The province of New Brunswick is one of Canada’s best kept secrets, full of beautiful scenery, interesting historical towns and the wonders of the Bay of Fundy.
I recently enjoyed a 7-night fly-drive holiday through the province. Here are just some of my highlights…
Magnetic Hill, Moncton
Moncton is a pretty city that sits on the Petitcodiac River. It’s just across the border from neighbouring Nova Scotia and for many visitors, the first point of call in New Brunswick.
Just outside the town is Moncton’s unusual and famous attraction, Magnetic Hill. This is a gravity hill, a type of optical illusion where a downward slope looks uphill because of its surroundings. The hill has become a popular attraction since the 1930s and today a large amusement and holiday complex surrounds it. The hill itself is a short section of gravity hill where you drive your car to the bottom of the hill, put it in neutral and it will roll back up the slope.
Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton
Fredericton is the capital of the province and is well worth a stopover. One of the highlights is a visit to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
Established by Lord Beaverbrook, the newspaper magnet, the gallery was a gift to the people and the impressive collection includes an enormous variety of famous works of art. The original building has been recently renovated and the collection is now housed in beautiful light and airy surroundings.
Lord Beaverbrook wanted to bring together Canadian and British artists, and there are some wonderful examples of both including Turner, Constable and Gainsborough. The gallery also has an International collection, including works by Dali, in particular the impressive ‘Santiago el Grande’ measuring 13 x 10 feet and dominating the main gallery.
Kingsbrae Garden, St Andrews by the Sea
The coastline along the Bay of Fundy offers some beautiful places to stay. St. Andrews by the Sea is one of the original resorts and is well placed to explore the surrounding area. The exquisite Kingsbrae Garden was created by John and Lucinda Flemer to preserve their family estate.
Over the years, the 27-acre garden has become one of the main tourist attractions in St Andrews. Around every corner you will find different landscapes bursting with colourful and thoughtful planting with a huge variety of species. The sculpture garden is a particular favourite with award-winning pieces from Canadian artists. The White Garden is reminiscent of its namesake at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, the Rose Garden is a favourite background for weddings and the Children’s Fantasy Garden amuses all ages with the Mad Hatters Teapot Tree.
The garden has an excellent café overlooking the lawns with imaginative menus by renowned chef, Alex Haun. Alex works hard to create a menu that showcases the local produce and many ingredients come from the actual gardens.
Campobello is situated in the Bay of Fundy and despite being connected by a bridge to the coast of Maine, it is part of New Brunswick.
The island found fame in the 1880s when the Roosevelt family made it their summer home. Franklin D. Roosevelt enjoyed many happy holidays as a child and eventually, as an adult. Franklin and his wife Eleanor bought a summer cottage which is now open to visitors and part of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park.
Beautiful gardens, country walks and a busy café all beckon but the main attraction is the Roosevelt home and a tour of their three-storey cottage is a must. The 34 rooms remain furnished just as it was in 1920, the summer before Franklin succumbed to polio. Every afternoon you can take ‘Tea with Eleanor’ and listen and learn all about Mrs Roosevelt’s extraordinary life while sipping tea and nibbling biscuits.
Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is a 170 mile long ocean bay that is famous for having the world’s highest tides. The tides rise at between 4-6 feet per hour and the fast moving water creates huge whirlpools and riptides.
The enormous supply of fish attracts wildlife and it’s the perfect place to go whale watching. During the summer months up to 12 species of whale make the bay their home, along with porpoise, dolphins and seals. A wildlife cruise will be a highlight of any trip and the local boat owners are all familiar with the best areas to spot these magnificent creatures.
Fundy National Park and Hopewell Rocks Park
Travelling along the coastline brings you to the small town of Alma which is a good base to explore the Fundy National Park with its hiking trails through valleys, over hills and along the shoreline.
The big attraction is Hopewell Rocks where there are two beaches that attract visitors from all over the world to view the strange rock formations, arches and caves. All along the beaches are the weirdly shaped rocks formed over time by the tidal erosion, into unique flowerpot shapes. It is important to visit at just the right time so that you can appreciate the speed in which the tides come in. Park volunteers line the routes to make sure no one gets cut off and we soon appreciated why. The visitor centre has interactive displays and great video footage to fully explain these phenomena of nature.
You can fly non-stop from the UK into Halifax, Nova Scotia, followed by a 3-4 hour drive to reach New Brunswick. If you prefer, you can take connecting flights via Toronto or Halifax into Moncton, or Saint John, New Brunswick. Don’t forget your travel insurance for Canada so you can relax on holiday with peace of mind.