Province of New Brunswick Local Customs
Aboriginal 'Teepee' at Kouchibouguac NP
Aboriginal 'Teepee' at Kouchibouguac NP
French Acadian boats at Pointe Sapin
Fresh maple syrup is ladled onto a bed...
Old piers used to block logs in the...
Weir near Head Harbour lighthouse,...
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Fresh Atlantic lobster
A wide-variety of restaurant choices is available - of course, being this close to the Atlantic Ocean means that you should sample the sea food! One of my favourites is lobster (how can you go wrong if you combine it with beer and boiled corn on the cob?). Through the summer months, lobster is available in local sea-food stores at prices ($11-16 Canadian/lb.) that seem to be sky-rocketing like oil and they can be bought either live or pre-cooked. Photo of a typical summer backyard cookup! Getting the shell off a lobster can be messy because of the water inside the shell after cooking, so it is best done away from the table! I have my technique down pat now - I just use a cutting board and a long sharp knife to make a few quick hits to strategic locations to crack the shell and then finish the breaks with your hands so you do not cut through the meat as well! Got to be careful of those...
Located along the shore of Kouchibouguac NP is this large native American 'teepee', in which members of the local Maliseet people present aspects of their culture to Park visitors. Actually, this type of structure is common to western aboriginal people. In the east, the traditional form of housing was called a 'wigwam' and consisted of a smaller circular structure with a rounded roof. The basic frame consisted of slender birch and sassafrass saplings that were bent and tied into the required form. The bottom was then covered with layers of bark while the upper roof area was protected by waterproof cattail mats.In addition to revealing their herring 'weir' and 'maple sugar' secrets, the Aboriginals had a much greater influence on the first European settlement attempts in Canada. In 1604, a French nobleman, Sieur de Monts, received a monopoly from the King of France on all rights in this...
Maple sugar syrup - nature's best!
Harvesting of the sweet sap from Maple trees is something the native Americans stumbled onto in long ago ages and they passed their methods on to the early European settlers in this part of the world. This was a real blessing in those early days when nearby sources of supplies were very few and far between! It turns out that bee's honey and maple syrup are the only two natural sweeteners in the world, with maple having an advantage by virtue of its high calcium content (15 times greater than honey) and a salt content only 1/10th that of honey. This view of a March, 2007 trip I made near Hampton in southern NB shows the final product being poured onto a bed of snow to make it quickly turn thick, so it can be wraped onto a wooden stick as an immediate taste reward. It is very sticky stuff, so there is no problem to get it to attach to your wooden stick for a unique treat. The second photo...
River drives - the old way of logging
On a warm 23 C mid-September day in 2004, I took a little drive southwest from Fredericton along the Saint John River. One of the first things that I came to was this series of piers across one half of the Saint John River, stretching out to an island in the middle. These piers were installed many years ago to help with the huge logging industry in the province. During the winter months, lumberjacks would cut trees upstream and pile them to be rolled into the rivers in the springtime after the ice had melted. These various tributaries all flowed into the mighty Saint John River and the logs would eventually be snagged by a log and chain boom placed across these piers. Small boats would then work at circling sections of the trapped logs so they could be hauled many miles down the river by tugboats to the pulp & paper mill at the mouth of the river in Saint John.As a child, I remember...
Although the summer temperatures can reach into the mid 30's C, the winter temperatures can also reach the 30-40 C range, trouble is it's in the MINUS direction!Because New Brunswick is so heavily forested, over 20% of the population still use wood in one form or another for heating. In my case, although I have electric baseboards in each room as the main source of heat, I also have a wood stove centrally located in the basement. I actually use this as much or more than the electric heat through the winter. It is nice to fire the stove up and enjoy the warmth that it offers. Because of the tempered glass door on the stove, the flickering flames cast nice shadows on the family room as well. An advantage of the electric heat is that I can close off individual rooms and heat them up as desired and the heat is more controllable.I guess I just know too much about the electric power industry -...
Dulse - delicious seaweed, for some!
A local tradition that I grew up with was eating a dark reddish seaweed called Dulse. Although many 'inland' Maritimers cannot stand the stuff, when I was working in Papua New Guinea, my parents would ship me the odd consignment to literally give me a taste of home! However, I never could get anyone else over there to eat it! Dulse is native to the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific Ocean areas and it grows attached to rocks in the zone between high and low tide as well as in deeper water. With the huge tides of the Bay of Fundy (30-50 feet), New Brunswick is a prime location to pick the seaweed when the tide is out and then lay it out on the rocky shores for sun-drying. It is very rich in nutrients, but its taste also takes some getting used to. In Ireland and Atlantic Canada, it is usually eaten raw and it has a naturally salty taste. Sometimes we used to 'cook' it by laying it on...
Inshore fishing industry
No matter which coastline you visit, you will come across small fishing villages or towns with their wharfs and numerous small fishing boats. During our 2005 trip to Kouchibouguac NP on the northeast coast, Russ and I took Highway 117 to explore the lesser developed northern regions of Kouchibouguac National Park. A 31-km (20-mile) drive will bring you to the first community located outside it's northern boundary - Pointe Sapin. This small and picturesque community of about 200 families is located at the north end of Kouchibouguac Bay. We stopped at the large wharf in Pointe Sapin and admired the fleet of fishing boats tied up there - with not much activity taking place. The boats all looked well-maintained and ready to head out into Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence after various species such as herring, lobster, scallop and mackerel, depending on the season. The...
Fish traps designed by Aboriginals
Southern NB is famous for its sardines (juvenile herrings), with the Connors Brothers plants producing tins of them in vast quantities. One of the easiest ways to catch herring is to set up a 'weir' just off the coast.Using technology developed from that used by Native Americans on this coast for hundreds of years, herring weirs continue to be used today at many places to help harvest the schools of herring that swim along the shoreline as they head for various inlets during their summer spawning season. These weirs were developed by the natives to help them deal with the huge tidal ranges experienced in these southern waters.The basic idea is a simple one (once you think of it!). At low tide, long wooden poles are driven into the sea floor in a heart-shaped pattern and a net is mounted on them. Another straight net leads from the indented part of the heart toward the shoreline (on the...
Rural New Brunswick
The province has a low population and most villages are really, really small.Nice mansions are sometimes mixed with lower quality houses, but the general quietness of many areas doesn't call for fancyful housing. Clothes are commonly set out to dry in the mist.
Don't be afraid to speak French (or English)!
New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada and it's not just a marketing scheme! We did a few tests during the week we spent there and had no problems getting by using only French or only English.
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