or noise also conveys a minimal message that is evocative either of the uncanny or distress. Both writers resort to figural speech to describe or evoke the affective qualities of the cry or noise. The cry of the loon evokes for Innis the sound of crying, perhaps in distress like the man in Elizabeth Simcoe’s account. The noise of the loon is interference in the communication channel between the woman writer and the Canadian landscape for it places a man hollowing in 145

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distress in the middle between the two. He is, in Julia Kristeva’s term, abject between the subject (of Simcoe) and the object (of the Canadian land). The wetland is arguably the site of the abject as the subject is immersed and immured in something not yet an object and ceases to be subject (Kristeva 1982: 1–13). Marshlands as liminal space The abjectness of the wetland is congruent with the fact that the marsh had a liminal existence on the margins of the city in what Henry David Thoreau called the ‘quaking zone’ between land and water (to which I return in Chapter 9). Wetlands are neither strictly land nor water, but both land and water. Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh was a case in point as it was not really a part of the city, nor inside the city limits. Before filling could take place, the issue of land tenure in relation to Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh had to be settled. In 1911 a provincial statute transferred the Bay to the Board of the Toronto Harbour Commissioners (Glazebrook 1971: 194). Glazebrook goes on to relate that: The Board drew up sweeping plans […] designed both to improve the old harbour and to make use of undeveloped land. The largest undertaking was the conversion of a thousand acres of marsh in Ashbridge’s Bay to shipping and industrial purposes. (Glazebrook 1971: 194) In other words, the marsh was considered as undeveloped land, an impediment to progress, and ripe for development and conversion, like some heathen savage, to the gospel of industrial capitalism in accordance with the dictates of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. Dredge, discipline, drain or fill, and reclaim the recalcitrant marsh was its catchcry. The role of the marsh as a habitat for its native birds and other inhabitants was not considered in the days before wetland conservationists and bird watchers valued wetlands and environmental impact statements acknowledged their ecological role. In 1912, plans were drawn up for the filling of ‘about 1300 acres of mostly marshlands and disease-infested waters of Ashbridge’s Bay’ as Wickson (2002: 41) puts it. The First World War delayed the implementation of the plans, but filling was largely completed in 1921 (Wickson 2002: 51). Draining to extend the Toronto Harbour was completed in the 1920s, but filling of the marsh continued and ‘was virtually complete by the 1930s’ (Fairfield 1998: 6) when, as James Baillie (1998: 69) puts it, ‘the city demanded its destruction’. One of the agents of this destruction was a sewage treatment plant, representing another historical irony for the practitioner of environmental cultural studies in that such a plant was built on the very site that ‘the city’ had converted from a healthy wetland into an unhealthy wasteland and now had to convert back into healthy land to mitigate or alleviate the threat to health 146

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that it had created in the first place in the time loop of the dominant cultural paradigm. ‘The city’, as Otto Devitt (1998: 71) goes on to relate, in 1935 ‘had decided to build a sewage disposal plant at Ashbridge’s Bay and thus destroy it as a bird refuge’, though it was not quite destroyed as a habitat for birds as that took almost another two decades. Mourning and reclamation Twenty years later in 1954, Donald Burton (1998: 92) pronounced ‘the death of Ashbridge’s’ by filling with garbage, another agent of destruction, though this ironically and briefly created ‘excellent habitat’ for a few shorebirds (93). It was a long and slow death drawn out over a decade-and-a-half as ‘the last vestiges of the marshland disappeared in the 1960s’ (Fairfield 1998: 6), as Fred Bodsworth, a prominent Toronto journalist and noted birdwatcher, reported in 1969 (1998: 13). He wrote an article for the Toronto Star entitled ‘Me and my Garbage Dump’ as part of a series in which prominent Torontonians wrote about their favourite place in the city. Bodsworth related how: [O]ne of my favourite haunts every spring and summer is the string of fetid and stagnant pools created by the Ashbridge’s Bay sewage treatment plant and the landfill project at the foot of Leslie Street. Oozing with slime and littered with refuse, the ponds are a revolting affront to the eye. (Bodsworth 1998: 13) Presumably, the slimy ponds were also a revolting affront to the nose as Baillie (1998: 68) in the 1930s commented upon ‘the smells which emit from the ooze and garbage’. Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh had become an industrial wasteland, or what I call – following Thoreau – a feral quaking zone as distinct from the native quaking zone of the wetland. Ashbridge’s Marsh for Bodsworth ‘was once Toronto’s most famous natural history landmark, a home for thousands of ducks and shore birds’ (Bodsworth 1998: 15). He concludes his article by bemoaning how ‘the destruction of Ashbridge’s Marsh is a sorry symbol of urban planners’ blindness to natural features that give a region its distinctive qualities’ (Bodsworth 1998: 15). Urban planners in those days were committed to the health of populations, but not to wetland conservation, nor to the biodiversity of the ecosystems of the city, nor to appreciating and conserving the bioregion, nor to the health of the marsh. As the health of the human population was threatened by the marsh, as the marsh had become unhealthy due to urban and industrial pollution, and as the marsh became an opportunity for industrial development, the marsh had to be filled. Bird watchers and wetland conservationists were not blind to the value of the marsh and its role in the Toronto bioregion. In 1998, George Fairfield collected an anthology of writings by Bodsworth, Baillie, Burton, Devitt and other ornithologists, including 147

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himself, about Ashbridge’s Bay in which they mourn its death and the death of something important and vital to them, a common response to the destruction of wetlands. Fairfield begins by relating how: Ashbridge’s Bay was one of the greatest freshwater marshes in Canada. It provided a home for untold numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds. It was an important stopover and feeding place for a myriad of migrating water birds. (Fairfield 1998: 1) He concludes in his ‘Afterword’ that ‘no part of Canada’s natural environment was been more thoroughly stamped out of existence than the magnificent marsh that was known as Ashbridge’s Bay’ (124). Monstrous dredging, draining and filling machines were the agents of the modern industrial ‘stamping out of existence’ of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh and other wetlands around the world in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm. Mapping the marsh and the metropolis The destruction of the marsh can be traced, and has left a trace, in the maps of the city as it has developed and changed over time. Historians of the city of Toronto (most recently Hayes 2008) note the marshy location for the original settlement and trace the filling of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh (especially graphically in maps). The map is an instrument of colonization in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm. Indeed, Michel de Certeau (1984: 121) goes so far to argue that ‘the map colonises space’. The map subjects the earth to the grid of longitude and latitude, reduces the heights and depths of the earth to surface and freezes the diachronic processes of the earth in one synchronic moment of time. The maps of the marsh are no exception. Reading the maps of the present area in terms of the absences of wetlands that were mapped in the past is a means of decolonizing the map, and the wetland, and retrieving its buried history. Retelling the stories of the wetland is also a means of decolonizing the colonization and destruction of the wetland by the city and resisting the dominant cultural paradigm. The process of destruction of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh can be readily traced through maps, as can the history of York/Toronto and the plans for ‘development’ of the marsh. Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh has been ‘stamped out of existence’, but its life and the process of stamping it out of existence have left a trace in maps. These maps can be used to walk the city, relocating its traces in drains and streets. Bouchette’s map (undated) reproduced by Hayes (2008: map 48, 33) and Wickson (2002: 16) shows the ‘Town of York’ as a grid-plan town with square city blocks. Bouchette’s map also shows the large area of a yet unnamed and undescribed ‘marsh’ to the south-east of the town. The Royal Engineers’ (Firth 1966; Hayes 2008: map 148

A city ‘set in malarial lakeside swamps’: Toronto and Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh

63, 44) map of 1833 describes ‘a deep swamp full of intricate channels and extensive ponds’, an enticing counterpoint to Jameson’s ‘mere swamp’ and ‘tangled wilderness’, and one of the few instances of positive press for the marsh in the nineteenth century. Wetlands pose a problem for mapping as maps generally distinguish land from water, but wetlands can be inundated tidally or seasonally, or intermittently by flooding, so their depth fluctuates and extent varies over time. Maps are synchronic and static as they record and freeze the configuration of a place at a particular moment in time whereas wetlands are diachronic and dynamic as they change their configuration of land and water from day to day, season to season, sometimes hour by hour depending on tides, and other inflows and outflows, rising and falling water levels, such as those produced by rivers, or floods, or droughts. In her PhD thesis completed recently at the University of Toronto, Jennifer Bonnell (2010) highlighted these problems with mapping Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh in a section of her thesis on ‘Mapping the Marsh’. Many maps of York/Toronto show a putative clear boundary between the bay and the marsh, and depict various configurations of land and water and watercourses of the River Don (see Hayes 2008). In fact, the marsh was much more dynamic, as Bonnell argues and as maps generally don’t show, in a defiant act of recalcitrance, if not resistance on the part of the marsh to the dominant cultural paradigm. The Toronto Harbour Commissioners’ map of the Toronto Waterfront in 1912 shows Ashbridge’s Bay as an open body of water with ‘marsh lands’ between it and ‘Toronto Bay’ to the west (Wickson 2002: 40). The Commissioners in the same year also produced a plan for the future development of Ashbridge’s Bay transformed into the ‘Port Industrial District’ and ‘drawn over existing conditions’ (in other words, over the previous map and over the marsh) (Wickson 2002: 41; Hayes 2008: map 189, 124–125). The development plan was for a new grid-plan town of industrial lots and shipping berths. Of the 316 maps in Hayes’ Historical Atlas of Toronto, over 50 depict and/or name Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh in whole or part. The colonial map is distinguished by the politics of presence and absence, by what gets plotted or named and what does not. Either way, the colonial map reduces space, and the earth, including wetlands, to a flat surface of inscription. In and by this process, the depths of the wetland are repressed. Surfaces of inscription, Jean-François Lyotard (1984: 98; my emphases) argues, are ‘themselves flows of stabilised quiescent libidinal energy, functioning as locks, canals, regulators of desire, as its figure-producing figures’. The reduction of the depths of the earth in general and of wetlands in particular to the surface of the map and the surface of the earth regulates the nether(wet)lands of the unconscious. Yet this reduction of depth to surface is, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1977: 11) argue, a necessary condition for social reproduction: ‘some kind of full body, that of the earth or the despot, a recording surface, an apparent objective movement, a fetishistic, perverted, bewitched world are characteristic of all types of society as a constant of social reproduction’. In the case of wetlands, the earth is constituted as full body by not having its wetlands marked on maps and/or by having its wetlands filled in. 149

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As a consequence of this process of producing a full body, the earth is, Deleuze and Guattari (1997: 141) go on to argue, ‘the surface on which the whole process of production is inscribed’. Although the earth may be covered with water, it is still a surface for the inscription, or writing, of colonization and development. Writing, for Michel de Certeau (1984: 134–135), is: The concrete activity that consists in constructing on its own, blank space (un espace propre) – the page – a text that has power over the exteriority from which it has first been isolated [... I]t allow[s] one to act on the environment and transform it [... I]t is capitalist and conquering [...] And so is the modern city: it is a circumscribed space in which [...] the will to make the countryside conform to urban models is realised. The page of the colonial map has power over the wetlands that it has excluded. It constitutes the wetlands as object, or more precisely abject to be ‘managed’ and transformed. Although writing has power, this power is relative as writing is subject, in turn, to the power of speech. In a number of places, Jacques Derrida (1976: 3) has argued along the lines that ‘the history of truth’, or at least the western history of (western) truth (there is a high degree of lexical redundancy here), ‘of the truth of truth, has always been [...] the debasement of writing, and its repression outside “full” speech’. As a result, writing has become synonymous, or at least associated, with other ‘western’ repressions. Writing, for Derrida (1976: 35), ‘the letter, the sensible inscription, has always been considered by Western tradition as the body and matter external to the spirit, to breath, to speech, and to the logos’. In terms of colonialism, writing is the messy and corporeal colonial process, the ‘white’s man burden’, external to and repressed by the civilization and enlightenment of the colonizing nation yet necessary for and to it. In terms of the natural environment, the wetland, the swamp, the marsh, has invariably been considered by the patriarchal western tradition of the dominant cultural paradigm as the lower body and dead matter, the grotesque lower bodily and earthly stratum, external to writing, to the mark, the inscription, and doubly external to speech, spirit, etc., to the colonial centre and seat of power. Yet the colonial process of writing does not master a compliant and passive object but tries to master an active agent that is a threat to the colonizing power, particularly in the form of the wetland. The repression of writing is referred to elsewhere by Derrida (1978: 197) ‘as the repression of that which threatens presence and the mastering of absence’. The colonies threaten the presence of the ‘home’ power and its mastering of the absence of home and the homely in the colonies, especially in the unhomely swamps. This threat is posed by the return of the repressed via the empire writing back or leaving traces on surface of the clean and proper body of the settler by immersion in the slimy and swampy. Writing as inscription on the surfaces of the body and the (wet)land is the instrument of colonization and the dominant cultural paradigm; writing as trace in the depths of the body, the slimy and the swampy is a threat to colonization and the dominant cultural paradigm. There are not two sorts of writing, but writing is double or split between the 150

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primal writing of the trace within the alternative cultural paradigm and the colonial writing of the inscription within the dominant cultural paradigm, both of which always co-exist and can take place on the surface of the body and of the land. The writing of the map masters the absence of home and the map, in turn, is mastered by the speech of the colonial power. But the unhomely repressed threatens the homely and always returns in cultural dreaming and parapraxes. A distinction is to be drawn between what Derrida (1978: 197) goes on to describe as ‘the mastering of absence as speech and the mastering of absence as writing’. Yet the two masteries are linked and operate in conjunction with each other in that mastery of speech masters writing, and the mastering of absence as speech masters writing’s mastering of absence. Explorer-mapmakers master absence, the absence of ‘home’, of Europe, by writing journals and drawing maps. This writing is mastered, in turn, by the speech of colonial administrators and secretaries who doubly master the absence of home in the colonies mediated through the colonizing process of map and journal. The colonial power holds the colonized lands at arm’s length by articulating and mediating its power through writing. Besides a double process of mastery, there is also a double process of repression in which speech represses writing that, in turn, represses the land in general and the wetland in particular. As writing is the repressed of speech, so the swampy and the slimy are the repressed of writing. They threaten to return and to mark the body of the writer. Perhaps the slime and the swamp are such powerful figures for the unconscious because they are doubly repressed (see Giblett 1996: fig. 1, ch. 2). The modern colonial city is also implicated and complicit in these articulated, double masteries and repressions. The modern colonial city is made possible by the colonizing writing of the map and it is itself a colonizing writing on the surface of the earth. It transforms wetlands into market garden and market garden into suburb, thus completing the transition from wetland through agri-culture to suburbi-culture with the possibility of aqui-culture aborted. The colonial map and modern city, colonialism and modernity, are all writing. Modernity is colonialism at home; colonialism is modernity away from home. Modernity colonizes and colonialism modernizes lands, especially wetlands. For François Furet ‘modernisation, modernity itself, is writing’ (cited by de Certeau 1984: 168). The map, the modern city, modernity and colonialism all write on surfaces, the surfaces of the earth, the surfaces of bodies, the surfaces of the wetland. The modern city of Toronto and its maps are no exception. As part of the research for her PhD thesis on the Don River Valley, Bonnell (2010) codirected with University of Toronto Map and Geographic Information Systems Librarian Marcel Fortin a project to assemble archival maps of the valley that show the historical diminution and ultimate destruction of Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh. These are available online (Bonnell and Fortin 2009 online). Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh has been stamped out of existence, but it lives on virtually and has an uncanny afterlife in cyberspace, a poor substitute for the once living wetland itself. Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh for two ornithologists and wetland conservationists ‘is gone, but not forgotten’ (Fairfield 1998: 62). That 151

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remembering takes place in maps in space and in cyberspace, through walking the city and retracing the life (and death) of the marsh in drains and streets, and through retelling the stories across time of the fraught relationships between culture and nature, city and wetland, past and present, of this place and its people in the competing cultures of natures. Yet rather than bemoan the acts of the past and the facts of history, and mourn the loss of the melancholic marsh, the point for, and contribution of, environmental cultural studies, or ecocultural studies, is to change attitudes, values and behaviours in the present towards wetlands and other habitats in order to try to prevent the repetition of past mistakes of wetland destruction, to promote wetland conservation in the present and future, to advance the claims of the alternative cultural paradigm and to nurture among residents of Toronto bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods in their bioregional home habitat of the living earth.

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Chapter 8 ‘Land and water disputed empire’: Holland Marsh, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau

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ohn Muir was, and still is, a monumental figure in the American conservation movement, if not its patriarch, who lived and worked in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is known as ‘the father of our [United States’] national parks and forest reservations’ (Tilden 1970: 537), or at least of the idea for them (Badè 1924: II, 392–393 and 445). Little known is the fact that he dodged the draft for the American Civil War by holing up in Holland Marsh north of Toronto and later wrote privately about his encounter with an orchid as a conversion to conservationism. In this chapter I begin by considering Muir’s early biography and writing about wetlands in the context of Holland Marsh and its environmental history. Much later Muir was a founder and the first president of the Sierra Club, the legendary and iconic non-government conservation organization. He was involved most notably and damagingly in leading the battle to save Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park from being dammed to supply water to San Francisco after the disastrous fire following the earthquake of 1906 destroyed much of the timberbuilt city. As Muir’s precursor in the mid-nineteenth century, Henry David Thoreau is also an important figure in the American conservation movement and a proponent of civil disobedience. For both of them, marshes and swamps played a vital role in their lives and thinking. Better known as ‘John of the Mountains’ (Wolfe 1938), Muir might just as easily be known as ‘John of the Marshes’. Similarly, Thoreau might be called ‘the patron “saint” of swamps’ instead of ‘the crank of Concord’ and ‘the hermit of Walden woods’, by which he is better known. Both in their writings about wetlands subscribe to the alternative cultural paradigm and resist the dominant. Although Muir wrote little about Canadian wetlands and Thoreau wrote only about American wetlands, in this chapter I consider the work of both writers who wrote a word for wetlands in general and about North American wetlands in particular, from whom the reader and the wetlander can learn a lot about how to appreciate wetlands. Both of them contributed to creating an intracontinental, transborder and international dialogue between Canada and the United States on North American wetlands, as did Aldo Leopold, the eminent American conservationist who, like Muir, as we will see in the following chapter, visited a Canadian wetland but who, unlike Muir, published about it. All three contribute to an intracontinental dialogue on North American wetlands in particular and global dialogue on wetlands in general, as do Canadian writers such as Henry Thurston (as we will see in Chapter 10) and Douglas Lochhead (as we saw in Chapter 4). Muir wrote a word for the Canadian wetland of Holland Marsh north of Toronto now transformed into ‘the heart of Canada’s vegetable industry’. Muir’s encounter with the 155

