Montague the Beautiful

The Nature of PEI by Gary Schneider

The Confederation Trail in Montague

From around 1975-1985, I lived in Montague, where I ran a bookstore and worked at the Eastern Graphic. There were some lovely people there, and the Montague River was gorgeous. The Garden of the Gulf Museum was an impressive building, as were many of the older homes in the town. But I never thought the town lived up to its title of Montague the Beautiful. There was a lack of attention paid to the waterfront, and the big oil tanks right on the waterfront by the bridge seemed especially intrusive.  

Most of the towns I’d visited in the region valued and even highlighted their waterways. The rivers and bays were focal parts, attracting both locals and visitors to enjoy the cultural heritage and natural beauty.

These days, Montague is now part of the community of Three Rivers, though the signs are still there welcoming everyone to Montague the Beautiful. I don’t get out to Montague near as often as I used to. I had noted that the oil tanks were removed many years ago, a great example of addition through subtraction. And I knew that extensive work had been done on the waterfront.

But I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t known how beautiful the area had become until two naturalists were visiting from Nova Scotia and we took a walk along the Confederation Trail.  It was an eye opener, for sure.

The trail runs on the old railway line north of the river and starts in the heart of Montague. It is a remarkable mix of a gentle walking path that follows the scenic Montague River. Though you can see some damage from Fiona, the vegetation along the trail is in quite good shape. You can almost forget that we had that storm less than a year ago.

More than one Town Council has been involved in turning this area into quite a special place. They, and all the funders and volunteers should take a lot of credit for what they’ve created. This is a legacy that will reap benefits far into the future. During my visit, we saw many people walking the trail, sitting on benches, and using the marina. It is hard to resist the beautiful setting.

As we walked out of town along the trail, we noticed that the bird life was quite interesting. There were waterbirds along the edges of the river—various gulls, double-crested cormorants, lesser yellow legs, and Canada geese. Overhead, we heard an eagle vocalizing. As we watched it soaring, we were all reminded of how special it is to see such a large and beautiful bird.

Just east of the marina, we passed a large, tree-ringed pond on the north side of the trail. There we heard the chittering of a kingfisher, and watched it fly from perch to perch. We were also fortunate to observe a gray catbird in this area and to hear its distinctive call.

While in the area, we also spotted a black-capped chickadee making a cavity nest in a dead tree, an alder flycatcher, a northern parula warbler, and several song sparrows. I’m sure a longer walk concentrating more on birds than friends would have yielded many more species.  

The plant life is equally diverse, with both large-tooth and trembling aspen, red oak, red maple, highbush cranberry, and a host of other species.  

Thanks to all those involved for helping the town to truly live up to its name. It is inspiring to see what has been created in Montague the Beautiful.