Atlantic Canada: New Brunswick

Handmade Quilt depicting Grand Falls, NB

We didn’t have as much time to visit New Brunswick as I would have liked but we did manage to see quite a few of the major sights with the exception of driving along the eastern coastline which I believe is very beautiful. We visited the Hopewell Rocks, the Tidal Bore, the Reversing Falls, and the famous Magnetic Hill.  We also visited the major cities of Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton, and drove along the Saint John River in full autumn colour.

New Brunswick – Sept 26-29

Sept 26 – Today we packed up and drove across the 13 km long  Confederation Bridge that connects PEI to New Brunswick. The sides are pretty high but you can just barely see over. It costs $46.50 to take a passenger vehicle but interestingly enough, you can pay an extra $40 to have someone drive you and your car across the bridge if you are apprehensive.  Seems pretty odd to me, but hey, I guess that some people might be nervous to drive over the ocean?

All along the highway in NB there were warning signs to watch for moose but sadly, we never saw one.  We made our way to the Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy, a long funnel-shaped inlet that boasts some of the highest tides in the world. At the park, you will pay $10 for a 24 hour ticket that allows you to come and go as many times as you like and enables to you see the rocks at both high and low tides. It’s a 10-15 minute walk through the forest down to the ocean, although for an additional fee, you can take a shuttle bus down as well. Be sure to check the tide tables on the site link above before you go, to best plan your visit, especially if you are not staying nearby overnight (high and low tides are usually about 12 hours apart).

The tide was out quite far when we arrived, so we were able to walk out amongst the rocks and take lots of photos. I look forward to looking at pictures of this area from the 1970’s when we visited as kids and see how much has eroded away in 40+ years.

For the next two nights, we are staying at another Victorian era B&B, in the community of Riverside, about 15-20 minute drive from the rocks.  I love these wonderful old homes – they are always so well maintained and decorated.  As there were no restaurants nearby, we drove a half hour or so into nearby town of Alma and found great seafood for dinner.

Sep 27 – This morning, we visited the Hopewell Rocks again, this time at high tide and it was amazing to see the difference.  We took more photos to compare to our low tide pics from yesterday.  I’ll post a few shots below.  We also spent time at the interpretive centre which was excellent.  There was a restaurant at the park and they had a 70 year old lobster than weighed 10 lbs.  The cook said that every once in awhile, the fishermen will catch a huge one and bring it in, and they will keep it in the tank for a few days to show people.  I’m not sure if they killed eat it later or put it  back in the ocean, but I’m going to go with the latter. 😉

In the late afternoon, we drove back into Moncton to see the Magnetic Hill, which is an optical illusion that makes it looks like you are rolling uphill, when you are actually rolling downhill.  It’s pretty touristy and I remembered seeing it as a kid.  It wasn’t on the top on my list of things to do, but Erik had never been here and we had time to kill so we figured why not?  We were lucky that we arrived after 5pm as it turned out that the ticket office was closed and there was nobody else around so we were able to go up and down the hill a couple of times for free. There’s also a zoo and some other attractions to spend your money on if you have kids with you.

Back in Moncton, we found a great brew house pub and had dinner, and then we had about an hour to hang out and wait for 8:20pm to watch the tidal bore come up the Petacodiac River.  Because of the way the Bay of Fundy is formed, with the bay narrowing as it gets closer to the river, the tide tends to “pile up” as it enters the bay and instead of a gradual slow rising of the tide, you can actually see it come in as a small wave. Depending on where you view it – and there are many places in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to see the tidal bore – the wave can be more or less dramatic.  I don’t find it particularly exciting, especially in the dark, but again we had nothing better to do so we waited and watched.  (You can google “tidal bore” on youtube and see videos of it.  There’s even one video someone took of people ‘surfing’ the wave.)

It was dark and cold and a little windy down by the river so we sat in our parked car until about 20 minutes to the predicted wave arrival (again, check the tide tables before you go) but luckily it came about 5-10 minutes early so we didn’t have to hang out too long. We didn’t have high expectations so we weren’t disappointed as we waited with a half dozen other foolish tourists, for the massive one foot wave to pass by in the dark. It was all over with in a couple of minutes. Still, mother earth is amazing and it is kind of interesting to see.

They say it’s been a late fall this year, but every day the leaves turn a little more. I really hope we see some brilliant colour before we go home!

Sept 28 – Today we drove a couple hours to the city of Saint John, on our way to Fredericton, to see the Reversing Rapids, another tidal phenomena of the area.  At high tide, the ocean is pushing the Saint John River way back and doesn’t allow it to flow out to sea. The water builds up as the tide rises. Then when the tide begins to recede, it takes about 20 minutes for the pressure to equalize and during that time, the flow calms and seems not to move. Then slowly, the river begins moving back towards the sea, the water level drops, and the river rapids appear. We happened to arrive very close to the change, and so we spent more than an hour watching the amazing change. I won’t post any photos because the pictures don’t really show much.  I suggest you check out the link above or look on youtube and watch videos of the falls in order to see the true effect.

After lunch, we continued our drive about an hour and arrived at another beautiful old B&B in Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick.  We had dinner at a nearby pub and relaxed at our B&B for the evening.

Sept 29 – Today was another traveling day. We picked up some snack food for a picnic lunch and headed to Edmunston, about 3 hour drive, with lots of stops along the way. The colours are getting brighter so we stopped quite a few times to take pictures. The drive along the St John river was really pretty. We took the scenic route 102 for quite awhile and then got onto the Transcanada Highway for the rest of the trip. There was definitely more fall colour so we really enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

We stopped in Hartland to see the world’s longest covered bridge and ate our lunch at a picnic site next to the bridge. Further down the highway, we stopped in Grand Falls and took some pics of the amazing gorge and waterfalls by the dam. They had an interesting interpretive centre as well.

We are staying at a motel tonight and picked up pizza and wine for supper. Tomorrow we head to Quebec and we have booked a hotel an hour out of the city so we can easily drop off the car the next morning. It was a beautiful day today – mostly sunny and 13-14C.

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Here’s a link to a zoomable map of drive through New Brunswick.  The blue markers show the date we stayed overnight, and the red markers show the date we visited sights.

Next up – Quebec City and Ottawa!

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