Sea Winter Salmon – Chronicles of the St. John River

by Mari Hill Harpur with Eileen Regan McCormack

A river's history begins twice: in geological time and in narrative time. The St. John River began to be formed when glacial ice sculpted its path during the last ice age. The river is located in an area that is known today as the Canadian Shield, the Precambrian Shield, or the Laurentian Plateau. The shield’s boundaries cover about half of Canada as well as most of Greenland and part of the north-eastern United States. It is the oldest part of the North American continental plate. The region around the St. John River is composed of granite bluffs dropping from the Arctic tundra to the great St. Lawrence River and was an important geological aspect of everyday pre-civilized and pre-recorded life. Flowing from the rugged uplands of the Labrador peninsula, the St. John River tumbles for over 240 kilometres (150 miles) toward the salt water into the great and expansive Gulf of St. Lawrence. This is the course of the river’s history and this is where our story unfolds. From recreation to resource management, it is a river that has experienced history and science in action. It holds the mystery of replenishing life along its boundaries.  To be there, not as an intruder but an observer, is truly magic.

Salmon fishing on the Lower St. Lawrence. James J. Hill fishing Camp.