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Sackville River SS1

The Sackville River flows in a more or less southerly direction into Bedford Basin on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. The mouth is in the community of Bedford, Lat. 44° 44′, Long. 63° 40′. The headwaters is in the Mount Uniacke area, and the stream flows through Upper, Middle & Lower Sackville, with a branch from the Beaverbank area & one from the Hammonds Plains area.

General Description
Sackville River is about 25 miles long and drains an area of about 60 square miles. The lower part of the river basin was originally an area of small mixed farms and lumbering was extensive in the upper portion. In this area there are acres of clear cutting near the river with tops and slashing left on the banks. Now, however, Sackville is Halifax’s fastest growing suburb and the lower part of the river basin is almost entirely residential area, moving outwards rapidly and taking up more and more of the basin.

Sackville River flows through a valley of granite and glacial fill. The gradient is moderate, but in some areas the stream is very rough and boulder strewn. 5, Between these rough areas there are long, deep dead waters flowing through swamps. In a few areas the stream flows moderately over gravel bottoms and forms riffle areas. The banks are variable from low swampy areas to steep cliffs as high as 50 feet.

This river is a fast run-off river with very high flows in spring and after heavy rains. At such times the velocity is very high and the river overflows its banks and makes new channels in many low areas. In mid-summer the river is just a small stream flowing between the boulders.

This flooding problem in such a populated area has led to several miles of the lower part of’ the stream being channelized and re-routed, and it is a number of years since any homes have been flooded. Ten years ago, flooded basements were an annual event.

This system has fifteen lakes, several of them quite large, and a number of ponds and still waters. High­ways 1, 101 and old route 1 more or less parallel this river throughout its length, although in some places it is quite far removed from any of these roads. In the lower parts of the brook there are housing developments and other roads to the river in several places. In the upper portion small wood roads and lumbering roads give access to the river from Highway 101.

The largest tributary to the Sackville River is Little Sackville River. The Little Sackville is about 5 miles long and drains an area to the east of the main river. It originates in two small lakes in the Beaverbank area – Little Lake and Feely Lake. This stream has a gentle gradient and a meandering course. There are housing developments all along this river and roads parallel it and cross it in many places. There is a sawmill on this brook that has operated for many years.

The Little Sackville River formerly flooded its banks each spring and endangered houses along the river. The flooding has been controlled by channelization and re-routing of the river.

Tributary SSlB is a fairly large brook joining the main stream from the west. This stream is about five miles long. It drains Marsh Lake and Sandy Lake. Sandy Lake, like many others on this system, is surrounded by housing developments, and there is a large dairy manufacturing plant being built on the shore in 1974. The countryside around this stream is very rough and hilly. A large swamp surrounds Marsh Lake, and in fact, the new map shows the lake to be twice as large as the old map does.

Thompson Run is tributary to McCabe Lake from the west. It originates in Beaver Lake and Bottle Lake, and also drains Sandy Lake. These three lakes are inaccessible by road, and surrounded by dense woods. Thompson Run enters McCabe Lake through a large swamp area. There are about 2 miles of stream on Thomson River.

Tributary SSIF enters the north end of McCabe’ Lake from the east. – It drains two small lakes, Little Springfield Lake and Drain Lake. The outflow of these lakes is a small rocky brook. The stream between the two lakes flows through a culvert under highway 101.

Tributary SSIG joins the main river just above McCabe Lake. It drains Tomahawk Lake, one of the largest lakes of the system, and Beaver Lake, a smaller lake. This is a different Beaver Lake from the one on Thompson Run. There are about 4 miles of stream on SSIG. In addition, there are a number of small ponds and swamps on this system. SSIG drains an area to the west of the main river, between the Sackville River and Pockwock Lake.

SSIH is the tributary, which joins Lewis Lake to the mainstream and SSlJ, joins Pentz Lake to the river. Both Lewis Lake and Pentz Lake are centers for large housing developments

Fish Species

Historically, the Sackville River was a very good salmon river for its size. Records show that in the 18th century a fishing party took 45 salmon from one pool on the Sackville River in 1 day. In the 1940’s and 1950’s the Department of Fisheries maintained a fish hatchery at the mouth of this stream and utilized salmon from the stream for brood stock. Runs have declined since then and it is popularly believed that there are no longer salmon in the river. However, one fisherman reports catching a salmon there in 1974, and salmon fry and parr have been found by electrofishing.

The run of salmon in this river was a spring run, occurring early in the year during the snow melt run off. Spawning areas are not abundant on this stream, since much of the bottom is composed of boulders. However, there are some stretches of gravel in the lower main stem and in the lower Little Sackville. There are small patches of gravel scattered throughout the stream where the current is moderate. The extent of salmon migration is not known, but the only barriers are at the headwaters of the Little Sackville River. Most of the stream is open to salmon now, although there were barriers in the past.

The Atlantic salmon is an anadromous fish (spawning in fresh water but spends the majority of its life in salt water), and is renowned for phenomenal journey from the waters off south eastern Greenland, through the North Atlantic, to spawning beds in the rivers of Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Faroes Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, France, Spain, and the United States. However, due to disturbance and pollution, many essential salmon runs have become extinct. Many individuals and organizations are now trying to raise awareness of the disappearing salmon runs, as Atlantic salmon are essential for the livelihood of many ecosystems and animal habitats as well as Atlantic heritage