The simplest explanation to why you should come visit our part of the world, tucked away in the northeast corner of North America, is because it is simply the best. But then again, I’m biased!
Every place has a story to tell, and the stories of the three Maritime provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island – revolve around their own mix of history, beautiful landscapes, and the sea – and, of course, seafood. I should add that our region is also known for its “down home” welcome. There aren’t so many of us as in bigger places, so we have a bit more time to get to know you!
This is not only a place where our indigenous peoples have lived for at least 500 generations, and where the Loyalists – those colonists who remained loyal to the King – arrived in droves during and in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War in the States, it is also the place where peaceful, neutral French settlers had lived for 150 years prior to the arrival of the pre-Loyalist British in the 1750s. The Maritimes is the homeland of the Acadians, these days especially in New Brunswick. The horrific expulsion of the Acadians by the British, sometimes referred to as the Deportations, was immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem Evangeline. These forced expulsions sent this French-speaking population far and wide, with many Acadians being sent to Louisiana – hence the word Cajun, a derivative of Acadian. But many Acadians hid out in remote parts of the Maritimes, and many others eventually returned from far-flung places. New Brunswick is now the only officially bilingual province in Canada, a recognition that fully 30+% of our province’s population is French-speaking Acadian. Acadian history, culture, and traditions are celebrated throughout the Maritimes, along with the proud traditions of the Scots, Irish, First Nations, and more recent arrivals.
7 things you might not know about New Brunswick
- New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. These tides, when low, provide the access to the spectacular Hopewell Rocks.
- There are more whales to see more often than anywhere else; they also love the high tides of the Bay of Fundy. Go whale watching from St. Andrew’s or Deer Island!
- Shediac, NB is the self-proclaimed lobster capital of the world.
- You can walk through history at historical settlements Kings Landing and Village Historique Acadien (Acadian Historic Village).
- Ganong Chocolates in St. Stephen, NB produced the world’s first chocolate bar (introduced in 1910) and continues to produce the very popular “chicken bones” candy as part of its tasty inventory. They have a great public tour of their candy factory.
- The University of New Brunswick is the oldest English-speaking university in Canada, established in 1785 in my beautiful home town of Fredericton. (For the record, French-speaking Laval University in Quebec was established in 1663.)
- Hartland, NB is home to the longest covered bridge in the world.
7 things you might not know about Prince Edward Island (PEI)
- At 225 km in length (140 mi) and 65 kms in width (40 mi) at its widest part, PEI is the smallest province by far in both size and population. What it lacks in size it makes up for in personality!
- PEI is known as the Birthplace of Confederation because it hosted the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 that led to the creation of Canada in 1867.
- PEI is Anne of Green Gables land. One can visit the green-gabled house that inspired the author, Lucy Maude Montgomery, and take in Anne of Green Gables, the musical, at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
- Jacques Cartier “discovered” PEI in 1534. To be clear, the Mi’kmaq had discovered it millennia before then.
- PEI is beloved for its oysters, mussels, and pretty well all forms of seafood.
- PEI is the home of the world famous Cow’s Ice Cream.
- Along with world-renowned golf courses and its famous potato-growing “bright red mud”, PEI has miles and miles of beautiful beaches, with some of the warmest waters “north of Virginia”.
7 things you might not know about Nova Scotia
- Picturesque Lunenburg, on the uniformly picturesque south shore of Nova Scotia, boasts a UNESCO heritage designation for its preservation of 18th century architecture and history. Lunenburg’s ship-building industry produced the record-setting sailing ship The Bluenose. It was also known for its rum-running during Prohibition in the US!
- The Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck on the Bras d’Or Lakes is worth a blog post of its own. This was Alexander Graham Bell’s second home, far away from Washington, DC, and he explored some fascinating ideas here. Very much worth a visit.
- The recreation of Fortress Louisbourg, a National Historic Site, is another stop in Cape Breton well worth your time. Fortress Louisbourg and its larger settlement was established in 1713. The British took it in 1758 after the Siege of Louisbourg.
- The Joggins Fossil Cliffs at Joggins, NS, near Parrsboro, is another UNESCO Heritage Site. Fossils hundreds of millions of years old are uncovered by the force of the water caused by the world’s highest tides of the Bay of Fundy. Their Fossil Centre tells the full story.
- Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia, has many, many cultural, historical, and culinary treats in store for visitors. It is a major east coast seaport and was historically a main entry point to Canada for new immigrants and refugees.
- The Halifax Explosion of 1917 (when two ships collided in the harbor, one filled with munitions for the WWI battlefields) was the world’s largest explosion before the atom bomb, and devastated a large part of the city.
- Perhaps that is why Halifax came to have more bars per capita than any other city in Canada! Or perhaps that is because there are so many university students per capita!!
There’s so much more I could share about this special region of Canada. I hope this brief glimpse into what awaits spurs you to put Canada’s Maritimes on your bucket list. Feel free to bombard me with questions!
Vive les maritimes!
Photo credits: Provincial Tourist Bureaus, CTV.com, Lunenburg Board of Trade