Old French Orchard, Grand Pre.
The dikes, first built here by the French, and since that time enormously extended, are eloquent reminders of the natural phenomenon connected with the neighboring Bay of Fundy. Every one knows that in respect to tides this arm of the Atlantic is unique among the estuaries of the globe. Its name is a corruption of the title given to it by the earliest map-makers of these coasts, the Portuguese, who called it "Baya Fonda," or the Deep Bay. Deep certainly it becomes, when the great ocean torrent rushes up its funnel-shaped enclosure, for the contracting shores force it continually higher as it nears the terminus, until the water, which at St. John had attained an altitude of twenty-seven feet, reaches a height of fifty in the Bay of Minas. Moreover, as the channel narrows and the depth increases, the current steadily grows swifter, till in the neighborhood of Grand Pre the bore runs forward like a race-horse at a rate of six or seven miles an hour, and breaks upon the broad flats like a splendid surf wave six feet high.
High Tide At St. John.
This region, therefore, every day presents two utterly different aspects. Thus, when the sea is at its ebb, one looks on miles of level country covered with a film of thick red mud, which, far from being deleterious, forms, like the sediment of the Nile, a fertilizing dressing. It is, in fact, this layer of rich soil, brought to them by the waves, that has made all these meadows so productive; and even the lands reclaimed by the Acadians, though rimmed with dikes, always received through sluices a sufficient quantity of the alluvial flood. At low tide in the Basin of Minas, one might suppose that he was gazing on the scene of a marine catastrophe. Ships of all sizes are seen scattered over the expanse, heeled over on their sides, listless as sleeping dogs stretched out before a fire. One could imagine them to have been carried inland on some awful wave, which, drawing back, has left them high and dry, forevermore beyond the reach of Neptune. But when the surging sea comes once more turbulently from the outer world, the change is magical. The lolling vessels quiver at the first touch of the returning tide; begin to move uneasily; waver a little, as the water surges round them; and lo! ere one can fairly comprehend it, they are upright and afloat again, instinct with life and ready for departure. Meantime, the dull red pavement has been superseded by a floor of lapis-lazuli; and thousands upon thousands of huge haystacks, perched on wooden piles, which but an hour before looked like the stranded cones of some sublime sequoia, now seem to float like monstrous buoys upon the surface of the deep.
Montreal marks the ending of one mode of steamship travel and the beginning of another. Here oceanic navigation meets its grave, and inland navigation finds its cradle. Up to its wharves come transatlantic liners, which have already steamed a thousand miles since passing through the ocean gateway at Belle Isle; and from those wharves another set of steamers, scarcely less endowed in strength and size, start on a voyage of thirteen hundred miles still farther westward, through rivers, locks, canals, and a succession of "un-salted seas," until they reach the sunset shore of Lake Superior. Nature, of course, provides the waterways which make this continental sailing possible; but it had also placed so many obstructions in the way of man's advancement that such a long, unbroken journey as can now be made from lock to river, river to canal, and lake to lake, would have appeared as hopeless and chimerical to the early settlers as projects of aerial transportation seem to us. To dauntless hearts, resourceful heads, and willing hands, however, difficulties are opportunities. So was it here. A little to the west of Montreal, rapids suddenly interrupt the course of the St. Lawrence, and for the first time render it impassable for ascending ships. Unfortunately this barrier is not the only one. Like the successive ramparts of a fortress, such reefs and shallows follow one another at irregular intervals as far west as Prescott, and aggregate forty-three miles of broken water. Some of these breakers well-nigh cost the brave explorer, Champlain, and his followers their lives, when they essayed to force a passage through them in their light canoes; but enterprise and science have now cleverly outflanked these points of danger by means of six superbly built canals, with twenty-seven locks, through which large ships can circumnavigate the treacherous ledges, and ultimately reach an elevation two hundred and thirty-five feet above the level of Montreal.