Immersing in New Brunswick’s Unique History and Culture!

New Brunswick, Canada has a rich cultural heritage which includes Acadian culture (Acadians are French colonists who settled in Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries whose descendants developed a distinct history and culture which was quite different from the Québécois). This is an important part of Canada’s past and present. Some fantastic ways to learn more about the history and culture of New Brunswick, as well as Acadian culture, are to:
Visit Le Pays de la Sagouine

A Hexagon With the Words "La Pays de la Sagouine" Written in the Middle, a Wooden Curved Bridge Across Calm Water to an Island With Colourful Buildings and a Lighthouse, in the Distance is Land With Green Grass, Trees, and Buildings, and a Blueish Grey Sky With Fluffy White Clouds

La Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche, New Brunswick

Le Pays de la Sagouine is a reproduction of an Acadian prohibition-era fishing village on a tiny island in the town of Bouctouche, New Brunswick. Bouctouche is 35.5 km (22.1 miles) or 26 minutes from Shediac, or 56 km (34.8 miles) or 45 minutes from Moncton. The village and its unique characters are based on the award winning novel “La Sagouine” by Antonine Maillet, an internationally renowned Acadian novelist, playwright, and author.

A Turquoise Blue Wooden Building on the Left With Cobalt Blue Doors and White Trim and on the Right a Grey Wooden Building With Yellow Shutters and a Yellow Door and White Trim

Snack Bar on l’Île-aux-Puces (Flea Island) at La Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche, New Brunswick

Once you arrive at Le Pays de la Sagouine you have the option to walk across the curved bridge to the tiny island called l’Île-aux-Puces (Flea Island) or have someone drive you across in a golf-cart to explore the Acadian village which has many colourful buildings, shops, and houses. We chose to have someone drive us across the bridge as it was quicker and the ride was fun with scenic views across the water. Around the village we got to go inside the buildings, shops, and houses, to see how they were back in the 1940s and there were several people dressed up from that time period who were very friendly with many tales to tell. Additionally, we had the opportunity to see an interactive cooking demonstration and sample some Acadian food that was cooked up fresh at Matilda’s Kitchen. There were also theatrical performances in French.

A Wooden Purple Building With White Trim and an Open Light Blue Door With an Old Man Sitting in a Rocking Chair in Front of the Door

The General Store on l’Île-aux-Puces (Flea Island) at La Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche, New Brunswick

Tours of the village are offered at specific times and there are Acadian music performances scheduled at certain times as well. Near the entrance of Le Pays de la Sagouine is a gift shop, the Antonine-Maillet Museum, and the restaurant L’Ordre du Bon Temps, which offers Acadian cuisine with a terrace overlooking the Antonine-Maillet Stage, the water, and the island. Moreover, in the evenings throughout the summer and holiday season there are dinner theatre shows available.

A Stage With Raised Seating Around it Painted in Red, White, and Blue Waves With a Yellow Star at the Top, Next to a Wooden Building With a Terrace and Umbrellas

Stage Antonine-Maillet Next to Restaurant L’Ordre du Bon Temps at La Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche, New Brunswick

Le Pays de la Sagouine is a very unique experience. What’s more, it is a Canadian Signature Experience (offers an introduction to the best Canada has to offer).
Eat Acadian Food

There are a number of delicious traditional Acadian dishes to try such as Chicken Fricot, Poutine Râpée, Quahaug Pie, and Pets-de-Soeur, which can be found at restaurants in Shediac, Bouctouche, and Moncton, among other places. Food is one of my favourite ways to get to know a culture better. I tried Acadian cuisine at Restaurant L’Ordre du Bon Temps at Le Pays de la Sagouine and it was fantastic!
Take a Lobster Tales Tour With Shediac Bay Cruises

A Cooked Lobster on a Paper Plate With a Small Round Clear Plastic Container Holding Coleslaw on the Right and a Slightly Larger Round White Plastic Container on the Left

Lobster Dinner on Lobster Tales Boat Tour With Shediac Bay Cruises in Shediac Bay, New Brunswick

The lobster cruise begins in Shediac “the Lobster Capital of the World” where you will board a custom-built 16.2 meter (53-foot) boat with a 65-passenger capacity and cruise around the warm waters of Shediac Bay for 2.5 hours and learn about lobster fishing from a professional lobster fisherman.

