Manuels River Linear Park is a protected, natural conservation area which includes a river that flows into the east side of Conception Bay, and which extends approximately 14 kilometres within the town boundaries of Conception Bay South. A geologically rich area, the Manuels River Linear Park is a natural resource open to the public, with marked walking trails and boardwalks. The park is a habitat for a great variety of wildlife species from aquatic biota to aquatic invertebrates, insects, plants, animals and over thirty different species of wild flowers. The river runs through forest, wetlands and bogs and is an internationally-known site for fossilized trilobites. The municipal heritage designation is limited to the boundaries of the linear park.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
Manuels River Linear Park has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Conception Bay South due to its cultural and scientific value.
Manuels River Linear Park is culturally valuable because of the significance it holds to the residents of Conception Bay South, and particularly Manuels. Farmers and fishermen settled the community of Manuels in the early 1800s. The Manuels River valley was a leisure destination for local residents until 1882, when the community was connected to St. John’s by rail. Train excursions quickly became popular with St. John’s residents, and Manuels River became a favourite summer resort area. Hundreds of people flocked to the area, many staying for extended periods to camp and fish.
In the mid-1980s a group of local residents formed the Manuels River Natural Heritage Society to conserve and protect the river system, eventually becoming stewards of the river. The Manuels River Linear Park has grown to become one of the most popular attractions in Conception Bay South. The park offers more than six kilometres of walking trails, guided walks, special geology and flora tours and family campfires.
Manuels River Linear Park is scientifically valuable due to its unique geology, aquatic biology and paleontological features. 630 million years ago the area of the Manuels River lay on the volcanic fringe of the African continent. The land area later subsided below a sea in which sediments gradually accumulated. The rocks buckled as Africa collided with the North America plate 400 million years ago. Evidence of these events can be seen in the rocks exposed along the river valley. The Ice Age changed the appearance of Manuels River. The valley upstream was moulded by a glacier that formed the broad, straight, shallow valley that we see today. Upstream the river has found it much more difficult to erode the tougher bedrock of conglomerate, granite and volcanic ash. The downstream part of the Manuels River has many curves and turns. The river has cut down into the easily eroded shale bedrock to form a gorge. The sea has created the beach, at the mouth of the Manuels River. It is made up of large cobbles of rock, which have been rounded by wave action and distributed up the beach according to size.
Manuels River is world-known for fossils found in the shale beds, most notably those of trilobites. Trilobites are an extinct class of marine arthropods that inhabited the earth’s oceans for more than 300 million years, from the Early Cambrian Period to the Late Permian Period. Resembling sow bugs or crabs trilobite fossils are easily found along the shale banks of the Manuels River. They were first discovered there by T. C. Weston of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1874.
Source: Town of Conception Bay South Regular Council Meeting Motion #07-096 March 6, 2007.
Character Defining Elements
All those elements of the natural conservation zone, including: -natural setting of the park amongst growing, urban development;
-variety of exposed bedrock, including the various kinds of volcanic rocks and sedimentary rocks which are easily accessible from the river banks;
-the beach, which shows the processes of erosion, and the deposition of beach rock, enabling close geological study;
-evidence of ancient geological activity, ie. volcanic eruptions and plate tectonics, and;
-wide variety of species in their natural habitats, including flora, fauna, animal and bird wildlife.
A poem written about the river in 1902
By Rev. J.A, D.D. 0’Reilly
Newfoundland Quarterly, Sept. 1902
The Harp of Caledonia rung
When Scott with wizard note hath sung;
Old Tara’s Harp was as of yore,
Unstrung by gifted Thomas Moore.
But who shall venture to command
The tune harp of Newfoundland?
Not mine the gift in minstrel lays
To picture forth our noble bays;
And all that goes to make the story
Of our Island’s scenes and glory.
Be mine the easier task to tell
Of scenes our people know well;
Be mine to sound a note of praise
Of Manuels river in these lays.
I stood one afternoon of spring
Beside that stream which now I sing;
The melting ice and recent rain
Had swollen the flood beyond restrain.
Two bridges span the river’s course
Beneath which rushed the waters hoarse;
In trouble rapids first they poured
And then in boiling cascade roared.
Down a stony slope they dash
With noise as if of ocean crash;
They toss in yellow silvery foam;
They spout and twist’ mid stock and stone.
That wild career nothing checks,
The vale is filled with lace like mist
Where frothing waters boiled and hiss’d;
The thunder of that river roar
Re-echoes far along the shore.
The scenes around were of a kind
To bring a contrast to the mind;
The green-tree’d hill was wrapt in slumber
Save for the sound of Manuels thunder.
Across the stream on meadow green
Fair Power’s Court villa may be seen;
Whence man, creation’s load; might hold
Empire of scenery fair and bold.
Marvels are there in every land,
Where Nature shows her wondrous hand;
Rivers are there in East and West
Where tourist throng for change and rest.
But still to my untravelled mind
Hath “Home, Sweet, Home,” its meaning kind;
Far might I roam and yet forever
Find Heart’s Delight near Manuels river.
Location and History
Conception Bay South (Manuels)
Town of Conception Bay South
12 Conception Bay Highway, Manuels
2007 - 2007