It only took living in Fredericton for 4 years to find some of my favourite places in the city. I recently discovered the Fredericton Region Museum, Fredericton's local history museum. Little did I know that it was one of Fredericton's best kept secrets. Nestled in Officers' Square, the museum has two floors stuffed with artefacts. The exhibits are interesting, and the people are super friendly. Oh, and it was so cheap. As a student I spent $2 to get in. Even if you live in the city, it is worth checking out!
The downtown area of Fredericton is worth a stop to see. There are some really nice historic buildings to see and some interesting local shops and restaurants to visit. The area is almost exclusively local businesses too, we didn't really see any major chain stores in the downtown area - those are all on the other side of town near the highway.
Parking is a little hard to come by during the week, and you'll probably have to pay to park in one of the parking lots. It is easier on the weekends when some parking lots are free, although that means there are generally less spots available. We visited on a Saturday and had no trouble finding a spot though.
If you're in town the second Sunday in September, come down to the waterfront, in front of the Aquatic Center just west of Smythe St. Teams will be competing in the McInnes Cooper Dragon Boat Festival races. There are also activities for the kiddies, and musical entertainment by a live band.
We had a bit of time to kill in the evening so we decided to go on a river cruise. The Carleton II offers 40 min scenic cruises on the St. John River. It basically takes you from the Westmorland Street Bridge to the Princess Margaret Bridge and back, so you get a nice view of downtown Fredericton. The atmosphere on board is, well, different. For the major part of the cruise you'll get to listen to country music, mixed with a couple of Cat Stevens and Bon Jovi songs (?!?). Then someone will come on the mic and give you some bits of random information. When we saw that no one was paying attention to it, we realized that most people go on the cruise simply to relax, enjoy the view and have a few drinks (there's a bar on board). So we ordered two Alexander Keith's and had a good time too!
Tous depart at 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Tickets are $9 for adults, $5 for children under 12.
Fredericton's Haunted Hike is not your typical ghost tour - you don't have to worry about getting scared, but you'll laugh, that's for sure! The haunted hike is more or less an interactive play that takes place all over downtown. Sure you'll hear ghost stories, but they are told in such a goofy way, you'll be more inclined to laugh than cry. Five great actors will entertain you during almost two hours - a truly unique experience and you won't be disappointed, unless of course you were expecting goosebumps.
Tours are offered during summertime, from Monday to Saturday, at 9:15 p.m. Tours start at the Coach House (corner of Church St. and Queen St.). Tickets are $13 for adults, $8 for children under 12. Reservations are not required.
This stately residence was built from 1826 to 1828 to be the residence of the Gorvernor of New Brunswick. After the Confederation of 1867, there no longer was a Governor position in the province and so the house in turn became a school for hearing impaired students, a military barracks, a hospital for soldiers returning from World War I and RCMP headquarters.
In 1999, the house returned to its primary use when it became the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, and it has since been open to the public. All the rooms have been restored to their original use and look, and as such provide a wonderful example of 19th century elegance. Our tour guide, Luke, gave us a great tour of the house, inviting us to sit on the furniture and browse through the books in the library. He had a great wealth of knowledge of the history and architecture of the place, and shared with us some rather funny anecdotes. One of the best attractions in Fredericton!
If you're a golfer, you might want to consider hitting the links here.
Par 70, semi-private 18-hole course.
Hopefully, you'll have a better experience there than one reviewer did (http://www.golf-courses.ca/golf-course-review-1111769762-3508.html)
Grab lunch at the club house restaurant, Merv's Catering (see my review under Restaurants).
About 30 kms west of Fredericton, is Mactaquac Provincial Park. During the summer months, it's a popular place for going to the beach, day picnics, tent and RV camping, boating, hiking trails, and golfing. During the winter, it's popular among snowmobilers, cross-country skiing, and skaters.
There's a modest entrance fee during the summer months: $7. per vehicle, or $23. per bus, or $49. for a season's pass.
If you like to hike nature trails, there are about 10 kms worth to keep you busy. There are six named trails and two additional "connecting trails". The trail that connects the Alex Creek Trail to the Beaver Pond Trail, as well as the Scotch Lake Trail are very wet in places. They're not impassible, but I'd suggest wearing proper hiking boots, not just running shoes which will probably get soaked.
Access to the easiest of the these trails, the Maple Sugar Trail, is right across from the main entrance to the campgrounds, inside the park.
The remaining trails can be accessed - (without having to pay an entrance fee, I might add) - by parking behind the Park's Administration Bldg and getting on the Alex Creek Trail from there. Or, turn down the road with the water tower (off Rte 105, a ½-km or so southeast before the Park Entrance, and access the Beaver Pond Trail or the Little Mactaquac Trail from there.
Be sure to click on the additional pictures.
Old Government House is situated on an 11-acre lot beside the Saint John River and was built from New Brunswick sandstone between 1826-1828 to serve as the focal point for government decisions in this small part of the British Empire. Its origins flowed from the American Revolution when, after the war was lost by Britain in 1783, about 2000 colonists headed north to present-day Fredericton so they could remain subjects of the Empire. Where they landed on the shore of the broad and fertile river valley had earlier been settled by both the native Maliseet people and early 'Acadian' French settlers, making this a choice location for the British 'loyalists' to start all over again.
