How do we know a
place? How do we know this place? Places are the product of the
accumulated actions of both nature and people. In order for one
generation to understand their place in the landscape they depend
on others to leave footprints. These footprints or markers can
take many forms - the buildings and other material artifacts that
supported life in the past provide one source of evidence. Letters,
diaries, account books, maps, photographs, civil records, archival
records of all kinds provide sources that allow us to reconstruct
the lives and actions of those who went before us.
This virtual exhibition grows
almost entirely out of archival records held by the Mount Allison
University Archives. Mount Allison was founded in 1839 as a Methodist
Academy. Long a prominent part of the local community, Mount Allison
has received many family and business records contributed by individuals
and groups anxious to see them preserved as evidence of a shared
past. The records reflect life in the Tantramar area which surrounds
Sackville, New Brunswick. They are mainly English language documents
and for this reason, this virtual exhibition can only lightly touch
on the presence in the area of aboriginal people and Acadian settlement.
Some topics that might be expected to be included, such as the
Seige of Fort Beausejour, the Eddy Rebellion, the Chignecto Ship
Railway, are omitted not only because little interpretive evidence
resides in this archives, but also because we have chosen to focus
our efforts on the nature of agricultural life in this remarkable
environment. Those looking for information on the aforementioned
fascinating subjects will need to visit other archives, such as
the Centre d’études acadiennes at l’Université de
Moncton, the New Brunswick Museum Archives, the Provincial Archives
of New Brunswick, the University of New Brunswick, Special Collections
on the human exploitation of the Tantramar area which produced
agricultural patterns that reflected the opportunities and challenges
of a northern coastal salt marsh environment. In this sense both
community institutions and individuals had to develop specialized
land management approaches different from people in other locations.
Selective interpretive notes are provided to help the viewer understand
these patterns and this place. All archival records are accompanied
by archival descriptions.
Ordinary people produced these
records as they lived their lives in this place. Now let them tell
you their story. Welcome to Marshland.