New Brunswick is blessed with superlative natural attractions. Here you’ll find one of the planet’s largest whirlpools, some of its oldest mountains and, of course, its highest tides—twice-daily ones powerful enough to sculpt monoliths like the Hopewell Rocks and, as evidenced in Saint John’s Reversing Rapids or Moncton’s Tidal Bore, push rivers backward. Such sites are, quite literally, phenomenal. But they are not this province’s only claims to fame.
For starters, New Brunswick has spawned countless larger-than-life characters. To wit: novelist Julia Hart wrote St. Ursula’s Convent back in 1824—the first piece of fiction by a Canadian-born author to be published in Canada. John Peters Humphrey penned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, and people are still talking about Yvon Durelle and his light-
heavyweight championship boxing match against the great Archie Moore in 1958.
Hollywood has featured many New Brunswickers on the big screen, including Donald Sutherland and Walter Pidgeon. And the lists of “firsts” run the gamut from Willie Eldon O’Ree, the first black player in the NHL, to Myrtle “Molly” Kool, the first female sea captain in North America.
New Brunswick is also the birthplace of other famous characters including Stompin’ Tom Connors and Klondike Kate (Katherine Ryan). Abraham Gesner invented kerosene here. This is the stuff New Brunswickers are made of.
Roots run deep in the province. In fact, Metepenagiag—which is a 3,000-year-old Mi’kmaq fishing village also known as Red Bank—is New Brunswick’s oldest continuously occupied community. Along with the Maliseet and Passamaquoddy, they were the first known inhabitants in the region.
Fast forward to 1604 when the French established the first colony in North America on St. Croix Island. Although the expulsion of the Acadians began in 1755, they were allowed to return nine years later. Before the end of that century, thousands of Loyalist exiles from the American Revolution moved into New Brunswick. In 1785, Partridge Island (on the outskirts of Saint John) was established as a quarantine station—100 years before Ellis Island! More than 30,000 immigrants from all over the world stepped foot on Partridge Island.
Many communities in the province showcase their culture. Events and festivals take centre stage and experiences abound. Oh yes—and New Brunswick is the only bilingual province (English/French) in the country.
One of the unique things about New Brunswick is that it is also big on certifiably cool winter sports and events. With one of the longest snow seasons in the province, Sugarloaf Provincial Park offers the largest variety of outdoor cold-weather activities in one location: from Alpine skiing, cross-country, snowshoeing and tobogganing, to ice skating, snowmobiling, tubing and snowboarding.
Fredericton is noted for Frostival, a family-friendly outdoor festival, which celebrates Old Man Winter with over 100 events. For something out of the ordinary, slip up to Plaster Rock for the World Pond Hockey Championship, where 120-odd teams worldwide compete for trophies—and for the pure love of the sport.
Skywalk Saint John—a glass platform projecting over the Reversing Rapids—offers a new way to ogle the churning water (www.skywalksaintjohn.com).
The world-class Beaverbrook Art Gallery proved bigger is better when the ribbon was cut on its expansion late last year (www.beaverbrookartgallery.org).
Downtown Centre, Moncton’s new sports and entertainment complex, is set to be unveiled late in the year (www.moncton.ca/business/downtown_events_centre.htm).
USVA Spa Nordik will bring Scandinavian wellness traditions to Moncton when its $2.5-million facility opens this year (www.usva.ca).
In Fredericton, the newly designed Carleton Street will host the Garrison Night Market Thursday nights from June through September. It will feature a wide range of products as well as local musical talent.
New Brunswick has one of the highest concentrations of craft breweries in Atlantic Canada. Several outlets featuring locally-made meads, ciders and craft beers are within walking distance of each other in the capital city of Fredericton. To top it off, Queen Street is chockablock full of unique shops, tons of gobsmacking open spaces, along with a performance theatre, hotel, convention centre, and world-class gallery. No wonder Fredericton is referred to as a cultural capital (www.tourismfredericton.ca).
Saint John has earned the moniker “Saint Awesome” because of a hugely successful campaign by the same name whereby it reintroduced the city’s distinctive dining, outdoor, heritage and urban experiences. It’s all here, including the world-famous Reversing Rapids and Stonehammer Geopark—North America’s first UNESCO Global Geopark (www.discoversaintjohn.com).
Straddling the Petitcodiac River, Greater Moncton is the province’s biggest urban centre. Nicknamed the “Hub City” due to its central location, it is also a tourist hub because it is home to attractions like Magic Mountain, Casino New Brunswick and Magnetic Hill which, in addition to the hill itself, boasts a popular zoo, winery and amphitheatre (www.moncton.ca).
For a walk on the wild side—and a good dose of French Acadian culture—scoot up to Edmundston. In 1949, two enthusiastic citizens invented the concept of the “Republic of Madawaska,” including a flag, coat of arms, and the Order of the Knights of the Republic. The concept stuck. This small city rocks (www.tourismedmundston.com).
