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Scheduling Led Us to Moncton NB, Interest May Bring Us Back

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Jun 28th, 2010, 08:33 AM
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Scheduling Led Us to Moncton NB, Interest May Bring Us Back

If you happen to be considering a trip to PEI and wish to get there using public transportation, as far as I could tell, there’s only one direct way of doing it. Acadian Bus Lines has 2-3 buses daily from Moncton, New Brunswick that stop in Borden, Summerside and finally Charlottetown on PEI. That’s it, that’s all, folks. Even if you’re going from Halifax-PEI by bus, a transfer in Amherst NS or Moncton will be necessary.

So after a lovely 4 days of cycling and exploring central PEI, we took the 5pm bus this past Friday to Moncton in order to catch the 5pm VIA Rail “Ocean” sleeper train on Saturday back to Montreal. The overnight in Moncton was not born out of interest especially, but rather had more to do with scheduling. 1) The 7:45am bus out of Charlottetown on Saturday seemed awfully early and 2) the 2pm bus on Saturday would not have arrived in Moncton on time to make the train.

The landscape of New Brunswick is noticeably different from PEI, with coniferous trees all of a sudden dominating (apparently courtesy of Irving company) and no matter how hard I tried, I could not make the soil on the southern side of the Northumberland Strait that rich red colour of PEI. Arriving in Moncton at 8pm, we quickly checked in at the reasonably-priced, Victorian-style-charm B&B, the Bonaccord House ($65 +tax/night), located about a 10-minute walk from the busy-ness of Main Street. Ah, the joys of NOT staying in tourist central-town.

One thing I appreciated about Moncton right off the bat was the relative compactness of the town. One could WALK to cafés, restaurants, grocery stores, market, museums and Riverfront Park easily from our B&B. While the city feels almost emptied of people moving even a block or two off of the Main Street with businesses and homes more spread out on nearby major streets such as St. George Street or Mountain Street, we did appreciate that there were some lovely wooden “Victorian”-style homes peppering the side streets. I also enjoyed how restaurants, such as Archibald Café and Calactus Café where we ate for Friday supper and Saturday lunch respectively, had converted Victorian homes into restaurants, using the former “front porch” as outdoor seating.

The factor that quickly endeared us Montrealers to and piqued our curiosity about Moncton however was to be surrounded for the first time by Shiac, the variety of French spoken in that area of New Brunswick. The cadence, liaisons, accent and even vocabulary (or anglicisms used!) were really quite different from what we’re used to from Québécois in the Montréal area and certainly also from the European French-speakers. We found the rhythm of speech of Monctonian francophones quite melodic and pleasant to the ear; both of us perpetually wanted to eavesdrop as we sat at Archibald Café or strolled past the fun-loving, charming, energetic hubbub of sidewalk restaurants, bars and cafés on Main Street and nearby “ruelles” on Friday night. At the same time, we were surprised (it’s rare that either of us does not understand francophones in our midst in Montreal) how little of the conversations we could actually follow! Both of us felt like we wished we had time to communicate at greater length with francophone Monctonians in order to have a mastery of understanding of their variety of the French language. Finally, the degree of bilingualism throughout Moncton surprised and pleased us, noticing wherever we went that servers throughout the downtown would flip-flop between languages in a manner much like Montrealers do (but with the different local New Brunswick accent). In grossly simplified terms, Moncton offered a fascinating linguistic dynamic that struck me as being something between Ottawa and Montreal in terms of bilingualism, but with a unique Acadian flavour.

Other activities:
•Moncton Market. We enjoyed the buzz of the farmer’s-ish market, selling local produce, lunches, home-baked pastries and more. Hours: Saturday 10am-2pm

•Tidal Bore. Since my expectations were kept adequately low, I found the whole experience amusing in a very “camp” way. When we arrived, about 15-20 people were sitting on bleachers or standing on the oval lookout watching the Petitcodiac River (which is attached to the Bay of Fundy) waiting for the “big moment”, the arrival of the tide! A guide talked about the science and history of tide-viewing in Moncton/Bay of Fundy. Eyes were all vigilantly looking left in anticipation! And here it comes!

