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Shannon Lecture #4: What is Nature?: The Rise and Fall of Moncton’s Petitcodiac Causeway with Prof. Ronald Rudin

July 8, 2022 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Location:Please register below to receive the Zoom link.
Key Contact:History Department

Friday, July 8th, 2022 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Rudin flyer


In 1968, a causeway was constructed across the Petitcodiac River, splitting in two the river that runs through Moncton on its way to the Bay of Fundy. The project was carried out by the Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Administration (MMRA), a federal agency tasked twenty years earlier with protecting land that would have otherwise been flooded by the tides of the Bay of Fundy, the largest in the world, in the process creating marshland. With the arrival of settlers in the seventeenth century, protective structures were constructed to drain the marshland so
it might be farmed

By the 1940s those structures had badly deteriorated, leading Ottawa to create the MMRA, but the agency went further than reconstructing existing dykes, as it also constructed dams across five major rivers, significantly altering the environment; but nowhere was this more dramatically visible than on the Petitcodiac, where the causeway provided a highway connecting Moncton with suburbs on the other sideFish stocks were destroyed, the river downstream from the dam became narrower and shallower due to the accumulation of silt that was now deposited just below the structure, and upstream a headpond was created, where a new lakefront community was created.

In response to these environmental changes, bitter controversy ensued that lasted for over 40 years, until opening the gates in the causeway structure in 2010 and removal of much of that structure altogether in 2021. This presentation will focus on that debate and how it highlighted different conceptions of what constituted “nature.”

Speaker’s Bio:

Ronald Rudin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Concordia University, carries out research that focuses on the environmental and cultural history of Atlantic Canada. Most recently, he is the author of Against the Tides: Reshaping Landscape and Community in Canada’s Maritime Marshlands, as well as producer of the accompanying film Unnatural Landscapes.

This session will be recorded and uploaded to the Shannon Lectures’ website after the series is complete. Please visit the 2022 Spring Shannon Lectures webpage for details and registration information for each of the four lectures in the series.

Questions and feedback from the audience, once a session is underway, will be collected in the chat box and read to the presenters.