There were several reasons I wanted to stop off in Fredericton during my trip across Canada; I’d initially wanted to stay in all ten provinces (although ultimately never made it to Newfoundland and Labrador), and also because Facebook often automatically tags posts made from Barnstaple as being in the North Devon which is a Fredericton suburb, rather than part of the English county. If I was going to stop off somewhere in New Brunswick, I might as well actually post something from there for the age old reason of just because I could.
I also intended to visit King’s Landing (no, not that King’s Landing) which is a historical settlement which recreated life in 1800s Canada and which I thought would be a great place to learn about Canada’s history. Unfortunately this hadn’t yet opened for the season, but in the end I ended up staying there as another friend from Australia is now living there and catching up with him was on my list of reasons to actually travel across Canada in the first place. The fact he actually lives in Devon was an added bonus.
Although the recent floods which Fredericton had suffered from had receded, the fact that my first evening there was still rather wet meant that the brief tour Dan and his girlfriend Amy had wanted to give me was cut short at Picaroons, the local brewery where they went to refill their reusable 64 fl.oz jugs which, much to my immature amusement, are called Growlers.
The next morning we toured the city properly however, with the added bonus of being able to cycle, and I even managed to navigate Canada’s Great Trail app enough to get the “Explorer” achievement award for exploring the trail in a second province. We stopped off for ice cream (although their favourite place had also not yet opened for the summer) by the banks of the mighty St. John river and enjoyed the serenity as Dan and Amy gave me an overview of exactly how high the floods had been, with detritus still visible in some places showing where it had been washed up.
For a better experience of nature in its own environment, we also went for a walk in he nearby Mactaquac Provincial Park. Although this was a great way to see some local scenery, including Eagles soaring above us, unfortunately the flies and mosquitoes reminded us that nature being a force of balance also includes enjoyment/annoyance as well.
Although Fredericton is not a big place and has few of the amenities on offer in a city even such as Halifax – most likely the reason someone joked I would be staying in “No-Funswick” – it is still a particular highlight of my visit based on another of its reputations, that of New Brunswick kitchen parties. Rather than being a specifically organised event these, I was told, were the impromptu gatherings which occured when friends and neighbours dropped in on each other and everyone congregates in the room with the most abundant food and drink.
Although I never experienced one of these for myself, even with such a short stay it was easy to see how these would occur. On my first day a couple of Dan’s friends were longboarding around the area and so popped into the kitchen for no other reason than to say hi and joined us on our trip to Mactaquac. More than just this, a neighbour also came over to introduce herself when seeing us in the front garden (Dan and his housemates hadn’t been living there that long, and I fully understood his explanation of why you wouldn’t want to spend anymore time than neccesary outside during the winter), called over another couple of neighbours who were walking past, and were even kind enough to give them some Tomato plant cuttings when they saw the work they had been doing to organise the lawn and growing beds.
Although his wasn’t the first I’d seen of Canadian hospitality on his trip, it did show that the reputation for being social and having such a sense of community wasn’t an exaggeration. From what I saw, that’s just daily life in New Brunswick.