…a sign in downtown Fredericton warning motorists against cutting across traffic to get to Timmy’s.
Or this, near Florenceville – home to one of the world’s largest frozen french fry producers.
Or this – a food truck unabashedly dedicated to potatoes, cheese, gravy, chocolate, bacon and Mars bars – most of it deep-fried.
We LOVE Atlantic Canada. If I refer to this area as “the Maritimes”, I am always politely corrected – we are in the Atlantic provinces (this area was the Maritimes prior to Newfoundland joining Canadian Confederation in 1949.)
We lived in Halifax for five years, leaving for the west coast in 2005. The last time we were both back for a visit was over 10 years ago. It feels long overdue.
People who have never been “down east” can sometimes overuse the word “quaint” to describe it – a word that is inaccurate and a bit condescending. Doilies are quaint. Atlantic Canada is just busting out with life. Still…they do have their picturesque barns.
And their covered bridges. This one, in Hartland, is the world’s longest covered bridge at 1,282 feet.
If you are currently renting a basement apartment in Vancouver or Toronto, or have managed to buy your first 450-square-foot condo, houses like this are the stuff dreams are made of – classic style with steep roofs, carved trim, shutters and welcoming front door. We have no idea what these homes are worth, but a quick glance through MLS shows similar homes for between $250,000 and $500,000.
Another example of Maritime style:
And another one:
Fredericton frequently ranks in the “best-of” lists – prettiest, most livable, best place to retire, etc. It makes sense – it feels more like a large town than a small city – walkable, accessible, with several kilometres of walking and biking trails along the river, and filled with interesting shops, cafes, restaurants and brew-pubs. It has both history in abundance and a face-forward to the future. We visited the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, which is currently under renovation for an expansion that will open in the fall. The grounds and sculpture garden set the tone.
The gallery carries important painters from other countries, but with a focus on Canadian artists for the 150.
I liked this ceramic of P.E.T, done in 1982. I think artist Joe Fafardi captured the elder Trudeau’s familiar F-U expression very well.
The Gallery showcases young artists who have been part of their youth program and the current exhibit was by Sebastian Kennickell, son of Drew Kennickell, artist and professor at UNB and New Brunswick College of Craft and Design
Sebastian is 12 years old, but already has a body of work.
There are numerous buildings of note – the Legislative Assembly, The Fredericton Playhouse, the Library, The Justice Building, etc. Most municipal buildings have the sombre and dignified air that one might expect of their station and era.
There are numerous significant places of worship – Christ Church Cathedral is one of the most striking.
The downtown streets are filled with bookstores – we found at least three within two blocks – a rarity in this day and age. Music also rules – Tony’s has been a mainstay on Queen Street since 1975.
We passed by a number of men who were panhandling. We usually drop a loony or two in the hat. And then we saw this – “Kindness” meters placed around the downtown streets.
The sign asks us to make a change in someone’s life by dropping our coin in the meter instead,and donating to community services that help people in need. It’s a conflict – to walk past someone sitting on a sidewalk and drop a coin in a meter feels like a judgement on them and yet, we definitely get the intention.
We’re not sure the transfer of funds would work that neatly and think we would still rather say hello to someone and put money in their hand.
Every Saturday, the Boyce Farmer’s market is in full throttle, so even though it was pouring rain, we could not resist heading there. The poor outside vendors – mainly plants and fresh produce – their tents offered scant refuge from the storm. It didn’t stop the buyers – they were out in full force. We had fun watching this lady – she was mightily annoyed that the market manager hadn’t called it a day and let everyone go home. She was standing guard over her preserves and watching as the puddle in front of her stand turned into a lake.
Inside, we met up with several very interesting vendors. We talked to Debbie Pugh – she and her firefighter husband Bill have developed a terrific business called Out of the Ashes. They use decommissioned fire hoses and turn them into useful and decorative objects like bags, dog leashes, floor mats,firewood carriers and growler bags.
We were stopped in our tracks by the display of hand-woven bedspreads, throws, napkins and dish towels. Tissage Magely Weaving is a second-generation family business – the queen bedspreads for the incredibly reasonable price of $200, (either wool or cotton), were exquisite. If we had a home, we would have bought one on the spot.
And last, but not least – The Royal Barbershop. Stephen and I arrived in Fredericton feeling a little road-weary and scruffy. I’ve discovered that one of the challenges of being “unhoused” is that I no longer have a hairdresser. My big thick hair is at the mercy of whomever I find along the way. Lately, I’ve been turning to barbershops (but only the “cool” ones), and it’s been working out well.
We walked by The Royal Barbershop by chance, and got scrubbed up real good. Ashley texturized the daylights out of my hair and did a fantastic job – a fresh modern cut emerged out of a mushroom cap. Stephen came out with a neat beard trim and hair cut.
Next stop – Halifax. I’ll try and send shorter, more frequent postings – so much to report in the next 10 days.