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Our New Brunswick Trip (Ferries, Seafood, Tides, and More)

Virginia loves visiting new places and sharing them in travel articles here.

Fishing boats in a New Brunswick harbor (St Martin's).

Fishing boats in a New Brunswick harbor (St Martin's).

Traveling Around New Brunswick

For the first time, I toured New Brunswick, Canada. What a delight it was. We followed the scenic routes recommended on the official map. Actually, I think we could have driven any road and it would have been scenic. The coastal route gave us stunning views of the Bay of Fundy, then the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and finally the Chaleur Bay as we drove around the perimeter of the province.

Two weeks in the Canadian province of New Brunswick gave us time to really savor the small villages, country churches, boats in the harbors, excellent museums, and the history of the region. I heartily recommend this scenic part of the Maritime provinces on the East Coast.


Crossing Into Canada

We crossed the border at Campobello Island. Of concern at the border is the importation of guns, alcohol, and cigarettes. If you were thinking of traveling with any of those, please read up on the current regulations before you start.

We thoroughly enjoyed touring FDR’s summer home. Called a cottage, it really is a large house with a grand view of the Bay of Fundy. It exuded a relaxed family atmosphere and the rooms looked as though the Roosevelts could walk right back in at any moment.

Taking the Ferry From Campobello

After seeing the lighthouse, we took the ferry from Campobello Island over to Deer Island. We drove to the opposite end of that island to catch the free ferry across to the New Brunswick mainland.

Taking the ferries was a treat in itself. You can get out of your car and walk around on the open deck admiring the views and looking for seals, dolphins, and seagulls. I’m not sure if I really saw a seal or if it was just wishful thinking. We definitely saw several dolphins come to the surface.

The RoadTrek, a compact but fully-outfitted  campervan with a bed, kitchen, bathroom, and more.

The RoadTrek, a compact but fully-outfitted campervan with a bed, kitchen, bathroom, and more.

The Logistics of Traveling in a Camper Van

We traveled in our Road Trek camper van for the New Brunswick trip. It’s a very well-made recreational vehicle, actually made in Canada. I’m amazed at what they are able to squeeze into the small interior (a kitchen, a pull-out table, a bed, TV, a bathroom). Even more amazing, it almost fits into a regular parking lot space. We usually look for a space where we can pull-through, so we don’t have to back out with cars crowding us on both sides.

Our First Night in the Van

We camped the first night in the New River Beach Provincial Park. It was like a state park in the U.S. There was electricity at the campsite, but not water, so it was necessary to walk to the bathhouse for a shower. The next morning we went to the beach for a quick look around. It was a lovely wide and sandy beach and essentially deserted.

Morning Routine

Throughout the trip, I'd prepare a bowl of fresh fruit to go with a container of yogurt for breakfast. Sometimes, to keep things simple, we would pick up carry-out coffee and cocoa at a fast food place. In Canada, there are the usual McDonalds, but we looked for the Canadian chain, Tim Horton.

Sometimes, we would park close to a Ramada Inn so we could pick up their wi-fi in the parking lot while we had our coffee. We’d brought along a notebook computer as a space saver. It worked just fine for us. Most fast food places have wi-fi, too.

The Route We Took

Our New Brunswick odyssey took nine days. The official province map lays out five “routes panoramiques” and they were indeed quite scenic drives. We started with the Fundy Coastal Drive, then onto the Acadian Coastal Drive, connected to the Appalachian Range Route, and cut across at Saint Quentin to the River Valley Scenic Drive. This took us counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the province.

That meant we missed the Miramichi River Route, which cuts diagonally across the province. Ah well, it gives us a reason to return someday to take that drive.

We set out following the lighthouse signs that marked the Fundy Coastal Drive.  The road followed the coast down to Cape Tormentine.  The GPS often couldn’t detect a road and just showed us driving through uncharted forests.

We set out following the lighthouse signs that marked the Fundy Coastal Drive. The road followed the coast down to Cape Tormentine. The GPS often couldn’t detect a road and just showed us driving through uncharted forests.

Side Trip to St. Martin's

When I travel, I love tasting local foods along the way. Of course, traveling along the coast of New Brunswick, we made sure to eat plenty of their great seafood. My first experience with it was in the tiny village of St. Martin’s. Side-by-side restaurants with a view of the Bay of Fundy enticed us. We chose The Caves, named after the local attraction, caves carved out of the cliffs by the tidal currents.

I chose the seafood bake, which turned out to be scallops, shrimp, haddock, and bits of lobster in a sauce with three kinds of cheese melted over it. Delectable! The simple decor of blue-checked oilcloth on the tables and white-and-blue walls was secondary to the superb view and the food. You could also eat outside on the deck.

I highly recommend the seafood bake!

I highly recommend the seafood bake!

You can eat on the deck by the ocean.

You can eat on the deck by the ocean.

Sights to See in St. Martin's

St. Martin’s is well worth getting off the divided highway and trekking on the scenic side road. The village visitor’s center looked like a lighthouse, but if you follow their directions, you’ll see a real lighthouse. Two covered bridges, adjacent to the visitor’s center, can be captured in one photograph if you align yourself close to the shore. Then drive on through the one nearest the water to get to the seafood restaurants.

Time your visit for when the tide is out if you want to walk down to the sea caves. The visitor’s center has the times posted. If you go at the wrong time, the Bay of Fundy tide comes in fast and deep so you want to play it safe. The tide was in when we were there.

Stopping in Shediac

On another day, we reached Shediac by noon, so it seemed appropriate to lunch in a local restaurant instead of just a sandwich in the campervan. The small city’s claim-to-fame is its lobster festival, but it might be the campground hotspot for New Brunswick. Quite a few RV parks lined the coast there.

We picked a restaurant at random and enjoyed a seafood crepe and Caesar salad. Couldn’t resist a photo of the giant lobster sculpture at the edge of town. The local Rotary Club paid for it and the tourists, including us, loved it.


Learn About the French History of the Province

It won't be possible to give you details on every stop we made as we toured New Brunswick, but I'll give a few more highlights. I was particularly taken by two historic villages, which showed the cultural differences of the two major populations that settled the province.

The Acadian Historic Village in Caraquet gives you a clear picture of the daily lives of the Acadians starting in 1770 and going up to 1949. At the village, you walk along clearly marked trails and streets to see the forty historic buildings. Most of the buildings have a costumed bilingual interpreter (English and French) who can tell you about the house or business.

I recommend a whole day for wandering through all the buildings and have lunch there too.

The buildings are not just recreations of period houses and businesses, they are actual homes that have been rescued and moved to the Historic Village.

There is one section that features buildings from the Victorian era and into the early 1900s.

The English Historic Village: King's Landing

This is on the west side of New Brunswick. It's a 19th-century village takes you back in time on a 300-acre setting that features about 70 historic buildings. Again, there are costumed characters to tell you about life at that time.

This village provided quite a contrast to the humble lives of the Acadian families as portrayed in the Acadian Village.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Virginia Allain