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orchid Calypso borealis in a Canadian marsh was, according to his standard biographer, one of ‘the two supreme moments of his life’, the other being his meeting with Emerson, and so not his meetings with President Theodore Roosevelt, nor with the Sierra Nevadas, nor with the Californian sequoias (Wolfe 1945: 146–147; see also Fox 1981: 43). Muir’s experience in a Canadian marsh in 1864 constituted a kind of conversion experience to the new religion of conservation. Later in his life, Muir (1901: 5) reflected that ‘Calypso borealis still hides in the arbor vitae swamps of Canada, and away to the southward there are a few unspoiled swamps, big ones, where miasma, snakes, alligators, like guardian angels, defend their treasures and keep them as pure as paradise’. The swamps to which he refers as ‘away to the southward’ were presumably the swamps of Florida to which, and in which, he had travelled on his thousand-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico after his sojourn in Canada. Muir devotes one chapter of A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf to his time in Floridian swamps and to his encounter with an alligator there (as we will see below), which has been seen as central for his adoption of a biocentric ethic. He devoted little space in his published work (as we have just seen) to his time in Canadian marshes, though he did in his journal and letters. Evidently, in later life he was embarrassed about this period in his early life as he was dodging the draft, at least initially. In March 1864, as the American Civil War was reaching its bloody climax and drawing to its by then inevitable conclusion with the victory of the northern union, and after President Lincoln had signed an order for the conscription of 50,000 men in February, the 25-year-old Muir dodged the draft by crossing the border into Canada where he spent two years, including six months in the marshes of Ontario (Fox 1981: 42; Turner 1985: 113). Here he was, as Fox (1981: 43) puts it, ‘like a fugitive, like the British Army deserters he occasionally encountered in the swamps’. Like them, he also sought ‘both refuge and nurture’, as Turner (1985: 113) puts it, in the swamps in a long line of rebels and runaways holing up and finding refuge in swamps (see Giblett 1996: ch. 11). However, unlike many of these rebels and runaways, he also sought spiritual nurture and botanical specimens in the swamps, or, more precisely, he sought spiritual nurture in floral beauty and bounty that just happened to be in a swamp. One day in 1864 he found the rare orchid Calypso borealis in ‘a dense swamp’ on ‘the bank of a stream’ where he sat down and ‘wept for joy’ (cited by Turner 1985: 43), or ‘cried for joy’ (Badè 1924, I: 121). Where precisely was this swamp? Which swamp was it? When and where did this encounter and experience take place? Worster (2008: 94) suggests that in March 1864 Muir went into ‘the dark, mysterious wetlands’ of ‘Canada West’, and then in June into ‘the Holland [River] Swamps’ north of Toronto, where he ‘came upon the orchid Calypso borealis blooming on a barren hillside ’. Wolfe (1945: 92–93), like Fox, has Muir seeing the orchid ‘on a mossy bank of a stream’ in June 1864, whereas Worster (2008: 94) has Muir in the same month seeing the orchid on a barren hillside. When Muir saw the orchid is not a problem as these writers agree he saw it in June 1864, whereas where he saw it is a problem for them. For other writers, where he saw it is not a problem, whereas when he saw it is. Badè (1924, I: 119, 120) has Muir in July in the Holland River swamps finding 156

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Calypso borealis. Turner (1985: 116) has Muir finding Calypso borealis earlier than in June as he was in ‘swamps around Holland River’ in May and in June out of the swamps with the Campbells, a Scots family in Bradford, who according to Worster (2008: 95) ‘lived on the edge of the Holland swamps’. The historical record attests to the close proximity in the mid-nineteenth century of the Holland swamps to Bradford (now Bradford-West Gwillimbury, the latter part of the name being given to the Canadian town from Mrs Simcoe’s home town in Wales). In Smith’s Canadian Gazetteer of 1849 (18), his entry for Bradford describes ‘a large swamp’ bordering Holland River and Mrs Simcoe noted in her diary in 1794 ‘a terrible bog of liquid mud’ in the vicinity of Holland River (Innis 1965: 143). Calypso borealis flowers in Spring (April, May and June in the northern hemisphere) and Muir arrived in the Ontario swamps in the spring, ‘when wildflowers were beginning to poke through the brown forest duff ’ as Worster (2008: 94) puts it. Muir’s encounter with Calypso borealis could have been at any time in these three months, and in any one of a number of wetlands from Holland Marsh to Meaford’s Trout Hollow. These two locations have been in a bit of a tussle about which may legitimately lay claim to the site of Muir’s epiphany. According to the website of the Canadian Friends of John Muir (2009), ‘the serene world of Trout Hollow [southwest of Meaford, was] the wild arbor vitae swamps where he found his beloved “Calypso”’. Yet the notes on an exhibition panel in the Meaford Museum that I saw in August 2011 state that the encounter occurred ‘on the mossy bank of the Holland River swamps in Simcoe County’. It seems as if the attempt by the Canadian Friends of John Muir to claim Muir’s encounter with Calypso borealis for Meaford are unfounded. Perhaps they are merely the Meaford friends of John Muir. Irrespective of which was the particular place where the encounter took place, most of Muir’s biographers concentrate on his encounter with the botanical specimen abstracted from its wetland habitat as an ornamental object (like Traill, who abstracted plants from place), whereas for Muir the plant in place and the part it played in the processes of place were also important (and in this respect Muir is different from Traill). Muir was a wetland conservationist like his fellow founders of the American conservation movement in Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. To redress the imbalance of Muir’s biographers, I will concentrate on the place rather than the plant, especially on Muir’s writing about wetlands and the place where he encountered the plant as this place and his writings about wetlands have not been considered at all in discussions of Canadian wetlands and only briefly in biographies and studies of Muir for the role the place plays as habitat of the orchid and as the backdrop for human action and not as an actor in its own right. Whichever swamp it was, Muir wrote of it that ‘land and water, life and death, beauty and deformity, seemed here to have disputed empire and all shared equally at last’ (Badè 1924, I: 118). The swamp disputed imperial attempts to classify it as land or water, to mark it on maps, to divide it within national borders, to survey along a line of sight using optical technologies as instruments of empire through its tangled vegetation, to construct the straight lines of drain, railway and road as vehicles of empire across and through its boggy places, to vilify 157

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it as a place of death and deformity in its smelly slime; in short, to destroy it by subjecting it to an imperial imperative which needs to own everything exclusively in accordance with the dictates of the dominant cultural paradigm and its hierarchies. The swamp resisted the dominant paradigm, disputed empire and achieved a rapprochement between them without becoming beautiful at the time of Muir’s visit, though it was beautified later as a market garden. Yet the idea of empire sharing anything equally, especially with something as useless and as ugly as a swamp, is completely inimical to it. And the idea of life and death being shared equally in the swamp’s ecology is totally anathema to the death-drive of empire. Empire, not the wetland, is the orally sadistic ravening maw that acquisitively consumes everything in its path; the wetland, not the empire, is a generous and reciprocating giver of life. Empire, not the wetland, is the grim reaper, the harbinger of death. Given that the term ‘empire’ today is often used as a code word for the United States, North American wetlands dispute this empire that has all the features enumerated above. Given that these features still mark empire in its attitude and actions towards wetlands, Muir’s (Leopold’s and Thoreau’s) writings about wetlands have obviously not been taken up much by Americans in order to value and protect their own wetlands. Encouraging Canadians to learn from their writings about wetlands is not a matter of cultural imperialism (yet again), but of an ongoing international and decolonizing dialogue. Besides refusing the logic of the imperial death-drive in the dominant cultural paradigm, Muir also refused the either/or logic of the swamp as either land or water, place of life or death, aesthetically beautiful or ugly in support of the alternative cultural paradigm and its avowal of equality. For him it was a place of both/and, a place of both land and water, life and death, beauty and ugliness. Muir bemoaned the fact that ‘on no subject are ideas more warped and pitiable than on death’ (Badè 1924, I: 164; Muir 1916: 70). Against what he called ‘morbid death orthodoxy’ (of Christianity?), he celebrated ‘the friendly union of life and death so apparent in Nature’ (Badè 1924, I: 164–165; Muir 1916: 70), not least, and perhaps most powerfully, to be found in the wetland. In nature for Muir there was to be found ‘the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity’, as he found in the swamps of Canada (Badè 1924, I: 165; Muir 1916: 70). If one feature could be said to characterize the difference between standard swamp-speak in the dominant cultural paradigm that denigrates wetlands and the counter-tradition in which Muir, Leopold, Thoreau, Lochhead and Thurston participate within the alternative cultural paradigm, it would be that the latter emphasize that the wetland is a place of both life and death, whereas in standard swamp-speak it is only a place of death. As Muir’s first biographer says, ‘in the eyes of other people the spirit of death seemed to brood over these swamps, but to him they were reservoirs of life’ (Wolfe 1945: 93). Indeed, for Muir (1911: 229, 230) ‘everything in Nature called destruction must be creation […] everything is flowing’ and ‘there are no harsh dividing lines in nature’, not between life and death, nor between land and water. Like Thoreau, Muir believed that nature loves gradation, not just in colour, nor only between land and water, but even between life and death. 158

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In the eyes of pioneering settlers, Holland Marsh may have been ‘a vast and useless swamp’, but to the young Muir it contained the exquisite and enchanting orchid Calypso borealis. Also in the eyes of the young Muir, land and water ‘have disputed empire’ in the Holland Marsh, and they did at the time as they were, as Worster (2008: 94) puts it, ‘a vast  – and in the eyes of pioneers, a useless  – swamp’, but are ‘now drained and intensively farmed’. In the meantime between now and then, probably in the early 1930s, Percy Robinson (1965: 208) visited Holland Marsh and, like Muir, took time ‘to admire the lovely orchids’, probably unaware that he was following in the footsteps of his eminent predecessor and admirer of orchids. It took little less than 80 years after Muir set foot in the Holland Marsh for it to go from refuge and sanctuary for uncommodified spiritual nurture to market gardens for commodified physical nurture and a source of profit for market gardeners in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm. Forty years before Muir, John Galt described the marsh as ‘a mere ditch swarming with bullfrogs and water snakes’ (cited by VanderMey 1994: 1). According to the Levitical interdiction in Mosaic law, ‘every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth is an abomination; it shall not be eaten’ (Leviticus 11:41). Swarming creatures are an abomination as they neither walk, swim, crawl nor fly, but slither on their bellies, and as they inhabit neither land, water nor air, but the interstitial zone between all three. Swarming creatures, Mary Douglas (1966: 56) has commented, are: both those which teem in the waters and those which swarm on the ground. Whether we call it teeming, trailing, creeping or swarming, it is an interminable form of movement [like slime] […] ‘swarming’ which is not a mode of propulsion proper to any particular element, cuts across the basic classification [like the wetland of land and water; of solid, liquid, gaseous and heat]. Swarming things are neither fish, flesh nor fowl. Eels and worms inhabit water, though not as fish; reptiles go on dry land, though not as quadrupeds; some insects fly, though not as birds. There is no order in them […] As fish belong in the sea so worms belong in the realm of the grave with death and chaos. Wetlands mix the elements of earth, air, fire and water. In doing so, they create the ideal home or habitat for swarming creatures who live between earth, air and water and so in Levitical terms are monstrous creatures of a monstrous marsh. In terms of First Nations, marshes’ mixing of the elements of earth, air and water created the ideal habitat for edible plants and animals, aquatic, aerial and terrestrial to grow and sustain life (as we saw in a previous chapter). The marsh sustained First Nations and their bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods in their bioregional home habitat of the living earth in the alternative cultural paradigm. The Levitical construction of the swarming monster justified the settler response of discipline, drain, dredge, and so destroy the monstrous marsh, in order to destroy the marsh monster constructed as such by the Levitical interdiction in the first place in the circular, self-fulfilling logic of the dominant cultural paradigm. The marsh 159

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monster has a long history in European culture from the Stymphalian birds of the myths of Hercules, through Grendel and his mother in Beowulf, to Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost (see Giblett 1996: ch. 8). The Herculean myth of the monstrous Stymphalian birds re-emerges in Canadian literature in Frederick Phillip Grove’s Settlers of the Marsh (as we will see in Chapter 9), just as the marsh monster reared its ugly head in previous works of the Canadian canon, such as the wolves in Susanna Moodie’s Roughing it in the Bush (as we saw in Chapter 2). Wetlands as the mixing of the elements are not only the habitat for swarming monsters but also constitute dirt in the sense of Mary Douglas’ (1966: 35) famous definition of dirt as ‘matter out of place’. Wetlands are matter out of place as they mix all four western elements of earth, air, fire and water. They also mix the four qualities of wet, dry, hot and cool that go to make up the four elements. Wetlands have been seen as places of liquid and solid, air and water, heat and cool, light and dark, day and night, life and death, with each taking improperly the other’s proper place. Even with their living waters, wetlands have been constituted as dead matter. The typical response from the dominant cultural paradigm to the dirtiness of wetlands has been to try and put matter back in its proper place wherever possible and where it is impossible to denigrate their deviation from the norm. Drainage, for instance, is putting the earth and water of the wetland back in their respective, and respectable, places. In the process, wetlands are put in their subjugated place and drylands substituted in their place. Holland Marsh is no exception with the schemes to drain and ‘reclaim’ it, though it is exceptional for a Canadian wetland to play such an important role in the American conservation movement. It is a salient instance of the porous border between the countries and the mutually beneficial dialogue that can take place between them. Two histories converge in the Holland Marsh: the history of its draining and farming and the history of the American conservation movement and the pivotal role of Muir’s visit to it. The historians of the draining and farming of Holland Marsh do not tend to acknowledge Muir’s visit. Jackson and VanderMey are cases in point and Dorothy Cilipka is the exception. Cilipka places the history of Holland Marsh within a broader context, both of the draining and Muir’s visit, as well as her own personal experience. For her, ‘one of the first naturalists to study the flora of the marsh was John Muir. He worked here between 1864 and 1866 […] and he discovered the fabulous “Calypso Borealis” a wild orchid found only in the North’ (Cilipka 2002: 145). The historians of the American conservation movement and the biographers of Muir not only acknowledge the pivotal role the orchid played in Muir’s life but also mention the more recent history of Holland Marsh. One historian of Holland Marsh in Cilipka acknowledges the botanical significance of Muir’s visit, for Muir at least, though it is not a significant visit for a lot of her fellow Canadians. For VanderMey, the story of the marsh is a bittersweet one, not because it was drained and lost, but because of the struggle to drain and farm it, including in the face of the disasters that struck along the way, such as Hurricane Hazel. Like the French who brought drainage technology to Acadia, the Dutch brought drainage technology to Holland Marsh 160

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in the 1920s. By an irony of history, or a fortuitous conjunction of events, Holland Marsh was named after a Dutchman, Samuel Johannes Holland, who visited the area in 1791 when he was surveying the Lake Simcoe region. Perhaps later Dutch settlers felt at home with the name of the marsh, with the association with the Dutch surveyor and with the wetlandscape and the possibilities for ‘improvement’ by draining it in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm. According to VanderMey (1994: 1), Holland: must have been unmoved as he regarded the wasteland that spread before him. Sure, it looked serene, even pretty. But it was a useless stretch  – except of course, to the countless ducks, geese, pheasants, partridges, deer, rabbits and other forms of wildlife which flourished in the water and among the dense growth. The wetland was regarded in the dominant cultural paradigm as wasteland and useless, except for waterbirds and other animals, in a typical assessment that was repeated ad nauseam with other Canadian wetlands, such as the Point Pelee Marshes (as we saw in Chapter 5). With the application of civil engineering design and drainage technology, however, the wasteland was converted to ‘The Promised Land’, the title of VanderMey’s first chapter, though it had been a paradise for waterbirds as he acknowledged. This ambivalence towards Holland Marsh is evident in VanderMey’s (1994: ix) introduction as he acknowledges on the same page that ‘the black organic soil’ of the marsh made it so productive and profitable, but then refers to ‘this barren, flat marsh’ figured as an old, infertile woman with dried-up dugs that made it so unattractive and difficult to live on. VanderMey poses the good agricultural land against the bad wetland, the fertile patriarchal Mother earth of the fields against a purportedly barren Great Mother of the marsh. The marsh has been called ‘the Salad Bowl of Ontario’ (VanderMey 1994: 110) and ‘The Heart of Canada’s Vegetable Industry’ (Holland Marsh Drainage System: Joint Municipal Services Board nd). The engineers and drainers ‘reclaimed’ the land from the water as if water were a thief who had stolen the land, made it useless, and from whom it had to be wrested back. The role of the engineer and drainer was to reclaim the land from the water, and to turn the wetland useful for waterbirds and wasteland useless for farmers and market gardeners into useful dryland for modern industrial agriculture. When Hurricane Hazel struck the Holland Marsh on ‘Black Friday’ in October 1954, VanderMey (1994: 89) acknowledges the irony of history that ‘no one gave much thought to the idea that the Holland River would try to reclaim the Marsh for its floodplain’, which is what it had been. The marsh that had been reclaimed, reclaimed the area it had lost. The useful wetland and the useless wasteland that had been turned into useful dryland were turned into flooded land. The land that been reclaimed from the water was then re-reclaimed by water and thereby turned into what VanderMey (1994: 3) calls ‘the bog’ and mud. VanderMey (1994: 108) observes how ‘mud is a perennial problem in the Marsh’. Mud is a problem for dryland agriculture, yet the mud provides the fertile soil for agriculture. Mud is matter out of 161

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place. Mud is too much water in the land. Mud is the mixing of the elements of earth and water. Mud is not a problem for wetland nature. ‘Land and water disputed empire’ for Muir in Holland Marsh, yet despite this experience and his later brief sojourn in a Florida swamp at the end of his thousandmile walk to the Gulf of Mexico, Muir later much preferred land to water, especially the high land (perhaps hardly surprising for an immigrant from Scotland with its highlands) of the Sierra Nevadas to the low lands of marshes and swamps, the sublime to slime. For Muir nature in mountains and forests was aestheticized and sublimated, especially if such areas were ‘set aside’ and preserved in the sanctuaries or ‘modern cathedrals’ of national parks whereas nature in swamps and marshes was desublimated into messy bodily processes. Mountainous sublimated nature in national parks was God the Father Law for Muir, though in his pantheon he could also allow for Mother earth who for Muir is not strictly speaking the neolithic earth mother of agriculture and patriarchy of the dominant cultural paradigm, nor explicitly the palaeolithic Great Mother of the swamps who is life–giving and death–dealing of the alternative cultural paradigm. Muir’s ideas of nature were contradictory in that they were divided between a stern and sublime Father God in the mountains and a soft and smiling Great Mother in the swamps. Although early in his career Muir had had a close encounter with the latter as we have seen, for the remainder of his life he preferred and privileged the former over the latter.1 Muir has been called the ‘western Thoreau’ in order to associate him with his eastern American counterpart in conservation, Henry David Thoreau, and to align him in the Thoreauvian lineage. Both were nature writers, especially wetland writers; both were founders of the American conservation movement; both were disputers of empire and resisters of the dominant cultural paradigm; and both were practitioners of civil disobedience (and in Thoreau’s case a theorist of it, too). Yet there are some profound differences between them, especially when it comes to marshes and swamps, though they tended to share some similar views of mountains as evocative of the sublime. Like Muir, Thoreau travelled to Canada, and this journey resulted, unlike for Muir, in a book, A Yankee in Canada. For most critics and scholars of his work, it is his weakest book. Unlike Muir, Thoreau did not visit a Canadian marsh and write about it, though he has a lot to say about other marshes and swamps elsewhere in North America when he, like Muir, wrote a word for wetlands. Unlike Muir, who wrote briefly about his youthful experience in a Canadian marsh, Thoreau wrote appreciatively and repeatedly throughout his short writing career about his experiences in swamps to such an extent that he could be called the ‘patron “saint” of swamps’. Regarding Thoreau as a saint necessarily entails hagiography of him as an exemplary figure, but it does not imply perfection on his part, nor blindness to his faults and failings on the part of the hagiographer, nor that he is not open to critique, such as I have undertaken, for instance, of what I see as his racist concept of wild(er)ness (Giblett 2011). Thoreau maintained how, ‘when I will die, you will find swamp oak written on my heart’ (cited by Richardson 1993: 17). The swamp not only wrote on Thoreau; he also wrote repeatedly on it, a fact not often noticed or remarked upon by the scholars of Thoreau’s 162

