rough notes

Sackville Creek

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So The Pineapples and I spent half of Boxing Day visiting family types in Sackville. I’m not sure if this Sackville was the Lower, Upper, or Middle Sackville. I didn’t even realize we were in Sackville until we made it back to Halifax and the Pineapples noted just how far out of town we were an hour earlier. I knew we had bussed quite a ways out of the urban core – her aunt and uncle used to live in Bedford, and we did have to take a bus for almost an hour (fifty minutes, one end of the line to the other) to do our duty to kith and kin. And certainly, once we passed by Mount St. Vincent University on the Bedford Hwy, I whispered to her, “we’ve passed the point of no return.” We don’t normally go past the Mount; we don’t normally even go to the Mount. One essentially sails off the map by heading past the Mount. The Mount is a placemarker – the last place marker – like the Hebrides or the Canary Islands or the Azores or Scarborough Town Line Road. No one goes that far out, let alone any further. Out there, out there.. there be monsters.

The breakfast was sufficient. I have a serious distate for almost all breakfast items, so this is a glowing statement.

Somewhere along the bus ride, well before or after we approached or passed by Bedford’s Sunnyside Mall (an apparent satellite that downtowners used to visit, back before Pete came to us and the Chickenburger remained a novelty), I caught sight of a small sign that pointed toward a small crick called the “Sackville River”. I was at the terminus of the Mighty Sackville, where its churning, frothy waters hit the relative calm of the Bedford Basin. Al Purdy used to arm-wrestle with Milton Acorn about who should capture the river’s in words. “Oh! Black Waters And Dark Granite! / My ales my gins my bruises my cuts / My Rye my dirt my love”, they eventually wrote together back in 1954. Layton tried to polish this up in ’65, but it went no where. That’s just as well, because this rough little piece of work is best left in its unpublished form. It may not be well-known, but it haunts the soul of the Canadian psyche, just like the mighty Sackville.

The problem with the Sackville River, of course, is how small its mightyness really is. Face it Purdy: The Sackville River sucks. I don’t know why this little thing is even considered a river in the first place. Perhaps I should take a degree in geography or ecosystems management before making this call, but I’ve seen creeks with more power than the pithy Sackville. I’m not expecting the Sackville to be any sort of Seine or Thames or St. Lawrence (ou St-Laurent pour notre amis fran├žais), but I doubt this little stream affords any draft for anything but the smallest toy sailboats and rubber duckies from our youth.

Check it. The Sackville River: it’s so quaint in a Maud Lewis sort of way. Here we are where it meets the Bedford Basin. What sort of small sloop or junker would ever make it up this ravine?

The Sackville River at the Bedford Basin

The Sackville River at the Bedford Basin

And even if some daring sea captain would even want to head up the Sackville, where would he go? I suppose he’d head out to the marshes near Mount Uniacke.

The Sackville River in Mount Uniacke

The Sackville River in Mount Uniacke

The Sackville River in Mount Uniacke.

The Sackville River in Mount Uniacke.

For some perspective, here’s a quick little map of a real river, the St. Lawrence. Ignore the green dots – that’s where EC and the Tories think that the Separatist Bloc will situate their armies and navies before attacking us in full force:


The Saint Lawrence River

That river is a frigging monster, moving from the north Atlantic, through to the heart of Canada’s wasted industrial heartland – southern Ontario. We’ve got Gordon Lightfoot on our side when it comes to the St. Lawrence and its lakes and tributaries. And you don’t want to mess with Lightfoot – he’ll kick your teeth out, even in his old, almost-whithered state.

Now, check out these two final images I found on Flickr. These are aerial shots of 15 Mile Creek (named as such because it is roughly 15 miles from Niagara Falls; there are similarly large creeks at the 12-mile and 18-mile, and 20-mile mark), a creek near my hometown in Southern Ontario. When I saw the Sackville River sign this morning, all I could think about was how tiny it was compared to some of the creeks back where I grew up:

15 Mile Creek, Jordan, Ontario

15 Mile Creek, Jordan, Ontario. Note the haze, aka smog.

The 15 Mile Creek isn’t navigable, but only because our cars demand highways which demand short causeways. There was a time the creek could be sailed on, unlike the pithy Sackville.

15 Mile Creek, Jordan, Ontario

15 Mile Creek, Jordan, Ontario

That’s that. I’ve got nothing more. I didn’t have much in the first place. But that doesn’t matter much now that you’ve made it to the end.


Written by mitchellirons

December 26, 2008 at 5:31 pm

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