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Imagine kayaking among Hopewell Rocks, paddling to Partridge Island, or slipping into sea caves along the famous Bay of Fundy! If you prefer fresh water paddling, you can’t beat putting your canoe or kayak in the lazy Green River close to Edmundston. On Sundays, scores of people head to the upper reaches of the river and party downstream. Want to try tubing? Head to the Miramichi. While in the region, hop aboard a voyageur canoe at the Beaubears Island Interpretive Centre and cross the river for a tour of this famous island—the only untouched shipbuilding site left intact in Canada and home to two Parks Canada national historic sites.
There are lots of outfitters in the province who can take you on short or longer expeditions, including wilderness paddling.
Hikers will be in hiking heaven anywhere in the province as villages, towns and cities have a plethora of hiking trails. As well, the Fundy Parkway Trail opened another section leading to Long Beach, which is 2.5 km (1.6 mi.) long. Close by, climb down a cable ladder to the face of Fuller Falls and enjoy the lookout above the falls. Looking for a significant challenge? Hike the Fundy Footpath—a 41-km (25.5-mi.) continuous wilderness trail (www.fundytrailparkway.com).
HERITAGE AND CULTURE
New Brunswick has many attractions and experiences to showcase its history and diversity. For example, Kings Landing is a living museum with costumed “British Loyalist” interpreters. It spans over 120 ha (296 acres), houses over 70,000 artefacts, and offers over 40 exhibits and engaging activities and workshops (www.kingslanding.nb.ca).
To get a sense of Mi’kmaq culture—both past and present—the place to be is the Metepenagiag Heritage Park, located in Red Bank on the Miramichi River, where visitors are invited to share their music, listen to stories told by the elders, and view archaeological finds from the Augustine Mound and Oxbow national historic sites (www.metpark.ca).
Two of the best places to be immersed in Acadian life are: Village Historique Acadien up in Caraquet, where life plays out between 1770 and 1949 (www.villagehistoriqueacadien.com); and Le Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche where guests can view spectacular theatre productions, enjoy authentic Acadian food and foot-stomping kitchen parties (www.sagouine.com).
MUST SEE, MUST DO
The Magnetic Hill Zoo—the largest accredited zoo in Atlantic Canada—has a Big Cats Exhibit featuring two tigers and a leopard (www.moncton.ca/zoo).
Resurgo Place, home of the Moncton Museum and Transportation Discovery Centre, gives visitors a unique and interactive experience focused on fascinating aspects of history, science and transportation (www.resurgo.ca).
The Saint John City Market—open six days a week—is one of the oldest continuing farmers’ markets in Canada. Be sure to check out Slocum & Ferris, famous for local products such as lobster antipasto, dulse, pickled fiddle heads, and Ganong’s “chicken bones” (www.sjcitymarket.ca).
The Miramichi Striper Cup—Atlantic Canada’s premier striped bass “catch and release” fishing tournament, with over $50,000 in cash and prizes, takes place the last week of May (www.miramichistripercup.ca).
The New Brunswick Botanical Garden in Edmunston is a fascinating attraction, replete with a medicinal garden and herb centre where workshops are offered. Be sure to locate Khronos, an outdoor interactive installation (www.jardinnbgarden.com/en).
The 460-km (286-mi.) Fundy Coastal Drive presents diversity galore from island hopping in car ferries to exploring the world’s highest tides and savvy cosmopolitan centres.
The 750-km (466-mi.) Acadian Coastal Drive delivers a quintessentially Acadian seascape of fishing wharves, lighthouses and colourful communities. It also boasts some of the warmest saltwater beaches in the East.
The 512-km (318-mi.) River Valley Scenic Drive features the storied Saint John River which is loaded with history, intrigue, beauty and exciting experiences.
The 180-km (112-mi.) Miramichi River Route encompasses the best of both worlds between Fredericton—the hip and happening capital—and Miramichi, renowned for salmon fishing and Aboriginal culture.
Along the 278-km (173-mi.) Appalachian Range Route is Mount Carleton, the highest peak in the Maritimes, and Sugarloaf Provincial Park—both perfect for outdoor adventures.
Magic Mountain—a wet ’n’ wild amusement park with water slides and carnival rides—is hugely popular. As well, kids love the long suspension bridge over Big Salmon River on the Fundy Parkway Trail and the discovery hunt checklist! At Kings Landing, “Visiting Cousins” continues to get rave reviews, along with a week-long “Keeper Camp” for teens at Magnetic Hill Zoo.
FUNDY NATIONAL PARK
Picture this: over 100 km (62 mi.) of hiking trails, an historic covered bridge, more than two dozen waterfalls, eight backcountry sites, three campgrounds, 20 km (12.5 mi.) of famous Fundy shoreline and a large chunk of the Acadian Highlands forest region. If you don’t have your own tent, no problem! You can rent accommodations including a yurt, oTENTik, rustic cabin, or the new and funky Goutte d’Ô pod. Part of the park’s charm is also the variety of activities on offer, from paddling the world’s highest tides, to swimming with the salmon for science, or learning about incredible edible plants on a guided nature walk
National Parks and Historic Sites: