A scenic tour of New Brunswick’s East Coast

Acadia may not exist on a map, but its citizens live loud and proud on New Brunswick’s eastern shore


 

Acadia has the ingredients of a bona fide country. National flag? Check. National anthem? Check. National holiday? Yup, August 15. National pride? Oh my goodness, yes.

And yet, you won’t find Acadia on any map. That’s because, despite a rich history reaching back to the 1600s, when French settlers put down roots on the Atlantic coast of North America, Acadia has no borders, no government, no official status.

But it does have loyal citizens—an estimated 96,000 Acadians live in Canada, with strongholds in the country’s Maritime provinces, particularly New Brunswick.

Drive New Brunswick’s coast from Shediac to Caraquet and you’ll spy a sea of Acadian flags.Sample Acadia’s food, tap your toes to its music and listen to stories of a French-speaking nation ultimately torn apart when the British began deporting Acadians from the Maritimes in 1755.

Although the hardships were heartbreaking, the Acadians’ joie de vivre is equally heartwarming. Spend time here and you’ll discover the simple answer to the question, “Where is Acadia?” It’s anywhere you find Acadians.

Village Historique Acadien

The bang-clang of a printing press, the heat of a blacksmith’s forge, the texture of wool spun by a costumed interpreter—sensory clues like these highlight Acadian life from the 1770s to 1949. This sprawling site boasts 40-plus historical buildings including Hôtel Château Albert, where weary travellers can stay.

Caraquet

Come for the party, stay for the food. From August 1 to 15, Caraquet hosts the Festival Acadien de Caraquet, a celebration of song, dance and culture that culminates with Tintamarre, a giant noise-making party. Stay at Hotel Paulin and enjoy some of the best cuisine on the coast.

Shippagan

Blue lobsters! Squishy sea cucumbers! Kids will love getting touchy-feely with local aquatic creatures at the New Brunswick Aquarium and Marine Centre. Drive to nearby Lamèque Island to marvel at the colourful interior of Church of Ste-Cecile, painted during the psychedelic ’60s.

Miramichi

A river runs through this city, attracting fishers angling for wild Atlantic salmon, paddlers catching currents and visitors interested in Boishébert National Historic Site, where Acadians took refuge in the 1750s. Miramichi hosts a dozen special events each summer, including festivals celebrating folksongs, dragon boats and Scottish heritage.

Kouchibouguac National Park

Endangered piping plovers, a colony of noisy grey seals and vast sandy dunes make “Kou-she-boo-gwack” a unique stop. Get your bearings at the interpretive centre, then head to Kelly’s Beach where a long boardwalk leads to one of Canada’s warmest saltwater beaches.

Le Pays de la Sagouine

At this village-turned-theatre, built on a small island, costumed actors play characters drawn from the novels of Antonine Maillet and use stories, songs, food and a way-fun “kitchen party” to share Acadia’s unique joie de vivre.

Shediac

The self-anointed “Lobster Capital of the World” is home to the world’s largest lobster, a 90-tonne crustacean that sits roadside, almost begging you to stop for a photo. Once done, enjoy a more refined take on the town with a romantic stay and fine-dining experience at Maison Tait House.

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