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work or the writers on the American ideas of modern and postmodern wilderness (see Nash 1982; Oelschlaeger 1991). One of the few Thoreauvians to do so is Carl Bode (1982: 686) who notes Thoreau’s ‘love for swamps’ and how ‘he enjoys being in them, enjoys writing about them’. Thoreau loved to write on the swamp, and be written on by the swamp, or at least by the swamp oak. Thoreau’s writing on swamps touches on and counters, or subverts, many aspects of standard swamp-speak in the dominant cultural paradigm that views wetlands in pejorative terms as places of disease, horror and the monstrous along the lines that we have encountered in previous chapters. Although Thoreau by no means addressed, and countered, every point of standard swamp-speak as he seemed to be more concerned to produce affirmative press for swamps and support the alternative cultural paradigm, rather than simply rebuff, or even rebut, the pejorative, he did turn the rhetoric against itself. He refused the miasmatic theory of disease by stating how ‘miasma and infection are from within, not without’ (Thoreau 1980: 261; 1962: V, 394). He countered the theory by suggesting how ‘the steam which rises from swamps and pools is as dear and domestic as that of our own kettle’ (Thoreau 1982: 61). For Thoreau, swamps and stagnant pools were not the antithesis of, nor a threat to, the homely, but of comparable value. He did not valorize the wetland over the homely but gave them equal value, unlike those of his (and my) contemporaries who denigrated and feared the wetland (and accordingly valorized the canny over the uncanny). Rather than seeing the airs of swamps as bearers of disease, Thoreau made a crucial distinction between fog and miasma, and even saw fog as healing:

The fog […] in whose fenny labyrinth The bittern booms and heron wades; Fountain-head and source of rivers […] Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers, […] Bear only perfumes and the scent Of healing herbs to just men’s fields! (Thoreau 1982: 66)

In a poem devoted exclusively to the subject and entitled simply ‘Fog’, Thoreau (1982: 237–238) referred to it as ‘dull water spirit – and Protean god’, as ‘incense of earth’, ‘spirit of lakes and rivers’ and as ‘night thoughts of earth’. Rather than a vector for disease and a cause of death like miasma, fog is a source of new life. Rather than regarding fog and mist as vapours bearing disease and death, why not see them as the visible manifestation of the exhalations of the earth, particularly of the trees, on which we are dependent for life? After all, we are in symbiosis with the oxygen-producing plants of the Earth. The swamp vapours were as homely for Thoreau as kettle steam because the swamp itself was better than a homely garden. Indeed, if Thoreau (1982: 612–613) had to choose between them he would have chosen the swamp every time: 163

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[Y]es, though you may think me perverse, if it were proposed to me to dwell in the neighbourhood of the most beautiful garden that ever human art contrived, or else of a Dismal Swamp, I should certainly decide for the swamp. Why does Thoreau prefer a dismal swamp to a beautiful garden? Because for Thoreau (1982: 612) the answer is simple: ‘I derive more of my subsistence from the swamps which surround my native town than from the cultivated gardens in the village’. The swamps are ‘the wildest and richest gardens that we have. Such a depth of verdure into which you sink’ (Thoreau 1962: IV, 281). Thoreau was no mere walker by the wetland, but a wanderer in the wetland who was not afraid of sinking into it as long as he eventually found ‘a hard bottom’. Thoreau (1982: 613) makes his most memorable pronouncement on wetlands in his essay ‘Walking’, in which he invokes and counters the dominant trope of ‘the Dismal Swamp’: When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum. There is the strength, the marrow, of Nature. Thoreau is not merely alluding to, and countering, the Great Dismal Swamp on the border between Virginia and North Carolina, but refusing and inverting (if not subverting) the solid citizen’s, and the dominant cultural paradigm’s, view that all swamps are dismal by regarding them as the most sacred of places, as the holy of holies as viewed by the alternative cultural paradigm. Rather than the Garden of Eden, for Thoreau (1993: 198) ‘some rich withdrawn and untrodden swamp […] is your real garden’. Yet this preference for swamps over town gardens was no mere nostalgia for a lost pastoral paradise as ‘hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps’ (Thoreau 1982: 611). Thoreau prefers the resources of hope cultivated by the alternative cultural paradigm in the swampy quaking zone to the monuments to the past enshrined by the dominant cultural paradigm in the horticultural, agricultural and architectural zones. Thoreau’s rhetorical tactic against the stratagems of standard swamp-speak within the dominant cultural paradigm was to displace and upset the usual or normative disjunction between swamp and garden by seeing the swamp as garden, and so exploit the favourable associations of the garden as a place of light and life. Thoreau also upsets the usual dissociation between swamp and city found, for example, in Ann Brownell Jameson, by seeing the city as swamp and so subverting the unfavourable connotations of the swamp as a place of darkness, disease and even death. Rather than the swamp, Thoreau saw ‘society’, ‘civilisation’ and the modern city as bearers of disease, or perhaps more precisely he saw the modern city as swamp in the conventional sense of an uncanny and unhomely place of disease and horror, and saw simultaneously the swamp 164

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as canny and homely, as postmodern dwelling in the unconventional sense of a homely, but also wild, (homely because wild) place. Thoreau could ‘see less difference between a city and some dismallest swamp then formerly. It is a swamp too dismal and dreary, however, for me’. Although he would prefer the swamp as swamp over the city as swamp, he nevertheless goes on to make a finer distinction: ‘I would prefer even a more cultivated place, free from miasma and crocodiles’ (Thoreau 1962: II, 47). In this respect, Thoreau is unlike Muir, who encountered the crocodile’s reptilian cousin of the alligator in a Florida swamp, an encounter seen by some as a crucial transition in his thinking to a biocentric ethic. Muir’s A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf was published posthumously in 1916 and related a journey he had undertaken almost 50 years earlier. In 1867, three years after his sojourn in Canada and his encounter with Calypso borealis in Holland Marsh, Muir encountered an alligator ‘on the margin of a stagnant pool’ in a Florida swamp. It prompted him to reflect that: These independent inhabitants of the sluggish waters of this low coast cannot be called the friends of man […] Many good people believe that alligators were created by the Devil, thus accounting for their all-consuming appetite and ugliness. But doubtless these creatures are happy and fill the place assigned them by the great Creator of us all. Fierce and cruel they appear to us, but beautiful in the eyes of God. They, also, are his children, for he hears their cries, cares for them tenderly, and provides their daily bread. The antipathies existing in the Lord’s great animal family must be wisely planned, like balanced repulsion and attraction in the mineral kingdom. How narrow we selfish, conceited creatures are in our sympathies! How blind to the rights of all the rest of creation! With what dismal irreverence we speak of our fellow mortals! Though alligators, snakes, etc. naturally repel us, they are not mysterious evils. They dwell happily in these flowery wilds, are part of God’s family, unfallen, undepraved, and cared for with the same species of tenderness and love as is bestowed on angels in heaven or saints on earth. I think that most of the antipathies which haunt and terrify us are morbid productions of ignorance and weakness. I have better thoughts of those alligators now that I have seen them at home. Honorable representatives of the great saurians of an older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of dainty! (Muir 1916: 98–99) Here endeth the sermon on ‘How I learned to stopped hating alligators, and learnt to love them’. Only a true greenie would hug an alligator metaphorically as readily as they would a tree in actuality. Perhaps needless to say, Muir was not a mouthful of terror-stricken humanity for the alligators of a Florida swamp, unlike the Australian eco-feminist Val Plumwood, who was attacked by a crocodile in an Australian wetland or swamp and lived to tell the gruesome tale (see Giblett 2009: ch. 2). 165

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Perhaps Thoreau was wise to prefer ‘a more cultivated place’ free of crocodiles, though this did not mean that he preferred the city to the swamp, especially as the former could be as dangerous in common parlance as the latter. The city as swamp for Thoreau (1982: 350) had its own diseases and horrors: [L]et us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through church and state, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place which we call reality. Ironically, the four cities mentioned were founded, like Toronto, in, or next to, and expanded into, swamps. Thoreau’s homoerotic search for a hard or tight bottom (in a number of senses) has been remarked upon by a number of critics (see, for example, Michaels 1977). What has been less remarked upon is the fact that the hard bottom is primarily at the bottom of a pond or swamp, though ‘there is a hard bottom everywhere’, even ‘with the bogs and quicksands of society’ (Thoreau 1982: 568–589). A deep and hard-bottomed lake for Thoreau is symbolic of a kind of highly philosophical self-reflexivity, rather than of merely narcissistic self-contemplation. For him ‘a lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is the earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature’ (Thoreau 1982: 435; see also 67, 339, 437 and 527). The swamp, by contrast, for Thoreau (1982: 524; 1962: IX, 394) is shallow and soft, the first birth of nature: [T]hat central meadow and pool in Gowing’s Swamp is its very navel, omphalos, where the umbilical cord was cut that bound it to creation’s womb. Methinks every swamp tends to have or suggests such an interior tender spot. The sphagnous crust that surrounds the pool is pliant and quaking, like the skin or muscles of the abdomen; you seem to be slumping into the very bowels of the swamp. The surface of the swamp is the soft spot of nature, even the breasts of the Great Mother of the swamps when Thoreau (1962: IX, 38–39) refers to ‘the soft open sphagnous centre of the swamp’ as ‘these sphagnous breasts of the swamp – swamp pearls’. The soft centre of the swamp is also related to the human body for Thoreau (1962: X, 262) as ‘the part of you that is wettest is fullest of life’. Thoreau not only resists the dominant patriarchal cultural paradigm, but also supports the alternative matrifocal cultural paradigm. Unlike many of his contemporaries, such as Harriett Beecher Stowe, who figured slavery as a swamp, slavery for Thoreau (1962: VI, 365) was the part of the body politic fullest of death: ‘slavery […] has no life. It is only a constant decaying and a death, offensive to all healthy nostrils’. Slavery, in other words, is the dead black waters of a polluted waste wetland, unlike the recurring decaying, death and rebirth of the living black waters of 166

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a healthy wild wetland fragrant to Thoreau’s healthy sense of smell important in the alternative cultural paradigm. For Thoreau (1962: IV, 449), ‘my temple is the swamp’. He sought refuge and renewal in the swamp as a sacred place, indeed as the inner sanctum, the holy of holies (Thoreau 1982, 613) into which, like the High Priest, he would ‘annually go on a pilgrimage’ (Thoreau 1993: 197). He would perform the ritual of life-giving, self-baptism in the swamp whose waters were not rank poison: ‘far from being poisoned in the strong water of the swamp, it is a sort of baptism for which I had waited’ (Thoreau 1962: IX, 376–377). Thoreau was a swamp self-baptist. Thoreau upset the conventional view of the dominant cultural paradigm that swamps were poisonous by parodying it in his reference to the ‘rank and venomous luxuriance in this swamp’ (Thoreau 1962: IX, 60). Rather than a reason for avoiding the black swamp of depression and melancholia, Thoreau (1962: X, 150) suggested that ‘if you are afflicted with melancholy […], go to the swamp’. He did not subscribe to the miasmatic theory of malaria, nor of melancholy unlike some of his contemporaries, such as Moodie and Traill, nor to the theory of the humours in the dominant cultural paradigm. Even at the worst of times he could prescribe a swamp cure: [W]hen life looks sandy and barren, is reduced to its lowest terms, we have no appetite, and it has no flavour, then let me visit such a swamp as this, deep and impenetrable, where the earth quakes for a rod around you at every step, with its open water where swallows skim and twitter. (Thoreau 1962: IV, 231) When desire is diminished and life is dissatisfying, both figured here orally, the quaking zone of the swamp (to which I return in the following chapter on Manitoban marshes) has depths and softness that the shallowness of its waters belie, and that the depths of the lake cannot dream of. Thoreau values precisely those usual pejorative connotations in the dominant cultural paradigm that attach to the ‘depth’, or horizontal extension and impenetrability of the swamp. For Thoreau (1982: 613), the swamp is ‘the strength, the marrow of Nature’. The strength of nature, for him, lies not in the hard bones of the dry land, but in the soft marrow of the wetlands, what he also called the liquor of nature that feeds the earthly body, the body environmental: the very sight of this half-stagnant pond-hole, drying up and leaving bare mud […] is agreeable and encouraging to behold, as if it contained the seeds of life, the liquor rather, boiled down. The foulest water will bubble purely. They speak to our blood, even these stagnant, slimy pools. (Thoreau 1962: IV, 102)

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They speak to our blood because they contain water, which for Thoreau (1962: XIII, 163) is ‘the most living part of nature. This is the blood of the earth’. Water for Thoreau is the life-blood of the body of the earth. Thoreau sees the earth as body. Thoreau’s blood circulates with the blood of the earth and with the liquor and marrow of swamps in the body of the earth: ‘surely one may as profitably be soaked in the juices of a swamp for one day as pick his way dryshod over sand’ (Thoreau 1982: 187). Thoreau would prefer the problems of travel through the wetland, the marrow of the earth, to the ease of passage over the dry land, the bones. Yet the problems of travel across the wetland are seasonal anyway in the higher latitudes as ‘the deep, impenetrable marsh, where the heron waded and bittern squatted [in summer], is made pervious [in winter] to our swift shoes, as if a thousand railroads had been made into it’ (Thoreau 1982: 71). Thoreau sees himself as part and parcel of nature, as circulating in the body of nature not via the circulatory system of rivers, but in the stagnant system of marrow through immersion in the swamp by a kind of secular baptism. Without the wetland, without wetlands, the world would fall apart. The wetland feeds and holds together, nurtures and coheres, the skeleton of the body of nature. Without the wetland there would be nothing to replenish the skeletal system of the dry land, the backbones of mountain ranges, the ribs of ridges, the limbs of peninsulas and capes, and the fingers of land reaching into the sea, all of which (including the marrow of the wetlands) supply and make possible the fertile plains, prairies and steppes on which agriculture takes place, on which the dominant cultural paradigm relies, on which industry depends, on which cities ‘live’, or more precisely which they parasitically suck dry. Instead of the standard rhetoric of swamp-speak in the dominant cultural paradigm in which the swamp is a place of death and disease, for Thoreau and the alternative cultural paradigm the swamp is the stuff of life and death. Indeed, for Thoreau ‘death is only the phenomenon of the individual or class. Nature does not recognise it’ (cited by Richardson 1986: 114). Moreover, for him death is ‘a law and not an accident – It is as common as life [… T]he law of their [flowers’] death is the law of new life’ (cited by Richardson 1986: 115). The swamp, as with nature generally, upsets the hard and fast distinction between life and death. Thoreau (1993: 100–101; 1962: XIV, 109) inverts the morbid Christian orthodoxy of the line from the Anglican/Church of England Book of Common Prayer that ‘in the midst of life we are in death’ by maintaining how ‘in the midst of death we are in life’. In the midst of death in the swamp, we are in life. The swamp as marrow is constantly being renewed by the life-blood of the earth and constantly renews the bones of the body of the earth that give it structure. One of the attractions of the swamp for Thoreau, especially in winter, was that here was a place on which no other ‘man’ had left a trace, and so it was a place where Thoreau (1962: VIII, 99) could leave his mark on a tabula rasa: ‘I love to wade and flounder through the swamp now, these bitter cold days when the snow lies deep on the ground […] to wade through the swamps, all snowed up, untracked by man’. Unlike the snow of field, pond, or road, the snow of the swamp could remain untracked for a time in order 168

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to allow Thoreau (1962: VIII, 160, 167) to write his own message on its clean sheet, its ‘blank page’, without fear of interruption or interference from fellow humans, especially citizens, those denizens of the city. After wading around in a swamp, Thoreau (1962: IX, 42) felt like an explorer: I seemed to have reached a new world, so wild a place […] far away from human society. What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs, if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty. Thoreau explored swamps not just physically but also metaphysically. Indeed, he did not even need to go on a half-hour’s walk visiting bogs to be carried into wildness: [I]t is in vain to dream of wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such. It is the bogs in our brain and bowels, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires that dream. I shall never find in the wilds of Labrador any greater wildness than in some recess in Concord, that is, than I import into it. (Thoreau 1962: IX, 43) Wild(er)ness is a cognitive, corporeal and cultural experience, not a geographical category of (wet)land conservation or use, or lack of it, indigenous or industrial. Thoreau saw the swamp explorer as a kind of Columbus of the new world of swamps not only without but also within. He asked rhetorically ‘[I]s not our own interior white on the chart? black though it may prove, like the coast, when discovered’. He then exhorts his readers also to ‘be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought’ (Thoreau 1982: 560). The interior is either a kind of swamp in winter, a frozen tabula rasa, to be explored, mapped, written upon and so colonized or a swamp in summer with its quaking surface that could be decolonized and demapped. For Thoreau (1982: 376) it is the screech owls, or more precisely ‘their dismal scream’, which best express his view of wetlands as dialogic other: I love to hear their wailing […] as if it were the dark and tearful side of music […] They are the spirits, the low spirits and melancholy forebodings, of fallen souls that once in human shape night-walked the earth and did the deeds of darkness, now expiating their sins with their wailing hymns or threnodies in the scenery of their transgressions. They give me a new sense of the variety and capacity of that nature which is our common dwelling. Nature has just as much capacity for ‘evil’ as it, or ‘she’, has for ‘good’. Nature is not all goodness and light for Thoreau but also has its dark and evil ‘side’. Yet the owls are unlike 169

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the Stymphalian birds of the Hercules myth in that they are not a monstrous deviation from nature that define and maintain the norm by contrast, but are a part of nature. Nature for Thoreau (1982: 376) is both ‘our common dwelling’, our homely setting of steam rising from kettle and swamp, and ‘this vast, savage, howling mother of ours’ from whose breast ‘we are so early weaned […] to society’. Nature for Thoreau, unlike for his contemporaries and the dominant cultural paradigm, is both homely and unhomely, canny and uncanny. It is both a place of goodness and light perhaps exemplified by the clear ‘eyes’ of the lake and pond, and a place of life and death, light and dark represented by the ‘marrow’ of the swamp. Thoreau’s double vision, arguably postmodern avant la lettre, embraces and entertains both at once without any sense of contradiction between them. The swamp is not a place of melancholy and madness for Thoreau, but a place where melancholy and madness are mediated and alleviated. The screech owls function for Thoreau as a kind of post-Christian ‘scapegoat’ (or more precisely scape-screech owls) that instead of being driven off into the premodern wilderness to bear the sins of ‘men’ away from civilization and the city, are part and parcel of the postmodern wilderness (or in this case more precisely the scape-wetland of the wetlandscape), in which ‘men’ can find the sacred and solace, can find refuge and sanctuary from the rigours and stresses of modern city life: I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and undeveloped nature which men have not recognised. They represent the stark twilight and unsatisfied thoughts which all have. All day the sun has shone on the surface of some savage swamp […] but now a dismal and fitting day dawns, and a different race of creatures awakes to express the meaning of Nature there. (Thoreau 1982: 377) The owls suggest a premodern, matrifocal wetland that has not yet been subject to a patriarchal, developmental and industrial technological imperative, yet which is now subjected to that imperative in the very act of naming it as ‘vast and undeveloped’ with its meanings expressed by owls. The postmodern wetland is worlds away from the melancholic marshes and the slough of despond found in Jameson: ‘there can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature and has his senses still’ (Thoreau 1982: 382). The place par excellence in which to live literally in the midst of Nature, even up to one’s chin, is the swamp. Given the difficulties the swamp poses for travel, especially by modern western means of transportation, it is the perfect place to still the senses and the limbs, and to allow the swamp to write on them, not as a tabula rasa, but as a responsive surface. As for dwellings, Thoreau (1982: 612) enjoins us to ‘bring your sills up to the very edge of the swamp, then (though it may not be the best place for a dry cellar)’. The slimy edge of the swamp for 170

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Thoreau is not the place from which to flee for the bright and sublimed city lights, but the place to live for the bright swamp lights of ignited marsh gases that do not lead to madness, but could even lead to Thoreau’s ultimate goal: ‘unto a life which I call natural I would gladly follow even a will-o’-the-wisp through bogs and sloughs unimaginable, but no man nor firefly has shown me the causeway to it’ (Thoreau 1982: 625). Thoreau seems to be developing a conservation language within the alternative cultural paradigm that would counter the standard Romantic perception that ‘unless Nature sympathises with and speaks to us, as it were, the most fertile and blooming regions are barren and dreary’, in other words, are a modern wasteland (Thoreau 1962: X, 252). The postmodern wetland, by contrast, is where Nature does not necessarily sympathize with us, nor we with it, but speaks to us, as the screech owls do, in the most fertile and blooming regions of the swamp. The swamp may be bare, but certainly not barren: ‘in swamps where there is only here and there an evergreen tree amid the quaking moss and cranberry beds, the bareness does not suggest poverty’ (Thoreau 1962: 195). The bareness does not suggest barrenness but fertility. Swamp water is living. The postmodern wetland may not be beautiful in the conventional sense of possessing appropriate qualities of form, texture, colour, depth of field and point of view. Perhaps that is why it has been regarded in and by the dominant cultural paradigm as barren and dreary. If the wetland had been regarded as beautiful, perhaps its perceived uselessness would not have been held so badly against it. Perhaps if the wetland could now be regarded as beautiful, the fact that it is ‘useless’ as its stands for agriculture or urban development would not matter so much. For Thoreau (1993: 144), ‘whatever we have perceived to be in the slightest degree beautiful is of infinitely more value to us than what we have only as yet discovered to be useful and to serve our purpose’. The trouble with wetlands is that they have been regarded in and by the dominant cultural paradigm as lacking both beauty and utility. This lack has been held against them. The swamp may lack the typical characteristics of beauty, but it does possess gradation that Thoreau saw as one of the fundamental aesthetic and ecological hallmarks of nature: ‘nature loves gradation […] the swamp was variously shaded, or painted even, like a rug, with the sober colours running gradually into each other’ (cited by Richardson 1986: 360). Rather than subjecting wetlands to an aesthetic and utilitarian, even capitalist, imperative, perhaps it would be preferable to see wetlands as fulfilling vital, ecological functions necessary for life on earth to be sustained. Nature not only loves gradation in colour, but also gradation between land and water, life and death, light and darkness –living black waters. Note 1. For a critique of Muir’s later writings about mountains and national parks, especially of his landscape aesthetics and gender politics, see Giblett (2011: ch. 7).

