Government of Canada. Department of Agriculture. Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Administration

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Government of Canada. Department of Agriculture. Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Administration

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  • Textual record
  • Cartographic material
  • Graphic material

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  • 1940-1982 (Creation)
    Government of Canada. Department of Agriculture. Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Administration

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9 cm of textual records
59 maps : blueprints
608 photographs : b&w and col. ; 25 x 20.5 cm or smaller

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Administrative history

By 1943 the federal and provincial governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had come to recognize the value of the dykelands and in 1943 set up the Maritime Dykeland Rehabilitation Committee (MDRC). For the first time, the condition of the Maritime dykeland was to be treated as a single and continuing project. Proprietors could apply for help through their local commissioners. The costs of repairs were to be divided evenly among Ottawa, NS and NB. There was so much work to be done that the reclamation project became known as the Emergency Program. In its first four years the MDRC completed 80 projects in Nova Scotia and 50 in New Brunswick. But work was still being done piecemeal, and the Emergency Program could not handle all the work that needed to be completed. In June 1948, the federal parliament passed an act creating the Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Administration and the three Maritime provinces signed agreements the following April. It then embarked upon major construction projects, reinforcing dyke walls and replacing aboiteaux sluice boxes. By the late 1960s almost all of the major projects had been completed. In 1970 the federal government decided it could safely withdraw from the field, and supervision of dyke maintenance was turned over to the provinces. In Nova Scotia the Department of Agriculture and Marketing became the supervising authority, making annual grants to the marsh bodies for dyke maintenance. These have continued to the present.

Custodial history

Sherman Bleakney, former professor of Biology at Acadia University, facilitated the donation of these records to the Archives. After his retirement he began to informally research the history of the Grand Pre (NS) dykelands, as well as their drainage patterns and marine fauna. He searched for relevant maps and photos as well as textual records and was fortunate to discover these records. The records in series one were held by the Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Agriculture and Marketing, Land Protection branch, Truro, NS and loaned to him by Hank Kolstee of that agency in the 1990s. Records in series two were held by the Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Agriculture and Marketing, Land Protection branch, Kentville, NS, and were loaned to him by Lindsay Carter, Aboiteau Superintendent of that agency in the 1990s. Series two once included photographs of the dykes in the Windsor, NS area but, prior to Bleakney’s find, they had been removed. They now reside in the museum at Windsor, NS. After studying the records in detail and recognizing their historical value, Bleakney convinced the Department to donate the records to the Esther Clark Wright Archives at
Acadia University. In using the records for his own study, Dr. Bleakney organized them and added annotations to some of the records. He also wrote a detailed inventory of them, upon which the Archivist has relied heavily to compile this finding aid.

Scope and content

The fonds contains material relating to the Grand Pre and Wickwire Dykes. Most of the records date from the 1950s, the time during which the MMRA conducted its most extensive repair projects. Each dyke requiring repairs was numbered and the Grand Pre Marsh project was No. 8. The second series contains hundreds of unique photographs that document construction of aboiteaux at approximately twenty sites in Nova Scotia, especially during the 1940s and 1950s.

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Associated materials

See also Dykes and Common Fields accession 1900.018
See also Proprietors of the Lower Dyke Common Field accession 1936.001
See also Sherman Bleakney accessions 2004.039-BLE, 2005.036-BLE, 2006.037-BLE
See also Grand Pre Marsh Body 2007.032-GPM

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