Monday, March 26, 2012

The Snye

I had a few errands to run today on my last day off but I did want to take time to explore along the river, more specifically the Snye. The Snye is one of my favorite spots to go birding and while I didn't see anything of note there I spent some time caught up in the history of the place. At one point the Snye was a river running south of MacDonald Island connecting the Clearwater to the Athabasca. In the '60's, 1964 to be exact I believe, a causeway was constructed on the west end of the Snye where it emptied into the Athabasca, making it technically no longer a river. Here you can just make out the causeway on the far end. This is where I take most of my photos of the Snye. Today I decided to walk down to the other end for no other reason than it was a fantastic sunny day (I was positively boiling by the time I got home) and its not an area I get down to very often.

Here is a shot from the mouth of the Snye where it meets the Clearwater looking down river. The ice is still think enough for skidoos and pickups which I saw cross the river to the east side (more on that in my next post.). So while it was a little messy, there wasn't any danger of crashing through the ice.

The Snye played an important part in the history of the community as at one time it served as our airport. Prior to the construction of a permanent landing strip in the '40's, the Snye served as the community's only air base. According to the one plaque I saw, the first landing happened back in 1924, when a Vickers Vedette biplane became the first aircraft to land here, connecting what was then known as Waterways to the outside world. Even today, you can still see plenty of float planes take off and land from here.

And I did discover the etymology of the name "Snye". It comes from an Old English word meaning a small body of water connecting two rivers. Small it may be, but the Snye played an important role in the development of our community.

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