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Chapter 9 ‘Quaking morass’: The marshes of Manitoba, Frederick Philip Grove and Aldo Leopold

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he marshes of Manitoba cover a vast area of the province. They highlight the history of the clash of cultures over what they mean for First Nations and settlers, and over how they are used by both cultures. They are also areas of competing land usages and differing habitats for humans and non-humans. In this chapter I trace and consider some of these different and competing meanings and usages within the dominant and alternative cultural paradigms with their differing positions on wetlands of vilification or valuation. After briefly setting the scene, I begin by focusing on Frederick Phillip Groves’ classic Canadian novel Settlers of the Marsh, set in Manitoba. In the novel, the wetlands of the province plays a part in the human action as bearer of symbolic meanings. Groves acknowledges and describes the drainage of Manitoban marshes but he is ambivalent about it whereas Aldo Leopold is not and critiques it. I go on to discuss Leopold’s classic of American (wetland) conservation A Sand County Almanac, and some aspects of the work of his precursor in Henry David Thoreau not touched upon in the previous chapter, particularly his appreciation for smelling the aromas of swamps and his concept/metaphor of the quaking zone. Leopold recounts a visit to a Manitoban marsh and generally critiques the drainage of Manitoban marshes. Both he and Thoreau appreciated the sensory pleasures of being in marshes and their vital ecological role. Along the way, I consider the wetlands appreciation and education undertaken at Oak Hammock Marsh, a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance, just outside of Winnipeg. I conclude by looking at the current state of, and future prospects for, Manitoban marshes drawing on recent discussions by Allen Casey in Lakeland and Shannon Stunden Bower in Wet Prairie. Rather than regarding Canada as lakeland, Canada and its lake and wetlands, mountains and oceans, forests and prairies should be regarded as homeland. To set the scene for a discussion of the marshes of Manitoba, Niering (1991: 53) describes how: extending across a 300,000 [square]-mile area from northwestern Iowa, western Minnesota, and the Dakotas north into Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, prairie pothole marshes are the breeding grounds for more than half the ducks in North America. Cana(r)da is duckland. The prairie pothole marshes, or ‘wet prairie’ as Bower prefers to call this region, spread across four American states and three Canadian provinces, and cut 175

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across the borders between them so they or it cannot be considered exclusively as either Canadian or American wetlands from a national perspective but as wetlands of North America (as Niering does in the book of this title) from a continental and bioregional perspective. For First Nations Ojibwa people, the Manitoban marshes were their homeland for hunting, gathering and fishing. George Van Der Goes Ladd, a United Church Minister and so a perhaps unlikely proponent of the alternative cultural paradigm, described how the Red River ‘created its own all-encompassing world’ in the delta of Netley Marsh that was ‘a labyrinth of channels, lakes, islands and muskegs – a “wilderness” to white settlers, but a homeland for hunting, fishing and gathering people who travelled by water’ (cited by Bower 2011: 44). For First Nations Ojibwa people, the wetland was its own ‘allencompassing’ world complete and whole to itself. Wetlands were homely. They were part of a bioregional home-habitat. Netley Marsh was and still is comprised of bodies of water and land that formed a labyrinth either to be playfully immersed in or become frighteningly lost in, depending on one’s cultural paradigm and transportational point of view. A watery labyrinth is suited for travel by canoe (or small boat) and not by cart or foot. For white settlers, the wilderness wetlands of Manitoban marshes were ‘dangerous and almost impassable swamps and mud-holes’ (Macdonnell cited by Bower 2011: 23). Wetlands for white settlers operating within the dominant cultural paradigm were not homely; they were not their homeland; they were the antithesis of home. Wetlands were unhomely. Home was elsewhere, the place from which they came. In a word, wetlands were wilderness. Yet despite these differences, both cultures were hunter cultures, though this did not lead to any fellow-feeling or solidarity between the two as the differences between them were too stark in every other respect, including their view of hunting and their technologies for pursuing it. Whereas First Nations hunted in their homeland using hand-crafted weapons that subjectified the hunted in order to sustain themselves and their livelihoods, white settlers hunted in the wilderness, the antithesis of home, in order to subdue the wilderness, to kill ‘game’, to undertake sport or recreation and to acquire trophies using industrial weapons that subjectified the hunter and objectified the hunted. Some of these views of Manitoban marshes are played out in a classic of Canadian literature, Frederick Phillip Grove’s Settlers of the Marsh, set in the marshes of Manitoba. Settlers of the Marsh for Bentley (1992) is not only one of a number of ‘herculean narratives’ (219) in Canadian literature but also ‘among the purest herculean narratives in Canadian literature’ (231) in which presumably the herculean hero, as with his classical counterpart, has to perform a number of labours. For Bentley, the herculean narrative is not only a matter of heroic deeds but also the setting in which those deeds are carried out with the setting distinguished broadly between ‘baseland’ and ‘hinterland’. Bentley (1992: 230) contrasts ‘the Ulyssean narratives of the hinterland’ with ‘the herculean narratives of the baseland’, such as Settlers of the Marsh. Yet Settlers of the Marsh is also a novel of the hinterland, or at least a novel of the liminal space between the baseland and the 176

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hinterland as it is set, in its own words, ‘where scattered homesteads reached out into the wilderness’ and begins its narrative trajectory at the point where one settlement ‘ran out into the wild, sandy land […] forming the margin of the Big Marsh’, which is described later on the same page as ‘a sheer waste of heath-like country’ (Grove 1925/1989: 1–2). The novel is set within a number of crucial locales in the liminal space between baseland and hinterland, such as the slough, the bush, the forest and the swamp. ‘The slough’ is ‘vast, low’ (18) as well as ‘wide, open and level’ (111) whereas ‘the bush’ is ‘dark, green, gloomy’ and ‘reared all about’ (112). ‘The slough opens up: a wide expanse’ whereas the forest is ‘black, mysterious, threatening’ (115) and ‘the bush’ is ‘blackening as the sun is obscured’ (116). The blackening sun is what Gerard de Nerval called ‘the black sun of melancholy’ (cited by Kristeva 1989: 140) in keeping with the dominant cultural paradigm’s view and its pschogeopathology. ‘The bush hides, shelters, protects’ whereas the slough is a ‘wide, open, level space’ (Grove 1925/1989: 278). Slough is the Manitoban shorthand term for prairie pothole marshes and is pronounced ‘slew’ by Canadians. Elsewhere in Canada, such as in British Columbia, a slough is an open body of water in a marsh providing ingress and egress through it by waterborne vessel (as we saw in a previous chapter). When I walked by Ewen Slough in the Fraser River delta in July 2011 with Andrea Tanaka of Environment Canada, she pronounced ‘slough’ as ‘slew’. I queried her pronunciation as Australians (and standard English speakers) pronounce ‘slough’ to rhyme with cow. She told me that she had been in California recently and a woman there corrected her pronunciation to ‘sloth’. The Canadian pronunciation of ‘slough’ as ‘slew’ relates slough to slew, as indeed they are related etymologically. Slew is listed under slough in the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and is defined as ‘a body of stagnant water’. In other words, slews and sloughs are wetlands. Nabokov used ‘slew’ in his novel Ada to figure the genitalia of his eponymous central female character on the occasion when ‘Van grasped her hot little slew from behind’. Sloughs and slews are fertile and pleasurable bodies, whether of water or women. An immersion in wetlands English would appreciate these nuances, just as John Stilgoe’s (2004) delightful Shallow Water Dictionary does for what he calls ‘a grounding in estuary English’ as his subtitle indicates. In Grove’s Settlers of the Marsh, the slough and the bush are not only symbolic landscapes and settings in the novel in their own right but are also associated with its two central female characters, the open slough with the good woman Ellen and the black bush and the black sun with the femme fatale Clara, ‘the first and most notable of these women’ in a series of them in Grove’s novels according to McMullen (1974: 68). Ellen loves to look out across the wide-open space of the slough whereas Clara is the object of Niels’, the hero’s, gaze as her ‘round, laughing, coal black eyes attracted attention’ (Grove 1925/1989: 21). If Settlers of the Marsh is a Herculean narrative, as Bentley argues, then Clara plays the role of the Stymphalian birds that the heroic Hercules kills as one of his labours. The Stymphalian Birds of Greek mythology, according to Robert Graves, are ‘the countless brazen-beaked, brazen-clawed, brazen-winged, man-eating birds, sacred to Ares [… 177

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that] flocked to the Stymphalian Marsh’ (Graves 1955: 119). Clara is characterized in Settler of the Marsh as a ‘man-eater’ in not so few words and every settler in the area is a settler of the marsh (rather than a settler in the marsh) who takes possession of it rather than living in it. After Niels succumbs to her charms and is temporarily consumed by her, he murders her and manages to escape her clutches in at least these four clichéd scenarios of the femme fatale story. The Stymphalian birds were Sirens and women according to some accounts (Graves 1955: 120). Sirens in the Ulyssean (Odyssean) narrative sing men to their deaths and Odysseus (Ulysses) has his men stuff his ears with wax so he won’t hear them and lash him to the mast so if he does hear them he still can’t be seduced by their siren song. In Grove’s mixed Ulyssean/Herculean narrative, Niels, like Odysseus, is not sung to his death and, like Hercules with the Stymphalian birds, kills the siren. The Stymphalian birds also represent the antithesis of, or perhaps more precisely an offence (in at least two senses) against, agriculture. The Stymphalian birds occasionally took to the air in ‘great flocks to kill men and beasts by discharging a shower of brazen feathers and at the same time muting a poisonous excrement which blighted the crops’ (Graves 1955: 119). Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary defines ‘to mute’ as ‘to dung as birds’. Clara is not only characterized as a man-eating femme fatale but also as poisonous for agricultural life as she is both temptress and poisonous for men such as Niels, as well as being characterized as unsettled and nomadic among the settlers of the marsh. Despite performing the herculean labour of killing the Stymphalian woman and eradicating the poison, Niels is not the modern herculean hero who kills the marsh, the habitat of the Stymphalian birds and woman, by draining it. After Niels serves time in prison for murdering Clara, he returns to his homeland in the marsh to find that the lowlands were ‘flanked by ditches which were drained by huge master-ditches running cross-wise and carrying water to the Lake’ and that ‘where once there had been nothing but swamp, lay two prosperous farmsteads close together’ (Grove 1925/1989: 251). Niels implicitly denigrates the swamp and approbates the drained and prosperous farmsteads both in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm, but he is reconciled to Ellen when they revisit her beloved slough at the end of the novel. Despite the importance of the slough for Ellen, Niels perhaps never sees it with her eyes and he retains at the end of the novel the view that he had near the beginning of it where swamp and slough were not only undifferentiated, but also slough can become swamp. Near the beginning of the novel, Niels and his companion ‘emerged from the bush on to a vast, open slough which […] must be a swamp in summer’. Yet swamps by definition are closed, wooded wetlands whereas this slough is a mile wide and Niels can see across it to ‘the rising margin of the enveloping bush’ (18). Perhaps swamp refers here to being swamped when the frozen water of the slough melts and inundates the area. This is a pejorative conjunction of land and water where too much water is in the wrong place at the wrong time whereas the slough in winter for Niels, on the one hand, is frozen and hence traversable and for Ellen, on the other, is viewable for a static viewer from its edge. 178

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In Grove’s mixed Ulyssean/Herculean narrative, Niels, like Odysseus, has to descend into the underworld, a conventional scenario in the epic and an obligatory test for the epic hero wherein he encounters and deals with monsters and then emerges triumphant after his manhood has been tested and vindicated. Whereas Niels descends into the underworld of the bush and the haunts of the monstrous femme fatale, and kills her, Odysseus in The Odyssey (book XI, lines 12–19) escapes the clutches of the monstrous Cyclopes and Sirens, and descends into Hades, the land of the dead:

at […] the limit […] of the deep-running Ocean There lie the community and city of Kimmerian people, hidden in fog and cloud, nor does Helios, the radiant sun, ever break through the dark to illuminate them with his shining, neither when he climbs up into the starry heaven nor when he wheels to return again from heaven to earth, but always a glum night is spread over wretched mortals. (Homer 1965: 168)

The darkening sun of the underworld in the Odyssey is similar to the blackening sun of melancholy in Settlers of the Marsh. Melancholy has been associated with the marsh or swamp, though for Grove the black sun is associated with the bush. In Australia, the bush has also been associated with the melancholy, especially by such writers as Marcus Clarke and Henry Lawson (see Giblett 2011: ch. 6). Similarly for Bachelard (1983: 101), the marsh or swamp in the herculean myth becomes what he calls: ‘stymphalized’. It becomes the black swamp where live monstrous birds, the Stymphalides, ‘nurslings of Ares, which shoot their feathers like arrows, which ravage and soil the fruits of the earth, which feed on human flesh’. This stymphalization […] corresponds to a particular feature of melancholy imagination. Certainly Grove could be said to have a melancholy imagination, but he associates the black sun with the bush, not with the marsh or swamp or slough. Unlike Bunyan, who has Christian floundering in ‘the Slough of Despond’ in Pilgrim’s Progress midway on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City as a kind of Christianized epic descent into the underworld, into hell as swamp, Grove has Niels finding redemption for killing the femme fatale in Ellen’s slough of salvation on his journey from the underworld of the Stymphalian woman associated with the city of destruction to the good, celestial woman associated with the country slough. In this regard, Grove’s novel differs from the typical adventure-romance with the swamp as hell, such as in C. S. Forester’s African Queen (see Giblett 1996: 138–145). 179

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Rather than psychoanalysing the psychopathology of the author, a psychoanalytic ecology would put the text on the couch and begin a talking cure of the psychogeopathological symptoms of its landscape representations and settings by bringing its repressed to consciousness. Critics of Settlers of the Marsh have tended, though, to focus on matters of gender, genre and style and to neglect its landscapes that tend in such accounts to provide the setting and backdrop for human actions, rather than being agents in their own right as they were for Grove. For New (1989: 158), for instance, Settlers of the Marsh is ‘written on the grand scale, in a style that some contemporary readers find epic and others turgid’. Leaving aside the vexed question of style, the novel not only is a mishmash of intertexts, including Greek myth and epic, but also follows some of the generic conventions of both, and employs exemplars of scenes and figures from both (probably unwittingly). In her afterword to Settlers of the Marsh, Gunnars (1989: 283) notes it is ‘a Canadian Prairie novel’, or more precisely and in more recent terms, it is a Canadian wet prairie novel as it is set in what Bower (2011: 171) calls the ‘wet prairie’ of Manitoba. Gunnars’ stating of the obvious – that ‘the setting is the Prairie’ – seems to be designed to explain everything as if the prairie were a homogeneous place, but explains nothing as she does not go on to unpack the prairie as a heterogeneous set of places, as it was for Grove comprised of farm, forest, bush and slough. It also does not follow in the muddy footprints of other canonic Canadian classics by subscribing to the miasmatic theory of disease. Although, as Bower (2011: 50) puts it, ‘swamps [including wet prairie] were thought to be the origin of the unhealthy vapours blamed’ for malaria, Settlers of the Marsh does not regard the marsh as unhealthy. Rather, it regards the slough as healthy. Settlers of the Marsh ends with Grove noting and describing the transition of marshland to farmland in Manitoba, a common transformation across Canada beginning with the Acadians. Aldo Leopold, the eminent twentieth-century American conservationist, ‘the father of wildlife conservation in America’ and the author of A Sand County Almanac (the conservationist’s ‘bible’), was much more critical than Grove about the transition from marshland to farmland in Manitoba. Leopold (1949: 162) in one of his ‘Sketches Here and There’ in A Sand County Almanac devoted to ‘Manitoba’ traced the process of how ‘blue lake becomes green bog, green body becomes caked mud, caked mud becomes a wheatfield’. He critiques the fact that ‘progress cannot abide that farmland and marshland, wild and tame, exist in mutual toleration and harmony’. And so, in turn, wheatfield becomes a suburb, a shopping mall, a parking lot, a hypermodern, capitalist wasteland of sterile concrete and scorching bitumen. For Leopold, ‘man cannot live by marsh alone, therefore he must needs live marshless’. ‘Man’ cannot live by marsh alone, but then ‘he’ cannot live by bread alone either, nor can ‘he’ live without marsh and bread therefore ‘he’ must live with farm and marsh; he cannot live marshless or farmless, therefore ‘he’ must live marshful and farmful in mutual toleration. Leopold is also much more critical than Grove of draining and what he calls ‘gridironing’, such as when he describes how ‘the marsh was gridironed with drainage canals’ (100). Gridironing is a very apt metaphor for the straight canals, ditches and drains that are 180

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the devices of empire within the dominant cultural paradigm that colonize nature. It is also an apt description for the way in which the marsh became a kind of ‘level playing field’ for the farmer and the killing fields of the crane. Leopold’s essay ‘Marshland Elegy’, the first in A Sand County Almanac, celebrates the life and commemorates the death of sandhill cranes. For Leopold (97), marshes may be melancholy places because ‘the sadness discernible in some marshes arises, perhaps, from their once having harboured cranes’. Leopold relates how ‘for them, the song of the power shovel came near being an elegy. The high priests of progress knew nothing of cranes, and cared less. What is a species more or less among engineers? What good is an undrained marsh anyhow?’ (100) This slogan could well be the motto of imperialist drainage, the ‘highest’ drainage of capitalism to modify Lenin, scrawled on the side of monstrous power shovels or dredgers like a slogan on a war machine in the kind of war fascists loved to fight, and win perhaps because it was so easy to win. Leopold (1949: 101) was equally scathing of what he called ‘alphabetical conservationists’ when it comes to marshes, as he was of the drivers and backers of monstrous mechanical dredgers and shovels: [A] roadless marsh is seemingly as worthless to the alphabetical conservationist as an undrained one was to the empire builders. Solitude, the one natural resource still unendowed of alphabets, is so far unrecognised as valuable only by ornithologists and cranes. An alphabetical conservationist, or ‘twitcher’, is one who ticks off his or her sighting of a sandhill crane or spoonbill in his or her field guide then moves on to find the next species, oblivious to the crane’s or grebe’s wetland habitat, not being able to see the wood for the trees. Such was precisely the case when Leopold visited Clandeboye Marsh in Manitoba in 1941. Clandeboye Marsh, ‘northwest of Winnipeg, on the southern edge of Lake Manitoba, is part of the Delta Marsh, at 15,000 ha the largest freshwater marsh in the Canadian prairies’ (Wynne 2011: xii). Manitoba indeed has wet prairie. Delta Marsh is what could be called a mega-marsh, vast in extent, in order to distinguish it from the much smaller and more discreet prairie pothole marshes. Delta Marsh is also a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance. Leopold (1949: 158) begins his sketch of Clandeboye Marsh by bemoaning the fact that most of us have gone blind to […] the quality of marshes. I am reminded of this when, as a special favor, I take a visitor to Clandeboye, only to find that, to him, it is merely lonelier to look upon, and stickier to navigate, than other boggy places. Leopold’s visitor takes the anthropocentric point of view of the modern navigator who wants to get through the marsh and who regards the marsh as unnavigable as Vancouver did or as an impediment to their progress, whereas Leopold takes a bird’s eye point of view 181

