Text: Nathalie Landry
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos and Video: Nathalie Landry, Georges Brun, Mario Cyr, Brian Branch
Music: Rocket Culture

You may have seen him wandering around the banks of the Petitcodiac River, taking photographs, wearing his trademark goretex, dark shades and a baseball cap. You may have wondered what he is documenting or why anyone would be out so close to the river, especially in the winter months with freezing temperatures. Fact is, long-time Petitcodiac Riverkeeper volunteer Georges Brun is passionate about and knows quite a bit about the river. An official Riverwatcher, he is dedicated to observing and documenting the river as well as any activity taking place around it, in order to deter potential polluters and make sure the river’s health continues to improve.

A Moncton resident since birth, Brun grew up in the old Parkton area and studied at the Université de Moncton. He’s an outdoor enthusiast, has studied water management, and was one of the key players involved in putting public pressure on the Province leading to the opening of the causeway gates in 2010. He remains to this day one of river’s most adamant defenders.

“I was 4 or 5 years old the first time I saw the tidal bore. It had a big impact on me. The river is really an icon for our region. I guess you could say that I’ve always been an environmentalist. In the past, we’ve had a pretty bad relationship with managing our waterways. I remember back in the day when the sewers would empty out into various creeks of the area. I was very concerned when they first built the causeway, certain it would be bad for the river.”

Concerned with water quality, Brun was one of the founding members of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance in 1996. The group set up more than 40 freshwater and saltwater monitoring stations throughout the Petitcodiac and Memramcook River basins. His knowledge of water quality got him involved with Riverkeeper Daniel LeBlanc and other like-minded individuals who eventually formed the Sentinelles Petitcodiac Riverkeeper organization in 1999 to lead restoration and protection efforts for the Petitcodiac River. He remembers how alarming the situation was becoming.

“Fish stocks were on the decline. Salmons could not continue their migratory pattern up the river, and so fishermen in Salisbury started to notice that there were no more fish in their area. Each year, the river kept getting narrower, since the control structure was stopping the tide’s natural mud erosion process. At one point, I took a picture of herons in the river near the causeway gates. The river channel was so narrow and shallow at that area that they were almost stuck in the mud. It was frightening to see how low the water level had become. And the tidal bore, well it became, as you know, so minuscule that people were calling it the “total bore”.”

The Petitcodiac River’s channel had become alarmingly narrow and shallow, especially at low tide. Photo taken in 2001.

Brun started documenting all this a long time ago and his photos show the river’s evolution. He is happy to see the river regain its strength since the opening of the gates. People don’t realize what a precious ecosystem the river supports, he says.

“I see a lot of wildlife by the river: deer, foxes, beavers, turtles, all kinds of birds and many species of fish. The tides that roll in are important to our region’s climate too. We use to see a lot of fog back when I was a kid. The coldwater has a cooling effect on our region during the hot summer evenings. We’re only now starting to see more fog again, since the river is able to flow more naturally. The river is slowly eroding and clearing up its muddy banks. I also see people enjoying and appreciating the river a lot more.”

He warns that while the causeway remains in place, the control structure still impedes the river’s complete natural flow. And without the full force of the tide being able to reach the other side of the control structure’s gates, the river may continue to become narrower where the artificial lake use to be.

Other problems include pollution and ongoing urban development that does not take into account the importance of the region’s watershed.

Georges Brun documents wildlife on the Petitcodiac River and its banks, like this snowy owl, common raven and red fox seen over the winter months in 2014.

“There are always those who turn a blind eye in the name of development. When the causeway was built, the river became narrower, and we thus underestimated our limits in terms of where we should and should not build. Now that the river is regaining its natural flow and becoming wider, you would think that this would be a wake-up call and that we will realise the importance of respecting nature when deciding to build new buildings, roads and sewer lines. While volunteers like myself and people like Terry Hebert, Roger Dubois and Ernest Arsenault who care deeply about the river are busy monitoring and working on restoration projects in certain areas, we can’t be everywhere at once and we can’t always stop negative development from happening.”

He remains optimistic though. “My purpose is to alert people to what is going on. Hopefully by reporting things, we can deter potential polluters and question negative development. We also want to make sure the gates remain open in hopes that one day we can replace the control structure and roadway with a bridge and really allow our precious river to become the mighty Petitcodiac River it once was.”



Text: Nathalie Landry, Petitcodiac Riverkeeper
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos: Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, Charles LeGresley, Georges Brun

For many years, Petitcodiac Riverkeeper had led research and put pressure on the City of Moncton to remove an abandoned dam on Humphreys Brook.

