Today, fill your cup of life with sunshine and laughter.

09 April 2009


This is my hometown, Moncton. I love it here. There's lots of stuff to do year round, even when the weather is not so great. It's a smallish city, about 110,000, but it was voted one of the five best places to live in Canada by a national magazine. It was Canada's first officially bilingual city and is located in Canada's only officially bilingual province. Today, I will share with you thirteen of the things I love about my beautiful hometown and its immediate surroundings. Everything you see here is either right in Moncton, or within a forty-five-minute drive of the city. Hope you enjoy the mini-tour and, who knows? Maybe you'll be moved to visit me here someday. I make a great tour guide and hostess - we are, after all, known for our "East Coast hospitality".

1. Homes in Moncton are varied in value, style and evidence of the diverse heritage of our people. This house on the beach is decorated with the Acadian flag, and is typical of the tourism-rich regions outside the city.

The city's center has a core of hundreds of beautiful Victorian mansions. This place is about five minutes from my house. Notice the Widow's Walk at the top of the tower in front. It was common practice for the wives of sea captains to watch for the arrival of their beloved's ship from this vantage point.

2. The great Bay of Fundy boasts the highest tides in the world, rising as much as 48 feet in 6 hours. It is all due to the funnel shape of the floor of the bay. Makes for great fishing, birdwatching, and of course, it's one of the premier whale watching spots in the world, too. I grew up a stones throw from the scene pictured here, and I couldn't imagine life without the water at my doorstep.

3. The romance of the lighthouse does not escape us here, even though they are a common sight. There are five functioning lighthouses within a few miles of one another along the Bay of Fundy. This is my favorite, at Cape Enrage, about 30 minutes from my home. This one is particularly interesting, as it was the last manned lighthouse in Canada and is still in full use today. I can remember my grandparents bringing me here to visit the keeper when I was perhaps 4 or 5 years old.

4. Of course, with the immense tides in the Bay, you should expect some pretty spectacular things to show up on our coastline. A 25 -minute drive from Moncton, the water has sculpted giant "flowerpots" out of the cliffs. It is the number one natural tourist attraction in Canada, with good reason. These free-standing monoliths tower a whopping 75 - 150 feet over your head. This is where I worked each summer as a kid, and it holds a very special place in my heart.

5. Water flanks us on three sides, and the beaches here are gorgeous. Here's one about twenty minutes from my doorstep, called Parlee Beach. There are dozens more to choose from, some private, some public and a few clothing-optional. The water here is as warm as the water in Virginia in the summer.

6. Of course, outdoor activities might not always be an option. If you're in the mood for a little culture, you could always attend a performance of the local ballet troupe, opera company, or perhaps one of the local theatre groups here at the Capitol Theatre. This place is a real little gem. Some time ago, it had been converted to a movie theatre (I remember going to movies there), but in 1991, it was purchased by the City of Moncton with the intention of recreating it as a live theatre venue. Restoration began in February 1992. An Ontario firm, led by David and Patti Hannivan, was hired to guide the renovations, but on their first visit to the theatre, they probed beneath four coats of paint and discovered evidence of extensive stenciling, gold leafing, and elaborate murals. Indications were that the Capitol had originally been decorated in the style of the Pantages and other Vaudeville theatres. This find influenced the decision to restore the Capitol to its original look of 1922, making it one of only eight such theatres in Canada.

7. Almost 35% of New Brunswick's population is French-speaking, of Acadian (Cajun) descent. Evidence of the culture is everywhere, such as here, in Le Pays de la Sagouine, just outside Moncton. It's a fascinating look into another world. I attended the Grand Opening in 1992, and was treated to a performance of "La Sagouine" - a character play written by premier Acadian authoress Antonine Maillet and performed by the incomparable Viola Leger (front row, 2nd from the left).

8. Festivals are a way of life here. There's at least one every month. From the Lobster Festival in June, to the Wine and Cheese Festival in November, we prove that we know how to make the most of our assets. This concert at the Moncton City Market is part of a summer festival series, which is presented every weekend throughout the summer months.

9. Being a small city hasn't cramped our style at all, since we are also the geographic center of the Atlantic Provinces. Here, the Rolling Stones perform to the largest crowd (85,000) on their 2006 World Tour, at Moncton's open-air concert venue. This is a natural amphitheatre and there are no bad seats. I'm praying that U2 will recognize the charms of coming here to perform ... soon! (note: Last year, the Eagles performed here and this year, we will be privileged to host AC/DC.)

10. Then there are the sports ... name it, we have it. Hockey, baseball, golf ... the list is endless and the opportunities are enormous. This week, we are hosting the World Curling Championships, with teams from all over the world in attendance. One of my former students was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens two years ago. Our local teams are consistently ranked in the top three in Canada. The facilities are second to none, and they just keep getting better.

11. The award-winning Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton is Atlantic Canada's largest zoo. It was twice the recipient of the Tom Baines Award - the highest achievement in the Canadian Zoo industry. The Magnetic Hill Zoo was in the running for this award with the Biodome of Montreal and the Canadian Wilds exhibit of the Calgary Zoo. There are over 400 exotic and indigenous animals, and 90 different species.

12. Fort Beausejour is a star-shaped fort on the outskirts of Moncton, similar in construction and from the same era as the Citadel at Halifax, but not as completely excavated. It was one of the first strongholds taken by the English prior to "Le Grand Derangement" in June 1755. The fort was renamed Fort Cumberland. A generation later, in 1776 during the early stages of the American Revolution, dozens of disgruntled English-speaking inhabitants of the Chignecto region and beyond, along with smaller numbers of Acadians, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Mi'kmaq, joined a group of American patriots to attack Fort Cumberland. The British soldiers successfully defended the fort, dispersing the rebels and capturing many of them. Reinforced for the War of 1812, it was abandoned in 1835 and declared a national historic site in 1926.

13. The Confederation Bridge, located about 60 kms from my doorstep, joins the eastern Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The curved, 12.9 kilometre (8 mile) long bridge is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water, and a decade after its construction, it endures as one of Canada’s top engineering achievements of the 20th century. Because of its phenomenal length, the bridge uses a multi-span concrete box girder structure. Engineers designed the bridge with graceful curves to ensure drivers remain attentive, and to reduce the potential for accidents that experts believe happen more often on straight highways or bridges. The highest curve at the Navigation Span reaches 60 metres above water, allowing large sea vessels, including some cruise ships, to navigate under the bridge between its piers, which stand 250 metres apart.


Bond said...

SPECTACULAR...Will have to visit someday

Travis said...

Very cool!

Meribah said...

Beautiful, Coco! I love old Victorian houses. They have so much charm! :)

Dana said...

Fascinating...I have to get up to Canada one day!