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‘for any pelican, duckhawk, godwit or western grebe is aware that Clandeboye is a marsh apart’ because they prefer this marsh to other marshes and because they resent human intrusion as ‘some kind of cosmic impropriety’ (158). Leopold takes the biocentric view of the conservationist that sees humans as part and parcel of the cosmos, as fellow citizens in the community of all beings, not the pinnacle of the cosmos, nor the culmination of creation, nor the conqueror of crude nature, nor the lord and sovereign ruling over the land and other beings. In this regard he was following in the footsteps of John Muir who developed a biocentric view (without naming it as such) in reflecting on his encounter with an alligator in a Florida swamp on his thousand-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico (as we saw in the previous chapter). The modern, anthropocentric point of view applies not only to the visitor’s estimation of the marsh but also to the way one of Leopold’s guests regarded the birds as he ‘dismissed the grebe by checking off his name in the bird list, and putting down a syllabic paraphrase of the tinkling bell: “crick-crack”, or some such inanity’ (160). The visitor is ‘a twitcher’ who abstracts the bird from its habitat and collects sightings in the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ of his bird list. He cannot see the marsh because he is too busy looking at the birds, ticking them off in his bird list and transcribing their call. He cannot see the marsh for the birds. I encountered a few of these ‘birdos’, as we call them in Australia, when I visited Oak Hammock Marsh, another mega-marsh and Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance, north of Winnipeg, and went on a guided tour of the marshes. Leopold not only takes the bird’s point of view but also takes the muskrat’s point of view when he wished he were a muskrat ‘eye-deep in the marsh’ (19). For Leopold, the only way to see the marsh is at its own level, not from above surveying it standing up, nor commanding it from the heights above it, nor viewing it from the air or on the map mastering it imperially from above. Leopold even fulfilled his wish when ‘one day I buried myself, prone in the muck of a muckrat house. While my clothes absorbed local colour, my eyes absorbed the lore of the marsh’ (160). And presumably his nose and ears absorbed its smells and sounds too (though there are no references to either) as he was absorbed into the marsh. Leopold is a guest of the muskrat in its house. Leopold’s visitor is not at home in the marsh whereas the birds and Leopold are. This sort of bodily immersion and sensory appreciation is missing from a visit to Oak Hammock Marsh with its boardwalks, hides, scopes and walking tours that privilege the sense of sight in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm, visual observation and the marsh as bird habitat and as a place apart from modern urban living, rather than providing a much more holistic and immersive experience of the marsh itself as a place within, and vital for, modern human consciousness and life. A visit by boat into the labyrinthine waterways of Netley Marsh with a knowledgeable guide, as I was fortunate to have in Richard Gosselink, who can relate the human and natural history of the allencompassing world and homeland it was for First Nations is a much more Leopoldian thing to do. All people currently living in Manitoba should regard Manitoban marshes as their homeland that sustains their lives and livelihoods. 182

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The quality that Leopold valued most highly in marshes was one that required a kind of willing blindness or at least a suspension of the sense of sight, and not of other senses, particularly of hearing that could be heightened in going to the marsh, especially if one went ‘too early’: ‘to arrive too early in the marsh is an adventure in pure listening; the ear roams at will among the noises of the night, without let or hindrance from hand or eye’ (61). The sense of hearing implies immediacy with the living animal by hearing it unlike the mastery of hand or eye over its object. Yet the sense of smell is more immediate and intimate than the senses of sight and hearing. Leopold’s does not follow in this regard in the muddy footsteps of his precursor in sensing the swamp in Henry David Thoreau, whose 14-volume Journal Leopold and his wife were given as a wedding present by his mother, as Thoreau certainly appreciated the aromas and fragrances of the marsh and swamp. In the first volume of his Journal, Thoreau (1962 I: 141) could ‘fancy that it would be a luxury to stand up to one’s chin in some retired swamp a whole summer, scenting the wild honeysuckle and bilberry blows, and lulled by the minstrelsy of gnats and mosquitoes!’ Such music is the counterpoint to modernity: ‘in all swamps the hum of mosquitoes drowns this modern hum of society’ (I: 83). In more contemporary terms, the black noise of the creatures of the black waters of wetlands drowns out the white noise of thermodynamic and electrical industrial capitalist technology in the channels of communication. Standing up to one’s chin in a swamp was also a good place to smell the fragrance of the swamp, ‘a strong and wholesome fragrance’ of the vegetation ‘by overgrown paths through the swamp’ (IV: 478). In the same volume he even said ‘I love the smell of the swamp, its decaying vegetation’ (IV: 305). Thoreau valued the sense of smell over the sense of sight to the point that ‘methinks the scent is a more primitive inquisition than the eye, more oracular and trustworthy […] The scent reveals, of course, what is concealed from the other senses. By it I detect earthiness’ (IV: 40). Indeed, for Thoreau ‘that peculiar fragrance from the marsh at the Hubbard Causeway’ was ‘the fragrance, as it were, of the earth itself ’ (VI: 288). Rather than maligning malaria, Thoreau was a connoisseur of the malodorous marsh long before Freud associated the sense of smell with swamps and the uncanny in his groundbreaking essay on the uncanny (Freud 2003: 151). Thoreau also appreciated some of the other qualities of wetlands, such as the fact that they are neither solid land nor liquid water but occupy the quaking zone between them. Similarly for his near contemporary Warren Upham (cited by Bower 2011: 121), a geologist with the US Geological Survey, Big Grass Marsh in Manitoba was a ‘quaking morass’ couched in probably more pejorative terms than Thoreau’s. For Thoreau, the concept/metaphor of the quaking zone refers to both a particular landform, such as a wetland as a place where the earth trembles, and a psychogeosomatic state, or affect, where mind, body and earth meet and tremble in fear or flight, in horror or terror, in anticipation or fascination, in dread or hope, or a mixture of both. The quaking zone in general is a place and space of both fear and hope. Quaking zones are landscapes that are 183

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cultural or natural to greater or lesser degree, or somewhere in between the two; they are in-between nature and culture. The ‘quaking zone’ is a useful way of thinking about the relationship and interactions between humans, the human-made landscape and the earth, both land and planet, considered as an entity that preceded humans and that continues despite our impacts on it. The ‘quaking zone’ is also a useful way for thinking about the difference between modern landscapes made with human hands using industrial technologies, and premodern landscapes made by ancestral beings using divine technologies, or with human hands using pre-industrial technologies. Neither the former nor the latter quaking zone is natural, and both are artificial in this sense of being non-natural. Modern, industrial, even post-industrial quaking zones are flooded, fire-ravaged, or polluted cities, towns, or suburbs, watery wastelands, barren moonscapes, industrial ruins, toxic dumps, irradiated test-sites, muddy trenches, rust belts and urban slums. They are feral quaking zones in which the natural elements of earth, air, fire and water have not only been displaced from their proper places and disrupted from their creative mixtures, but have also been mixed destructively, run amok with, caused havoc and made wastelands. They are the end-product of the dominant cultural paradigm. In the contemporary Canadian context, the corporate development of the ‘oil sands’ or ‘tar sands’ in northern Alberta has led to the creation of massive tailings ponds filled with toxic waste-water. These ponds, which should more precisely be called toxic lakes, are a feral quaking zone (see Nikiforuk 2010). Pre-industrial, and pre- and postmodern, quaking zones are dismal swamps, melancholic marshes, miry bogs, despondent sloughs and other exquisite wetlands. They are native quaking zones in which the elements of earth, air, fire and water are mixed creatively and are at home in their own place. They are the creation of the alternative cultural paradigm. Spatially and figuratively, the feral quaking zone is the monumental brought low whereas the native quaking zone is the monstrous down below. Although Thoreau did not draw a distinction between native and feral quaking zones, he did compare and contrast the visceral and emotional qualities of being in a swamp and being in a city. Native quaking zones are more naturally places of hope than are feral quaking zones. Native quaking zones are also less plainly places of fear than are feral quaking zones. Native quaking zones are, in addition, more markedly places of death and new life than are feral quaking zones. Feral quaking zones are by no means hopeless and lifeless, but they are not as hopeful and full of life as native quaking zones. ‘Native’ and ‘feral’ are often associated with flora and fauna respectively. They are employed here in association with the places and spaces of quaking zones for a number of reasons. They are usually coupled and contrasted with ‘exotic’ and ‘wild’, both of which have some resonances and problems in relation to places. In the case of flora, exotic plants are weeds defined as plants out of their native place, or home (for example, arum lilies in Australia), in contrast to native flora in its own home place. Exotic places are sites of fascination, not horror, and even tourist attractions and destinations, whereas native places can be places of fascination and horror. Exotic places are not native places 184

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for viewers of visual representations of them, nor for visitors to them. In the case of fauna, wild animals are native to their place and are neither domesticated nor tamed. Wild places, though, are or were often home to indigenous people native to that place. Wilderness has struggled with racism for a long time, with indigenous people being either equated with wild animals or plants, or ignored altogether. Feral animals are like weeds in that they are out of their native place or home. They are not native to that place. They have gone ‘wild’ often without having been native to that place in the first instance and having been introduced (for example, foxes and rabbits in Australia). Similarly, feral quaking zones are not native to their place. They are ‘manmade’, human-made, or artificial reconstructions of places. Native quaking zones preserve the creative value of being native to a place, whereas feral quaking zones highlight the destructive power of a place going feral. Although the experience of fear and trembling associated with both types of quaking zones may be emotionally and physically similar, the experience of being in either is qualitatively and sensually different in their engagement with all five senses and with the human body and mind more generally. During the history of modernity, fear has been exacerbated in its pervasiveness and modified in its agency in and by the modern urban environment. The bodily and emotional experience of fear therein has become more encompassing, more life-threatening, more prolonged, more frequent, and has impacted more on all five human senses and the human body more generally (see Giblett 2009). The modern industrial quaking zone is not just a spatial place, but also a temporal period, a period of history and an experience of chronological time, of the past, present and future. The premodern, pre-industrial quaking is also a period of pre- and post-history and an experience of cyclical time and of hopeful ‘now-time’. The quaking zone is a way of thinking this history and the difference between the premodern and the modern, the native and the feral. The quaking zone, modern or premodern, feral or native, is a mediating category and site between the solid and the liquid, and between fire and air. It represents a temporal and spatial transition between dry land and open water, and between dry air and hot fire. Principally, the native quaking zone is the swamp or other wetland. It is also the soft and pliable centre of the human body as Thoreau suggested. It applies to both the human body and the body of the earth. The quaking zone is the swampy mid- (and lower-) section of the body and of the earth. In 1856, Thoreau (1962 IX: 38 and 42) wrote in his journal about ‘the soft open sphagnous centre of the swamp’. He summed up this centre of the swamp as ‘quaking bog’. In the following year he wrote in his journal (and in a previous chapter I cited this passage in the discussion of Thoreau’s appreciation for swamps, but it is worth repeating in the context of this discussion of the quaking zone as it epitomizes his embodied view of wetlands): [T]hat central meadow and pool in Gowing’s Swamp is its very navel, omphalos, where the umbilical cord was cut that bound it to creation’s womb. Methinks every swamp 185

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tends to have or suggests such an interior tender spot. The sphagnous crust that surrounds the pool is pliant and quaking, like the skin or muscles of the abdomen; you seem to be slumping into the very bowels of the swamp. (Thoreau 1962 IX: 394; see his hand-drawn maps of this swamp VI: 467 and XIII: 125 with its heavily shaded, dark centre) The native quaking zone is a bodily and earthly zone, the womb of the Great Mother earth or, in Mikhail Bakhtin’s terms, the grotesque lower bodily stratum and, by figurative extension, the grotesque lower earthly stratum. Perhaps it is no surprise that Gowing’s Swamp is within a mile (about a kilometre) of Thoreau’s birthplace (see map of Concord, Mass., and Index, Thoreau 1962 XIV). Of the hundreds of places and sites he wrote about, it is the closest to his birthplace, just as the swamp itself is closest to his heart (as we saw in the previous chapter). The native quaking zone can be a place of horror, whereas the feral quaking zone is a place of terror. Horror and terror, the two ruling passions of modernity, preside over them. The swamp is a native quaking zone of horror as Thoreau (1962 VI: 467) also suggested earlier in his journal when he examined the middle of a swamp and found an open pool of water nearly full of sphagnum and other plants, but he could not see them ‘on account of the danger of standing on the quaking ground […] [and] of quaking sphagnum in which I sink eighteen inches in water […] where I fear to break through’. The quaking zone is a dangerous place that elicits fear and trembling because it not only mixes land and water creating mud and slime, but also because it threatens to engulf the whole body fully in its slimy depths and mark the surface of the body with mud. Both of these aspects Thoreau (1962 VI: 479) found later, ‘picking our way over quaking meadows and swamps and occasionally slipping into the muddy batter midleg deep’. The native quaking zone does not give a secure and stable place for standing upright, having a fixed point of view and observing the scene before one – preferably a pleasing prospect stretching before one. Outside this zone, however, the view from the edge is another matter. Thoreau (1962 XIV: 301–302) writes in the final volume of his journal of ‘the open swamp […] where the surface quakes for a rod around […] There is no wilder and richer sight than is afforded from such a point of view of the edge of a […] swamp’. The native quaking zone affords visual pleasure from a distance, but provokes tactile horror up close and personal. The quaking zone is a way of thinking about human beings, our bodies and minds, and the earth as connected through the possession of a common, contiguous and continuous area. Rather than seeing a continent such as North America as the congregation of three contiguous countries (nation-states), or as an assemblage of mountains, forests, prairies, deserts, lakes, rivers and wetlands, the quaking zone is a way of thinking these physical features as bones and organs of a body and the earth as body. The St Lawrence and the Mississippi rivers for Doucet (1999: 34) are ‘the two great arteries of the continent. They 186

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drain and nourish vast areas’. Perhaps more precisely, they are the veins that drain and the arteries that nourish vast areas of the body of the continent with water as the lifeblood of the body of the earth. That draining and nourishing take place in wetlands that act as the kidneys and as the placenta of the maternal body of the earth. It is commonplace for geographers to think of rivers as arteries and to ignore wetlands as kidneys (as we saw in Chapter 6 with the Fraser River in British Columbia). It is commonplace for wetland scientists to think of wetlands as the kidneys of the earth; it is not a commonplace to think of kidneys as the wetlands of the body, nor is it a commonplace to think of both together, of the earth as body and the body as earth as premodern western culture did and as indigenous and traditional cultures do. The quaking zone is both a landscape and a timescape, just as the wetland is a moment and site, a process and place, a point where time and space intersect. The marshes of Manitoba are no exception. For Bower (2011: 25), ‘the wet prairie landscape was characterised not only by spatial variability (the wet-dry pattern […]) but also by temporal variability (change in the pattern over time)’. Due to their spatial and temporal variability, wetlands pose a challenge for surveyors and for mapping because of their dynamic and ever-changing patterns and extent of water. Wetlands for Bower (2011: 51, 54 and 55) ‘varied through time’ and so ‘wetlands were hard to demarcate’. As ‘places inconvenient for surveyors to measure and evaluate’, they ‘were often left outside the grid’ as they presented ‘persistent problems with mapping the wet prairie’. Mapping of wetlands poses a problem because of their seasonal fluctuations in depth, and hence in surface area (as we have seen in previous chapters). The map renders the heights, depths and extension of the land as a virtual two-dimensional surface of length and breadth repressing what is below. Despite, or perhaps because of, the difficulties with surveying and mapping wet prairie, surveyors laid a grid of drainage districts at one scale on one set of maps and, wherever they could, individual lots at another scale on another set of maps over what Bower (2011: 24; see also 29; fig. 4, 34; 38) describes as ‘the irregular and dynamic landscape of Manitoba’s low areas’. Manitoba is, or was, a wetland, that was then surveyed, mapped, gridironed (to re-use Aldo Leopold’s word), drained and made into farmland. But the drained water has to go somewhere and it goes into Lake Winnipeg, which is what Casey (2009: 66) calls ‘a storm sewer for nearly a million square kilometres of Canada and the United States’. This ‘catchment area’ is a fine example of the porous border between the two countries. Much of the Manitoban ‘wet prairie’ is used as a kind of environmental ‘rest room’ in which to dump wastes and excrete undigested nutrients, which then make their way via drainage ditches (or open sewerage lines) into the sump and cesspit of Lake Winnipeg. No wonder it is eutrophic. Casey (2009: 66, 60) goes on to describes how the catchment area of Lake Winnipeg in Canada and the US is ‘one of the most intensely farmed regions in the world’ because of its fertile, well-watered soil. As a result, Lake Winnipeg is ‘the most eutrophic of the world’s major lakes’ whose algal blooms are now ‘so big they were being picked up by satellite 187

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imaging’. These algal blooms can be added to the dubious list of large-scale hypermodern artificial objects that can be seen by satellites from extraterrestrial orbital space (though nowadays even small-scale objects, such as one’s Muskoka or Adirondack chairs, can also be seen from space thanks to Google). These large-scale objects include such sites as ‘Fresh Kills Land Fill’ on Staten Island where millions of tons of debris are dumped from the feral quaking zone of the World Trade Center ruined on 9/11. The fact that both large and small-scale objects can be seen from space indicates that the bounds of our earthly home, the ecosphere, have been extended into extraterrestrial orbital space, not only by operating satellites there vital for earthly communication but also by recording the images of artificial objects on the surface of the earth and transmitting them back to earth. The colonization and enclosure of orbital extraterrestrial space involves not only putting communication satellites into orbit out there, but also communicating images of the earth back into our ambit in here. The electromagnetosphere of the earth and the heavens is permeated as the medium for the communication of images of the earth. Empire in the form of the US colonized extraterrestrial space with communication satellites and colonized terrestrial spaces with images of the earth recorded and transmitted by those communication satellites. Land and water do not dispute empire much at one level in Manitoba as empire in the form of the United States dumps and sheds its excess nutrientladen water in Canada, and Canada does the same too. Images of the algal blooms that result are recorded and transmitted by empire’s god-like eye in the heavens back to land. Land, water and space do not dispute empire, but are its happy hunting ground, including for its hunters. Lake Winnipeg is at the bottom of a catchment and drainage area. Rather than thinking of this sort of area as a ‘storm sewer’, the American concept of a bioregion is useful for thinking of a ‘catchment area’ and ‘drainage area’ as a living place, as home habitat. A bioregion is one’s geomorphological and biological region, the watershed, the valley, the plain, the wetland, the aquifer, etc. where or on which one lives and works, and which sustains one’s life, one’s livelihood, the lives of indigenes before one and still does so now in places (not to forget the resource regions exploited elsewhere) and the life of other species of fauna as well as flora, and on which one impacts environmentally. In a couple of places John McPhee (1976: 285; 1981: 15) of The New Yorker magazine and creative non-fiction fame tells an instructive story about the state of Georgia and the United States that is also applicable to the bioregion of Lake Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba and to the nation of Canada. He tells of: a journey that tends to mock the idea of a nation, of a political state, as an unnatural subdivision of the globe, as a metaphor of the human ego, sketched on paper and framed in straight lines and in riparian boundaries between unalterable coasts. The United States: really a quartering of a continent, a drawer in North America. Georgia [or Manitoba]. A state? [Or a province?] Really a core sample of a continent, a plug 188

