Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Hopewell Rock: Then and Now

During a recent visit to the Owl's Nest Book Shop here in Fredericton, I was looking for books on New Brunswick history to help with a writing project upon which I am working. I was pleased to find a hardcover book called This is New Brunswick, written by Jessie I. Lawson and Jean MacCallum Sweet and published by The Ryerson Press in Toronto in 1951.

In this book, these two women write about their travels to the four corners of the province of New Brunswick in 1950, providing a first-hand account of the province's many towns and villages, its rivers and valleys, and its people. They also provide a great deal of New Brunswick history, all written in an approachable and enjoyable style and accompanied by a collection of black and white photographs that were taken during their journey.

I was pleased and excited to find the top photo taken at the Hopewell Cape, which shows quite clearly some of the magnificent rock formations created by the ebb and flow of the world's highest tide as such rocks appeared in 1950.

So I went to my iPhoto archives to look at my own shots of Hopewell, taken on several trips to the Provincial Park over the past several years. I wanted to see if I could find a photo of the same rock, but as it appears today, 60 years after Ms. Lawson and Ms. MacCallum took their picture.

And I think I've done it. My photo is from a slightly different angle but I am convinced it's the same rock, even though it has changed a great deal over the years.

Now don't laugh. They are the same rock, I'm certain. First, recognise that the modern shot is taken with the photographer standing in a slightly different position - I am to the right of where the photographer for the first shot must have been, such that the rock in behind the main one is more in the shot.

Second, you have to accept that, in the 60 years between the photos, a full one-third (the left third) of the main rock has completely disappeared. The vertical lines on the face of the rock cut it into three parts in the 1950 photo while only two of those three parts remain in the newer shot.

Just look at the horizontal lines on the face of the rock in the modern photo and compare them to the horizontal lines on the face of the righthand two-thirds of the rock in the older shot. They match perfectly. And, in the old shot, you can see the bumps on the side of the rock in behind the main rock that look so much like a face in the modern shot.

I think it's the same rock. And I think it's amazing to think that, in a mere 60 years, the tide has wiped away a full one-third of this massive form. That's why it's so important to visit Hopewell every couple of years, since things are constantly changing.

In fact, we're going back to Hopewell this August and, when we do, I'll bring this interesting book and try to reproduce the original photo exactly.

Or, as exactly as time and erosion will allow.

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