The Exploits River is the island’s longest river with the biggest watershed. It’s the river that generates the most electricity. It’s the River that gave rise to one of the greatest industrial developments in Newfoundland’s history. Yet, the Exploits doesn’t exist in the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was edited out. Unfathomable! Inexcusable!
The River is very political with its fate in the hands of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Governments can protect or ruin the River by what they do or don’t do. Who knows how many more power plants, mines, industrial operations, sand pits, helicopter pads, hotels, depots and recreation facilities will spring up along the River and its tributaries? Presently, our town council is seeking changes in zoning laws along the River. Are the changes sought really in the best interests of the River and the people?
Practically ever time I cross the bridge behind the mill I am in awe at the sight of the River flow-
ing through the gorge. Last winter that view point inspired photographers to take pictures of the ice circles formed in the River below. And a number of years ago Blaise Pinsent’s stunning picture of rocks in the River below the Grand Falls appeared in The Advertiser. As well, two paintings of the Grand Falls are hung in the permanent art gallery at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts. And Gordon will tell you the River of his boyhood is etched deeply into who he is.
Sadly, much of the River is hidden from our view thus we are unable to soak up more of its beauty and truly appreciate and respect the great waterway as it flows through our valley. Who knows how many more paintings, photographs, songs, plays and prose would exist if more of the River was steeped even deeper in our psyche? An often spectacular scene of the River, especially at sunset, near Riverview Motors, is slowly disappearing as the nearby trees mature. Dare I suggest the town thin out this area and let us keep a view we have long enjoyed.
Maybe if the River’s name was linked to our town’s name we would think about the River differently. Think of the place as River City.
River City would be a town without a hyphen, and the only town in the whole world with that name. How could we not think of the River every time we said River City? River City just might help us focus on the River’s greatness with its salmon and other fauna, the flora, rocks and sheer raw beauty - all the very things that could give rise to all sorts of cultural and economic activities.
Call this place what you will, there is no disputing the fact that the state of the River and its ecosystems affects our very being. The River, restored and pristine, along with the electricity it produces and its nearby woodlands and minerals are our keys to a long lasting, prosperous future.
Hence, we must all become the River’s guardians. And be on guard of not just its resources, but on guard against any corporation, government, town, or individual ever again degrading this most precious gift Mother Nature has given us - the River.
Andy Barker at email@example.com