While chatting with Nancy Hood enroute to Riley’s Cove yesterday, the subject of waterfalls came up. I told her how Barrie and I would be trying to find “la montagne” later in the day. Nancy said, “Get in touch with René Belliveau. He has a waterfall close to where he lives.” I hadn’t seen René for awhile, but knew he would be helpful.
As soon as we returned home I called him. Was there a waterfall close to his home in Meteghan River and, if so, could I come and see it? “Why yes. Anytime. We’ll have to canoe there but it’s not far.”
The next morning we were in his red canoe heading for the falls. Now here’s the thing. If you were to put your kayak or canoe in at the bridge in front of A. F. Theriault and paddle upstream on the South Branch of the Meteghan River at high tide, you’d find yourself at that waterfall within 15 minutes. But that’s not all. On the right side, before the bend where the waterfall is located, if you look up to your right you’ll see a small cave. Look closer and you’ll see gobs of red ochre. Locally, it’s called “the paint mine.”
René explained that it was used by the Mi’kmaq for ceremonial purposes and, later, by the Acadians to paint their barns. I crawled up the bank and pinched a little of the ochre between my fingers. It felt slippery like wet chalk with bits of clay in it. I marvelled thinking this cave has been here for hundreds of years, and how useful it had been to so many people.
René is a local naturalist and has a wealth of information about the outdoors. For example, he showed me seaside plantain, an edible green that grows in the marsh and is very tender and tasty in the spring and early summer. Further inland, he pointed to a tree which has a chaga mushroom. It looked like a giant black canker sore to me, but it’s high in oxidants and has healing properties when ground into a powder and steeped.
One of these days I’ll land on his doorstep again to learn more. Meanwhile, anyone know of more waterfalls or secluded swimming spots in the area?