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This page provides you with information related to the proposed Archibald Lake Wilderness Area, near the St. Mary’s River, and how you can show your support.



On October 14th, 2020, the provincial government announced the designation of approximately 7,940 acres of Crown land along the St. Mary’s River as St. Mary’s River Provincial Park – Which was a remarkable success! 

Unfortunately, the nearby proposed Archibald Lake Wilderness Area was not included during the latest round of designations.  The reason given was stated to be that “additional time is needed before making a decision on its protection,” but no timeline for a decision to be made was provided.  

The Provincial Government developed a short list program “Parks and Protected Areas Plan” as a site to hold properties identified as significant in a working list.  This list was developed in 2013 and Archibald Lake Wilderness Area (ALWA) did not make it onto this list but certainly has been identified earlier.  

Chris Miller from CPAWS spoke of Archibald’s Lake timeline, “basically Archibald’s Lake identification for protection happened well before a mine proposal was ever mentioned”

  • in 2009 Archibald’s Lake area was recommended to the NS gov as a Tier 1 Priority

  • The analysis for this work started well before 2009.

  • The report to the Gov in 2009 was called the "Colin Stewart Forest Forum" CPAWS participated in that analysis with the Govt to identify priority areas for conversation that included Archibald Lake.

  • 2011 map showing Archibald Lake Wilderness Area (number 10 on this map).  


Recent news coverage about Archibald Lake Wilderness Area indicates internal squabbling between the provincial department of Environment and the provincial department of Energy and Mines.  The representative for the DEM says that Archibald Lake was conjured up by Environmentalists to stop the gold mine.  Truthfully, our team has put in immense effort toward the project while knowing that this is the water source for Atlantic Gold, and if this designation were successful, it would cut off the proposed water source.  It simply states that the specified body of water cannot be used for gold mine production.  Therefore, the company will have to look elsewhere. 

Archibald Lake and its surrounding forest have been identified as a conservation priority since 2009 as mentioned by Chris Miller above.  This high conservation value Crown land parcel has been repeatedly identified as one of the most significant properties in the Province needed for nature conservation.  The conservation value of Archibald is not viable to this day and is perhaps even more important as we face the mounting crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and threats to our native species.

​Time Sensitive:  Please take time and write to our municipal councillors requesting they officially support the protection of Archibald Lake St. Mary’s council members contacts can be found here:


On June 22, 2021 Mark Dort, Dr. Kevin Spencer and Scott Beaver met with Premier Iain Rankin virtually to discuss Archibald Lake Wilderness Area designation.  Premier Rankin was non comital to the protection of Archibald lake but did discuss his departments requirement for a socioeconomic study prior to designation.  Premier Rankin indicated as a part of this study our local council would be involved.  Prior to the Meeting with Premier Rankin Scott Beaver reached out to council and asked if they would write a letter supporting Archibald Lake Wilderness Area being officially designated.  


Council has deferred a decision on providing a letter of support for the designation of Archibald Lake as a Wilderness Protection area for 60 days (until mid August).

These are the Council transcribed meeting notes from Wednesday June 16th: 

Council concurred with Deputy Warden James Fuller when he said: “It may be imprudent at this particular time without knowing some of the additional ramifications of having it [Archibald Lake] protected…It requires a whole lot more study…Because I'm not saying it's bad. I'm just saying that if two years down the road, it interferes with another project that might be coming up, we should know this ahead of time.  So, 60 days seems reasonable.”


Warden Greg Wier replied: " Okay, so we will just set a time that we will bring this back up to our Committee of the Whole meeting sometime in August to revisit this and we'll do some digging and find out exactly get as much information as we can on what this all means.”


Wednesday July 7th, 2021 St. Mary’s Municipal Council decided against supporting Archibald Lake as a Wilderness area.  You can listen to the minutes of that meeting here.  The coverage begins at about 14minutes in.  


Timeline – Archibald Lake designation

2019 SMRA and other groups advocated to have Archibald Lake added to the St. Mary's River Corridor Lands and this task was successful.  On October 14th, 2020, the provincial government announced the designation of approximately 7,940 acres of Crown land along the St. Mary’s River as St. Mary’s River Provincial Park – Which was a great success! 


Unfortunately, the nearby proposed Archibald Lake Wilderness Area was not included during this round of designations, even though it went through the consultation process.  

The NS wilderness Areas Consultations for the governments proposed large swath of land to be protected under Premier McNeil’s government took place between January 9 to March 9th, 2020.  Part of that proposed list included Archibald Lake.  Subsequently, 129 people indicated strong support for protection and 97 indicated no support for protection. 


Multiple respondents also suggested that the nearby proposed Nine Mile Woods Wilderness Area also be protected, and that this be expanded to surround Lewis Lake, Lithgow Lake, Timber Lake and the Cameron Lakes.

Since the announcement on October 14th, 2020, three more official announcements by government have taken place while Archibald Lake Wilderness Area sits in limbo as officials dispute the specifications of the project.  

Premier McNeil’s government announced 20 new sites for protection February 2, 2021 just before the election.  A public comment period would follow February 3rd to April 13th, 2021.  Our group asked supporting community members to write in approval of this announcement, but to also remind the government that we are still supporting Archibald Lake, and additionally, request the finalization of it’s protection.  Although we have not seen any of this yet in government consultation reports, approximately 600 letters of support were sent in supporting Archibald Lake from our letter writing campaign.

The next two rounds of government preservation announcements have been from Premier Iain Rankin who won the leadership race of the Liberal party in early February 2021 and thus becoming appointed Premier.  Its important to note that during Iain Rankin's run for leadership of the Liberal party, he committed to various groups and folks, including SMRA that he would protect Archibald Lake.  The first round of newly announced protected properties under our new Premier came on Earth Day (April 22, 2021) and 61 new properties were identified to receive legal protection.

To our surprise a fourth announcement came on June 9th 2021 and it was another significant preservation project which has been siting in limbo, Ingram River.

Enter Premier Houston Government:

Greg Morrow is the PC MLA for Guysborough-Tracadie and Minister of Agriculture.
During the election campaign Greg Morrow promised he would work towards protecting
Archibald Lake Wilderness Area and he openly did not support the Cochrane Hill gold
mining project. Many residents are waiting for action from Minister Morrow.

On August 29th , 2022, the federal Impact Assessment Agency terminated the impact
assessment for Cochrane Hill's proposed gold mine project
The St. Mary's River
Association's executive, board members and members at large take this as a small
victory for the river valley and our community. This is also an opportunity, because there
is legally no longer an actual mining project on the regulatory books. That means there
is no longer any reason for the provincial government to hesitate or further delay the
long-awaited designation of Archibald Lake as a protected provincial Wilderness Area.

St. Barbara’s head of permitting, Sara Wallace sent a letter to stake holders shortly
following the August 29th IAA announcement. She states, “we remain committed to
successfully permitting a project at Cochrane Hill”. The company can reapply to enter
the system at anytime but now they will be forced into the 2019 Impact Assessment Act
not the previous CEAA 2012 legislation they were in prior to August 29th . IAA 2019 is
more stringent than CEAA 2012.



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