Acadian Peninsula – Heritage and Nature Up Close
It is in the region of the Acadian Peninsula in Northern New Brunswick that you can really discover the heritage and vibrant life of the Acadian people, A day or two of immersion in the culture of the area will show you how much the Province of New Brunswick is shaped by its French speaking population.
First you will want to visit the Village Historique Acadien in Caraquet. It is a large living history community that includes several domestic and commercial buildings, farms and workshops, around a pleasant lake that is crossed by a covered bridge. The costumed villagers will show you the Acadian traditions of arts and crafts and farming as they were practiced in the period following the thankfully incomplete attempt by the British to expel the Acadians from Atlantic Canada.
Step back in time. Imagine shopping at a general store or watch a blacksmith or a shoemaker at work. See the farmers work the land and watch the women baking, quilting or doing needle point. But why stop with passive looking when you can jump right into being an Acadian settler yourself. In the summer months children can participate in a day-long program where dressed in costume they circulate around the village and learn how to do various crafts in the old way.
Another way to immerse yourself in the Acadian life is to stay the night at the 1907 hotel, the Château Albert in Caraquet. The rooms, of course without telephones and televisions, are carefully decorated so that you will have a genuine experience of what it was like being a guest at what was then a grand hotel. The hotel offers a Musical Dinner Theatre that will introduce you to Acadian storytelling and the rich heritage of song and dance of Acadie. To further you experience, try La Table des Ancêtres where tasty dishes made from simple ingredients are prepared in the Acadian style.
While The Village Historique Acadien is an absolutely wonderful place to experience the daily life of Acadians in the period from 1770 to 1949, you will want to drive around the Acadian Peninsula to see what modern Acadian life is like. Be sure to visit the harbours in Caraquet and other towns along the coast to see the bustling activity of the fishing industry. Drop into the Shippigan Aquarium and Marine Centre where you can tour the aquarium, feel sea creatures in the touch tank, talk to the captain of a fishing boat and see the Harbour Seals at feeding times (11 am and 4 pm) so near to you that you can smell the herring on their breath. For an even deeper understanding of life along the seashore children can be a Biologist for a Day and with expert instructors explore the coastal ecosystem.
For those who want to experience nature in the wild a visit to the Ecological Park of the Acadian Peninsula is recommended. This park is particularly favoured by bird watchers as some 250 species of birds have been recorded within the park’s boundaries on Lamèque and Miscou Islands. Again there is a special day long program for kids – A Naturalist for a Day – in which they explore the park and learn about various species of plants and animals that inhabit the Ecological Park.