Tag Archives: New Brunswick

Dreams of Evangeline: The Acadian Coast of New Brunswick

24 Nov

Restigouche Sam, the world's largest salmon

Restigouche Sam, the world’s largest salmon

The J. C. Van Horne Bridge spans the Restigouche River.

The J. C. Van Horne Bridge spans the Restigouche River.

The world’s largest salmon leaps from a concrete pool, its stainless-steel scales glistening in the early morning sun as the dark waters of the Restigouche River flow into Chaleur Bay. Crossing the J. C. Van Horne Bridge from the Gaspé into Campbellton, New Brunswick leaves Quebecois culture behind and I enter that of the Acadian.

 

The Acadian Coast extends from the mouth of the Restigouche River east along the southern shore of Chaleur Bay to the tip of Miscou Island, then south along the Gulf of St. Lawrence into the Northumberland Strait between the mainland and province of Prince Edward Island. The Acadian Coastal Drive is clearly marked by red signs with a white starfish logo. Most of Route du littoral acadien avoids the main highways favored by truckers and people in a hurry so it’s perfect for motorcycling.

 

Following a coastline that is almost the mirror image of the southern Gaspé peninsula I reach the city of Bathurst. This is the southernmost point in Chaleur Bay and Miramichi is the westernmost point on the province’s gulf coast. The later lies directly south of the former city with only 43 miles separating them via NB Hwy 8. Everything to the east is the Acadian Peninsula and The Acadian Isles.

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Riding Down the Walloostook: From the Republic of Madawaska to the Fundy Coast

5 Nov

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The St. John River is the north boundary between Maine and Canada.

I see storm clouds on the horizon.  There have been storms here before, most notably during the Aroostook War of 1839-41.   This was the conflict that almost caused a third war between the U.S. and Great Britain—in fact the Governor of Maine actually did declare war on England.  It’s an interesting story about company greed, commodity speculation, conflicting territorial claims, refugees, and extremist groups escalating disagreements to the point of armed conflict and it would make headlines today is you substituted the word lumber for oil.  Feed-up with corporate greed and political posturing the settlers in this beautiful valley declared themselves to be the independent Republic of Madawaska.

The oldest original blockhouse in the United States is located in Fort Kent, Maine.  Built in 1839 during the Aroostook War, it marks the end of the first mile—or in my case, the beginning of the last mile—of U.S. Route 1.

Crossing the Walloostook, what is now called the Saint John River, I follow it downstream.  In 1843 a treaty was hammered out in Paris that defined the international border between Maine and New Brunswick, however the Republic of Madawaska still exists, encompassing both sides of the border and with the title of president being traditionally bestowed upon the mayor of Edmundston.

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Bricklins were the only car manufactured in New Brunswick.

I’m trying to catch the end of the annual Edmundston Jazz & Blues Festival, but am hours behind.  As it begins to rain, I pull into the parking lot of the Antique Automobile Museum.  It’s supposed to be a quick stop to take some photos and inspect the Bricklin, but I become sidetracked by the REO (the car, not the rock group) and a Detroit Electric–yes, Detroit was producing electric cars from 1907 to 1923–then by the 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom and a pristine 1928 Ford Model A.  Before realizing it, time has passed and the rain is now steady.

Wearing 100% waterproof gear and mounted on a Street Glide trike I could care less about wet pavement and depart to catch the last of the festival.  Alas, it isn’t to be.  I hunker beneath the Route 2 overpass as the worst storm of the last two years rolls through.  By the time it lets up enough for an escape to downtown, the festival has disappeared like street litter down a storm drain. Continue reading

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