Madawaska River Crossing (oil on canvas 10 x 10 in.)
We'd come in from Stewartville Road along the south shore of the river, and upstream of the pipeline right-of-way, we came through mixed woods to a sunny grove of large Aspen trees,many of which were lying across each other like jackstraws. It was amazing to see such huge logs cut through their 40 cm thickness - but there they were, tooth-marked conical butts and stumps, the work of Beavers. Here, Fred found fresh water mussels in the soft mud, and Following the river bank a little farther downstream in the dark shade of Hemlocks, there was a bank-Beavers' lodge, beneath a leaning Cedar and its companion Hemlock, a tangle of de-barked sticks and branches, jumbled against the bank, partly underwater and partly heaped against the bank. Bank Beavers acting as forest managers - cutting mostly deciduous trees and leaving the Hemlocks to assume the character of an ancient forest on the bank of the Madawaska!
Both upstream and downstream of the scene I painted, we glimpsed the stairways and docks of riverbank cottages peeking from the steep forested north shore. The Madawaska River is deep and fast here, about a kilometre downstream of the imposing dam of the Stewartville Hydroelectric Generating Station. Built in 1948, it revived the old logging town of Stewartville from a ghost town to a thriving community. The great concrete wall across the river gorge holds the water back 45 metres above the foot of the dam and yields 182 megawatts of electricity at peak production.
Fred found only Elliptio mussels here (and elsewhere in the lower Madawaska), but upstream around Calabogie and Griffith he's found beautiful inflated Lampsillis shells and he's not sure what species to call them.