By the 19th century, loggers were "driving" logs downstream on the Shelburne. Temporary dams were later built on some of the lakes to "save" water for the "spring drive." Canoeing the Shelburne River was first popularized in the 1908 book, The Tent Dwellers, by Albert Bigelow Paine. In this humorous account, Paine describes a month-long fishing trip with a friend and 2 Mi'kmaq guides. Canoeists still come to the area to travel this route.
For today's paddler, the Shelburne is a wilderness river appearing much as it did when the Mi'kmaq used it as a travel route centuries ago. In 1997 the river was designated as part of the CANADIAN HERITAGE RIVERS SYSTEM.