New Brunswick

Historic canoe route recreated on St. John River

A New Brunswick couple are paddling the Canadian length of St. John River to recreate a historically important waterway.

Couple paddling 460km in period costumes

A New Brunswick couple are paddling the entire St. John River to recreate a historically important waterway. 1:28

A New Brunswick couple are paddling the Canadian length of St. John River to recreate a historically important waterway.

The 460-kilometre route was a critical water highway for generations of Maliseet and Mi`kmaq. The French and British relied on it to travel from an area near the St. Lawrence River in Quebec to the Bay of Fundy and it later became called the Grand Communication Route. It was a vital passage until rail and roads connected the interior to the coast.

Eric and Kim McCumber have lived on the St. John River most of their lives. On June 27, they`ll put their canoe in at Fort Ingall, Que., and head for Saint John, N.B. They expect a three-week trip —  all in 19th century costumes to mark the river`s role in the War of 1812. 

"What we're trying to represent are the couriers who went back and forth between Quebec City and Fredericton or Saint John," Eric McCumber said.

Celebrating nature

The couple plan to stop along the way to deliver history talks, and even deliver a few letters like the couriers of the 19th century. For the McCumbers, it`s also a chance to celebrate New Brunswick`s beauty.

"People say we're a have-not province, but I think the St. John River and its waterways are just phenomenal, and I don't think people are aware of that," he added.

The couple are taking the trip on behalf of the Kingston Peninsula Heritage group.

The couple have paddled together before, but not for a trip of such length.

"Thankfully there's houses up and down the river, so if something does go drastically wrong, we'll be near civilization," Kim McCumber said.