Our Portaupique

“Our Portaupique”


Written April 2, 2022 by Joy Snihur Wyatt Laking

In memory of those who were killed on April 18 & 19, 2020

And for those of us still traumatized.

“May we all learn to see the beauty again.”



Every day,

Twice a day,

The moon pulls the salt water

From the Minas Basin,

Up the Portaupique River

Until it spills over the salt marsh.


To the rhythm of the tides and seasons,

Eagles, geese, gulls

Soar overhead

Looking for rabbits, foxes, fish.

Moose, bear, and wild cat

Hunt, forage,

Raise families, die.

Deer browse new growth.

Foxes make dens in hillsides.

Woodpeckers hammer holes

In dead wood.

While beavers cut trees 

To build dams and lodges.


For years,

The Mi’kmaq people

Paddled these shores

Camping and exploring

The Portaupique River inlet,

And up Into the valley

At the base of the 

Still-shrinking Cobequid Hills.

Living a nomadic life,

They foraged all sorts of wild foods,

Jerusalem Artichokes, 

Marsh Greens,

Fish and game.


Early in the 17th Century

The first Acadian family,

The Bourques

Arrived in Portaupique

From France.

They built rough houses,

And dikes and aboiteaus

To farm the salt marsh.

Their families were large.

Other communities

Were settled

up and down

The shore.


In the mid 18th century

The British claimed this land. 

They expelled the Acadians,

Letting the earthen dikes and 

Aboiteaus erode.

They farmed the post-glacial stoney land

Above the high water mark.

They harvested the woodland,

Fished the bay,

And cut salt hay from the marsh,



Like the tides,

Both people and nature, 

Ebb and flow.

The tiny fragrant spring beauty

Is a foil to horrendous acts and death.

Aging, poverty, religion and politics

Bring neighbours together

Or drive them apart.

Nature is not kind

But neither is it punitive.

Only people have the choice

To live in harmony,

Or not.


Every day,

Twice a day,

The moon pulls the salt water

From the Minas Basin

Up the Portaupique River

Until it spills over the salt marsh.