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in the melon, a piece of North America […] a terrain crisscrossed with geological boundaries, mammalian boundaries, amphibian boundaries. A journey through Canadian wetlands, especially fairly much hugging the southern border and the 49th parallel as I took, mocks the idea of a nation, of a political state, as an unnatural subdivision of the globe, as a metaphor of the human ego, a porous border, a permeable membrane, sketched on paper and framed in straight lines through lacustrine boundaries and aqua-terrestrial non-boundaries. Canada: really a halving of a continent, a severed upper body of North America, a portion of aqua-terra crisscrossed by waterflows with geological boundaries, mammalian boundaries, amphibian boundaries shared with its lower bodily stratum of ‘empire’ and supported on Mexican/central American and Caribbean legs. Canadian wetlands and Canada cannot be considered any more in isolation from other wetlands and nations in North America than can the upper body from the lower body in anatomy and physiology. It is the same with the body of the earth. In less poetic and political and more concrete and specific terms than McPhee, Casey (2009: 66) describes how the catchment area of Lake Winnipeg: runs from the Continental Great Divide to the Great Lakes Watershed […] It drains parts of four [Canadian] provinces and three US states [and is] home to 6.6 million people and 20 million livestock. Hugging the edge of the barely sloping prairie […] the surface-to-catchment ratio of 40:1 is the largest of any lake in the world. The bioregion of Lake Winnipeg is also home to millions of non-human and undomesticated animals and plants. It mocks the idea of two nations, of two political states, of empire and colony, as unnatural subdivisions of the globe, as metaphors of the human ego, sketched on paper and framed in straight lines between the two nations largely along the 49th parallel. The bioregion of Lake Winnipeg is a home habitat for plants and animals, and people in place in the past, present and future. For First Nations, for white settlers and for some of their descendants, the marshes of Manitoba in the bioregion of Lake Winnipeg were and are sites for hunting. Hunters later gathered together and became formalized in non-government organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, that have played a crucial and vital role in wetlands conservation in North America, including the prairie pothole marshes of Manitoba. Ducks Unlimited is committed to conserving hatcheries for ducks for its hunter members, though nowadays 80% of the membership are not hunters and arguably it is the leading non-government wetland conservation organization in North America. Rather than a hunters’ organization, for Bower (2011: 17), ‘American waterfowl activists founded Ducks Unlimited, a conservation organization that remains in operation internationally, as a means of working toward the restoration of waterfowl habitat in Canada’. Duckland indeed. Later she acknowledges the hunting roots of Ducks Unlimited when she points out that it was: 189

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created to ensure the availability of waterfowl for sportsmen, but its success depended on its attention to the broader environmental conditions (such as the existence of suitable wetland habitat) that favoured waterfowl as well as its ability to convince people that the concerns of its membership were in line with the broader public interest. (Bower 2011: 132) Ducks Unlimited, Bower (2011: 137) concludes, ‘helped to change the perception of wetlands through its publicity efforts by making apparent the role of marshes in the international waterfowl life cycle’. Whether they help to make apparent the role of marshes in the lifecycle of other animals (including humans), and to make apparent the role of the marshes themselves, are other questions. Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has its Canadian headquarters in Manitoba in the bunker-like interpretation and visitors’ centre at Oak Hammock Marsh, a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance, just outside Winnipeg. DUC also has some regional offices in Canada that I visited, such as in Brandon, Manitoba and Amherst, Nova Scotia. DUC certainly does a lot of good work in promoting and sponsoring conservation covenants over wetlands on farms in partnership with such quasigovernment organizations as Manitoba Habitat Heritage Trust. These covenants to protect or rehabilitate wetlands often result in a win-win situation for wetland conservation and financially for farmers as the wetlands purify and provide water and refugia for stock, create habitat for birds that reduce insect numbers, and establish shelter belts and wind breaks of trees that mitigate harsh weather conditions, especially in winter in Manitoba. By treating Canadian wetlands as biodiverse habitats, DUC’s attitude and practices seem to have changed from treating Canadian wetlands as duck hatcheries, or even as duck factories. This was the case with Big Grass Marsh in Manitoba, which went from being regarded as a ‘quaking morass’ by Warren Upham, through being drained in the same era to suffering the indignity of being called ‘Duck Factory No.1’ in the 1930s, to now being a wetland to be conserved as home-habitat for plants and animals (including humans) as part of the big village duckland of Cana(r)da. As a result of the 1880 Drainage Act, Bower (2011: 26–27) relates how nine large wetland complexes were drained, including Big Grass Marsh, through the construction of nearly 200 miles of drains. Big Grass Marsh was: once among the largest wetlands in Manitoba […] By the 1930s, after intensive drainage failed to produce valuable agricultural land, the area was more a moonscape than a marsh […] In the late 1930s, Ducks Unlimited, an international conservation organization with American roots, brought water back to the waste land of Big Grass Marsh to create Duck Factory No.1. (Bower 2011: 111)

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A moonscape is a barren and ruined landscape. Moonscapes are typically how writers have figured barren and ruined earthly landscapes in the aftermath of bombardment inflicted on them by modern industrial war machines. It was almost a cliché during and after the First World War for memoirists and novelists to figure the landscape of trench warfare as a moonscape with its craters, though these were often filled with water to create the feral quaking zone of artificial wetlands in which soldiers often drowned in mud and shit. A marsh made into a moonscape is also typically the end result of the war that modern man has fought against wetlands as exemplified in the Fascist Mussolini’s war against the Pontine Marshes, the kind of war he liked to fight and the only one he won because the enemy was easily defeated with the tools of modern industrial technology. A moonscape is typically the end result of the use of modern industrial technology in the war filiarchal (the rule of the sons) capitalism has fought against the earth (in wartime and peacetime). Rather than marshes becoming moonscapes, if hypermodern Manitobans and other Canadians could appreciate and value their marshes as Thoreau and Leopold did, as vital and life-giving quaking zones for sensory immersion and appreciation, they would not treat them as environmental ‘wash rooms’ or ‘dunny holes’ in which to excrete wastes and undigested nutrients. Rather they would treat them as their home habitat and living waters in their unique wet prairie bioregions. If hypermodern Manitobans and other Canadians could appreciate and value their waters as the lifeblood of the body of the earth and their marshes as kidneys and placenta of the earth-body, they would not overload them with nutrients and treat them as sewers, and they would treat them as vital organs of the body of the earth to care for and protect.

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Chapter 10 ‘Smelling the Old Marsh, I knew I was home’: Harry Thurston’s marshes of Nova Scotia and the future of Canadian wetlands culture

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I

f Canada could be said to have an equivalent or counterpart to Henry Thoreau who loved being immersed in a swamp and writing about the experience, it is the native Nova Scotian and self-confessed nature writer Harry Thurston who loves marshes and writes lovingly about them. His book of nature writing, A Place between the Tides, published in 2004, is arguably the Canadian Walden. Moreover, if Canada could also be said to have an equivalent or counterpart to Aldo Leopold who loved being eye-deep in a marsh and writing about the experience it is also Thurston. A Place between the Tides is arguably the Canadian A Sand County Almanac. I can think of no higher praise to give his work than to place it in this illustrious company and in this genealogy of nature and conservation writing. Besides the obvious differences of time and place of composition and citizenship of their authors, all three books are based on nature-writing journals that all three writers kept recording their observations and multi-sensual experiences of a place and of the processes of place through the seasons with the lives of the plants and animals who inhabit that place with them. All three teach lessons to learn and provide exemplars of ways of living and being with local living places, including wetlands, particularly in geographical and historical, local and global contexts, especially with Thurston, with Canadian wetlands, now and for the future. Thurston’s and Lochhead’s writings should be as well-known in the United States as Thoreau’s and Leopold’s are; Thurston’s and Lochhead’s writings should be as well-known in Canada as Thoreau’s and Leopold’s are in the United States. I began this book by looking at Canada as the land of both lakes and wetlands, and as the country par excellence of lakes and wetlands. I went on to look at recent discussions of Canada and its relationships – physical, cultural, economic, etc. – with its big neighbour of ‘empire’ to the south. The borders between these countries and cultures in the past and present are porous with an inequitable exchange of goods and bads between them, highlighted in the previous chapter with the case of Manitoban wetlands. I then went on in the second chapter to look back deeply into the past with a consideration of the anglophone Canadian literary canon of pioneer settler literature and nature writing in an attempt to deconstruct and decolonize the largely denigratory and derogatory views of wetlands that are presented in some of its major texts. In the following chapter I discussed the geography, history and culture of one of the most iconic wetlands of Canada – the marshlands of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, one of the birthplaces of European culture in Canada. In this final chapter, I return full circle to the marshes of Nova Scotia and move away from an examination of the past positioning of wetlands in Canadian culture 195

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to the present position of, and future prospects for, Canadian wetlands and possible development of a Canadian wetlands culture that appreciates and values wetlands. I do so by focusing on the writings of Harry Thurston in which wetlands figure prominently and from whom his fellow Canadians, as well as Australians, Americans and others can learn a lot about living with wetlands. By and large, his work on wetlands has been underappreciated in Canada, and more broadly in North America, where critical commentary on it and conservation appreciation for it has been scant to say the least. What little there has been has focused on other aspects of his work, or has considered him as merely a maritime poet of the margin between land and sea, rather than as a writer of the marsh as the margin between them. See, for instance, la Rocque (2003), which, according to Campbell (2008: 158), is ‘the only full length article on Thurston’s poetry to date.’ Thurston is the Canadian wetland writer supreme of the country of supine marshy margins between land and water, city and wilderness and of the ‘membrane between the human and the non-human world’, as he put it in an interview with Lisa Szabo-Jones (2011: 88). He is the perfect writer for reconstruing marginality in terms of space and place, country and culture, empire and colony, for deconstructing and decolonizing the metaphor of margins and the wetland, for resisting the dominant cultural paradigm and advancing the alternative, for constructing a new relationship between people and place around wetlands and for concluding this book. Thurston grew up near one marsh in south-west Nova Scotia and now lives near another one in north-west Nova Scotia. He writes appreciatively and extensively about both of them, often linking them together as two important locales and the bookends of his life as boy and man. His first encounter with a marsh was when he was a boy and he went to a marsh close to the family farm near the Chebogue River in southwest Nova Scotia. In the ‘Tidal River’, the first section of his ‘Arcadia: The Marsh Suite’ of poems, Thurston (2000: 62; see also 2004: 3) translates ‘Che-bo-gue’ as ‘Great-stillwater’. This river, Thurston (2004: 3) says, is ‘twice daily swelled with tide, nourishing the great salt marshes bordering it. These were and remain today the largest intact salt marshes in Atlantic Canada’. They have not been dyked, drained, backfilled or ‘infilled’ (to use Thurston’s terms), unlike the vast majority in Atlantic Canada in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm (as we have seen in previous chapters and as Thurston relates elsewhere too as we will see below). Since 1990, Thurston has lived overlooking a marsh near the family home next to the Tidnish River in north-west Nova Scotia close to the provincial border with New Brunswick. Thurston’s two marshes were connected for him aurally rather than visually, the later one with the earlier one, over the span of 30 years by the call of the willett, a large migratory shorebird. On the first morning in his new home by the Tidnish marsh, Thurston (1996: 1) hears ‘a familiar, and deeply affecting, sound’ that to him ‘could be no clearer signal that I was indeed home’ because the sound transported him instantaneously and imaginatively to ‘the marsh environment of my childhood’. Like Thoreau, Thurston has a strong sense of home, not just in his house, but also in the home-habitat of his 196

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local place shared with other living beings. Indeed, Thurston (2004: 6 and 7) calls the salt marsh ‘my home’ and he realizes when he returns to it, albeit located elsewhere in Nova Scotia, that he is returning to ‘my original habitat’. Thurston (2004: 214) later describes how, ‘when we moved to our present home, with its view of the Old Marsh, I was returning to the landscape of my childhood’, even though he was not returning to the marsh of his childhood. At the very end of Between the tides, Thurston (2004: 231) reiterates that ‘in midlife, after a circuitous journey, I had found my way back to the environment of my childhood’, even though again he was not returning to the specific marsh of his childhood. Thurston’s attachment to salt marshes is transportable; his sense of place changes from one place to another, albeit over longish periods; his environment, habitat and landscape are the salt marsh wherever it is. Wherever the salt marsh is, there is his home. Home is where the salt marsh is. The salt marsh is his heart. Against the possible charge that he is nostalgic for the lost innocence of his childhood and its play places, Thurston (2004: 214) counters by insisting that ‘my attachment to the salt marsh is more than nostalgic or cultural. It is visceral and instinctive […] this is my habitat’. Thurston (2004: 228) relates later how he did return to his childhood farm and marsh and how he found the farm and its surrounds changed, but the marsh was ‘as verdant and vital as it had always seemed. Far off, I heard the cry of a willet’. This cry that later transported him from his new home at Old Marsh at Tidnish back to his old home at this marsh, now reaffirms his attachment and commitment to the marsh as his and the willet’s home. The place of his childhood had changed as the brook was dead as it had no fish, ‘but the salt marsh, was for now, still a living place, still home to the birds of my childhood, still a place of wonder’. Thurston’s sense of home includes non-human species; home is shared with others; his sense of place, a sense of wonder. Thoreau had a similar sense to Thurston that ‘home is here’. In his Journal; Thoreau wrote how: Here I am at home. In the bare and bleached crust of the earth I recognize my friend […] the constant endeavour should be to get nearer and nearer here […] A man dwells in his native valley like a corolla in its calyx, like an acorn in its cup. Here, of course, is all that you love, all that you expect, all that you are. Here is your bride elect, as close to you as she can be got. Here is all the best and all the worst you can imagine. (Thoreau 1962 XI: 275) Home is here. It is not there. Life is here; it is not elsewhere. Home here is the bioregion. A bioregion is a geomorphological and biological region, the watershed, the valley, the plain, the wetland, the aquifer, etc. where or on which humans live and work, and which sustains our life and livelihoods. The bioregion is simply home-habitat. Thoreau was a bioregionalist before the term was developed in the 1970s; Thurston is a bioregionalist after the term was developed. Although Thurston does not use the 197

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term ‘bioregion’, for him his current home-habitat is not just his local place but the watershed, including the larger Tantramar Marshes of which the smaller Tidnish Marsh is a part, the two rivers of these names, one flowing south to Chignecto Bay and the other north to Baie Verte, and the tidal action of the Bay of Fundy. Like Thoreau, who kept a nature journal and traced the seasons in a phenology (writing the seasons) of the woods, Thurston (2004: 7) kept ‘a marsh journal’ and compiled ‘a phenology of the salt marsh’ that traced its life through the seasons. Thurston quotes from Thoreau’s work periodically in A Place between the Tides, principally from Walden, though this is one of Thoreau’s least wetland-oriented writings. Thoreau’s more wetland-oriented writings are in his essay ‘Walking’ and in his Journal (as we have seen and has been cited in previous chapters of the present book). Like Thoreau, Thurston (2004: 61) regards himself as a naturalist as he and the subtitle of A Place between the Tides – A Naturalist’s Reflections on the Salt Marsh – indicate. But he is not just any old naturalist or weekend hobbyist or bird twitcher, but the naturalist whom he qualifies as one who ‘puts down roots as I have done’, just as Thoreau did next to Walden Pond and in Concord County, and as I have done next to Forrestdale Lake. I have written about it too in Forrestdale: People and Place and Black Swan Lake: Life of a Wetland as Thoreau and Thurston did, though David James (not me) is the naturalist of Forrestdale (see Giblett 2006). Thurston (2004: 159) later calls himself, or describes how he is regarded locally as, ‘the community naturalist and environmentalist’ (as is David James in Forrestdale). For Thurston (2004: 224), being the community naturalist does not refer to just the human community but also to ‘a larger community’ of ‘my fellow “biotic citizens” – to borrow the beautiful phrase coined by the great twentieth-century conservationist Aldo Leopold’. Rather than addressing ‘my fellow Americans’ as the US President does in his annual ‘State of the Union’ address, Leopold as the inaugural President of the US Wilderness Society addresses ‘my fellow biotic citizens’ in an ongoing ‘State of the Earth’ address to the ‘parliament of all beings’. In A Sand County Almanac, he developed the concept of the larger community. In the ‘Foreword’, Leopold (1949: viii) suggests that ‘when we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect’. In other words, when we begin to use the land as community with love and respect, we develop and practise a land ethic. In his essay on ‘The Land Ethic’ he discusses ‘the community concept’. Leopold’s (1949: 204) ‘land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land […] a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land community to plain member and citizen of it’. Leopold’s land ethic is a biocentric point of view and practice of the conservationist who sees humans as part and parcel of the land and the cosmos (as we saw in the previous chapter). Thurston’s Between the Tides is a kind of Canadian ‘Salt Marsh Almanac’ to place alongside Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac as its American counterpart. In an interview with Lisa Szabo-Jones (2011: 85), Thurston said, ‘what I’m dealing with is the almanac which is the cycle of the seasons’. The first part of Leopold’s book is organized 198

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by the 12 months of the year, as is the whole of Thurston’s. The second part of Leopold’s book is a kind of travelogue, including his account of his visit to the Clandeboye Marsh in Manitoba (as discussed in Chapter 9). Similarly, Thurston occasionally includes autobiographical anecdotes about his travels elsewhere in Canada and what he learnt from them. The last part of Leopold’s book contains his groundbreaking and now classic essays on conservation aesthetics, land ethics and wilderness. Between the Tides has no equivalent to this part but it does reflect, as the subtitle indicates (and as we will see), on the salt marsh as it goes along. This reflection leads to a discussion of some general ecological concepts and conservation issues. In this regard, it is more in the tradition of Thoreau’s Walden than Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, though, unlike Thoreau, Thurston does not discuss the economics of living by Tidnish Marsh other than to divulge that he is a househusband and that his wife Cathy is the main breadwinner. The economics of living in a place is an important and vital facet of any consideration of living in a bioregional home-habitat. The ecological and the economic are not just linked by the common prefix of ‘eco’, or household, but also by the association of goods and services provided in and by a bioregional home-habitat that sustain life and livelihoods, such as that of writers like Thurston who presumably derives his livelihood in part from writing about it. Being a community naturalist who has puts his roots down has its rewards and responsibilities for Thurston as ‘a de facto bird rescuer’. Thurston (2004: 85–86) appreciates ‘the reward for staying in one place and keeping watch. Travel yields diversity; residence, intimacy. Staying in one place, looking and looking while the seasons rotate around you, reveals the patterns inherent in the familiar’. Thurston (2004: 146) even later likens these patterns that accompany ‘the turning of the seasons, especially the appearance and disappearance of certain species’, to ‘the finely tooled workings – the escapement – of a pocket watch’. Yet there is nothing as predictable and mechanical as clockwork in seasonal patterns as this Cartesian view of nature as machine would suggest. Indeed, this analogy contradicts Thurston’s (2004: 61) earlier argument that ‘there are two distinct kind of pleasures that derive from being in one place over time and tracking the rounds of the seasons. The first relates to the expected […] The second relates to the unexpected’. The unexpected is not predictable like clockwork. Thurston derives bodily, including sensory, pleasure from being a naturalist in performing the principles and practices of Leopold’s land ethic  – Thurston (2004: 84) relates how he adopted ‘a proper conservation ethic’ – and appreciation for the sight and sounds (and smells?) of land, living beings and natural processes that Leopold called a conservation aesthetic. For Leopold, land ethics and conservation aesthetics went hand in hand, and one was not viable without the other. Without conservation aesthetics, a land ethic is a painful set of dicta and rules leading to an ascetic religion of denial and loss; with conservation aesthetics, a conservation ethic is a pleasurable practice of being in place and enjoying an appreciation for the sight, sounds, smell, taste and touch of land, living beings and natural processes in the cycle of the seasons. 199

