Hillsborough River finally getting its due

Dave Stewart
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Don MacNeil, left, and Ron MacDonald, Hillsborough River Association, show maps that now have the Hillsborough River designated as a Canadian Heritage river.

As far as Don McNeil is concerned, the Hillsborough River is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

But, the president of the Hillsborough River Association knows it will take much more effort and time to change the mindset most people have.

McNeil is talking about the perception that people have of where the Hillsborough River ends and the Charlottetown harbour begins.

For years, many thought the river stopped at the Hillsborough Bridge. It actually flows under the bridge, along the entire length of the Charlottetown waterfront, only stopping at Victoria Park, at the exact point where it meets the North River.

McNeil began a crusade nearly 13 years ago to change that perception. He paid numerous visits to The Guardian to get the word out and lobbied the City of Charlottetown, Town of Stratford and the provincial government.

Finally, he has success as Charlottetown and Stratford now clearly identify on their new maps where the river ends and the harbour begins.

Maps at the Charlottetown Driving Park and Founders' Hall also indicate the correct boundaries.

"What we've been able to do over all these years is get the heritage river marked straight across,'' McNeil says, referring to the section of map that marks the water between Charlottetown and Stratford on the southwest side of the Hillsborough Bridge. "It doesn't stop at the bridge anymore like it used to.''

The significance of fighting for that recognition all these years is because the river is a designated heritage river, one of only 10 heritage rivers in the country. It's the river the Fathers of Confederation sailed up to get to the Charlottetown Conference 148 years ago. Ship builders floated new vessels down from Mount Stewart.

McNeil figures if it holds such prominence in the annals of history people should at least know where it begins and ends and maps need to play a major role in doing just that.

"That's like getting the jackpot,'' McNeil said.

His crusade isn't over yet. The association president is still trying to convince the city to identify where the heritage river begins in Victoria Park.

"Hopefully, they'll put something on the boardwalk. I've tried (to convince them) three times.''



Organizations: Hillsborough River Association

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Hillsborough River, Stratford Victoria Park North River Charlottetown Driving Park Mount Stewart

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Recent comments

  • dm
    July 04, 2012 - 14:01

    If this is this old guys main concern in life he must have a good life or boring one too i guess depends on how you look at it. MABEY HE SOULD TAKE UP CAUSE ABOUT ALL THE POLLUTION THAT HAS FLOWED INTO IT IN THE LAST CENTURY AND NOT SOME IMAGINARY LINE RUNNING THREW IT.

    • Lynn Gallant
      March 04, 2013 - 22:26

      It is about time that people have taken an interest in one of the most beautiful rivers in Canada. Well done Mr McNeil. Now it is up to the City and Industry to ensure proper pollution controls are in place to perserve its wild life for generations to come.

  • Willy
    July 04, 2012 - 11:15


    • phyllis
      July 04, 2012 - 13:35

      they cut off my first thought but I still think these guys should get a life