As a large crowd gathered for a special ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Sackville Waterfowl Park, a common theme emerged as speakers shared how the local landmark has shaped their own lives, the lives of other area residents and the community itself.
Megan Mitton, Memramcook-Tantramar MLA, noted her own lengthy relationship with the park at the June 22 event.
“I actually have a history with wetlands. I used to work for the Tantramar Wetlands Centre, which is the wetlands just across the highway,” she said, “so I feel like even though I’m not a biologist, I know the value of wetlands and it’s really exciting to see how our community has embraced having the Sackville Waterfowl Park in its centre and to see it still growing... Really, having the Waterfowl Park in Sackville has shaped my life, how I think about Sackville and this area. I can remember being a kid and (a duck) was the mascot, and we still notice that the benches downtown have ducks as the arm rests; now we’ve added the crosswalks, which are really cool with the ducks... it’s amazing how integrated into our lives and into the community the Waterfowl Park is.”
Adam Campbell of Ducks Unlimited also shared his unique relationship with the Sackville Waterfowl Park.
“The park is part of the reason I became a wetlands biologist... my first summer job was as a Waterfowl Park interpretive guide. My eyes were opened to the variety of species that call wetlands home and my developing relationship and mentorship from a number of Canadian Wildlife Service staff encouraged my curiosity.”
Although he had known her since Grade 4, he also noted he didn’t connect with his future wife until she, too, served as an interpretive guide at the time.
“It didn’t take me long to fall in love with her, either. And this may be a bit of a stretch but my youngest daughter Hannah’s middle name is actually Teal. I fought for it to be her first name but I don't always get my way.
“So you can see it’s pretty obvious how the Waterfowl Park has been good to me, and I’ll always be fond and connected to this managed wetland. It’s hard to know how many similar connections have been made over the past 30 years. With countless visitors and the magic of this site, I have to think that it has impacted many others.”
The newly-appointed regional director of Canadian Wildlife Services, Helen Kerr, also spoke of the importance of the park to the community, and the commitment of the people who reside here.
“I’m just amazed at the community of Sackville and certainly the people here who pitch in and really collaborate and put their elbows in and get work done... I think you all really exhibit how communities can work together with people like Ducks Unlimited and the university and the Government of Canada and other levels of government to get things done.”
Mount Allison University president Jean-Paul Boudreau noted Mount A made land available for the creation of the Sackville Waterfowl Park and stressed its ongoing importance to staff, students and alumni.
“For us it’s just a really great example, I think, to Canada for the ways in which universities can work in partnership with communities.
Sackville Mayor John Higham, who served as emcee for the event, stressed the importance of noting the dedication of the numerous volunteers who made the Sackville Waterfowl Park a reality and continue to maintain it, especially Al Smith, Paul Bogaard and Sandy Burnett, who have been involved in the park’s evolution from the beginning.
Daniel Lund Park officially unveiled
Nearly 80 people were on hand for the special anniversary ceremony, which also saw the new Daniel Lund Park officially unveiled.
The park will be linked to the existing Sackville Waterfowl Park and was made possible through a donation by the late Daniel Lund of a substantial section of property, including significant portions of wet meadow and mixed forest habitat, which will be added to the existing ponds and marsh impoundments.
A special monument in honour of Lund, located a short distance from the end of Squire Street, was dedicated during the ceremony.
“For me, events leading up to today’s unveiling of this monument really started 25 years ago,” said Al Smith, a member of the Sackville Waterfowl Park advisory committee. “At that time I was the chairperson of a Renaissance Sackville sector known as the environment sector, and Dan started attending some of the sector meetings and soon after became very active... Following one of the sector meetings he came up to me and he said ‘I’ve got this idea. I’ve been buying up some chunks of land and I want to see it eventually being incorporated into the Sackville Waterfowl Park.’”
Smith said Lund noted at the time he wanted a heritage wind-driven sawmill constructed on the site in memory of his grandfather Daniel Lund, who fought in the American Civil War and later became a lumberman.
Smith said Lund worked toward that vision over the next several years, at the age of 75, constructing the base of trail called Dan’s Way, from the end of Squire Street to the site where the monument was recently unveiled.
Although Lund went on to become heavily involved in the Tantramar Heritage Trust’s preservation work and wasn’t able to complete his vision, Smith said the project will now become a reality.
“Here today I’m kind of reminded of the words of a 1972 song, ‘A dream never dies, just the dreamer,’ and Dan the dreamer is no longer with us but today we’re realizing some of his dream. This beautiful piece of land, about 25 acres, is being added to our beloved Sackville Waterfowl Park and as you’ll see when we unveil the monument, he even has his windmill.”
Several members of the Lund family were on hand for the ceremony, including Daniel's brother Ken.
He recalled how he and his brother played on the property that will be used to make the new park many years ago, even though different sections were owned by other members of the community at the time.
“They were owned by Mr. Doncaster, Mr. Campbell of Campbell Hill and by Mr. David Wheaton. However, they were long-suffering and very accommodating owners, and we played on these lands – my brother and I and our friends and many, many people from the town of Sackville – as if they were a park land, and out of that experience came my brother’s wish that it should some day become an actual park.”
Smith said there will be considerable future development of the Lund Park, beginning with the construction of a trail that connects the existing trail to the Rails for Trails via a new bridge, courtesy of the Sackville Rotary Club.
Next year, construction of a woodland trail will begin, he added.
“And the woodland trail will connect into this section here, and follow a route all the way through some pretty interesting woodland habitats and fairly mature aspen and oak trees and wetlands-tolerant species and then move back into the trail head. So that will add a huge dimension to the Waterfowl Park and be certainly very much valued by birders looking for forest species; the year after that, we hope to construct at this very sight a small shelter.”
The shelter, he added, will include interpretative signage, which will be completed in two years.