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Thurston is not what Leopold also called an alphabetic conservationist, nor is he a twitcher, about both of whom Leopold had some harsh words to say (as we saw in the previous chapter). Thurston (2004: 76–77) states categorically: I am not a ‘twitcher,’ that dedicated breed of birder who, for example, frequents sewage lagoons in search of a rare bird. And I have never kept a list, except for the informal one that has emerged from my marsh journal. But I must confess to a certain satisfaction in knowing where and at what season to find certain species. ‘The circle of the seasons’ is reassuring for Thurston (2004: 77) as the circle is ‘revolving as it should’ and ‘the pattern underlying the cycle of life is intact’. Thoreau had a similar appreciation for the round of the seasons, for the changes they brought and for the reassurance they gave (see Giblett 2013a: 149–163). Thurston began to appreciate the cycle of the seasons and the rhythms of nature when he was a boy. Thurston (1990: 8) begins his ‘Prologue’ to his book Tidal Life: A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy by relating how ‘the tides of Fundy first entered my life along the umbilical loops of the Chebogue, a tidal river at the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia’. The umbilical loops of the river connect the watershed to the sea through the placenta of the marsh. Later, the tidal Tidnish River is for Thurston (2004: 215) ‘the salt marsh’s umbilicus to the mothering sea’. Yet the sea is not as fertile as the estuary, nor is the estuary as fertile as the marsh. The marsh is mothering and the marsh is the mother who Thurston (2004: 215) anthropomorphizes with ‘the dark eyes of the marsh pools’. An estuary for Thurston (2004: 174), ‘where salt and fresh waters mix, is ten times as productive as the open ocean, and the salt marsh is ten times as productive as the estuary’. The sea is not mothering at all; the marsh is mothering to all. Earlier he had experienced the ‘feeling of a boy in the midst of the marsh, the green world enfolding me’ (Thurston 2004: 114). The marsh is the Great Mother who embraces and nurtures the child, the father of the marsh man. The marsh is an enfolding womb with a nourishing placenta. Thurston (1990: 8) relates how ‘the tidal creek and salt marsh that bordered my father’s farm also introduced me to the rich and varied natural life of Fundy’. The marsh’s placenta give birth to new life in the wide-open world of the air and water of the Bay. The marsh is mother. In ‘Arcadia: The Marsh Suite’, Thurston (2000: 62) writes how he returned to the Chebogue, ‘the place/of childhood’ where he is ‘an eye still rejoicing/at the flat, green world/leavened with salt’. The flat green world of the great still water rejoices the eyes and salt leavens this flat world so it rises to be the staff of life. He does not describe how salt also addresses the sense of taste, closely related to the sense of smell, by enhancing flavour and adding piquancy. Thurston generally privileges the sense of sight and the organs of the eyes over the other senses and the other sense organs. Indeed, Thurston (2004: 12) calls himself ‘the marsh watcher’ whereas Thoreau was a swamp wader, though Thurston (2004: 125) also refers to ‘us as marsh dwellers’. Thurston is following in the great Dickensian tradition of the opening line of Great Expectations: ‘ours was the marsh 200

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country’. Graham Swift (1984) uses this line as the second epigraph for Waterland, arguably the best twentieth-century novel set in and written about a wetland. Thurston is in good literary company as a marsh watcher, writer and dweller in marsh country. That company also includes Thoreau. Like Thoreau, he also enjoys ‘the sensuality of being in the field – of seeing, feeling, or even tasting a species where it lives’ (Thurston 2004: 134). Perhaps, moreover, even smelling where it lives. Later, at the end of Between the Tides, he insists that ‘my enduring attachment to the animals and plants is far more sensual than it is cerebral’, (225) just as it was for Thoreau, and just as it was a multisensual attachment to home place for Thoreau. Thurston needed to unlearn his formal, cerebral education and to learn to use and trust his own senses in his informal, sensual education. Similarly, Leopold (1949: 18 and 158) posed the question ‘is education a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth?’ Later he answered his own question. He feared that education is ‘learning to see one thing by going blind to another’, including ‘the quality of marshes’. Thurston (1990: 11; 2004: 110) studied Biology at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in ‘the heart of the Land of Evangeline’ as he says, neither of which seemed to have contributed much to his seeing marshes despite their history and location as he does not go into any further detail about the history and ecology of the marshlands of Grand Pré. Perhaps he feels they have been done to death by other writers. The literature on Grand Pré is certainly extensive. Later Thurston (2004: 8) says his ‘formal education [was] as a biologist’ and his ‘informal education [was] as an environmentalist’. The former certainly privileges the sense of sight as the perceiver and arbiter of truth to see, and to know through and by seeing. The latter for Thurston ‘sharpened’ his sight and this gave him ‘a more wary eye’ to view the ‘pageant of life being played out between the land and the sea’. Yet this pageant is not only visible to the eye but is invisible to it too. As Thurston (2004: 107) says later, ‘so much of life’s drama goes unseen’ (and unheard, and so unappreciated on both counts, by both aesthetic senses; for Hegel seeing and hearing were the only legitimate aesthetic senses). This pageant also addresses the other senses in the smell of its odours, the taste of its foods, the touch of its textures and the sound of its calls and cries, such as the willet’s cry. For Thurston (2004: 14), unlike other mammals for whom ‘smell is the most important sense, we rely most on sight’. If ‘we’ refers to modern, urban dwelling humans who use ocular communication and other visual technologies and have done so beginning at about the time of the Renaissance with the development of precise lenses and the invention of the telescope and later microscope, the sextant and theodolite, then ‘we’ do rely mostly on sight as a matter of historical and cultural contingency. If ‘we’ refers to an immutable human sensorium fixed over millennia both pre- and postmodernity, then this fails to take account of the history of the senses, their training, their impact on technologies and the impact of technologies on them, especially the ocular technologies of the railway, photography, cinema, car, television and the computer monitor (see Giblett 2008b). 201

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The sense of smell does later play an important role for Thurston (2004: 63) when he returns to Nova Scotia after a two-year absence in central Canada and crosses the Tantramar Marshes. He realizes that by smelling ‘the odours of the marsh’, ‘pungent, mephitic’ he knew he was home, rather than by the seeing the marsh as the marsh watcher, or by hearing the sound of the willet as he did as a young boy at the Chebogue marsh and as an adult at Old Marsh at Tidnish. The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines ‘mephitic’ as ‘offensive to the smell; (of a vapour or exhalation) pestilential, noxious, poisonous’. In this regard it is close to ‘miasma’ defined in the same dictionary as ‘(an) infectious or noxious vapour, esp. from putrescent organic matter, which pollutes the atmosphere’. Yet the mephitic is offensive to the sense of smell and can be poisonous, whereas miasma are noxious without necessarily smelling bad and malaria is literally ‘bad air’ and a disease. The mephitic is certainly poisonous in Herman Melville’s Confidence Man in which the disease (and figurative character) of ‘Typhus’, ‘taking his constitutional with Death […] and three undertakers, in the morass, snuffs up the mephitic breeze with zest’ (cited by Giblett 1996: 119). Typhus knows that the mephitic means more business – deadly business. By contrast with Typhus, Thurston snuffs up the mephitic marsh odours with zest in returning home to a healthy, life-giving, not unhealthy, death-dealing, place. More entries for an immersion in wetlands English. Not only do sea and river water intermingle in the marsh for Thurston (1990: 90), but also for him ‘the marsh appears to be the critical link between the three earthly domains – air, land and water – where they converge in the upper reaches of [the Bay of] Fundy’. These three earthly domains are also three of the four traditional elements in European philosophy with the fourth being fire. The mixing of air, earth and water in the marsh is for Thurston a productive mixture and not the miasmatic and mephitic mixing of air and water in mal-aria or ague, nor the muddy mixing of earth and water in slime and the humour or affect of melancholia. Thurston (2004: 151) later likens the salt marshes to the water babies of Charles Kingsley’s tale of that title ‘inhabiting two realms, one in water and one in air’. Thurston goes on to reflect that ‘humans also have a dual existence, one in solitude, which seems submarine, and one in society, which is more aerial’. The latter is certainly applicable to modern humans after the introduction of radio and with the advent of Wi-Fi who, as McKenzie Wark (1994: 121) puts it, have aerials, but not roots. Yet Thurston has roots in a particular place as we have seen. He is like a mangrove tree that has roots both aerial and watery. Thurston (2004: 73) earlier describes ‘a zone where water, air, sunlight, and nutrients mix’ in ‘the slurry at the surface of the [marsh] mud’ that ‘provides all the necessities for the production of life’. In biological terms, this zone is the photic zone in which, as McComb and Lake (1990: 24) put it, ‘photosynthesis exceeds respiration’. In their glossary, they elaborate that the photic zone is ‘that part of a water body in which oxygen production by photosynthesis exceeds oxygen consumption in respiration’ (246). One of the necessities of modern life that the photic zone produced in the past is ‘the petroleum sequestered in the Earth’ as Thurston (2004: 74) puts it. Petroleum is a relic and the 202

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heritage of the carboniferous era when swamps ruled the earth, when the world was wetland. Petroleum is swamp power that fuels the internal combustion engines of what could be called, following Lewis Mumford, carboniferous hypercapitalism. As coal is also a relic and heritage of the same era, it is also swamp power that fuelled the steam engines of carboniferous high capitalism and that still fuels the coal-fired electricity generators of today’s carboniferous hypercapitalism. The three domains of air, earth and water are the habitat for three animal kingdoms – birds, fish and land animals. Yet some land animals and some fish, cross from one domain to the other. Some animals, such as eels are, as Thurston (2000: 68) puts it in ‘Arcadia: The Marsh Suite’, ‘hybrid/of fish and snake, half at home on land’ and half at home in water, and so at home in the slime made of mixing land and water, solid and liquid. Thurston (1990: 8) describes how schools of estuarine fish ‘swarm across the marsh at high tide like the shadows of clouds ghosting over the land’. Swarming creatures are spectral creatures of the black sun and black water as they belong to no one element but cross from one to another. By crossing from one element to another, for a theology based on a hard and fast divide between the elements, they come under a biblical interdiction as an abomination (Leviticus 11:41). Swarming creatures (as we saw in a previous chapter) are an abomination as they neither walk, swim, crawl nor fly, but slither on their bellies, and as they inhabit neither land, water nor air, but the interstitial (and intertidal in this case) zone between all three. Swarming creatures are spectral monsters of the black sun of melancholia and the black waters of wetlands as they belong to no one element but cross from one to another. Yet the intertidal zone, and wetlands more generally, are for Thurston (2004: 5) ‘the meeting place for Earth’s two great biomes: the land and sea. It is this handshake, this biological reciprocity, that accounts for the richness of salt marshes, which are among the most productive habitats on the planet’. This handshake leads to a much more intimate intercourse and sexual exchange of fluids and nutrients in the wetland than Thurston is coyly inclined to suggest. He prefers to figure water as the lifeblood of the earth such as when water separates from ice as ‘a murky serum of brown, brackish waters’ (Thurston 2004: 24). Serum, according to the dictionary, is the liquid that separates from a clot when blood coagulates and it is a therapeutic agent, especially in inoculation. Murky, brackish waters in Thurston’s physiology of the body of the earth and of water as its lifeblood comprise the liquid discharged by melting ice that is a therapeutic agent for the land that inoculates it against diseases and promotes land health in Leopold’s terms and mental health. Reciprocity for Thurston (2004: 17) is ‘our proper relation to the world’. He cites David Abram to the effect that this relationship is ‘a “continuous dialogue” between the body and the things that surround it’ and ‘an active two-way conversation’ rather than a passive one-way monologue. Biological reciprocity is a process that Thurston also explores under the rubric of mutual benefit. Thurston (1990: 88) suggests that ‘where salt marsh and estuary are allowed to meet and intermingle, there is a mutually 203

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beneficial exchange of nutrients’. Similarly there could be more generally a mutually beneficial exchange between humans and placental wetlands of the Great Mother earth in the metabolic exchange of nutrients and wastes between them. Reciprocity has a long history in biological and ecological thinking, and makes a valuable contribution to it that Thurston briefly acknowledges without going into too much detail. These contributions include Warming’s concept of symbiosis taken up and elaborated by Lynn Margulis in her concept of a ‘symbiotic planet’, Moleschott’s concept of Stoffwechsel (metabolic exchange) taken up and elaborated by Karl Marx, and Kropotkin’s concept of mutual aid taken up and elaborated by Murray Bookchin (see Giblett 2011: ch. 12). All are useful for enriching and extending environmental sustainability biologically and politically away from anthropocentricity to biocentricity. Reciprocity and metabolism do not necessarily imply an equitable and mutually beneficial relationship between both parties as one party can benefit to the detriment of the other. The parasite can kill the host. Every breath of air that we oxygen-breathing animals take affirms that humans are in symbiosis with the oxygen-producing plants of this planet. Modern industrial humans are producing more carbon dioxide than these plants can absorb and process into oxygen. In biological terms, a reciprocal and metabolic relationship operates on a continuum from parasitism through inquilinism (no harm or benefit to either party) to symbiosis. In Margaret Mahler’s psychoanalytic terms, symbiosis is a psychological figure and process that concerns the mother–infant relationship on the same continuum. In psychoanalytic ecological terms and for the alternative cultural paradigm, symbiosis, parasitism and inquilinism operate on a continuum in the human– Great Mother earth relationship. In Mikhail Bakhtin’s terms, language, literature and semiosis operate on a continuum between monologue and dialogue. Along similar lines, Thurston (2004: 17) develops a dialogic and bio- and psycho-symbiotic relationship to his ‘home territory’ of the bioregion of the eastern Tantramar Marshes in north-west Nova Scotia. The Tidnish River in north-west Nova Scotia is located on the eastern side of the Chignecto Isthmus and drains its watershed north-east to Bay Verte, whereas the Tantramar River is located on the western side of the Isthmus and drains its watershed south-west to the Bay of Fundy. The Tantramar Marshes lie between. They are aptly described by Thurston (1990: 13) as ‘maritime prairie’ but were also, for better (or worse), ‘known as “the world’s largest hayfield”’ (85) in their ‘heyday’ (89) (or should that be ‘hayday?) at the turn of the twentieth century (Thurston 2004: 169). Thurston (1990: 80; 2004: 7 and 169; see also Summerby-Murray 1999: 164) translates the Micmac word Chignecto as ‘great marsh district’. He relates that ‘before the arrival of the Europeans, there were 20,000 hectares (or about 50,000 acres) of tidally nourished salt marsh at the head of the Cumberland Basin’, collectively known as the Tantramar Marshes. He goes on to relate that the marshlands of the Chignecto area comprising the Tantramar, the Missaguash, the LaPlanche and the Amherst Marshes are collectively referred to as the Tantramar Marshes (Thurston 1990: 82). 204

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The Chignecto Isthmus, in the words of Howard Trueman (1902: 12), ‘separates the waters of the Bay of Fundy from those of Bay Verte and constitutes the neck of land which saves Nova Scotia from being an island’, a sad and sorry fate, perhaps worse than death, for those mainland and central Canadians who consider their islanders as quaint or backward or both. The neck of land that connects the head of Nova Scotia to the rest of the body of Canada is more precisely a wetland. This neck of wetland is the Tantramar Marshes. The marshes save the head of Nova Scotia from being disconnected from the torso of Canada as a backward island and the latter from being decapitated from the former as a headless monster. The marshes for Doucet (1999: 142) ‘form the entire isthmus connecting Nova Scotia to New Brunswick’. The marshes are also the connective tissue between the head of Nova Scotia and the torso of the rest of Canada that supplies moisture and nutrients down its throat to the body of Canada. Rather than Nova Scotia being the head of Canada with the Tantramar Marshes as the neck, Nova Scotia for Thurston (2004: 171) ‘barely hangs onto the continent by the Tantramar Marsh’. The marshes are the fingertips by which the body of Nova Scotia barely hangs on to continental Canada. The Tantramar Marshes also form what Thurston (1996: 1) calls a land-bridge between Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada, though it would be more precise to call them a wetland-bridge, more a causeway suspended in water than a suspension bridge hanging in air, a confederation causeway linking Nova Scotia to the rest of Canada, just as the ‘Confederation Bridge’ does for Prince Edward Island. The marshlands of the Isthmus have played a role in the life and history of its peoples from First Nations through the Francophone Acadians to anglophone settlers. Thurston (2004: 26) relates how: the oldest archaeological site in eastern North America was discovered shortly after World War II at a military base near the head of Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy. Carbon dating tells us that Palaeo-Indians had camped there 10,600 years ago […] I like to think that these vanished peoples were the first marsh dwellers. Or more precisely, they were the first marsh dwellers of the Fundy marshes. Australian aboriginal people were dwelling in marshes and swamps up to 50,000 years before that. The Acadians were the second marsh dwellers of the Fundy marshes. They dyked the marshes using aboiteaux (Trueman 1902: 16–17). Thurston (1990: 68) indicates that the ‘dyked land’ of ‘tidal meadows’ was ‘the basis of […] Acadian culture’. Thurston (1990: 83) also notes later Acadia was ‘a culture based on the technology of dyking’. More precisely, in Marxist ecological terms, the tidal marshes were the wetland foundation on which the economic base of dyked meadows and agricultural productivity employing the technology of dyking were built and, on which, in turn, the ideological superstructure of Acadian culture was erected. Without the foundation, base and technology, the superstructure would not have been possible. The economic base has an ecological foundation. 205

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Thurston (1990: 86) relates and refers later to the fact that ‘dyke land has been called “a reserve of energy in the form of fertility”’. In the second section called ‘Marsh’ of ‘Arcadia: The Marsh Suite’, Thurston (2000: 63) invokes ‘unkempt fertility: greenness, wetness’. The Acadians groomed, managed and drew upon that reserve of unkempt fertility deposited in the economic base for their culture that rested, in turn, on the earthly foundation of the fertile tidal marshes of the Bay of Fundy. An idea of just how extensive this economic and technological transformation was, and how massive the drawdown on the reserve undertaken largely by the Acadians and their successors was, can be gained by relaying Thurston’s (1990: 82; 1996: 87) calculation that ‘fully 90% of the original 357 square kilometres of salt-marsh shoreline in the upper Bay of Fundy was once dyked’ and ‘by the beginning of the twentieth century […] converted to agricultural production’ like a pagan savage converted from dark heathenism to enlightened Christianity. Dyking meant humans gained while other species lost as they have, as Thurston (2004: 123) puts it, ‘suffered a loss of habitat due to dyking, draining, and infilling of salt marshes’. Humans drew on the energy of the marsh by taking it from the other inhabitants, rather than living bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods in their bioregional home-habitat of the living earth. Besides the problematic environmental history of the Fundy salt marshes, the Chignecto Isthmus has a shameful political history that Thurston barely touches upon. Perhaps as a nature writer he is not interested in or concerned with culture and cultural history, though the nature and culture of the Chignecto Isthmus are intimately intertwined as the aboiteaux attest. It seems difficult to acknowledge, though Thurston manages to do so, on the one hand the aboiteaux built and used by Acadians and not to mention on the other their deportation in 1755 by the British from the same region. The Chignecto Isthmus was where the final showdown between the French and English was played out in the late 1740s and early 1750s for control of the maritime region of Canada (Ross and Deveau 1992: 55–56) and where ‘France made her last stand for the possession of Acadia’ (Trueman 1902: 15). The Chignecto marshlands for Ross and Deveau (1992: 25, 55, 56 and 60) were: an extremely sensitive zone since the Treaty of Utrecht 1713 had transferred ownership of Acadie, or Nova Scotia, to the British [but] had left the western boundary of Nova Scotia ambiguous and undefined. France considered that it owned the territory north of the Missaguash River which cuts across the marshes of the Isthmus of Chignecto. The Acadians had been established in the settlement of Beaubassin on these marshlands for almost a century […] The contentious region of the Chignecto marshlands [was] where the two superpowers now faced each other, as if poised for war […] The first major conflict took place on the Isthmus of Chignecto at the beginning of June 1755. The British were victorious and the Grand Dérangement or Great Upheaval, (or Great Deportation or Great Expulsion) began in 1755. The Chignecto marshlands were both 206