On the enclosed lower deck you will be taught about the old and new fishing techniques used by the families of the local fishermen, find out how to haul lobster traps out of the water, how to tell the difference between a male and female lobster, how the locals cook lobster, and how to properly crack and eat a lobster. You will then get the opportunity to try out what you have learned by cracking and eating a freshly cooked lobster on-board, which is accompanied by a tasty maritime potatoe salad, coleslaw, and rolls. The dining area has picnic-style tables painted like the Acadian flag, which are a vivid red, white, and blue with a yellow star on the top left hand side of the flag (in the blue section).

Once dinner is over, you are given the opportunity to go on the upper deck to enjoy the panoramic views of the Northumberland Strait whilst you listen to Acadian music.

Sailboats, Speedboats, and Yachts Docked in the Water With a Wharf Behind and a Blue Sky With White Fluffy Clouds at Dusk

Sailboats, Speedboats, and Yachts Docked in Shediac Bay, New Brunswick

Learning about lobsters from the sea to your plate is another Canadian Signature Experience and gives you an additional look at Acadian culture. Tours are offered from June – September, or early October for groups, and given in both English and French. The presentation is very engaging for both adults and children.
Visit a Lighthouse

A White Lighthouse With a Red Roof and Red Trim and a Viewing Deck Halfway Up on a Wharf With Buildings and Parked Cars and Blue Water Around it, and a Blue Sky With Fluffy White Clouds

Shediac Lighthouse and Pointe-du-Chêne Wharf in Shediac, New Brunswick

There are lighthouses situated all along the Bay of Fundy coastline and Northumberland Strait as New Brunswick once had over 100 operating lighthouses. Today there are much fewer in operation and they are now automated, but most have history and information about the lighthouse posted, and in some cases, like the one in Shediac, you can even climb to the top to take in the awesome view it provides. The lighthouses were traditionally used to light the way for travellers as well as sea traders who carried goods by boat, maintained radio communications and beacons, tended to fog alarms, and provided rescue services and sanctuary for those shipwrecked. Unfortunately many of the lighthouses that once stood have been torn down or have been relocated, but fortunately lighthouses are now protected as heritage sites.
See the New Brunswick Museum

An Off-White Building With White Trim and Glass Windows and Doors With Colourful Banners Hanging Above

New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, New Brunswick

The New Brunswick Museum is located in Market Square in Saint John, New Brunswick and is Canada’s oldest continuing museum. It is connected to the city’s indoor pedway system (elevated walkways) which links buildings together for quick, easy, and comfortable movement. The museum was officially incorporated in 1929 as the Provincial Museum, but its history dates back even further to 1842 when Abraham Gesner opened the Museum of Natural History, which was the predecessor of the New Brunswick Museum.

Today’s current museum showcases New Brunswick’s rich cultural and diverse natural environment on three floors and 5,574.2 square meters (60,000 square feet) of permanent, temporary, virtual, and traveling exhibitions and exhibition catalogues. On display is the world’s only permanent gallery of historical and contemporary New Brunswick fine art and includes works by painters and sculptors, as well as historic Canadian art, historic international art, and decorative arts. The “New Brunswick Industry Gallery” showcases the development of the province through the work people did including farming, fishing, lumbermen, factory workers, inventors, retail clerks, and personalized services. The “Wood, Wind, and Sail Gallery” is about marine history and includes shipbuilding, overseas trade, ships at sea, risks at sea and shipwreck, navigation, life at sea, foreign objects and souvenirs, ship carvings, and parts from the famous Marco Polo. The “Birds of New Brunswick Gallery” so far has 116 species of birds on display (and is growing) of the more than 370 species documented in the province. The museum maintains the largest research collection of bird specimens in the Maritimes. “Our Changing Earth Gallery” introduces the complex geological history and rich fossil deposits of New Brunswick. In the “Hall of Great Whales Gallery” you will learn about marine life in the region, which includes a variety of whales and seals that can be found in the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Conservation efforts have been made for many of these marine mammals and they are now protected, such as the Right Whale. This gallery displays the finest eastern Canadian collection of assembled whale skeletons, as well as life-size full-body models of several whale species. Finally, the “Discovery Gallery” encourages learning through play with its mini displays, touch objects, educational crafts, great wall visuals, hands-on learning and experiences, books, a 3-dimensional puzzle, games, and more.

