Ferry loss severed connection to American students

Carla Allen
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For at least six years Charles Saulnier brought students from his award-winning environmental science program in Massachusetts to Nova Scotia via the ferry each summer.

Close to 85 students from Essex Agricultural and Technical High School participated over that time, visiting several sites in the province and doing comparative studies between American and Canadian fisheries.

Saulnier felt it was important for the young people to know more about how their neighbours to the north lived and worked.

“The longest peaceful border in the world is between these two countries,” he said. “I wanted to hit upon this idea of the bioregional vision: eco-system-based management. The international line means nothing when you’re trying to manage the whole eco-system.”

The visitors partnered with the federal government and several other agencies. They visited a local lobster pound to learn how the lobster industry worked. They were welcomed at Pubnico wharves and toured the Pubnico Wind Farm.

“The people were incredible. They allowed my students to come right down on the docks,” he said. “The students just ate it up.”

The young biologists also partnered with Ecole secondaire de Clare.

Saulnier refers to environmental science teacher Roland LeBlanc as a goodwill ambassador. LeBlanc found lodging for the visitors and showed them what his students were doing.

 “They were raising Atlantic salmon and so were we. In fact I got the idea from Clare Regional High School,” said Saulnier.

The Essex students also raise northern red-bellied cooters and flounder.

“We always had this vision of them coming down to our school but it just never worked out unfortunately,” said Saulnier of LeBlanc’s class.

Saulnier and his students also travelled to the Minas Basin to explore the Acadian connection between the countries. The youths stayed at Dalhousie University and were introduced to the Aquatron laboratory. The weeklong tour included a stop in Lunenburg.

In 2002 the Environmental Science program won the Gulf of Maine Visionary Award, presented by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment.

Many of the students have gone on to further studies in biology and the environmental field.

“It was great for them to see all this. And the sad thing is, this all kind of collapsed with the end of the ferry,” said Saulnier, who owns his grandmother’s home in Wedgeport with his sisters.

He and his sisters are strongly considering selling their family home now because of the difficulty in travelling here.

“We used to come up a lot. As children we’d go down to the tuna wharf and the museum and the breakwater, hiking all along the shorelines and collecting rocks,” he said.  

“We used to be able to just take the ferry from Portland or drive to Bar Harbor or at one time you could take a plane from Boston to Yarmouth. Now you have to take a plane to Halifax and rent a car,” he said. “In a way it doesn’t make sense to hold onto it because it’s so convoluted to get out here.”

He wishes the environmental students could still visit this region. The destination is now New Brunswick for project participants. “Those kids, when we brought them up here, you’d think they landed on the moon. They were so thrilled. Many of them had never been out of Massachusetts,” he said.


Organizations: Essex Agricultural and Technical High School, Clare Regional High School, Dalhousie University Aquatron laboratory Maine Council on the Marine Environment

Geographic location: Atlantic, Lunenburg, Wedgeport Portland Bar Harbor Boston Yarmouth Halifax New Brunswick Massachusetts

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Recent comments

  • Kirk
    June 05, 2012 - 20:23

    Air service is available from Portland, ME to Yarmouth via Twin Cities Air with daily scheduled daily service http://www.twincitiesairservice.com/portland-to-yarmouth.html

  • Sharon L. Lodge
    June 02, 2012 - 15:51

    Yes, the connection is severed. I come from New York State every summer to visit my sister in Argyle. I used to come via the ferry. Now I fly the little plane from Portland. But, not everyone can do this. Nova Scotia is now more remote than ever before - practically an island as far as the US is concerned. The ferry is needed by Yarmouth, Southwest Nova Scotia, and yes, by the whole province as everyone has suffered from its absence. Let the call go out! Bring the ferry back in 2013!

  • Don Isennock
    June 02, 2012 - 15:01

    Bring back the ferry NOW , I have been spending my summers in Yarmouth and have watch busnesses go, close there doors, no tourism.. I agree with ark Guay, that lighthouse needs to be seen by all, the entire town needs to be seen. I just heard another popular place is closing after Fathers Day, The Austrian Inn,every Sunday our family ate there. So sad !!!!!!!!

  • Jean A Luc
    June 02, 2012 - 09:19

    Happy for Mr Saulnier .hope the next time you bring students they will be in a Bluenose like ferry. hard to get home anymore.

  • Mark Guay
    June 01, 2012 - 10:35

    Not only is the connection severed between this great progam, it's also beguining to errode the connection between people in general: Family, Friends, and Industry. Talk Talk Talk, that's about all you hear from those wanting to get re eleceted or re appointed. You want to save Yarmouth and Southern Nova Scotia? Start by agreeing to bring the Ferry back. While all of the "Decision" makers drag out the politically correct discourse, Yarmouth suffers. Geez, your Lighthouse at Cape Forchu was just named Canada's Best Public Space! Capitolize on this, and get the ferry back for 2013!