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a native quaking zone where land and water met for mutual benefit, and a feral quaking zone where two empires met for war, destruction and deportation. The Chignecto Isthmus has a number of important wetlands that Thurston discusses in detail, including the Chignecto National Wildlife Area. This area is a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance that includes John Lusby Salt Marsh and the Amherst Point Bird Sanctuary. Thurston (1990: 91) relates how the area for the latter: was acquired by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) in 1968, and freshwater impoundments were developed there by Ducks Unlimited [Canada] in the early 1970s. It is unquestionably the most productive wetland in Nova Scotia. The diversity of habitat – wooded upland, wetland, gypsum sinkholes and abandoned farm fields – attracts a wide variety of bird species. In all, there have been 228 species sightings in the sanctuary, which ranks it second only [in the province] for the number of species sighted. I was fortunate to visit this sanctuary in September 2011, to wander between these different habitats and to observe a fraction of the wide variety of land- and waterbirds that inhabit them. It is truly a remarkable place with all these different habitats in such close proximity connected by winding and hilly paths. One moment I was walking through dark, silent woods and the next passing by sunny water with waterbirds calling. It only takes a short drive from the nearby town of Amherst past the regional office of Ducks Unlimited Canada to enter a world apart from rural and urban Canada and a world away from their mundane landscapes. Not far from the Amherst Point Bird Sanctuary, and also part of the Chignecto National Wildlife Area, is the 600-hectare John Lusby Marsh that is, according to Thurston (1990: 82): the largest remaining salt marsh in the Bay of Fundy […] As a measure of its importance, it was the first area to be acquired under the national land acquisition programme of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), initiated to protect important wetlands in Canada […] [I]n the 1960s it was a major staging area for Canada geese with as many as 15,000 honkers stopping here to feed for a month before proceeding to their breeding grounds […] Now fewer than 1500 geese stop off in Fundy […] [as] the Bay’s salt marshes no longer present as good an opportunity for a meal as the winter wheat and stubble fields of Prince Edward Island. Another wetland on the Chignecto Isthmus that Thurston discusses in detail is the Tintamarre Wildlife Area located on the Tantramar Marshes. Thurston (1990: 86) relates how:

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in the 1960s […] the CWS created the 1,740 hectare Tintamarre Wildlife Area  – a package of boglands, abandoned marshland and the Jolicure lakes  – in the hope of increasing waterfowl production, which had been depleted by the intensive dyking and draining of the previous two decades. Ducks Unlimited [Canada] has been an active partner in developing the wetland habitat on the Tantramar, primarily by lending its technical expertise in building flood-control structures. Unlike les aboiteaux, the flood dams are designed to retain fresh water in an impoundment, thus creating better brooding habitat for waterfowl. Yet, like the aboiteaux born out of European contact with the wetlands around the Bay of Fundy, these post-contact impoundments are not pre-contact estuarine wetlands with exchanges of salt and fresh water intermingled by the tide. Conservationists, according to Thurston (2004: 169), are ‘returning some portions of the dyke lands to their natural state’. In some cases some are, as I saw below Fort Beausejour where the dyke had been breached and not repaired, but this is not the case in Tintamarre Wildlife Area that Thurston uses as an example of returning a wetland to its ‘natural state’, presumably its pre-contact states, though he earlier related how the CWS created this area. Rather, wetland managers are here re-engineering dykelands as a hypermodern, or fourth, culture of nature as a conservation sanctuary within the larger Tantramar Marshes, most of which are still farmed. It is probably impossible to return these wetlands to the first culture of nature of First Nations as they were prior to the coming of the Europeans, partly because these people are no longer living on and working these wetlands and deriving their livelihoods from them, and partly because they have been so extensively modified by, and are still worked on by, the second agriculture of nature. Tintamarre, the French name from which the Anglicized ‘Tantramar’ derives, means, as Thurston (2004: 39) points out, ‘a great noise or din’. Yet rather than relating this to the noise of the river as most other writers do, Thurston relates it the great noise or din that ‘the waterfowl wings made as the migrants rose over the salt marshes’ as ‘the Tantramar Marsh was a vital migratory feeding station for geese and other waterfowl along the Atlantic flyway’. The Acadians, as Thurston (2004: 39) goes on to argue, ‘dyked those same marshes so many geese now overfly these once tidally nourished feeding grounds’, thus indicating the devastating impact the Acadians and their aboiteaux had on the marshland ecology. Those impacts are now being reversed to some extent and the marshlands are reestablishing. Thurston (2004: 39) concludes that ‘in recent times, dyke land is being allowed to return to the sea for the benefit of wildlife, society having decided the marsh has greater value in its natural state than as a hay and beef factory’. In recent times, dyked land is also being impounded for the benefit of wildlife (as I also saw below Fort Beausejour with Ducks Unlimited Canada’s work, at Sackville Waterfowl Park and at the Tantramar Wetlands Centre), ‘society’ having decided that a pond has greater value in its cultural state than dyked marsh has as a hay and beef factory in a different state in the service of the dominant cultural paradigm. Dykeland is also being allowed to return to 208

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the sea where it is impossible to maintain the dykes due to frequent incursions by the sea (as I also saw below Fort Beausejour). Dyked land is not being allowed to return to the sea where it is physically practicable, culturally advisable and financially viable to bolster it with rock (as I saw elsewhere below Fort Beausejour and at Westcock). In the nineteenth century, the Chignecto Isthmus was subjected to two grandiose engineering schemes as part of the modern, or third, culture of nature. The ship railway (George Trueman 1899: map 92; Thurston 2004: 35–37) and the marsh canal (Howard Trueman 1902: map 3) were both designed to connect the Bay of Fundy with Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St Lawrence across the Chignecto Isthmus (the Tantramar Marshes). Both the railway and canal are icons of early industrial capitalist modernity and both are transportation and communication technologies that conveyed goods and messages. The ship railway and the marsh canal are both represented as straight lines on father and son Trueman’s maps. Both cut across the landscape of ridges and through the wetlandscape of floating bogs and black ash swamps. Both were designed to create a high way through or over the low lands, a straight and pure way through crooked and devious places, a clean and proper way through dirty and boggy places. In the twentieth century, the Chignecto Isthmus was subjected to another grandiose engineering scheme as part of the hypermodern, or fourth, culture of nature within the dominant cultural paradigm. When he considers the proposals for what he calls the ‘grandiose scheme’ of ‘a perennial engineering’ of building ‘a tidal power dam’ to ‘exploit the high tides of the Bay of Fundy’, Thurston (1990: 91; 1996: 100) concludes that it ‘would remove energy from the Bay’s total budget by impairing the mutually beneficial link between sea and marsh’. The energy of the tides helps to generate the fertility of the marsh, as it would also generate electrical power. Damming that energy for electrical power would not only impair the mutually beneficial link between sea and marsh but also enslave it. Moreover, like the earlier ‘dyking, draining, backfilling or infilling and drying up’ of marshes that Thurston (1996: 87) called ‘this onslaught on wetlands’, damming the tide would be a further assault, the opening of a new front and the first thrust in another battle in the ongoing war against wetlands. War, as William Blake said, is ‘energy enslaved’. The war against wetlands is the enslaving of their energy. All ecosystems and all living beings require energy, and tidal marshes are one of the most energetic ecosystems on the living earth, hence their fertility. Hence the need also to conserve wetlands now and into the future in order to sustain their energy-producing processes. Hence the need also to deconstruct and decolonize the Canadian settler traditions within the dominant cultural paradigm of regarding wetlands with horror and dyking, draining, backfilling and infilling wetlands to create farmland and suburbia. Hence the need to reconstruct Canadian culture so that all Canadians (now and into the future) value, appreciate and conserve their wetlands for humans and nonhumans for what they provide for both and what they are themselves – places of exquisite living processes. 209

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Hence the need, moreover, to develop new and practical ways of conserving and appreciating Canadian wetlands. During the course of this book, I have made some precise proposals for achieving these ends, and now re-present them here in summary form. These proposals include the development of more ‘Friends of ’ groups for Canadian wetlands, such as Wainfleet Bog. They also involve including Southern Bight-Minas Basin in the World Heritage area of Grand Pré and nominating the Tantramar Marshes for World Heritage listing. Such nominations would acknowledge both areas as the Acadian heartlands, recognize the current unique natural values of the area, such as their tides, and protect both areas from tidal-power development that has been periodically and inappropriately proposed for them. Both the Tantramar Marshes and Grand Pré and Southern Bight-Minas Basin should be nominated as World Heritage Sites in order to acknowledge, conserve and convey their natural and cultural heritage values. In its own words, the ‘World Heritage Convention aims to encourage countries to protect their cultural and natural heritage’. Cultural and natural heritage are intertwined and should be seen and valued as such. We can’t have one without the other. Hence the need finally to redevelop old ways and develop new ways of being and living bio- and psycho-symbiotic livelihoods in bioregional home-habitats, including Canadian wetlands, of the living earth in line with the alternative cultural paradigm. One way of doing so is to reconfigure the earth as body with wetlands as placenta and kidneys and water as the lifeblood of the body of the earth, all of which play a vital role in life-giving, life-sustaining and life-renewing processes. We must not treat wetlands as cesspools into which the sewers of rivers run, and not treat rivers as a digestive tract that process and excrete nutrients, but as part of a body with other organs. Wetland places and Canadian people would then be one, with Canadian wetlands as part of the culture and people part of the place rather being separated off from each other. Rather than referring, as the title of this chapter does, to Harry Thurston’s marshes of Nova Scotia, Harry Thurston would be Nova Scotian marshes’. The title should refer to the marshes of Nova Scotia’s Harry Thurston in not so much a simple inversion of ownership but a radical subversion of possession. Rather than wetlands being people’s, or belonging to people, people would be the marshes’, not simply people of the marshes, but the marshes’ people. Canadian wetlands = places = people, rather than Canadian wetlands = places + people that implies a separation between people and place. Canadian people belong to Canadian wetlands as people belong to places, not places to people.

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232

Index

A aboiteaux 23, 49, 54, 56-58, 62-64, 68, 82, 205-206, 208 Acadia 49, 59, 64, 73-74, 77-78, 205, 208 Acadians 49-69, 73-74, 77-78, 82, 87, 205206, 208 Alaksen National Wildlife Area 5, 51, 130 Alexander, J. 103, 109 Amherst Point Bird Sanctuary 207 Ashbridge’s Bay Marsh 12, 23, 35, 133152 Atwood, M. 11, 12, 37, 111

C Canby Marsh 97-98, 100-10 Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area 50 Cap Rouge 11, 33, 52 Carman, B. 53 Cartier, J. 11, 33, 52 Casey, A. 9-11, 187-189 Certeau, M. de 150-151 Chignecto Isthmus/Marsh/National Wildlife Area 204-207, 209 Clandeboye Marsh 181-182 Cilipka, D. 160 Clark, A. 49, 53-54, 63

B Bates, R. 55, 58-59, 61-62 Bay of Fundy 22-23, 49, 53-55, 67, 82, 87, 200, 202, 205-207, 209, see also Southern Bight-Minas Basin Bentley, D. xiii, 23, 74-75, 77, 81-83, 110, 176-177 Berland, J. xiii, 16-17, 57, 101 Big Grass Marsh 190 Black Swamp 97-100, 103 Bleakney, S. 22, 62 Bodsworth, F. 147 Bonnell, J. xiii, 143, 149, 151 Bouchette, J. 141, 145, 148 Bower, S. xiii, 16, 175-176, 180, 183, 187, 189-190 Bunyan, J. 36, 43, 142, 179 Burns Bog 115-116, 121

D Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari 149-150 Delta Marsh 181 Derrida, J. 150-151 Desfor, G. xiii, 137, 140, 143-144 Doucet, C. 52, 55-56, 186, 205 Douglas, M. 159-160 Ducks Unlimited Canada 4-5, 87, 189190, 208 E Eccles, W. 57 environmental cultural studies/ecocultural studies 20-22, 137 Evenden, M. 117 Evangeline by Longfellow 50-51, 54, 59, 61-64 Evangeline, Land of 55, 59-62, 201 233

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F Fairfield, G. 23, 143, 146-148, 151 False Creek 12, 32, 119 Foucault, M. 21, 34, 137 Fraser River delta/estuary/wetlands 113132

Lochhead, D. xiv, 18, 66-67, 73, 78, 83-93 Longfellow, H. 61, 62-64, see also Evangeline Lyotard, J.-F. 105, 149 M Maillet, A. 64-67 Manitoba, Lake 181 Marlatt, D. 45, 131-132 McKay, D. 45 McKay, I. 54-55, 58-62 McKay, M. 9, 15, 29, 31 McLaughlin, J. 13-14, 62-63 McLuhan, M. 16 McPhee, J. 188-189 miasmatic theory of disease 35, 136, 143144 Moodie, S. 11, 29-32, 37-42, 81 Moody, Colonel R. 123-126, 131 Mortimer-Sandilands, C. xiii, 20 Muir, J. 18, 22, 153-162, 165, 171 n.1 Murray, A. 115-116, 121-122, 126, 128

G Gann, A. 65-67 Ganong, W. 52, 58, 63 Gayler, H. 97, 106, 108, 116 Glickman, S. 29-32, 82 Grand Pré 49-69 Gray, C. 29, 34-35 ‘Grey Owl’ (Archibald Belaney) 42-43 Griffiths, N. 56-58 ‘Group of Seven’ landscape painters 15 Grove, F. 23, 175-180 H Hall, Lieutenant F. 101-104, 108, 138 Hatvany, M. v, xi, xiii, 17, 23-25, 36, 54, 62-63 Hayes, D. xii, 23, 119-120, 123-124, 126, 148-149 Herbin, F. 49, 53, 58, 60, 62 Holland Marsh 23, 153-157, 159-162 Holland, S. 161 Holownia, T. 78, 84, 86-88

N Netley Marsh 176, 182 Niagara Falls/Peninsula 97-112 Niering, W. 9, 13, 17, 175-176 O Oak Hammock Marsh 175, 182, 190

J Jameson, A. 29, 137, 139-143, 145, 164, 170 John Lusby Marsh 207

P paradigm, cultural alternative 15, 31, 42, 44, 53, 158 dominant 15, 31, 42, 44, 53, 158 Point Pelee Marshes/National Park 110112

K Kennedy, G. xi, 57-58, 60 Kristeva, J. 34, 146, 177

Q quaking zone 146, 175, 183-185, 187 feral 184-185 native 184-185

L Le Blanc, B. 55, 59-62 Le Couteur, Lieutenant J. 98-100 Leopold, A. 18, 175, 180-183, 198-199 234

Index

R Ramsar Convention of Wetlands of International Importance and Canadian Ramsar sites 5, 12, 19, 22, 49-51, 68-69, 98, 109-111, 130, 175, 181-182, 190, 207, 218, see also inside front cover and inside back cover Roberts, C. 29, 31, 73, 75-86 Ross, S. 49, 55-58, 60, 62, 206 Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, F. 140 Russell, F. 43-45

U uncanny, the 17, 20, 31, 38, 46 n.3, 145 V Vancouver 12, 35, 113-120 Vancouver, G. 122-124 VanderMey, A. 23, 159-161 Virilio, P. 140 W Wainfleet Bog 10, 97, 101-103, 107-110 Ward, P. 115-116, 120, 126 Wetlands of International Importance, see Ramsar Convention Williams, R. 21, 58 Wilson, A. 20-21 Winnipeg, Lake 187-189 Worster, D. 156-157, 159

S Sackville Waterfowl Park 83, 87, 91 Scobie, C. 76, 78, 81-83 Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor J. 11, 107, 137-139, 141-142 Simcoe, Mrs E. 29, 102-104, 137-138, 142, 145, 157 Slack, J. 20 Sofoulis, Z. 105 Sola-Morales, I. de 16 Southern Bight-Minas Basin 49-51, 68-69, 205 Summerby-Murray, R. xi, xiv, 82-83, 204

Y York, see Toronto

T Tantramar Marshes 73-93, 202, 204, 208 Thoreau, H. 15, 18, 79-80, 146, 162-171, 175, 183, 185-186, 197 Thurston, H. 18, 64, 76, 195-210 Tidnish Marsh 196, 202 Tintamarre National Wildlife Area 87, 91, 207-208 Toronto 11, 12, 35, 133-152 Traill, C. 29, 31-37, 39, 41, 81 Turner, N. 13

235

Canadian Ramsar Sites Arctic Dewey Soper Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Northwest Territories McConnell River, Northwest Territories Polar Bear Pass, Northwest Territories Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Northwest Territories Rasmussen Lowlands, Northwest Territories Subarctic Old Crow Flats, Yukon Territory Polar Bear Provincial Park, Ontario Southern James Bay, Ontario Boreal Chignecto, Nova Scotia Grand Codroy Estuary, Newfoundland Hay-Zama Lakes, Alberta Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island Mary’s Point, New Brunswick Matchedash Bay Provincial Wildlife Area, Ontario Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia Peace-Athabasca Delta, Alberta Shepody Bay, New Brunswick Southern Blight-Minas Basin, Nova Scotia Tabusintac Lagoon and River Estuary, New Brunswick Whooping Crane Summer Range, Alberta and Northwest Territories Prairie Beaverhill Lake, Alberta Delta Marsh, Manitoba Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba Quill Lakes, Saskatchewan Temperate Baie de I’Isle-Verte, Quebec Cap Tourmente, Quebec Lac Saint-Francois, Quebec Long Point, Ontario Mer Bleue Conservation Area, Ontario Minesing Swamp, Ontario Point Pelee, Ontario St. Clair National Wildlife Area, Ontario Mountain Alaksen, British Columbia Creston Valley, British Columbia Oceanic There are no Ramsar sites within the oceanic wetland region.

Giblett

“One can’t help but reflect that this book is an important piece of Canadian cultural history, an exploration of environmental historical geography and a superb contribution to an interdisciplinary literature in Canadian Studies.” Robert Summerby-Murray, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, Dalhousie University

Gregory Kennedy, Université de Moncton, author of Something of a Peasant Paradise? Comparing Rural Societies in Acadie and the Loudunais, 1604-1755.

In Canadian Wetlands, Rod Giblett reads the Canadian canon against the grain, critiquing popular representations of wetlands and proposing alternatives by highlighting the work of recent and contemporary Canadian authors, such as Douglas Lochhead and Harry Thurston, and by entering into dialogue with American writers. The book will engender mutual respect between researchers for the contribution that different disciplinary approaches can and do make to the study and conservation of wetlands internationally. Rod Giblett is associate professor in the School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. He is the author of many books on wetlands, culture, history and ecology, including most recently Black Swan Lake: Life of a Wetland published by Intellect Books in 2013. This book is about Forrestdale Lake, the internationally important wetland next to which he lives in Western Australia. Rod is also secretary of the Friends of Forrestdale, a local wetland and bushland conservation group.

Canadian Wetlands

“Ambitious in scope and compelling in vision, this book promotes a national and indeed a universal view of humans living in mutually beneficial reciprocity with nature and each other. I challenge anyone not to be moved by the author’s impassioned plea for a symbiotic relationship with a living earth.”

Canadian Wetlands Places and People

Rod Giblett intellect | www.intellectbooks.com