I had the opportunity two weeks ago to finally venture over to the Eastern part of my home country. The furthest east I had gone was Toronto, and I thought to myself, no easterner would remotely consider that “truly east” so I figured I had better get over to the “real” east, and see part of Atlantic Canada.
As a classical singer, often you have to travel to where the best voice coaches and/or teachers live, in order to get high-quality lessons. This is what I was doing for the week. As a result, I did not travel through the province as much as I would have liked. Had I had more time, money and a rent-a-car, I would been able to have the adventure I wanted. I would have loved to have gone to Nova Scotia, P.E.I. (I hear there’re fantastic beaches), Newfoundland, and then ventured into Washington D.C., and New England and Maine. However, my dream did not turn into reality for this trip, but I can account for a few things I did see, and notice while in Cambridge-Narrows, a town of 640 people.
First of all, New Brunswick is a wide-open, very green space. It is far different to the claustrophobic confines of large buildings and tightly packed roads we are used to in the cities of British Columbia (the interior excluded). It simply is un-ending lush, green forest, accompanied with large lakes and rivers. The city of St. John even felt “wide-open” as we drove through, despite it being an urban town. It is also one of the oldest towns in Canada. It was a beautiful place in the sense that all you could see for miles was green, whether it was grass or forest. We were lucky enough to venture out on a speedboat on the lake near our house, and I did not think my eyes could ever meet a horizon that was still filled with forest and water. All I could wish for was that my children’s generation and grandchildren’s generation are able to see such a beautiful example of preserved Mother Nature.
There were some lovely outdoor markets, and couples who own acreage who sell meat, cheese, eggs, or any other farmed, home-made goodies. This is what people do in this town instead of grocery shopping. They tend to drive a bit further out along country roads, and visit people they know in the community and buy locally. We ate some wonderful fish & chips at a small roadside diner, which makes me wonder what they might be like in bigger cities. Apparently New Brunswick isn’t known for its gourmet food or restaurants, but its fish, like the rest of Atlantic Canada was absolutely delicious. We had two large pieces of trout (for a much cheaper cost than in Vancouver) which were phenomenal. They also are known for their delicious maple syrup.
We had a very short tour of a small house built in the early 1800’s by Anthony Flower, a London-born artist/entrepreneur who made the venture across the Atlantic in a small boat. He built this small house on a hill in Cambridge-Narrows and it is still preserved today. He used the resources and wood at hand to build house-hold tools, and started up an art-selling business. We even saw the old beds that had straw as mattresses, and the old rusted spinning wheels used to make silk, and weave wool for clothing. The question we all wondered was “What would make a Londoner want to leave when he already had a good life with a job over in England?” The travel between continents at that time would have been treacherous to say the least. Some people just have the pioneer spirit in them. There were many families who followed in his footsteps and came to Eastern Canada from Europe, and then during the American Revolution, the Loyalists (to Britain) moved up to the east coast, because there would be a place in society for them there.
The people in New Brunswick are extremely friendly. You notice the difference between easterners and westerners, and even though both very friendly as a bunch, it’s difficult to put a finger on the exact difference. I loved the accent. I loved the “R’s” being harder than our westcoast ones. “Put it in the carrrr.” I liked the “pirate” in their speech. Atlantics/Acadians love to have a good time. They love live music, and they love “shooting the breeze.” They have a lovely sense of humour, and laugh at themselves easily. You can sense the Irish/Scottish descent in much of the population, including the gift of the gab!
All in all it’s a wonderful place to be, and I highly recommend driving or taking the train around as much of it as you can. New Brunswick gave me a taste, and now I would love to complete my journey and see the rest!