The exhibitions are fascinating and you can easily spend a whole day there if you want to thoroughly experience, discover, and research all the museum has to offer. In addition, a wide range of programs and events are offered. Furthermore, there is a Museum Shop which features products created by local and regional artisans, among others. I really enjoyed the museum as it gave me a better understanding of many parts of New Brunswick, even if I had been previously introduced to those areas before.
Go to the Saint John City Market and Try Some Food

Red Stalls With White Lamps Hanging Down With Fresh Produce on the Right and Packaged Foods on the Left and Colourful Mobiles Hanging From the Rafters

Stalls of Fresh Produce and Packaged Foods at Saint John City Market in Saint John, New Brunswick

The Saint John City Market is located in Market Square in Saint John and is the oldest continuing farmer’s market in Canada. It is also connected to Saint John’s indoor pedway system. The Saint John City Market has a wide range of goods and services and local and international foods for sale including hand-made local crafts, souvenirs, clothes, imported items, meat, baked goods, produce, sausage, fish, seafood, deli foods, cheese, dulse (seaweed), coffee, tea, wines, meals from restaurants, and more.

A White Wooden Tiered Shelf With Brown Paper Bags Filled With Reddish Brown Seaweed on the Right and on the Left is a Heap of Reddish Brown Seaweed

Dulse (Seaweed) Being Sold at Saint John City Market in Saint John, New Brunswick

The market building was originally constructed in 1830 and its roof resembles the inverted keel of a ship as Saint John used to be one of the leading shipbuilding centers in the world. There were over 400 colourful hand-painted mobiles depicting Canadian icons such as canoes, animals like beavers and loons, maple leafs, and Inuksuk (stone figures resembling a human used by the Inuit for communication and survival) hanging from the rafters. They were a collaborative effort between the city of Saint John, the market merchants association, local artists, and over 1,450 children and staff from numerous schools and a daycare. The artwork will be sold for charity and most likely a new mobile theme and artwork will be created for the summer of 2016. As well, there are flags from around the world hanging throughout the market. Many of the historic parts of the market you can learn about in the Saint John City Market self-guided tour which explains things of interest in the market.

On Saturdays throughout the year there is a free live concert series and the market also features additional vendors with international flavours and artisan works. I visited on a weekday afternoon when it is less crowded.

It was very interesting to walk around the Saint John City Market and check out its setting and all the different offerings. The food was very tempting, so I tried the halibut fish and chips from one of the restaurants and it was delicious! The Saint John City Market is a unique shopping experience for both locals and visitors. It is open year round from Monday through Saturday. Trying some food at the market is an absolute must!
Listen to Live Acadian Music

A Man Playing a Fiddle, on the Right is a Woman Playing the , on the left is a Woman Playing the Accordian, and Other Musical Instruments Around Them, They are Playing in Front of a White Fireplace in a Building With Off-White Walls and White Trim and Dark Brown Hardwood Floor

Acadian Music Band Vishtèn Performing at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

Acadian music from New Brunswick often features folk songs in Acadian French accompanied by lively dance tunes and bluegrass and country-western fiddling. Besides at Le Pays de la Sagouine, you can also listen to live Acadian bands at various bars, restaurants, and festivals around Moncton and the north-eastern regions of New Brunswick. I was lucky enough to see an Acadian band play at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, which occasionally hosts different Acadian music performances. The band was incredible! They are named Vishtèn and are French Acadians from Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands. Vishtèn has won numerous awards and have performed worldwide, including at many prestigious events such as the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Les Printemps de Pérouges in France, the Woodbury Folk Festival in Australia, among others. After learning more about Vishtèn I feel even more fortunate to have heard them perform.
Experience a Waterfront Festival in Saint John

There are numerous festivals on the Saint John Waterfront throughout the year which promote arts and culture, including music.

Visiting Le Pays de la Sagouine, eating Acadian food, take a Lobster Tales Tour, visiting a lighthouse, seeing the New Brunswick Museum, going to the Saint John City Market and trying some food, listening to live Acadian music, and experiencing a waterfront festival in Saint John are all wonderful ways to get closer to New Brunswick history and culture!
Map of the Bay of Fundy

Location of Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada

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Location of Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada 45.077400, -65.610352

What is your favourite cultural tourism experience and why?

This was a complimentary trip courtesy of New Brunswick Tourism. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.


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