Sackville – Nature, Horses, Art and Poetry

Sackville is right on the eastern border of the Province of New Brunswick. It is a rewarding stop when either entering or leaving the province. It is a quaint university town set in a particularly unusual environment on the edge of the Tantramar Marshes.

A jewel in the crown of Sackville’s tourist attractions is the Sackville Waterfowl Park located appropriately on Mallard Drive. Extensive boardwalks take you over the fragile environment which is inhabited by a wide number of bird species including, rails, coots, grebes and bitterns. You can take a self-guided tour following a printed guide which includes a checklist of bird species you may spot. During the summer a better option for a family is to join a guided excursion. You are provided with binoculars. Led by a highly qualified guide, you will learn about the history of land reclamation by the early Acadian settlers and be introduced to the variety of flora and fauna that make up the marsh ecosystem. At the end of the tour lemonade and gingersnaps are served and you are given a family kit to take home. A visit to the Sackville Waterfowl Park will be one of your great memories of a vacation in New Brunswick.

Another unique attraction of Sackville is the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum. Here, at Canada’s only intact 19th century carriage factory, you will learn about the craftsmanship that went into the manufacture of the horse-drawn vehicles that once crowded the streets of Canadian towns and villages. If you are an enthusiastic horse person or just interest in the art of working with leather you must visit the Sackville Harness Shop. You will be amazed at the stock, be pleasantly surprised by the smell of leather and straw and enjoy the antique character of the store.

In Sackville you can’t avoid wandering among the picturesque buildings of Mount Alison University which dominates the town. Of particular interest is the Owens Art Gallery which dates back to 1895. The home of the gallery is an imposing Romanesque Revival stone building designed by the Toronto architect Edmund Burke. The gallery has a program of changing exhibitions and displays a selection of treasures from the permanent collection that includes some very fine 19th century English and Canadian paintings. It is well worth a visit.

At one time Sackville was a thriving port and shipbuilding centre. This aspect of the town’s heritage is celebrated in the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre. Be sure to see the rare wallpaper in the marine room. This 1815 scenic wall covering came from a Parisian manufactory and demonstrates the kind of elegance sought by the wealthy Boultenhouse family.

On your walk around Sackville you will encounter the most unusual initiative to beautify and animate a town. The utility poles are decorated with plaques containing words from a wonderful poem by a native son, Douglas Lochhead. In his award winning poem High Marsh Road, Lochhead ruminated daily for four months on living beside one of the greatest of all the world’s salt marshes. 31 of his verses for the month of September are installed on the poles leading from the town up to the Sackville Waterfowl Park.

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