New Brunswick Highlights - My Ford EcoSport Adventure
New Brunswick Highlights - My Ford EcoSport Adventure June 29, 2018 · 17 min. readWhile the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party. Also, this article may contain affiliate links.
When we finally arrived in New Brunswick, the sun had started to set. Within in an hour, the skies darkened and it began to rain. The clock on our dash said it was close to 11 PM, and we still had over an hour left to drive.
Back in 2010 my mother and I went to New Brunswick for a quick visit before hopping back to Nova Scotia. We were running short on time – kind of like I would be eight years later – so we just took a picture near the New Brunswick sign and turned around. This time, under the cloak of darkness and rain, we didn't even do that.
Driving at night and during the day are completely different. In the day you can see where you are going, and somewhat place yourself in the vastness of an area. At night you're a single glowing aura in a sea of darkness.
Unlike PEI, the highways of New Brunswick criss-cross with overpasses. While I didn't see a single overpass while on the island, New Brunswick was full them. It's a sign of just how different the two provinces are, both economically and population wise. The overpasses cross over towns, through hills, around bends, and over lakes. It was a very different driving experience than in PEI.
We were driving towards St. Martins, a small town along the Bay of Fundy. I spoke to Denis earlier and he told us there was no food at the place we were staying – it was an AirBnb, which only had the former "b" available. We picked up some snacks on our way, and Denis said he left some chicken wings and chips out for us whenever we got there. He also left the outside light on for us.
It was after midnight when we finally arrived and we unpacked our suitcases in the rain. We got inside, dried off and washed up. Krystal mentioned that it was cold in the house we were staying, and I thought so too. After fiddling around with the thermostats, we realized the heat had been turned off for the season. With no heat and little food, we settled down for the night.
The next morning Denis brought us juice, coffee and muffins from a nearby gas station. We chatted about PEI, and about what we got up to the day before. It was still chilly that morning, but it was starting to warm up. Denis said this area of the province was under a frost advisory last night, which is strange for early June, but it seems to be a common trend this year. Just the day before it had snowed in Newfoundland and Labrador.
As we were packing up to start our day, Denis mentioned that the nearby St. Martins Sea Caves were just outside of town. Krystal and I had plenty we wanted to see but after hearing about the caves, we decided to visit them before heading on our way.
We arrived at the caves a little after 10:30 in the morning. Low tide for this time of year was from about 9 AM – 4 PM so the sea bed floor was completely exposed. We hopped out of our Ford EcoSport, walked across the smooth rocks and red sand and approached the sea caves. These massive holes were in the side of the red stone cliff, hallowed out by a millennium of cold Atlantic water crashing against them. This is was not caused by a chemical reaction, but as a physical one. There were two caves; one was so deep you couldn't see inside, and another that was shallower but wider. As we approached the caves, we encountered a small stream that was flowing along the sea floor. It flowed from beyond the parking lot directly into the ocean, and there was no easy way across. Krystal walked through wearing her shoes as she had brought a second pair, but I didn't have any extra shoes. Instead, I took off my shoes, left them on the shore and crossed the stream barefoot. In hindsight, this was probably not the best idea as I didn't have anything to wear on my feet when I crossed the sharp rocks on the other side.
The caves were incredible. They were close to thirty feet high, and their walls were smooth, rippled stone. Around the entrance to the larger of the two sea caves were piles of stone, which Krystal pointed out probably fell from the top of the cave. Inside the cave was much cooler than outside, and the ground was much less rocky. On the left side of the cave was a sand bed that Krystal and I drew some pictures in. At the back of the cave was some drift wood.
Krystal and I wandered around the caves a bit more, and she went off to explore a small hill, closer to the ocean front. I attempted to follow her, but after slipping and falling on some rocks, I decided to stay back and keep myself – and my camera – unharmed.
After we finished up at the caves, I crossed the stream, picked up my shoes and hobbled back to the car. Krystal quickly switched her shoes, but I spent the next ten minutes getting sand off my feet and rocks out of my shoes. From there we planned the rest of the day. Eventually we had to get to Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, which was six-hours away, north-west of us, but we also had to go to Saint John, which was an hour south-west. North of us was Hopewell Rocks. Either way we would have to do some backtracking, but if we went north first, we would have to backtrack twice. After some chatting and checking our maps, we set the vehicle's GPS south-west to Saint John.
We had a quick checklist of places we wanted to visit in Saint John. The first was King's Square, a park near the center of downtown that was established in 1785. The park is full of statues and memorials, like Skeleton Park in Kingston (but, you know, without the skeletons). One of the statues I found very interesting was a dedication to the founding of New Brunswick. Since my time in Philadelphia I've been interested in how the American Revolutionary War impacted Canadian history, and my sister is a huge fan of the musical Hamilton, which is about the founding of the United States.
Following the American Revolutionary War, Canada saw a large influx of US Loyalists cross the border. Many of these settled in Ontario and Quebec, but many others came out to the Maritimes. Eventually, the families of these Loyalists would come west and settle in the prairie provinces. As more and more Loyalists arrived, the British Government declared Brigadier General Thomas Carleton, who oversaw the transplanting of the Loyalists back to British soil, the first governor of the newly created Province of New Brunswick. One day after being chosen, on November 21, 1784, he held his first council and proclaimed civil government. It was the placement of these Loyalists so close to the border that allowed for them to march back to Washington thirty years later and set the White House ablaze.
