We didn’t make it down to the Park for the live broadcast on June 30 but we got a first-hand report from a neighbour who witnessed the announcement of the UNESCO designation for Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, our home away from Melbourne. All those who worked hard for five years to make the UNESCO bid happen were present at the Park.

When the approval came through, all the men in the room burst into tears. Our female friend was stunned by the emotional reaction of her stalwart Nova Scotia colleagues. Unless it is “some hot,” as locals like to say, men’s handkerchiefs are never used for anything other than blowing one’s nose. They are never, ever used to dry tears.

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The Canada Day celebration down at the Grand Pre Historic site the next day drew a large crowd. It was a triple celebration, in fact– to honour Canada’s confederation, to celebrate Grand Pre’s new designation as an “exceptional landscape with outstanding universal values,” and to witness the unveiling of a wood sculpture commemorating a natural landmark– the Elm at Horton Landing.

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The old elm tree is believed to have been planted around 1835. It stood as a silent sentinel for 175 years, often attracting bald eagles. It could not escape the blight of Dutch Elm disease, but even as a dead tree it was magnificent. The story goes that the tree was planted by a young boy who liked to fish the Gaspereau River with his uncle. One day the boy brought along a sapling, and it grew tall and strong. In time, other children would have shade while they were fishing.

Alex Colville French Cross

His uncle may not have told him about the thousands of Acadians who were loaded onto ships during the deportation, beginning in 1755, but he would have spoken about the coming of the New England settlers in June 1760. A town plot had already been laid out at Horton Landing. After they put up their temporary shelters, the Planters fitted two barrels with cranks, filling one with the names of the settlers and another with the numbers of lots.

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There were town lots, wood lots, dyke land lots, and lots on Boot Island, a short distance away Two blind-folded women drew out the slips and matched the names to the lots. Then the trading began. They were not able to get in a crop that year, and the next winter was severe. A great gale increased the highest tides in the world by ten feet, breaking through the Acadian dykes. But with help from Halifax, the settlement survived.

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The photo above was taken by Jim Wolford. In November of 2010, the skeletal elm was finally toppled by a powerful storm off the Atlantic. The storm ripped a large patch of shingles off our carriage house and nearly uprooted a large, healthy, Austrian pine tree in our backyard.

When Monette Leger, an Acadian artist from New Brunswick, found out the tree was down, she got on the phone to Victor Tetrault at the Societe Promotion Grand Pre and told him she would like to carve it. Together, they came up with a plan. They would enlist the help of Gerald Gloade, a Mi’kmaq carver, as well as a local wood worker, Doug Morse, a descendent of a Planter family.

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The three sections are on a turntable that allows the old tree to come to life. It is called: Three Cultures, One Land. According to the UNESCO release, the landscape is an exceptional example of the adaptation of the first European settlers to the conditions of North American Atlantic coast and an iconic place of remembrance of the Acadian’s deportation. The village and dyked lands of Grand Pre have joined the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids on the world stage. Go figure.

Please click on the pics running beside this post to see the fine wood carving and the piece of Paradise called Grand Pre.

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