As you may know, Humphreys Brook, located in eastern Moncton, is part of the Halls Creek sub-watershed, which is part of the larger Petitcodiac River catchment basin (2071 km2). While this important freshwater stream helps sustain our region’s biodiversity by providing habitat to various species of fish, amphibians, aquatic plants, invertebrates, and microorganisms, it also is an essential supply of water and food for many types of animals.

A 4.7-metre high, 9.1-metre-long dam was built at the turn of the past century to generate power for Humphreys Mill, which now sits idle (underneath the old Mill Road Bridge in Moncton). The dam had served no economic or social purpose since the early 1970s; the mill operation had long since been closed, and the headpond was filled with sediment and debris. Based on Micmac oral tradition and the fact that even smaller neighbouring tributaries of the Petitcodiac River watershed historically sustained Atlantic Salmon runs, we assumed that Humphreys Brook had sustained an Atlantic Salmon run before the dam was built.

When the City of Moncton decided to remove the abandoned dam in 2013, it allowed Humphreys Brook to reclaim its natural flow. Decommissioning the dam, along with phase one of the project, took place over the spring and summer months, reinstating fish passage in more than 9 km of good quality fish habitat in our region.

To begin the restoration project, an assessment of the restoration and planting sites was conducted. A list of native tree species to be planted was created and the quantities of trees were estimated based on the area to be re-vegetated. Many photographs of debris and erosion were taken to evaluate the work that needed to be completed. Given obvious signs of erosion present, soil bioengineering and biotechnical slope stabilization methods were planned.

Following the primary restoration plan, potential for hazards and exposure risks were assessed, considering the location where the work was to be carried out. Location maps were obtained and signed approvals and letters of consent were secured from property owners. A Watercourse and Wetland Alteration Permit from New Brunswick’s Department of Environment was obtained.

Partnerships with the city, local businesses, schools, collaborators and volunteers were developed. Agreements with restoration specialists and contractors were signed, and tree seedlings and live cuttings were ordered.

Phase two of the project thus started in the fall of 2013 and included removing tons of debris and blockages such as wood planks, tires, pieces of metal, concrete and garbage from the brook and its banks. Banks were be stabilized and restored by planting native species of woody vegetation. Biotechnical slope stabilization structures were also constructed in areas of severe runoff and erosion.

The success of this project is already visible today. It will be interesting to see the changes over the years when the trees have grown, erosion problems have become unnoticeable and the water runs free once again. Our vision for Humphreys Brook is that it becomes a healthy habitat for all fish, animals and people to enjoy in the urban center of Moncton.

We hope you enjoy the following images from this important restoration project. We are most grateful to our partners and the community for their continued support of our work.

Here we can see some before and after pictures of the Humphreys Brook dam site before, during and after demolition of the dam. The City of Moncton removed the dam in August 2013.

Lots of debris (wood planks, tires and concrete pipes) could be seen in the water and along the banks of Humphreys Brook prior to the restoration project.

One of the partners in the project, Tri-Province Enterprises, was brought in along with its heavy machinery to remove debris from the brook. Along 500 metres of the stream, over 20,000 lbs of debris were removed, weighed and disposed.

Incredible to think that all of that was in the brook. It is now all gone!

Run-off and soil erosion areas before the restoration project began.

Petitcodiac Riverkeeper volunteers in action! Here we see the construction of biotechnical slope stabilization structures. Structures were constructed using Willow and Red Osier Dogwood cuttings.

Erosion control after slope stabilization structures construction.

Humpreys Brooks banks before revegetation.

More than 1,700 native tree species were planted on the banks. They include: White Birch, Yellow Birch, Silver Maple, White Elm, White Pine, Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, Serviceberry, Balsam Poplar, Red Osier Dogwood, Willow, Trembling Aspen, Hawthorn, Meadowsweet, Common Elderberry and Choke Cherry.

One of the best parts of the project was the many public outreach activities. Here, we see small trees being planted with the help of students from École Champlain.

Stream banks after revegetation.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada, the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, the RBC Blue Water Project, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment/Gulf of Maine Association, Tri-Province Enterprises, Encorp Atlantic and the City of Moncton.



Text: Nathalie Landry
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos and videos: Georges Brun and Charles LeGresley, with contributions from Melvin Perez.
Music: Les Païens

Melvin Perez with Petitcodiac Riverkeeper President Pierre Landry.

Costa Rica native and new Moncton resident Melvin Perez has a special relationship with the Petitcodiac River. He has seen its power and beauty firsthand, from a place not many citizens have ever been.

