Hidden history

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Aboiteau unearthed on LaPlanche River

AMHERST - Workers building a new sluice-gate on the LaPlanche River got a bit of a surprise recently when their excavation uncovered a 250-year-old Acadian aboiteau.

Hidden history

AMHERST - Workers building a new sluice-gate on the LaPlanche River got a bit of a surprise recently when their excavation uncovered a 250-year-old Acadian aboiteau.

"They didn't know what it was at first. It was a little extraordinary and didn't look like something they'd expect to find. It was buried under about three metres of marsh mud. They set it aside just in case it was something important and it was," Doug Bacon said. "It's history that takes us back to the Acadian period."

Bacon, who is participating in a Department of Agriculture project to divert the river through a new sluicegate, called in Parks Canada archeologist Charles Burke from the nearby Beaubassin dig to examine the five-metre long artifact and confirm that it was an aboiteau.

An aboiteau is a hinged valve in a dyke allowing fresh water to run off a saltmarsh and prevents salt water from entering at high tide.

Burke said the aboiteau is one of several found in the former Beaubassin area over the years. Although it was not found in its original location, the archeologist said it's still a significant find.

"Given its location it was something was developed by people living in the Beaubassin area in the time after the Acadians arrived. It wasn't found in its original location but it's still a significant find," Burke said.

Bacon has put the aboiteau in water to prevent it from deteriorating and hopes to eventually turn it over to Parks Canada to preserve it and some day put it in a museum being proposed for the Beaubassin historic site.

"I think it's wonderful that the people doing the excavating work recognized it was something significant or we may have lost this piece of history," said MP Bill Casey, who has been working for several years to have Beaubassin declared a national historic site. "It would have been so easy to carry on thinking it was an old log and disposed of it."

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Parks Canada, Department of Agriculture

Geographic location: Beaubassin, LaPlanche River

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