Over the 180+ years of its existance, Old Government House has had a varied history in addition to its original purpose of being a place where the representatives of British Royalty live and carry out their duties, as well as serving as accommodations for visiting members of the Royal family. Its line of duties have included: 1828-92 residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of NB, 1896-1900 Fredericton Institute for the hearing impaired, 1914-24 Miltary barracks and hospital, 1934-88 HQ of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in NB and 1999-Present once again the residence of the L-G of NB.
Today, the L-G lives on the upper floor of the building and the lower floor is open for public tours of the drawing room, the dining room, a library, a music room, two conservatories and the original L-G's office. The second floor includes exhibit rooms and the current L-G's office. The building was declared a Canadian National Historic Site in 1958.
These photos were taken on the occasion of New Brunswick Day and Canadian Armed Forces Day celebrations on the grounds of the house in August, 2007. The last two photos show part of the extensive walking/biking trail system in Fredericton and New Brunswick, where a path runs beneath large trees between Old Government House and the Saint John River.
The most impressive individual building in Fredericton has to be Christ Church Cathedral, the 'Mother Church' of the Anglican community in Fredericton, located on its own beautifully treed lot beside the Saint John River toward the east end of the city. Built during the period 1845-1853, this Gothic Revival-style structure was inspired by a newly arrived Bishop, fresh from England. As a result, its design was modelled on the Parish Church of Snettisham, Norfolk, England with a planned twin tower arrangement. However, as funds became tighter through the construction period, this was scaled back to a single bell tower. Thanks to the close ties to England, Christ Church Cathedral also became the first entirely new Cathedral foundation on British soil since the Norman Conquest of 1066 (since Canada was still a colony at the time of construction). A major disaster occurred in the summer of 1911 when lightning struck, resulting in a fire which destroyed the original bell tower as well as causing other damages. However, reconstruction was soon underway, resulting a year later in today's even taller 198-ft (60-m) bell tower, thanks to structural enhancements that took place at the same time.
The last of my photos shows a view up the interior nave from the main (western) entrance. Part way up the isle is a font carved from stone brought from Caen, France by a former master mason at Exeter Cathedral in Exeter, Devon - one I happened to visit myself not so long ago!
The exterior grounds of the cathedral are well worth admiring on their own, with huge old Elm, Oak and other trees providing a majestic backdrop, not to mention the wide Saint John River flowing past on the other side of Queen Street! Christ Church Cathedral was declared a Canadian National Historic Site in 1983.
Even living in Canada, it is not all that often that you see Mounties decked out in their 'dress' scarlet uniforms, since they are designed for horse-riding instead of today's more mundane police duties! If you happen to be in any good-sized town or city on November 11, you might just have your chance because this is when the country comes to a standstill for two minutes at 11 AM in remembrance of Canada's war dead over the decades. With the usual short religious ceremony, a few short speeches, laying of wreaths and an artillary salute at or near the war memorial also comes a march-past as things wrap up. In 2006, it was a beautiful sunny day and quite mild for November as the veterns, regular and reserve troops, Mounties, city police, firemen and cadets ended the ceremonies with a march along the Saint John River on Queen Street, in front of the Legislative Assembly.
This has been the seat of government in New Brunswick since 1882.
Bilingual guided tours are available.
Metered parking on the streets surrounding the buildings, although parking is free on the weekends.
Among the numerous free activities that you'll find the city holding during the summer, is the "Under the Stars" movie series, which is held in the square across York St. from the Fredericton Public Library.
They generally get underway around 9 pm each Sunday evening, and the movies are usually classics from the 30's to the 60's, eg. Hitchcock's "The Birds" (1963). You just need to bring a blanket or a lawn chair, and any snacks. The city will provide folding chairs for out-of-town visitors free (you just leave your driver's licence with them during the show).
You should plan to get there around no later than 8:30 pm to get a decent spot, because the turn out to this event has been increasing each year. My wife and I were there for the "Ocean's Eleven" (1960), and there must have been 500 people show up, of all ages.
I took this picture above around 8:30 pm, but there was probably double or triple the number only 15 minutes later.
There's plenty of free parking around the York Library on Carleton St. If you're staying at the Beaverbrook Hotel, you're only a two-block walk away.
Be sure to keep an eye on the weather, as the evenings can drop down to 12°C towards the end of the season. It's wise to wear jeans or long pants, and pack a sweater and maybe a blanket in a backpack in case you need it.
For a nice place to take a walk, you might want to consider going to Odell Park. It's a 400-acre park in the middle of the city, where you'll find a variety of walking trails, a deer pen, a duck pond, and an arboretum trail that winds it way through the park for almost three kms.
Along this trail, you'll find the New Brunswick Species Collection, where there are examples of every native tree species found in this province. During the winter, the park is a popular place for people to cross-country ski, skate, and toboggan.
This is also a popular place for couples getting their wedding pictures taken.
There's no entrance fee to the park, and no fee for parking.
There are two universities in Fredericton: the University of New Brunwick (founded in 1785, student population of about 8,000) and St. Thomas University (founded in 1910). Both are located right next to each other, on the hill that goes down to the St. John River (known as College Hill - makes sense). The Georgian style red-brick buildings nicely contrast with their green surroundings and it is quite pleasant to go for a walk around campus, especially in the fall when students and fall colors arrive!