National Historic Site

 

Unique to the Canadian National Park system, Kejimkujik is a National Park and also a National Historic Site. Kejimkujik received this distinction in 1997, and on October 1, 2000 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada commemorated the Mi'kmaq cultural landsacape at Kejimkujik by unveiling an historic plaque. Their commemoration and the text of the plaque follow:
"Kejimkujik National Park lies in an area of glacial scour and deposition that defines its physical attributes. Lakes and rivers have been gouged out by ice and by meltwater flows. Drumlins and eskers dot the landscape. The soils of glacial silts and clays support a mixed forest. The Nova Scotia peninsula is at its widest here, producing a localized climate with slightly warmer summers and colder winters than are generally found in the maritime environment. Rare species of plants and animals are found here, such as the landings turtle. The mixed forest and numerous lakes and rivers support a rich variety of wildlife, including deer (replacing earlier moose and caribou), beaver, waterfowl, fresh-water fish and eels. Some of these fauna are portrayed in the petroglyphs, which are engraved in slate that outcrops on the east shores of Kejimkujik and George Lakes. Originating as sedimentary beds, they have been folded and scoured by the glaciers to produce smooth faces suitable for working. The entire park drains through two river systems, the Mersey and the Shelburne. The Mersey River forms part of a traditional transportation route across Nova Scotia, connecting the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Basin to the Atlantic shore at Liverpool. Portages to other rivers give access to coastal areas around the entire southwest end of Nova Scotia. At the time of European expansion into North America, the Mi'kmaq occupied a vast territory of over 130,000 square kilometers, including present-day Nova Scotia, most of New Brunswick east of the St. John River, Prince Edward Island, and part of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. The territory was divided into seven politically independent districts. The district of Kespukwitk ('land ends') covers southwestern Nova Scotia, including Kejimkujik National Park. The earliest archaeological evidence in the Park dates to the Late Archaic period, between 2500 and 4500 years ago. Since then there has been constant use of the area, often in the same locations. A site on the Mersey River, for instance, contains evidence of settlement through all subsequent time periods up to European contact. During this time, the resource base of the economy likely changed little, but the proliferation of sites and artifacts suggests an increasing population based on the successful use of those resources. Artifacts show stylistic changes which reflect both in-situ development and cultural influences from New Brunswick and New England. Technological innovations include a change from dugouts to skin or bark canoes and the introduction of ceramics. The disappearance of material evidence for settlement in the early post-contact years suggests a rapid depopulation of the area, perhaps due to foreign diseases. By the mid-19th century, however, concerned for protection of traditional lands, eleven Mi'kmaw families requested land grants around Kejimkujik Lake from the colonial government. In 1842, Joseph Howe, the Indian Commissioner, granted their request. At the same time, Mi 'kmaq in the area became renowned for their guiding expertise for international sportsmen. In the 20th century, guiding continued to be a successful endeavour. Lumbering was also a major commercial employer. People continued to hunt, fish and gather food plants and traditional medicines from the land."
The text of the plaque reads:
"MI'KMAQ CULTURAL LANDSCAPE AT KEJIMKUJIK
The cultural landscape at Kejimkujik attests to a Mi'kmaq preserice in the area since time immemorial. The relationship between Mi'kmaq and their environment is evidenced in seasonal camps, burial grounds, fish weirs, hunting territories, portages and trails. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Mi'kmaq cleared homesteads around Kejimkujik Lake, worked in forestry and excelled as fishing and hunting guides. Petroglyphs, engraved on rock outcrops along the lakeshores, portray many aspects of Mi'kmaq life and spirituality; reflecting the strong bond between land and people."