NEW BRUNSWICK - YOU'VE GOTTA LOVE THE PEOPLE!
Darlene's Teahouse sits up a back lane in rural Barnettville. If you miss the sign after a day's fishing on The Miramichi, you'll never know that Darlene Jardine bought the place for a buck, hauled it down the road and paid for the hook-ups with a bake sale!
Hey, a tray of her world-famous carrot cake went to a Premier's reception in Fredericton. Despite the loss of 1/2 the rum sauce to a rear-ender en-route, he's asked for more!
Why would you visit New Brunswick?
In quaint St Andrews, The venerable Fairmont Algonquin is as welcoming as the outstretched arms of an ample aunt, drawing an eclectic mix of cyclists, ramblers, bird watchers and golfers to The Bay of Fundy.
There are over 40 golf courses in N.B.
Saint John, oozes history from its glory days as the worlds 3rd largest producer of wooden ships. After fire flattened the place in 1877, ornate brick and stone replaced burned-out clapboard buildings. The white cross above a window marks the location of family treasures should fire strike again. Once bitten twice shy!
Fredericton is the seat of government and home to the prestigious - and recently contentious! Beaverbrook Art Gallery. His Lordship's descendants claim 125 Turners, Dalis, Gainsboroughs etc. were only on loan and they want them back. Best see them now in case the gallery loses its case. There are magnificent mansions befitting a capital, and an excellent Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
Everyone knows about the spectacular 16-meter tides in The Bay of Fundy - Don't they?
For me, it's the people. An eccentric blend of Irish and French and an easygoing lifestyle brings out a unique sense of whimsy and fun.
"We're running late," says my friend, anxiously eyeing the old school clock while drooling over the last mouthful of apple dumpling and fudge sauce.
We are always late and I love it. Stop to ask the way and you get 1/2 an hour of invaluable folklore and a weak jaw from laughing.
Red Bank is yet another blip on the map. Backtracking through Doaktown, we pass W.W.Doak, a store famous for fly-tying, fishing tackle, and generally dishing out useful angling advice to an international clientele since 1946. We turn south on #123.
It's hard to miss. "Miramichi Country Music Opry - Home of Bill Mullins and the Miramichi Valley Boys" screams the sign on a building that began as a garage. We enter the world of Acadian Bluegrass.
On a good night Bill packs in 150 people. Latecomers get bus seats on the balcony.
Our late arrival cost Bill more than inch or two of "witches brew" to hold the band. Still, Lee Loggie at 89, stomps out a great fiddle, especially since he's short 1 1/2 fingers. George Soby, a mere 79, handles the guitar and mouth organ as if it was his birthright. When the "Harmony Twins," identical blondes in cowboy hats, appear for a number, the place rocks!
Tonight in Miramichi, I will finally eat a whole lobster. Café's don't bother with them. "Why pay the price when you can buy 'em off your brother-in-law's boat eh?" Macdonald's do a seasonal McLobster......but!
It is a perfect Sunday morning when we head south down the Acadian coast. Escuminiac. Point Sapin. White-painted saltbox houses skirt the highway on unfenced, freshly mown lawns. Acadian and French flags flap in the breeze.
Parking lots of tiny clapboard churches fill to capacity. Beaches stretch as far as the eye can see with no trees or people to break the view.
In New Brunswick, the lobster fisherman is king. Find one for your daughter! He works hard for 3 months then curls up or heads south for the winter. A licence is worth a cool $300,000.
I settle for a lobster omelette in the dockside café where servers switch from French to English without missing a beat. "Lobster sandwiches were for poor kids when I went to school", states the waitress ruefully.
In Shediac, Canada's self-appointed Lobster Capital, they speak Shack. "Last night, Je driven mon car into le ditch" bemoans a hung over patron of a small coffee shop where I wait to join a bunch of wide-eyed Calgary school kids. Shediac Bay Cruises runs an "all you need to know about catching lobster" expedition. And, you get to tuck into the spoils!
We are nearing "The Confederation Bridge" to PEI. "Before you leave, you've got to see Andy's Dummy Farm" says my friend decisively. "He's 88, looks like a leprechaun and makes these dummies out of old bleach bottles and discarded clothes......!"
"Good grief - Where do you find these people?" I answer in awe!
IF YOU GO
Copyright © 2008 Andrew G.P. Renton All rights reserved.