In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Between Lake Charles and Lake William
  • Barbara Lounder (bio) and Robert Bean (bio)

Nova Scotia, January 17, 2017. This walk was to a point in the chain of lakes and rivers that cuts through Nova Scotia from the Bay of Fundy to Halifax Harbour. Known as the Shubenacadie Waterway System, the chain has been vital to Mi’kmaq life for thousands of years and has been important in the regional history of Acadian and British settlement. The waterway was formed during the last Ice Age when a large glacier, one-mile thick, receded and left a gouge that connects the Bay of Fundy to the Atlantic Ocean. The Mi’kmaq people have used this waterway for thousands of years. Paddling and portaging the rivers and lakes connected their seasonal camps and communities.

The southern part of the waterway cuts through shale and quartzite, but the banks and floodplains of the northern area, near the Bay of Fundy, have deposits of good agricultural soil. Acadian settlers began farming here in the 1740s, establishing villages, dykes, and fields, until their expulsion by the British in 1755. The British, based in Halifax, surveyed the waterway in 1767, and determined that a route for transporting goods and resources was feasible. Beginning in the 1820s, they built a canal and series of locks, with Irish and Scottish masons and laborers doing the grueling work. The laborers lived in rough stone shelters along the canal, and remains of these structures can still be seen. One section of canal, known as the Deep Cut, took years to excavate. In Dartmouth, the large pond that was created as part of the waterway (now known as Sullivan’s Pond) was dug by hand by four Irish “navvies.” The canal system was completed by 1861 but it ceased operations ten years later, due to financial difficulties. Transport by ship was soon replaced by the railway system.

I walked a short section of the trail that links two lakes, at a point of high elevation along the waterway. I chose the location by observing that water moved in two directions from that point. Using two small sticks tossed onto the water’s [End Page 20] surface, I could see that water came up from a spring, then moved south on one side, and north on the other. The sample of water I took is from that point where the sticks floated off in opposite directions. Movement is visible in other ways at this location; it is under the flight path to the airport, next to an eighteenth-century stage route, and a four-lane highway passes nearby.

This walk was one of finding a place where I could consider forces that separate (the glacial gouge into the rock; the water flowing in two directions; the seizing of Mi’kmaq territory; the expulsion of the Acadians; the Deep Cut; digging a pond by hand), and forces that intersect and join (Bay of Fundy to Atlantic Ocean; air, train, water, and land travel; walking; water coming to the surface from a spring; stories and histories). I wore the string around my wrist, keeping the bead in the palm of my hand as I walked and drew the sample of water.

It was a very cold day, which focused my intentions and reminded me of how forbidding the elements must have been for others who walked the trail in the past. Walking Kailash between Lake Charles and Lake William also brought my attention to ancient geological forces and different (sometimes clashing) cultures and histories. This happened through embodiment, in my own movement and physical, sensorial being. In this way, Walking Kailash was a way for me to bring compassion to this special place where so much has happened. [End Page 21]

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Top: Unfolding the papers in the package. Bottom: Getting ready to toss two sticks into the river, to see the directions of the water currents, north and south.

[End Page 22]

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Carefully transferring the water to the vial.

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Detail of the surface of the Shubenacadie River.

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pp. 20-23
Launched on MUSE
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