In truth, it’s two or three fairly gentle-looking waves that plod steadily forward at a certain time. For the time being, not much to look at perhaps, but in my opinion, still a fascinating natural phenomenon. What was impressive to me, however, was that the about 10 feet high muddy shores of the riverbed present at 10:45 leading up to grass had been completely submerged when we came back, with the water at the level of the grass when we returned after lunch at around 1:30. We also enjoyed walking along the Riverfront Park (Parc Riverain) after the “big moment” had passed.

Apparently, however, the arrival of the tides was once a deafening roar prior to the building of a causeway. Recently, however, they told us something about a dam and the causeway being replaced by a bridge, and there is hope that this will restore the tides to their former glory. I didn’t follow entirely, but apparently they say the tides in Moncton are becoming more impressive since some change was made to the dam or the causeway about 5 months ago, so the tour guides were quite hopeful.

Be warned that schedules listed on Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s website for the arrival of the tides may be off by 15-20 minutes in either direction. For example, the tide was listed to arrive at 11:00 am this past Saturday, but actually came in at 10:45am; good thing we arrived about 25 minutes early!
http://www.lau.chs-shc.gc.ca/cgi-bin...n=5&stnnum=175

All in all, I enjoyed my short visit to Moncton, which has further expanded my understanding of Canada and North America. My curiosity has most definitely been piqued and I’m glad my life happened to bring me there
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Jun 28th, 2010, 11:47 AM
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Excellent Trip Report and great information about a much undervalued destination. Thanks!
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Jun 29th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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Thanks LJ,

I agree that Moncton is undervalued.

I forgot to mention that I also went to the Moncton Museum which is adjacent the Free Meeting House (20 Mountain Street).

The humble Free Meeting House dating from the 1820s impressed me as it was a place of prayer for multiple Christian denominations and those of Jewish faith. Seemed pretty progressive for its time.

The Moncton Museum is by donation and has an exhibit on Moncton's history through collected artifacts and photos, with some explanatory plaques. If you read this and go, look for the photo of the 1920 Moncton Women's Hockey Team... trust me on this one!
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Jun 29th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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Thanks for the report.

For the first two years of my life, and for anothr 13 summers, I lived three blocks west of the Bonaccord House, across from Victoria Park, on Cameron Street.

And several times every summer I would vist my cousin Karen's house. It was the old house on Church Street with the big porch. the middle of the three houses there, just the other side of the railroad tracks, across from the Calactus Cafe.


And my grandfather's court room and law library (he was a judge) was on Main Street, about half way between the market and Bore Park.

I've opened up Google maps and followed some of your travels.
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Jun 29th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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I'm attaching my PEI trip as a link to keep the trip as a whole intact, in case people wish to combine PEI with Moncton.

http://www.fodors.com/community/cana...eal-to-pei.cfm

BAK,

I thought of you as we sat on a bench in peaceful Victoria Park with a fountain, which is surrounded by some lovely wooden homes still. I would say these days though that the Riverfront Park with all the flowers planted seems the more popular place for a stroll.

Best wishes, Daniel
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Jun 30th, 2010, 06:36 AM
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We lived along the west side of the park, about four houses south of the fountain.

I used to have a sailboat that spent quite a bit of time in that fountain. Six decades ago.

There's a modern band shell in the park, according to Google, and it replaces a more taditional one from ancient times.
About this time of year, back in 1959, I believe, the Queen was there. I took pictures.
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Jul 15th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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For those who have an interest in Chiac, the variety of French spoken in southeastern New Brunswick, I found the following thanks to a ex-Monctoner's help: and don't worry, this is just a humorous sketch, not real advertising. I WISH there WERE really a book called "Chiac Pour Les Dummies"; while I understand a fair amount of what he's saying, I wish there WERE some sort of resource out there to help those of us more fluent in Quebec or European French navigate our way through the New Brunswick linguistic waters .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRgbpIQU1hw
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Aug 24th, 2010, 02:14 PM
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Daniel ... much-enjoyed your report -- you sure sparked a load of memories to the fore!! I lived just to the north of Moncton for the first three+ years (of a 25-year career in Atlantic Canada), and spent the last three years+ in Moncton - lots of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in-between (moved west at retirement).
Love how you captured the 'spirit' of the place!
Thanks for sharing.
Cheers!
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Aug 26th, 2010, 09:08 PM
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JPinBC

