At the beginning of September, I’ll be moving up to Fredericton, New Brunswick to start the dissertation project in earnest. So, what will I be working on?

Growing up in Massachusetts, I was fascinated by the ancient trail system that crisscrossed southern New England. First Nations overland trails became early colonial roads, which evolved into the paved highways that are still in use. What journeys led to the development of these trails?

While overland trails existed throughout the Northeast, First Nations people also made use of the region’s many rivers. They developed sophisticated canoe technologies and techniques to traverse the different types of waterways that flow through this area–from the small inland feeder streams, rough and fast-flowing, to the huge, wide rivers like the St. John. First Nations people used all kinds of marine resources, and they developed canoes that would serve them well along the rocky coastlines and enable them to venture out into the open ocean.

Travel by river can be easier than travel on foot, but it’s still sometimes necessary to haul out of the water. Obstacles like waterfalls, crossing from watershed to watershed, or dangerous stretches of coastline necessitate the development of portages- footpaths and roads that connect navigable stretches of water.

When I go up to Fredericton, I’ll be researching this system of waterways and portages.