From the inside.

“You get a whole new perspective of the city. It kind of feels like you are in this canyon looking up at the river banks and the mud. You feel the power of the waves. The river is truly alive.”

Perez was one of the pioneers to surf the Petitcodiac’s tidal bore. An avid surfer in his home country, he arrived in Moncton in 2012 and was quickly intrigued by our tidal bore.

“My wife is from New Brunswick and we had lived together in Costa Rica in a small beach town called Tamarindo for almost 11 years. After a while, she was missing her home, so we decided to give Moncton a try. I missed surfing a lot, it was a big part of my life. I knew about the river, that it had a high tide and low tide, but it wasn’t until one day when I was riding my bike by the path next to it that I saw this wave come in, going about the same speed as my bike. I immediately thought to myself “Oh my God, what is this?”. That’s when I learned about the tidal bore. I was very excited and started telling everybody that there was a potential to surf this wave. Why wasn’t anybody surfing?”

Of course, people told Perez his idea was crazy. He would get stuck in the mud, they said, or the water was polluted.

Discouraged, Perez, who is a bartender at the Chateau Moncton, had to be content just to watch the tidal bore roll in everyday. He would watch, mesmerized, finding in the phenomenon a bit of familiarity and comfort.

“It’s kind of funny. Here I was in my new town, working right next to the wave coming in everyday, just like when I was in Costa Rica, working right next to the ocean.”

As fate would have it, it was thanks to his job “next to the wave” that Perez would meet Californian surfers JJ Wessels and Colin Whitbread in July 2013.

“One night, I saw these guys come in with surfboards at the hotel, checking in. I immediately went to greet them and asked them if they were headed down to Halifax to surf at Lawrencetown. They told me no, that they were actually in Moncton to surf the wave here.”

Intrigued, Perez decided to jump on the occasion.

“I knew I couldn’t ride the entire 29 km with them. I hadn’t surfed in so long and I was not ready for that. So I decided I would start near the Chateau Moncton and wait for the bore to come in there.”

Perez says the first experience was incredible. Word had gotten out and he was surprised to see an audience when he headed out to the river the next day.

“I was full of adrenaline. There were so many people watching. When that first wave came in, I was so nervous that I fell. Looking to my left, I could see the big wave right next to me with the Californian surfers and the sea-doos. It was just unreal.”

Perez was hooked. He kept going down to the river time and time again over the course of the week, determined to catch the tidal bore’s wave and surf it for as long as he could. He kept going, even when all the other surfers left town.

“Some months, I would be out on the river many times, some months less, depending on how strong the bore was. At times, I would have the entire river to myself. Sometimes, I would see people riding their bikes or walking along the path and they would stop and wave at me, clap and cheer me on. Some people wanted to take pictures with me. It’s a nice feeling to see the citizens realizing that their river is very much alive.”

Perez has now surfed the tidal bore 43 times. He tries to surf it longer each time.

Surfing the tidal bore is also very different than surfing ocean waves, which is part of the big draw Perez now sees in our river for the surfing community.

“This wave is different. First of all, you know at what time it is coming, so you can plan ahead. But you never know how strong it is going to be. And the adrenaline is incredible, because there is only one wave and you do not want to miss it.”

He warns that surfing the bore is not for the inexperienced.

“Sometimes, the wave is not that big. You have to be careful. I have seen rocks, wood, garbage and metal things. I have had my foot stuck among some rocks when trying to get down to the river or come out of it. The current can be very strong and it never stops. You have to know where you can safely exit the river. This is not a place to learn how to surf.”

He sees the renewed interest in the Petitcodiac river through surfing as a good thing and hopes that the City will be prompted to continue work on the restoration of the river, so that it can flow like before and have better water quality. He also hopes that the river will not end up being too crowded.

“The river is now part of my life here in Moncton. It’s a beautiful wonder that we have right here.”



MONCTON (December 4, 2013) – A series of very good bores are expected to roll in this week. On Thursday, December 5, 2013, Moncton resident and native Costa Rican Melvin Perez will descend on his 40th tidal bore at 11:12am. He will start his journey behind Little Caesars restaurant at 18 Champlain Street in Dieppe and aim to reach Moncton’s Tidal Bore Park.

Melvin Perez surfed for the first time on the Petitcodiac River on July 23, 2013.
If conditions are favourable, he hopes to establish a personal annual record of 40 surfs on the bore. This will also be a world record for surfing the Petitcodiac’s tidal bore.



Melvin Perez
858-0528 (home)
870-4444 (work after 4pm: bartender at Château Moncton)


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