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the report, and I'm more pleased that you felt it captured a bit of Moncton's spirit. That's really what I try to do each place I visit. Like me, you must love Atlantic Canada, having endeavoured to stay there throughout your career (what an interesting life pathway). I'm wondering from the name JP that you might be Acadian?

Best wishes, Daniel
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Aug 27th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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Much-enjoy your reports -- feel you put so much of yourself in them - they are up-close and personal, with lots of good practical information for those seeking to travel to the same areas.

No, not Acadian, but lived and worked in many of the Acadian communities in NE and N New Brunswick (Miramichi, Restigouche, and etc.). Headquartered in Halifax first, then Newcastle (now Miramichi), back to Halifax, and then over to Corner Brook, and to Moncton for the last few years, over the course of my 25 years. Only Province I didn't get to live in was PEI - got over there a few times though. Each of the Atlantic Provinces has so much to offer, and each is so truly 'unique'. Just wish there wasn't so much winter there!!

Cheers, and good wishes,
John
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Dec 9th, 2010, 10:08 AM
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Thanks for your very detailed and interesting report. I thought I would comment on the tidal bore. My main point is to urge those in the area to plan a stop so that you can view the bore. It is not only the initial ripples, but how rapidly the water comes in afterward, so stick around for a half hour after the bore itself. The gates of the causeway have now been opened, and it is reported that the bore has gained in stature. Really, it was always so variable (I grew up on the banks of the Peticodiac River so we could just go down on our property and watch the bore anytime it came, and I think some memories of how grand it once was prior to the causeway are selective of the few times it was really high). The size of the bore depends on where in the tidal cycle, and it is best a few days after the spring tides (which are near full and new moon times). The best place to see the bore is from either Bore Park on Main Street in Moncton, or from a part of the Cross Canada Trail with a little bridge just a bit further in Dieppe (it is just across from the huge Champlain Mall, so if you can't get all your group interested in bore watching, some can hang out in the mall!). Like you said, the city is compact and a lot of it is walkable. The city buses can take you where you find too long to walk, and they are almost always near empty it seems to me. Also, if you have a smart phone, one cool thing is that all the city buses have free WiFi so you can surf as you ride. Also, if wondering how long till the next bus, cause they are not so frequent, online Codiac Transit has a system where each bus location is constantly updated. Well, I have probably already written too long. If you are visiting Moncton and driving, you really should visit Sackville, NB... but that will wait for another post. Bob (from New Brunswick)
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Dec 10th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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Hi Bob (from New Brunswick),

My Moncton friends in Montreal call the Tidal Bore "a Total Bore", so it's nice to hear that there's a New Brunswicker out there who still appreciates the phenomenon (and recognizes that these tides just aren't seen to the degree of the Fundy tides in most other parts of the world) even living so close by. I think it would be cool to sit in the Tidal Bore Park to show the Petitcodiac River with time-lapse photography for full effect.

Thanks for your thought! DANIEL
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Dec 11th, 2010, 03:36 PM
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Hi Bob (from New Brunswick) from me too,

Enjoyed your "up close and personal" addition.. thanks for posting!! I did the bus between Moncton and Dieppe a few times - when I was either not up to the walking, or found the weather or weather-caused walking conditions hampered it a little too much!!

Seeking your thoughts about visiting Sackville ... but like you said, maybe that's for another post, eh!!

Fond memories, and missing many of my days back your way!!

On a side note: I introduced my lady friend to a tourtiere recently -- we made it from scratch -- yum, thoughts of several I enjoyed while living in Moncton (and had via Acadian friends north of there).

