New Brunswick is a province we don’t hear enough about, and it deserves more attention than it receives. It boasts mountains, dense forests (83% of the region is forested), Atlantic Ocean, a magnetic hill, seafood and the highest tides in the world on the Bay of Fundy.
It claims to be the French Fry capital of the world, which is fair since potato is its middle name. Shediac is home to a Guinness Book of World Records-sized lobster.
It’s Canada’s only truly bilingual province. Each time we visit, we are in awe of the folks who live here – conversation moves fluidly between English and French and Chiac. Chiac is a mix of Acadian French with a little English thrown in and a sprinkling of some Canadian aboriginal languages for good measure. The province boasts a staggering number of covered bridges. And, if it weren’t for New Brunswick, there wouldn’t be a bridge to PEI.
If you’re like us and are fans of lobsters, oysters, sturgeon caviar, wild blueberries and appreciate Acadian culture, you will love New Brunswick.
Once again, we entered this province by ferry. We left Digby, Nova Scotia, on a bright, blue-sky, sunshiny day. Two hours later, we disembarked in Saint John. Our first stop was the Saint John City Market, the oldest continuously operated farmer’s market in Canada. It’s been in operation since 1785. We stocked up on lobster, smoked mackerel and the largest yet least expensive container of wild blueberries we’ve ever seen. They were practically free.
Though our goal is to explore places we have not yet been, and this was not our first time in New Brunswick, there’s a whole lot of this province we haven’t seen. One of those places we’d long wished to visit is the picturesque town of Saint-Andrews-on-the-Sea. We arrived on the market day, which is our favourite day to visit anywhere. We loaded up on lots of fresh farm vegetables, sourdough bread and homemade pickles before wandering through the town and exploring the brightly coloured wooden buildings. And sometimes it is necessary to visit a Laundromat even in a place as pretty as Saint Andrews. That’s not such a bad thing when you’re able to take advantage of mother nature’s ocean breezes to line dry some of your clothing.
While there, we visited Canada’s largest tidal island, Minister’s Island. There’s a five-hour stretch each day when you can drive or walk across the ocean floor to the island at low tide.
We returned the following morning to see the island at high tide, which is where we met Henry Clarke. Henry is a very youthful 80-year-old who appeared as though out of thin air on his electric scooter. He entertained us for a good while with his witty clichés and stories of folks who believed they were a good match for the incoming tide. You can guess how those stories ended. Henry, it turns out, grew up on the island where his father was the gardener for railroad magnate Sir William Van Horne. His family lived in the gardener’s cottage. Henry and his wife now live on the mainland overlooking Minister’s Island. We love meeting the Henry Clarkes of the world. They are why we travel.
After leaving Saint Andrews, we headed inland and followed the Saint John River. At Big Axe Brewery, our third Harvest Host location in Eastern Canada, we camped on the bank of the Saint John River. That night we were treated to a private concert at the brewery since, for most of the evening, we were their only audience. Penny and Terry each hail from a different side of the Atlantic Ocean and so appropriately call themselves, Atlantic Bridge. We spent an enjoyable evening listening to contemporary Celtic music while sampling the Big Axe brews.
It was here that we met our newest friend Samantha and her pup, Pierre. Samantha had been travelling in her Pleasure-Way campervan around the USA and Canada for eight months at that point. We may have been friends before we even started talking. Do you know those people with whom you feel like you’ve known for a lifetime?! We also met up in Amherstburg a couple of weeks later, where we shared meals, lots of conversation, brainstormed business ideas, concocted travel plans and visited Detroit.
Our final stop in New Brunswick was Provincial Park de la Republique. It’s not that we’d been itching to explore Edmundston but that Christian had been feeling poorly for about two weeks. Sore throat, cough, fever. He just wasn’t able to shake it. So, we stopped for two nights to rest. Besides being situated alongside the picturesque Madawaska River, the most remarkable thing about this park was the community garden with offerings like kale, lettuce, carrots, peppers and zucchini. The vegetables were free for the picking for all campers! What an amazing gift. It is the first time in five years of camping all over North America that we’ve encountered this brilliant initiative. Good job, New Brunswick!
We could easily have spent a lot more time exploring New Brunswick, but there’s always next time!