It was great to listen to the waves of the Bay of Chaleur as we rode along the final few km to the old Miscou lighthouse. The ceiling was so low that the top of the structure was enveloped in the fog and light showers when we arrived. This 64-foot structure was built in 1856 and then was extended to its present 80-foot height in 1903. It is now a fully automated station. There are picnic tables for public use and a nice beach to wander along if it takes your fancy. We celebrated our arrival with some cheese and crackers as well as a few beers and wine before we headed south again!
Actually, the weather was not so bad after all! It was foggy when we set out in the morning from our Inn and then it deteriorated into showers as we continued onward on our 4-hour 40-km ride to the lighthouse at the northern tip of Miscou Island. However, we had brought some wet weather gear and a spare set of clothes just in case. As an added bonus, the return ride was dry all the way! It was great to bike along the relatively flat countryside on both Lameque and Miscou - I was amazed at how smooth the newly paved roads were. On Lameque, even the shoulder of the road was paved wide enough to ride abreast for about half way across the island. The further north you travel, the less frequent was the traffic - making for a very relaxing trip! Photo at the northern end of Lameque, with the sign for Miscou Island giving directions to its bridge.
Actually, after we got ourselves checked in on Friday night, we learned that there was a big Acadian Festival going on in the nearby town of Caraquet. As a result, we headed there for our evening meal and had a good look around that area of the town - mostly down on their large fishing wharf where lots of large boats were tied up. The evening was getting on, so we found a simple little nightclub in the middle of town and grabbed ourselves a table in the corner along with a couple of beers. Everyone was speaking French and having a good time as the 2-man band arrived and set up. The lead singer reminded me of Elvis Presley with his black hair, looks and clothes. Finally the music got underway and we were really surprised that their songs were almost all sung in English - with the first 4 numbers being by Creedence Clearwater, Byan Adams, the Beatles and Dusty Springfield! I guess they were catering to the older crowd. Anyway, their music was very well done and the crowd was soon dancing. It seemed as if everyone knew everyone else and we just had a good time doing some people-watching! The doors were open on a warm summer evening and it is a relatively small venue - so there was a great atmosphere as the night warmed up! We also had great plans to check out Lameque on Saturday night but, after a full day of biking combined with a full stomach, we both crashed in our room at about 8 PM !
Dress Code: Casual dress. I later found out that this establishment has been rated as 10/10 by the patrons who bother to partake of the survey.
The coastal areas of the Maritimes are noted for their fishing industries. In this particular area the big money maker is the crab fishery but there is also a very lucrative lobster fishery. On our first night in the north, we took a drive over to the nearby town of Caraquet and had a walk around their wharf. It was interesting to view the many large trawlers (much bigger than the ones in this photo), some of which had not moved for years due to the decline of their particular branch of the fishery. The harbour in this photo is located at the southern end of Miscou where the bridge connects to Lameque. The 100-foot high concrete arch bridge was actually the toughest part of our bike ride (but its upper reaches were in the fog - so no photo!).
Only a few km south of the lighthouse, and beside the main highway is a circular boardwalk that gives you an opportunity to learn something about the plant-life on these islands. Both Lameque and Miscou are very swampy and, in fact, this whole peninsula area of NB is noted for its huge peat-moss operations. Speaking of bogs, we stopped briefly for a break in a forested part of the highway on our way north and it was only a matter of seconds before the mosquitos were onto us! We did not have the same problem in this open expanse of the Miscou bogs!
Favorite thing: The first Europeans to stumble onto Miscou Island were Basques from Spain in 1620, while searching for new fishing and fur-trading areas. In 1645, Nicholas Denys, from France, established the first permanent post on the island. However, a man-made forest fire in 1672 burned the entire island, forcing everyone to leave the blighted landscape. It was many years before anyone returned but, by 1770, the first Acadians had arrived to partake of the Atlantic Walrus hunt (this was interesting because my wife and I encountered the same theme earlier in the summer while visiting remote islands in my Quebec pages!). However, by 1819 both the fishing and farming had become too difficult (the long cold winters with frozen ice sheets probably did not help) and only a single family remained on Miscou. In 1830 settlers from Jersey arrived and began the colonization process again. In 1850, the rise of the herring and lobster fishery finally led to a sustained population on the island. Although most of the churches on the island are huge Roman Catholic affairs typical of any French area, the tiny Pentecostal chuch a few km south of the lighthouse caught my eye. I was even more surprised to see the names on the tombstones - Brown and Dragon!