Archives for posts with tag: sackville


I love boardwalks.

The kind of boardwalks I’m talking about are the long wood pathways that wind through forests, over swamps and across marshlands. They twist and turn through otherwise inprentrable landscapes, providing an intimate experience of the world without harming it.

IMG_0888Boardwalk on the way to Risser’s beach, South Shore, Nova Scotia

Humans are curious creatures and boardwalks support that curiosity. They encourage an investigation of ecosystems and animal habitats without trampling them.

If designed well, flora and fauna can pass beneath boardwalks and over them, further decreasing our impact on the landscape.

The pure naturalists out there might protest the limitations of a boardwalk. Putting a barrier between us and the landscape, how are we supposed to connect with it? It’s not easy to feel like you’re in the wild when you’re walking along a predetermined route through the woods.


In my experience, the boardwalk provides an immensely intimate experience of ecology. My most recent boardwalk sojourn at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary brought me face to face with alligators, snakes, birds and majesty cypress trees.

And yes, the boardwalk’s a circuit, but given the recent history of the exploitation and destruction of most of the world’s habitats caused by human activity, I think it’s fair that most of us should stay back, and resist meddling with and trampling on the habitats of other plants and animals.


A boardwalks also simplifies the experience of nature to be coherent. Unlike human activity, the rest of nature doesn’t have a centre point. Walking along a boardwalk provides an intelligible experience of nature.

Finally, boardwalks are accessible! They provide an intimate experience of natural landscapes to everyone, particularly wheelchairs users, people with disabilities, and the elderly.

Southwest Florida has an especially high number of boardwalks. The area’s everglades and swampy forests mean that boardwalks are one of the only ways to see the landscape while avoiding getting your feet wet.

Corkscrew swamp sanctuary near Naples, Florida 

In Sackville, New Brunswick, a boardwalk dreamily winds its way through the Tantramar marsh. Over ponds and through thickets of grass and birch trees, the boardwalk’s 2 kilometres provide a thorough and highly satisfying experience of the elusive marsh lands.



Tantramar marsh boardwalk in Sackville, New Brunswick

But boardwalks don’t have to be limited to swampy lands – they can be built anywhere to heighten the experience of a place.

In Toronto, there’s a boardwalk through the ravines of Sherwood Forest. There’s also one that, inexplicably, crosses through a park near my house at Davenport and Dufferin. Despite its absurdity, the boardwalk provides a unique perspective to an otherwise ordinary green space.

In Blythewood the Path is an Elevated Wooden Walkway 016Sherwood Forest in Toronto


Absurd boardwalk through a park near Dufferin and Davenport 

But perhaps the most ultimate urban boardwalk is Manhattan’s High Line. Twisting and turning over the meatpacking district, the High Line travels over New York City without disturbing it. Flanuers can enjoy an intimate and unique experience of the city, getting to places they could otherwise not access. The novelty of floating above and through the city on the world’s largest urban boardwalk has been enough to make the High Line known throughout the world.



Exciting news, dear readers!

All this while, as your Urban Geographer, I’ve been thinkin’ bout the urban landscape – it turns out I’ve been shaping the urban landscape too!

That’s right, loyal followers. I am excited to announce that in a to-be-determined future date, my photo will become Sackville, New Brunsick’s highway sign!

The highway sign currently looks like this (credit to google street view, as usual)  :::::::::::::::::::::

And will soon be transformed to this image, featured below (in low res), originally appearing in a post from last summer. The photo’s rights-to-use have been formally purchased by the Town of Sackville.

The photo is of bright August day in 2011, when Sackville’s main thoroughfare, Bridge Street was transformed to indie-rock paradise by the annual SappyFest. On a journalistic bend for an upcoming Spacing Atlantic article, I climbed the roof of Tidewater books for this sweet-summer aerial view.

I am grateful that the Town of Sackville got in touch with me to use the image – my respect to this special place deepens, my connection to it expands. I am also thoroughly happy to be an official, paid-Urban Geographer, and take with that the great responsibility it brings.

See you on the highway!

cross-posted froSpacing Atlantic

SACKVILLE – Last weekend saw Sappy Fest Six energize the otherwise quiet summer streets of beautiful Sackville, New Brunswick. The festival features a diversity of musical acts, workshops and art installations that take place in a variety of venues, including Uncle Larry’s Billiards Hall, the Royal Canadian Legion and a Main Stage Tent that closes down Bridge Street, downtown Sackville’s main commercial thoroughfare.

The effect is a unique experience of urban space, where otherwise ordinary features of the town become the backdrops of incredible musical experiences. The festival is an opportunity for Sackville to showcase itself, and submit its streets, structures and parks to transformation and reconsideration by visiting festival-goers and resident Sackvillers alike.

A special buzz preceded the first night of Sappy Fest this year, as a mysterious final act, “Shark Attack!” was billed to play after Owen Pallet, the scheduled headliner. And the rumours were all but confirmed until the Arcade Fire took the stage to an electrified crowd of 1500, screaming and singing along with equal intensity to the stadium-sized crowds this band is now used to playing for.

During the opening refrains of the anthemic “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)” the crowd and band sang together, “Meet me in the middle/ the middle of the town!” There, in the middle Sackville, in a tent on a street intimately framed by 19th and 20th century store fronts, the Arcade Fire played in an exceptionally appropriate setting, in light of this lyric and the subject matter of their music in general.

The Arcade Fire’s surprise concert in the streets of Sackville is a good opportunity to acknowledge this band’s contribution to our collective project of understanding and relating to the complexities of contemporary urban space. Their most recent album, “The Suburbs,” is a thoughtful reflection on what it has meant for a generation to grow up in a country characterized by immense suburban sprawl. The album’s popularity is testament to the importance and ability of exploring concepts of urban space familiar to Spacing readers in a broader context, outside of the immediate planning/urban enthusiast community. Arcade Fire’s reflections on our built environment come at a critical moment when issues of urban planning and design have become central to the public eye. Their songs offer philosophical comfort as we make sense of, and come up with solutions to, the environmental, social and psychological consequences of the sprawl that defines much of the Canadian urban landscape.