In our recent Newfoundland post I talked about how our travels across Canada always have a bit of synchronicity. We meet people who know other people we know or they are connected to the Canadian tourism industry like us. My recent trip to New Brunswick had more than its usual share of synchronicity.
When my dad’s youngest sister, Jean, died of old age last month, a milestone passed. She was the last direct descendant of a family that has been in New Brunswick since the 1700s. Jean was the “glue” who kept in touch with family members in Canada and the United States. By chance, a work-related trip took me to New Brunswick in early December. It was a chance for me to honour Jean and my family’s roots and to see what’s new for travelers in this great Maritime province.
Fredericton, New Brunswick was our destination. It’s on a strategic point of the St. John River central to Quebec City, Moncton, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The US border is just 98 miles or 158 km away. I found this Loyalist city surprisingly vibrant given its population is only 50,000. The University of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design are here and so is the Beaverbrook Gallery. People from around the world travel to the Beaverbrook to see its famous Salvador Dali painting, the Santiago el Grande (1957).
There are several private galleries and artists’ studios in Fredericton too, and a whole lot more. edVentures are new arts and craft learning vacations taught by qualified instructors. They run for six weeks every summer in the city. 2010 dates are July 5 to August 20th. We got a taste of how the workshops work during our visit. I glazed two clay pots at New Brunswick’s College of Craft & Design and I made earrings at a dynamite little Fredericton studio. All courses are hands-on. You can take a five-day course, a two-day class or even a one-day intensive workshop. They’re part of a city-wide cultural bonanza that really heats up in the summer. Under the Stars Classic Movies attract hundreds to the Historic Garrison District on Sunday nights. There are New Brunswick story tellers on Wednesday afternoons in the same park. Outdoor music concerts run almost everyday of the week and a Fredericton Baroque Music Festival is held every spring. Canadian Heritage recently named Fredericton one of Canada’s cultural capitals.
Another one of my trip highlights was a traditional Christmas dinner held at Kings Landing, a recreated historic village on the St. John River. Hundreds pack its village inn every year for the holiday dinners. The settlement is a half hour north of Fredericton on the T’Can. As we made our way to the inn by horse-drawn wagon, we passed the Joslin farmhouse. According to my mother, the family genealogist, the New Brunswick side of my family is connected to the Joslin family. My Aunt Jean liked genealogy too. So does a New Brunswick cousin of mine with a big apple orchard near Kings Landing. The tourism gang in Fredericton were familiar with him, and with his orchard. He and my mother keep in touch with Christmas cards every year and on one of our family trips to New Brunswick, he took us to an old family cemetery near Kings Landing where relatives of ours, including Joslins, are buried.
My dad and Jean were both avid fishermen. I remember him telling me that Jean used to even tie her own flies. The St. John River is one they both used to fish. It flows 400 kilometres/ 700 miles through the centre of New Brunswick. Roads on both sides follow it pretty much from beginning to end. A new St. John River tourism heritage group is working hard to point travelers to interesting sites along the two river routes.
I had the pleasure of meeting another avid fisherman while I was here. His name is Brad Woodside and he’s Fredericton’s mayor. His Honour told me that they fish Muskie in the St. John along with several other species of fish. That really surprised me. I didn’t realize Muskie were found this far east in Canada. They’re a favourite with many sport-fishing enthusiasts.