Visiting New Brunswick
Everything is bigger in Texas, it's said. But on a recent 6-week camping trip in New Brunswick, we found the Lone Star State has nothing on this scenic Maritime Province.
We first got the big idea when a gigantic stainless steel salmon welcomed us in Campbellton, located on Highway 134 along New Brunswick's northern coast. At 27 feet tall, we agreed that "Restigouche Sam", as he's known (Restigouche is the name of the region), is a keeper! He reminds everyone about Campbellton's annual summer Salmon Festival--and yes, it's a big one.
Soon afterward, our trip turned into a quest for all things big. We followed the coast for about 200 miles south before sizing up Bouctouche, on Highway 134 along the Northumberland Strait in eastern New Brunswick. At the Irving Eco-Centre just outside of town, we found a boardwalk about 9 miles long, and a magnificent white 10-mile-long sand dune! You may just catch a glimpse of the rare piping plover here.
If you like lobster as much as we do, you'll go for Shediac--about 20 miles south of Bouctouche on Highway 11--in a big way. It's the home of the world's largest lobster, a 35-foot-long, 16-foot-high monster in Rotary Park. If you visit in early July, you can celebrate these crustaceans at the Shediac Lob-ster Festival.
Next, we headed 40 miles south to Dorchester on Highway 106 to see "Shep", the world's largest semipalmated sandpiper. Carved with chain saws from a single log, the 6-foot-tall Shep stands near the Town Hall.
A Migration Sensation
More than 80% of the world's semipalmated sandpipers stop here from mid-July through mid-September as they migrate to South America, hence, Shep--and the town's annual Sandpiper Festival. Try the famous "sandpiper" chowder. Don't worry, it contains no sandpiper and tastes like chicken!
In Plaster Rock on Highway 108 in west-central New Brunswick, we found the world's largest fiddleheads. At 24 feet tall, these wood ostrich ferns, carved with a chain saw, are considerably bigger--and less tasty than--the real delicacy, which we learned is served each spring at the Fiddlehead Festival.
From here, it was south about 60 miles on Highway 105 to Hartland, where we added the world's longest covered bridge to our "big" list. Built more than 100 years ago, this 1,282-foot marvel spans the St. John River. (For more information, call the town offices at 1-506/375-4357, consult www.town.hartland.nb.ca or see page 43 of the July/Aug 2001 issue.)
Now that the world's largest ax fell long before we arrived in Nackawic, the forestry capital of Canada, some 25 miles south on Highway 105. Good thing, too, seeing as it's 49 feet tall and sunk into a 33-foot stump!
The big finale was in Harvey on Highway 3, where we saw the 14-foot fiddle honoring the late famed fiddler Don Messer, who was born here. (Harvey residents say it doesn't play second fiddle to the taller wooden one on Prince Edward Island, since theirs is the world's largest steel fiddle.)
Pluck this fiddle...
We didn't see everything that's bigger in New Brunswick. But what we did see was grand, thanks largely to the good folks of New Brunswick and their supersized sense of humor!
Before You Visit...
For information about New Brunswick, call 1-800-561-0123 or log on to www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca.
Campbellton's Salmon Festival is held in late June and early July. For information, call 1-506/759-7997 or refer to www.campbellton.org.
The Irving Eco-Centre is north of Bouctouche on Highway 475, and open from mid-May through early November. Hours vary, and access to the boardwalk is sometimes limited. For details, call the center at 1-506/743-2600, or consult this website.
The Shediac Lobster Festival is held in early July. For information, call the Town of Shediac at 1-506/ 532-7000 or visit www.shediac.org/index_en.html.
The Sandpiper Festival in Dorchester is held in late July. For details, call the Village of Dorchester at 1-506/379-3030 or check out www.dorchester.ca.
Plaster Rock's Fiddlehead Festival is the first weekend after Canada's Victoria Day. For details, call the Village of Plaster Rock at 1-506/356-6166.
For information about Nackawic, call the town offices at 1-506/575-2241 or log on to www.nackawic.com. To learn more about Harvey, call the village offices at 1-506/366-6240 or see www.village.harvey-station.nb.ca.
For a fun list of more large roadside attractions in New Brunswick, peruse www.roadsideattractions.ca/newbrunswick.htm.