Another location we visited in Saint John was the Loyalist House, one of the many houses that were built in the city by families of the Loyalists. It was constructed in 1820 and was one of the oldest buildings in the city. It was lived in by the same family for five generations, until 1959. Most importantly, this white, symmetrical building, survived the Great Fire of 1877 which destroyed much of downtown Saint John. Today the building is propped up on black stone, several feet above street level. This shows just how much of the earth has been stripped away as the city grew.
We had a quick bite in Saint John and dropped inside Barbour's General Store and Museum. Barbour's operated in northern New Brunswick in 1860 until the 1940s. In the late 1960s it was uprooted and brought into the center of Saint John, and in 1967 it became a store and museum. The idea of the museum came about in the 1960s when local businessman Ralph Brenan discovered his granddaughter didn't know what coal was. To remedy this lack of awareness in local history, he took over the general store and transformed it into both a store, a museum and an information centre.
When we parked the Ford EcoSport, I expected us to be less than an hour, but I overpaid for two hours just in case. Nevertheless, when we got back to the car, there was a red parking ticket under my wiper blade. I checked the ticket and we were gone two hours and fifteen minutes. Ouch! Unfortunately for them, I have yet to pay that ticket, and I probably won't. Sorry Saint John!
Our next location was Hopewell Rocks, which was two hours away since we had to backtrack to St. Martins. We left a little after 3 PM, expecting to arrive at Hopewell Rocks at about 5 PM. We had a few GPS problems along the way, but we arrived there a little after 5:30. We rolled up to the parking lot only to find the park warden closing the gate for the day. Because the park wasn't yet on "summer hours", it closed at 5 PM!
The gate just blocked the road and was easy to walk around. I proposed to Krystal that we get out, bypass the gate and just walk to the rocks, like what I did in Avonlea. Although we had missed low tide, it would still be incredible to see Hopewell Rocks. Krystal said no, and instead we turned around and headed back the way we came.
Sad and frustrated we didn't get to the rocks (this is the second time I missed going to them, after also running out of time back in 2010 with my mom) we drove north to Moncton. We passed the sign to Magnet Hill, one of New Brunswick's biggest attractions after Hopewell Rocks, and kept going. Riviere-du-Loup was six hours from Hopewell Rocks – the same distance as from Saint Johns – and it was already almost 6 o'clock. At the earliest, we would arrive around midnight, without stopping.
But, naturally, we stopped a few times.
We had a supper break around 8 PM in Oromocto, a town south-east of Fredericton. We visited Jungle Jim's, a jungle-themed bar and restaurant. Apparently, Jungle Jim's is a very well-known restaurant, but as we don't have them in Saskatchewan it was a whole new experience for me. I ordered "The Kitchen Sink", which was a pile of deep fried everything, from onion rings to mozzarella sticks to taquitos to buffalo wings. I also ordered a Jungle Size Chocolate Monkey as a drink but had it alcohol free. The meal was fantastic, and I really wish we had one of these locations out west.
After eating an incredible feast, we went to the counter to pay our bills. Ford had given us $650 to pay for gas and food on prepaid credit cards so we were trying to figure out which one had enough on it to pay for the meal. As we were chatting, one of the servers named Jenna, mentioned she was also trying to grow her Instagram audience. Since Saskatchewan and the Maritimes are considered the "social media dead zones of Canada", I thought I would give her a follow. Her and her boyfriend post awesome stuff out of New Brunswick, so please go give Jenna and Mitch a follow too.
I had never heard of Oromocto before, so I did some quick research about it and learned the town had been burned to the ground in 1758 during the Expulsion of the Acadians. The Expulsion of the Acadians was a massive forced removal of Acadians from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Many of these people migrated to Louisiana and became what is known today as the Cajuns.
I would have loved to spend more time in Oromocto and learn about the events of 1758, but we had to get to Quebec and the sun was already setting.
So, once again we drove into the sunset, leaving a long list of things we didn't get to see behind us, but this time with plenty of memories and new friends.
For those looking for places to go see in New Brunswick, here is a list of places we saw, or wanted to see:
St. Martins Sea Caves
Fundy National Park
Carleton Martello Tower
Fort Hughes Military Blockhouse
Jungle Jim's in Oromocto
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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After a long, dark, frigid winter, Canadians love the few months of summer we get every year. Once the snow melts and the mud dries, we are out hiking, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and exploring this wonderful country of ours.
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About a year and a half ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine. As I walked down the millennium old streets and gawked at the towering cathedrals, I saw the beginnings of a new country, one that was slowly rebuilding from a much darker time. The process of what I was seeing had a name. It was called decommunization.
Decommunization includes renaming architecture, changing laws and protocols, and even tearing down monuments. People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, for example, which symbolised the friendship between the Communist East and the Capitalist West, was torn down. Some statues, like war memorials, are exempt, but there is still talk of making modifications to them. Anywhere you go throughout the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle are being removed – not from history, but from modern society.
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.