Cheers and Good wishes ... to you and Daniel!!
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Dec 12th, 2010, 06:56 AM
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Since we're talking about New Brunswick... BBC Canada, which tends to repeat programs, had a show the other night on the convoys and subs in the North Atlantic, with info provided by a professor from UNB. My father and one uncle were involved in that. And somewhere on the web there's a 115 year old photo of Victoria Park (called Victoria Square onthat web site) showing a school on one side, a band stand (where I once photographed Queen Elizabeth, and a fountai9n. That park is featured far above as a picnic location.
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Dec 12th, 2010, 05:24 PM
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I had to read this post for the genuine effort to make something out of Moncton. My highlight there was definitely sitting outside on the bleachers and awaiting the tidal bore @ 11:00pm with a full moon illuminating the area from across the river.

OK, it was either that OR the fact that I could go into my nearby hotel at 11:30pm to call my family still with hours before their bedtime.

And it might have been a giant salad I bought for just $3.00 at what was a pizza place across the street from the tidal bore park.

Those three factors are still slugging it out as my Moncton highlights.

At least the tidal bore showed up on schedule.
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Dec 17th, 2010, 07:11 AM
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"I had to read this post for the genuine effort to make something out of Moncton."

Maybe I'm nuts, but I thought there was a natural charm about Moncton. The buzz of the bars and cafes spilling out onto Main Street and some of the nearby ruelles, the restaurants I went to that were charming & good... combined with hearing the melody of the Chiac style of Acadian French in such number wherever one sat made for a unique cultural experience. Loved that we walked everywhere. Plus did I mention how friendly people are? I can honestly say I didn't feel that I needed to make a huge effort to appreciate Moncton; it's a fun Maritime town!

I think as long as one goes in with the right expectations (not expecting big-city thrills (Moncton's too quiet for that), nor expecting quaint Anne of Green Gables sort ambience...Moncton is a real working big town/small city after all with tourism not its main focus) that a stop in Moncton can be quite rewarding!

Thanks for everyone's thoughts! Best wishes Daniel
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Dec 17th, 2010, 07:11 AM
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"I had to read this post for the genuine effort to make something out of Moncton."

Maybe I'm nuts, but I thought there was a natural charm about Moncton. The buzz of the bars and cafes spilling out onto Main Street and some of the nearby ruelles, the restaurants I went to that were charming & good... combined with hearing the melody of the Chiac style of Acadian French in such number wherever one sat made for a unique cultural experience. Loved that we walked everywhere. Plus did I mention how friendly people are? I can honestly say I didn't feel that I needed to make a huge effort to appreciate Moncton; it's a fun Maritime town!

I think as long as one goes in with the right expectations (not expecting big-city thrills (Moncton's too quiet for that), nor expecting quaint Anne of Green Gables sort ambience...Moncton is a real working big town/small city after all with tourism not its main focus) that a stop in Moncton can be quite rewarding!

Thanks for everyone's thoughts! Best wishes Daniel
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Dec 18th, 2010, 02:47 PM
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I dunno if that qualifies as "NATURAL" charm. Most of that sounds like "man-made charm". Indeed the people would be friendly, in a part of society that simply has not yet been overrun by all others.

When you've got PEI not far away, the Flower Pot rocks not far away, and Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy not far away, it is difficult to appreciate a whole lot of "nature" about Moncton, relatively speaking.

(searches vague memory: ) Was I on a newly-paved, yet quite dull highway that zipped me between Fredericton and Moncton. It was quick, and uncrowded, but it too lacked considerable nature. And it really lacked gas stations, so I recall.
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Dec 24th, 2010, 03:59 PM
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Thanks for the report. As usual I enjoyed reading your report of unknown (at least to me!) areas of Northeastern Canada.
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Dec 26th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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Thanks annetti! As much as international travel, I enjoy exploring eastern Canada and have been delighted with the diversity of experiences on offer. I'm so pleased you enjoyed reading! Happy New Year, Daniel
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