The Sainted Towns of New Brunswick

Photos and article by Eleanor S. Morris

Romance in New Brunswick may mean hand-in-hand walks along the rugged shoreline or exploring charming fishing villages.

New Brunswick-Canada - Charming fishing villages, spectacular sunsets, pounding surf and rugged cliffs characterize the southern shores of New Brunswick along the Bay of Fundy, whose mile-high tides, the highest in the world, separate the province from the state of Maine in the USA below. Twice a day, fishing boats are becalmed as the tide rushes away, leaving them stranded on the sand until the tide comes in.

Along the bay, a chain of "sainted" towns--St. Stephen, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, St. George, Saint John and St. Martins--is strung like sparkling beads along the bay. From the largest, Saint John, a bustling metropolis, to small St. Martins, barely large enough to have a main street, they present a view of Canada new to visitors from Stateside.

Begin with St. Andrews-by-the-Sea at the end of a little peninsula jutting out into the bay. One of the provinces's oldest towns, it was built by British Loyalists in 1783. There, the Algonquin Resort, with its kilted bellmen and romantic bagpiping on the front lawn, makes a perfect base from which to explore this quaint and charming section ofnew brunswickAtlantic Canada.

Many settlers transported their homes, in pieces, aboard barges, to create the same New England atmosphere they left behind. The town is a treasure of historic streets and buildings, craft shops, inns and restaurants.

Heading west, the chain of "sainted" towns, strung like rural, seaside jewels, leads to St. George, a picturesque fishing village which leads to Black's Harbor and the ferry south to Grand Manan Island. Here a fish ladder encourages salmon to complete their journey upriver to spawn. Grand Manan Island across the water is an idyllic get-away piece of land with one main road, a tiny post office, and several country bed-and-breakfast inns.

To the east, the centerpiece is the St. John River Valley, where the St. John River, often called the American Rhine, cuts a long, wide swatch of an incredible cobalt blue through the green farmlands, reflecting the sky with the intensity of washable blue ink. Samuel de Champlain, in 1604 the area's first European visitor, landed at the river mouth, paving the way for a French settlement until 1713, when the Treaty of Utrecht ceded French Acadia to England.

The Acadian settlers were replaced by colonists from New England, especially those who preferred, after the American Revolution, to remain loyal to George III. Today, the city of Saint John, at the mouth of the river, is a major industrial center of Atlantic Canada. The Market Square waterfront complex represents the blending of the old with the new: the 100-year-old brick facades of seven warehouses have been restored to house chic shops, boutiques and restaurants, all surrounding an indoor atrium green with plants and bright with skylights.

Connected to the marketplace is the Saint John Trade and Convention Complex, with modern facilities for industrial and recreational shows. The Old City Market, the New Brunswick Museum, and the Fort Howe Lookout, are some of the sights to see. Another, and quite a sight, is Reversing Falls, more properly described as a reversing whirlpool, a natural phenomenon occurring when the waters of the river meet the highest tides in the world. The Fundy tide waters cause the river waters to reverse direction daily, an unexpected phenomenon. Ride a jet boat at the sight, but expect to get wet!

Next comes St. Stephen, where Ganong Chocolatiers claim to have invented the new brunswickchocolate bar. In a tidy shop on Main Street paralleling the waterfront, they sell both the modern version and a copy of the original, both equally sweet and delicious, although the original cost much less in the good old days. Lollipops (1895) and Valentine heart boxes (1932) are also firsts for Ganong, and there's an annual Chocolate Fest every summer.

East of St. Stephen lies St. Martin, a small fishing village where in the morning the sun strikes the cliff known as the "hole in the wall," and where two covered bridges can be seen at one glance. Here the attraction is the shoreline and the beach, where many-colored bright fishing boats put out into the bay for their daily catch. New Brunswick bounty, from both land and sea, is considerable. Everybody knows the lobster, that sweet, succulent flesh enjoyed either whole with or without melted butter, or in a lobster roll, new brunswickfavorite with native and visitor alike. Clams, oysters, mussels and scallops, as well as halibut, haddock, flounder, are other bountiful fruits of the sea. And salmon, of course, is king, served poached with a dill or lemon sauce or in cold strips in a salad.

The apples of New Brunswick are legion, with endless varieties sweetly scenting the air as they ripen. Berries--strawberries, blackberries, cranberries and lowbush blueberries are other fruits to be reckoned with.