Lobster boats wait for the rising tide on the Bay
Autumn in New Brunswick
Story and photos by John Blanchette
seatmate on the plane from Los Angeles to Toronto
was Pamela Anderson. She's Canadian and was presenting at the annual
Toronto Film Festival. I was continuing on to New Brunswick, an hour
and a half farther east. Some flights are longer than others.
It was mid September when I arrived and a chill was
already in the air. The wind was up and summer was wary. The maple trees
had recognized the crisp autumn days as well, and hues of orange and
red were threading their boughs.
An early frost brings color out in the maple trees
New Brunswick is one of the three Maritime Provinces
of Canada that spin off the nose of Maine like a propeller. It is the
closest, abutting the border and about the same size, with a population
It also possesses many of the same qualities; rolling
farmlands, stately homes, covered bridges (64), a rugged coastline and
abundant sea life. But It is the only province that recognizes two official
languages, French and English.
Covered bridges keep the snow off the road in winter
The plane landed in Saint John, which is celebrating
its 225th birthday this year, the oldest incorporated city in Canada.
The area was colonized by Loyalists from the American Revolution who
had fought with the Red Coats and/or supported British rule.
After the war, 7,000 were forced out or left voluntarily
and resettled on land separated from Nova
Scotia. It was renamed for the German Duchy of Brunswick, then under
control of Englands George III.
New Brunswick is bordered by the Bay of Fundy on the
south. The waters are cold year round, ranging between 38 and 44 degrees
and it produces the highest tide in the world. Every six hours 100 billion
tons of seawater swirl into the narrowing bay, raising it 40 to 52 feet.
At Reversing Falls the phenomenon creates rapids as the tide rushes
The best place to view the worlds highest tide
surge is from the cliffs above Hopewell Rocks, east of Saint John. Over
the years the tides have carved monoliths out of the sandstone, and
left shrinking sentinels guarding the coast.
Stone sentinels guarding the coast withered by invading
Herring are plentiful in these waters, supplying the
canneries. They also support salmon, porpoises, whales, and a myriad
of diving sea birds, from eagles to gulls.
Crustaceans love these frigid waters as well, which
produce some of the best lobsters, oysters, clams and mussels in the
world. I enjoyed seafood every day and especially relished the fried
Salmon and sturgeon farming has also increased recently,
developing a booming caviar industry that can bring up to $80 an ounce
for the osetra variety.
Lying next to Hopewell Rocks, Fundy National Park offers
scenic hikes on paths which edge along the bay for 120 kilometers through
the Acadian Forest, past waterfalls and crystal clear streams.
Bucolic farmland a constant feature of this coastal
It was created in 1948, and features a beautiful golf
course and a heated saltwater pool, unusual offerings for a national
The Fundy Trail Parkway is one of the last remaining
coastal wilderness areas in North America. Breathtaking views and a
variety of flora and fauna present themselves. This is Christmas tree
country and spruce and balsam firs scent the woods. Deer and moose are
abundant and were spotted on a number of occasions. Hunting season hadnt
opened yet and they knew it.
Not worried now, deer cavort in the open
Look for the "Interpretive Centre" in the
parks, where you can receive printed information on trails, plants and
wildlife, speak with knowledgeable staff and find refreshments.
Back in Saint John, I visited the City Market, the oldest
covered market in Canada. It was here that I discovered the worst gastronomic
experience of my trip, if not my life, dulse. Its salty dried
seaweed with a rank odor and vile flavor that is definitely an acquired
taste. Locals eat it like potato chips and swear by its healing and
aphrodisiacal properties. I say its better used as plant fertilizer,
insulation and/or fuel.
Saint John has also given the world a number of film
icons including studio mogul Louis B. Mayer and actors Walter Pidgeon
and Donald Sutherland, who are commemorated in the city on a wall mural.
The town of St. Andrews is one of the most beautifully
preserved seaside resorts. It lies across from Maine
and is where many Loyalists originally settled.
On nearby Ministers Island, visitable only when the
tide is out, you cross the stony seabed to the restored mansion of Sir
William Cornelius Van Horne, builder of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.
Dont dally, you have six hours before the tide returns and you
From the docks at St. Andrews I took the Fundy Tide
Runners 25-foot Zodiac boat into the bay for whale watching. It flies
off the water when you approach 50 miles an hour and you do get soaked.
But its a blast and we saw over 20 whales and porpoises, dolphins,
seals, bald eagles and other water birds and no one was lost at sea.
Fredericton, in the lower left center of the Province
on the St. John River, is the Capital. I was there for the 18th Annual
Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, which drew 80,000 and 350 professional
musicians into the city over the five days.
The music is performed at small and large venues throughout
town and carries on late into the night. Attendees bring their instruments
and there are impromptu jam sessions in every corner, bar and restaurant.
Sheep ready to be shorn
If You Go
In the shadow of the Fairmont Algonquin Resort, the
Provinces most elegant hotel/spa, the Kingsbrae Garden offers
a 27-acre horticultural display of 55,000 plants. The grounds are spectacular;
featuring local flowers and fruit trees, and you can feed the furry
In the Maine border town of St. Stephen, chocoholics
can satisfy their habit and tour the legendary Ganong Chocolate Museum.
Established in 1873, they were the inventors of the lollipop, candy
bar, heart-shaped Valentine candy box, chocolate filled cinnamon hard
candies called chicken bones, and cellophane packaging.
Just outside of Fredericton is the Kings Landing Historical
Settlement. This is a reenactment of pioneer life much like Plymouth
Plantation, with a blacksmith shop, print shop, sawmill and farm animals
of all sorts. Villagers wear period costumes and the Kings Head restaurant
serves traditional meals from the period.
The best lobster stew I tasted was at Elaines
Chowder House in St. Andrews, the most creative lobster dish was served
at Rossmount Inn by Swiss chef Chris Aerni. His world-class cuisine
was the finest I had on my trip, the service was knowledgeable and the
Inn is a beautifully furnished and restored turn of the century structure.
The best steamed lobsters were served by Ross Mavis
at his Inn on the Cove in Saint John, which overlooks the bay. He is
a cookbook author, columnist, lively raconteur and a former TV cooking
The best mussels were served at Brewbakers in Fredericton,
the best iced tea at Opera Bistro in Saint John, a fresh ginger and
lemon beverage, best blueberries at McKays roadside stand in Pennfield,
best beer is Simon Jones Amber Ale, best fried clams at Parkland Village
Inn, best ice cream at Europa Inn in St. Andrews and Opera Bistro makes
its own gelato, best cinnamon bun at Kellys bakery in Alma, and
best public golf course lies next to the Fairway Manor House in St.
Andrews, a country inn formerly owned by the Hiram Walker family of
Canadian Club fame. Just walk out the side door and on to the fourth
While in Saint John explore the architecture in the
old city and take a tour of Trinity Church, the historic County Courthouse,
the restored Imperial Theatre and the whalebones exhibit at the New
The New Brunswick Tourist Office, www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
has information on hotels, country inns, spas, hostels and bed and breakfasts.
There are brochures on guided and self-guided tours, lists of restaurants,
festivals, and attractions, 800-561-0123.
Scotia ; Toronto;
Charlotte Islands, Canada; Maine;