Click here to skip to the content

Charles Lyell Transcript


Dr. Randall Miller, Research Curator, Geology and Palaeontology, New Brunswick Museum

This is one of my favourite views of the Reversing Rapids just downstream from the bridge. I like it because it is pretty much the same view that Charles Lyell would have had when he was here. Charles Lyell of course is one of the most famous geologists in history. He was here almost as a geotourist. He was visiting his friend Sir Edmund Head who was the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick at the time and Lyell came to the Reversing Rapids and took a look at it in September of 1852. It’s interesting because in the letter that he sent home to his father-in-law he talked about the harbour and how lovely it was, made a little sketch of the view you see behind me, and noted that instead of the Reversing Falls it should probably be called the Reversing Rapids – which is about where we are today, calling it the Reversing Rapids again.

It’s interesting that in Charles Lyell’s notebook that he had when he was travelling he made a sketch of this scene, and in the scene of course there is no bridge. The first suspension bridge that successfully went across the harbour here was in 1852. They were just about to erect the decking, but the pylons for the bridge were up for the suspension bridge at either end, and if you look at Charles Lyell’s sketchbook you can see the stonework for the pylons there. Today one of the lookouts on the right hand side as you are looking across, there is where the pylons sat.