Summer Travel ’09: New Brunswick

Summer by the sea
Brian Banks

New BrunswickWorld Acadian Congress/Acadian Peninsula (Aug. 7-23) The World Acadian Congress is a gathering of far-flung Acadians that takes place once every five years. This summer, it’s being held on New Brunswick’s Acadian Peninsula, in the northeast corner of the province. Sixty host communities will welcome thousands of guests and stage a large program of excursions, games, concerts and nights of storytelling. The towns of Caraquet and Shippagan are local hubs. Among notable permanent historical attractions, there is Caraquet’s Village Historique Acadien—a full-scale, fully staffed, working replica of a traditional Acadian community. Can’t go in August? The first nine days of July, Shippagan hosts its Fisheries and Aquaculture Festival.

St. Andrews by-the-Sea Just a stone’s throw from the Maine border, on Passamaquoddy Bay, overlooking the Fundy Isles and the Bay of Fundy, is St. Andrews by-the-Sea. There are few prettier seaside resort towns anywhere. Its appearance and character reflect two defining influences: the United Empire Loyalists who settled here after the American Revolution, as well as its subsequent development by prominent Canadian families in the late 19th century. That historic charm will be on full display this summer as two major landmarks celebrate anniversaries—the famous Tudor-style Fairmont Algonquin hotel in the centre of the old Loyalist town turns 120, while Kingsbrae Horticultural Garden, a multi-award-winning, 27-acre public garden created on the grounds of several old estates overlooking the town, marks its 10th birthday.

ALSO AT MACLEANS.CA: Full coverage of Summer Travel ’09

Hopewell Rocks/Bay of Fundy At the head of the bay, Fundy’s record tides rise and fall by as much as 16 m, and you can get a taste of their drama and power anywhere along the New Brunswick coast. However, few settings are as storied—or as photographed—as Hopewell Rocks Park, about 45 km south of Moncton. At low tide, you can walk out on the ocean floor and stand alongside the towering “flowerpot” rocks—eroded sandstone towers, some topped with vegetation. At high tide, you can paddle a kayak right past the same stacks. Best season to visit: a four- to six-week period starting in mid-July when millions of shorebirds congregate during their annual 4,000-km migration to South America; at rest or in flight, the flocks are amazing to behold.

Fredericton The provincial capital has been designated one of Canada’s cultural capitals for 2009 and a multitude of events and anniversaries are on tap. Front and centre is Fredericton’s famous Beaverbrook Art Gallery (the provincial art gallery of New Brunswick). The gallery is marking the 50th anniversary of its opening (officially this September) with a year-long program that includes: creation of a 50th anniversary Canadian collection, construction of an outdoor sculpture garden and an exhibition of Impressionist masterworks from the National Gallery of Canada. Other locations in town of special interest for this year’s culture bash: the Garrison District (home to museums, theatres, and festivals, and offering free nightly entertainment all summer), Christ Church Cathedral and the Fredericton Playhouse.

King’s Landing Historical Settlement Living history installations aren’t for everyone. But if you’re a fan, then King’s Landing is a must see. Located on the banks of the Saint John River east of Fredericton, this massive, recreated settlement depicts the life of Loyalist settlers in the mid-19th century. It features more than 70 buildings (dating from 1828 to 1909), tens of thousands of artifacts, a huge staff of fully trained and costumed actors/cultural interpreters and an extensive summer activities program.