If you are looking for French-Canadian culture, breathtaking scenery or the warmest beaches in Canada, New Brunswick is the place to be. Here you will find outstanding living history museums and the famed Bay of Fundy tides. Prepare for a surprise when you wade into the surf; New Brunswick's beaches have the warmest water north of Virginia Beach.
Bay of Fundy and Fundy Coast
New Brunswick's most famous natural attraction is the Bay of Fundy. This bay has the highest tides on Earth, and the Fundy Coast is the perfect place to see these legendary tides in action. For the best views, head to Hopewell Rocks or drive down the coast road to the town of Alma, just north of the entrance to Fundy National Park.
If you decide to drive down the Fundy Coast to Alma and Fundy National Park, be sure to allow enough time to visit Cape Enrage. You can walk along a stony beach at low tide or visit the Cape's lighthouse. If you time your arrival in Alma so that you get there at low tide, you will see fishing boats sitting on the muddy bay floor, right next to the pier pilings.
New Brunswick is bilingual today because it was the site of Canada's first French settlement, called "Acadie." In 1755, British troops drove the Acadians out of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in order to seize their farms for British settlers. Many Acadians fled to Louisiana, where they became known as "Cajuns." Today, the Village Acadien near Caraquet is the best place in New Brunswick to learn about Acadian history and culture. Bilingual, costumed interpreters take you through lovingly-restored buildings and explain how the Acadians lived, both before the Dérangement in 1755 and after their return to New Brunswick.
New Brunswick's history has a Loyalist (British) side, too, and it is just as interesting. Kings Landing, a living history museum on the St. John's River in western New Brunswick, brings Loyalist history to life, turning visitors into participants as costumed re-enactors discuss issues and concerns that affected 19th-century Loyalist families. Plan to spend several hours at this outstanding museum.
Moncton and the Coast
The city of Moncton and the surrounding beach towns make a great home base for your tour of New Brunswick. Moncton is New Brunswick's largest bilingual city. Expect to be greeted in both French and English and to hear French spoken almost everywhere you go. In Moncton you can visit the Université de Moncton's Musée Acadien (Acadian Museum), see the tidal bore from the Bay of Fundy at Tidal Bore Park and even watch your car roll "backward" up Magnetic Hill. Remember to pack your bathing suit. The Gulf Stream keeps the water very warm during the summer months.
For a musical and theatrical glimpse into Acadian history, stop by La Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche. This re-created village, located on "Flea Island," is populated with musicians, actors and a bilingual staff who will help you immerse yourself in Acadian music and comedy. La Pays de la Sagouine is not a living history museum, although the characters "live" and "work" in the 19th century. It is more of a theme park in which you meet the island's inhabitants through a series of lighthearted plays and performances. You won't find thrill rides here, but you will discover that Acadian music, food and history, once experienced, are unforgettable.
The Irving Eco-Centre: La Dune de Bouctouche was created to protect, study and restore the sand dune for which it is named. The Bouctouche dune, which is nearly seven miles long, is home to many species of birds and other animals. The dune is protected by a large expanse of marram grass which holds down the sand and protects it from erosion. Visit the Interpretation Centre to learn about the dune and the birds that visit each year. The Eco-Centre offers daily dune walks during the summer in both English and French as well as a variety of special programs for visitors. Fall weekend activities include group nature walks – call ahead to reserve your place – and evening events.