Atlantis: An Elegy

George Peabody

“I was a child before the flood...”

With this arresting line, George Peabody begins the long poem that looks back at the life of a great river before it was damaged by a headpond.

Of all the mistakes made by the descendants of the Europeans who came to North America, perhaps none has been more dramatically destructive of natural abundance than the damming of salmon rivers.

Building a dam at Mactaquac in the mid-1960s destroyed the annual regeneration of salmon in the central watershed of the Wolastoq. The annual salmon migration for upstream spawning had been a prime feature of the region’s natural abundance for untold centuries. In addition, when the water rose behind the dam, intervale land long farmed went under and was lost to the local food economy. With one blow, Mactaquac Dam took out two major features of a sustainable, self-provisioning economy.

Remembering well a way of life along the natural river, the author deftly puts the reader in the picture. He then draws the thread of memory to the building of the dam. With precise images he recounts the consequences of such ecological thoughtlessness.

With Atlantis: An Elegy, George Peabody has given us the inside story of the great river in a poem so precisely crafted the reader can profitably return to it again and again.

Listen to a recording of the author reading Atlantis: An Elegy, courtesy of Andrew and Laura McCain Art Gallery.

The reading can also be accessed at a kiosk located on the riverside walkway in Florenceville-Bristol near the Gallery.


The Wolastoq flows from northern Maine through western and south-central New Brunswick to the Bay of Fundy. Atlantis: An Elegy, includes seven maps detailing the profile of the river and the consequence of the dam. Two examples are shown below.

Detail of the Wolastoq between Upper Bear Island and Kingsclear before the building of the dam.

Detail of the Wolastoq between Upper Bear Island and Kingsclear after the building of the dam.

About the Author

George Peabody is a lifelong environmental and cultural preservation activist. He is Administrator of the Meduxnekeag River Association, a community based, non-profit, land trust organization in Woodstock, New Brunswick, dedicated to preserving the Appalachian Hardwood Forest and riparian environments of the river’s watershed. He is the author of School Days: The One-Room Schools of Maritime Canada, Kings Landing: A Living History, and editor of East Coast Limericks, and Best Maritime Short Stories. He lives alongside the Wolastoq in Lower Woodstock near the site of the original Peabody farm and maintains a market garden at Kirkland. He is preparing a book on the natural and cultural history of the Meduxnekeag River watershed.

Paperback • 48 pages • $15(CAD), $12(USD) • ISBN 978-1-988299-40-2 • Published 2022/03/29