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Old 06-11-2022, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
3,415 posts, read 4,755,883 times
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Hi all,

So I wrapped up my 17th trip to Canada since childhood yesterday and first trip since the pandemic had begun. OK, I crossed the border twice during this trip so you can consider it my 17th and 18th visits to Canada but I will care to explain later. You're probably eager to hear the perspectives of a Canadian visitor and since New Brunswick is not a province that often gets mentioned in CDF, I will be long and detailed because you can then decide after whether the place is your cup of tea or not. I stayed in Saint John and visited St. Martins, St. Andrews, Hopewell Cape, Moncton, Shediac, Cape Jourimain, and Campobello Island. I went with my family and this being the first visit in 3 years, we were ready to fully indulge in Canadian delights and I'd say we did.

St Martins Sea Caves - The first place we visited, this is a very scenic naturally formed location. I had purposefully timed it so we can visit during low tide where we can walk around the seafloor and snap pictures of the caves up front. The rocks and pebbles are also very beautiful with all different colours. Best of all, this place is free of charge. I was a bit disappointed that no one sold postcards of the caves however, which makes me think the locals don't want to publicize the location too much. Wear galoshes, rainboots, or comfortable old shoes that you do not mind getting caked with mud.

Fundy Trail Parkway - Right after the Sea Caves, this is a privately owned and operated scenic parkway with many beautiful lookouts and views of the Bay of Fundy. The windiness of the parkway reminded me of Glacier National Park's Going to the Sun Road in Montana. One of the most spectacular views is that of the Walton Glen Gorge at the far eastern end of the parkway. I definitely recommend it.

Hopewell Rocks - Like Saint Martin's Sea Caves, this is another opportunity to walk the ocean floor during low tide. Towering above are so called "flowerpot" rocks that turn into islands during high tide. I really dug the place but others in my family thought it was overrated and compared it to walking along an ordinary beach during low tide . The charge is on the pricey side, some $14 for an adult admission before HST. Interestingly enough, it is places like here, the Fundy National Park, and the Fundy Trail Parkway where I saw license plates from far away. I could not imagine seeing a "Beautiful British Columbia" license plate all the way here in the East but people do go on cross country road trips to places like these.

Moncton - We only stopped by briefly in Moncton to see the tidal bore (which we missed by 10 minutes ) but the city itself greatly resembles New England river cities like Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire or Northampton, Massachusetts. Just like Saint John, which I will describe below, the architecture looks very New Englandish. As a matter of fact, I dare to say that New Brunswick looks like an extension of New England. St. Martins, Hopewell Cape, and West Quaco all would not have been out of place in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Maine.

Cape Jourimain/Confederation Bridge - Just stopped here to get a view of the Confederation Bridge. While it lacks the glamour of say San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the Confederation Bridge is still quite a marvelous site to see. We went during a clear day so we were able to see PEI on the other shore but on a foggy day, I bet it looked like a bridge going out to sea.

Shediac - The only predominantly French speaking community we visited. We had wanted to visit the lobster shoppe in town but it was closed too early for the evening .

Saint John - Probably the most run down city I have visited so far in Canada but in the strangest feeling, it also felt a lot more like home so it wasn't all too bad. Saint John is a far cry from Toronto and Vancouver and many of its older homes look ragged and unkempt. There is nothing particularly rich or fancy about Saint John and it is definitely a lot more provincial than the bigger, more well known cities in Canada (and the US for that matter). The skyline resembles that of Portland, Maine and the neighborhoods verily resemble many so called "gateway" cities in New England, i.e. Fall River, New Bedford, Springfield, New Haven, or Pawtucket. The people also look and sound just like New Englanders with a variety of friendly and not so friendly individuals. The touristy areas of course have friendlier voices but I tend to like to venture out of touristy areas to get the actual feel of the community and was in for a reception that was not out of place back here in New England. It's a point of view that is hard to explain unless you lived in this region for a long time.

Within Saint John:

Reversing Falls - We caught the reversing rapids just at the right time. A whole bunch of other tourists were bussed in to see the phenomenon. The river basically turned into a multilane water freeway with two lanes flowing in the direction the ocean and one lane flowing in the completely opposite direction. I love geology so I took interest in it but I can see how others might ask "big deal?".

Brunswick Square - This is the main shopping centre in Saint John's downtown and it is mightily struggling. More than half of the storefronts including most of the third level (there are 3-4 levels) are empty, there are not major department stores to anchor the centre, and the few shops range from dollar stores and curio shops to services. Architecturally, Brunswick Square resembled many shopping centres I had seen in Hong Kong, China and had it been situated in Hong Kong, Brunswick Square would have been packed and lively with business but sadly this was not the case. I visited Brunswick Square the same day a large cruise ship docked and so there were more visitors there but I'd bet on a normal day, the centre would have been very quiet. Too bad.

Market Square - The second and more touristy of the shopping centres in Downtown Saint John, this centre reminded me of Faneuil Hall, Boston. The place was full of tacky, touristy shoppes charging premium prices. Without tourists however, especially cruise ship passengers, I cannot see how this place can sustain itself. The New Brunswick Museum was an anchor, but in another recent thread, I reported that the museum was mothballing all of its exhibits after the roof of the museum collapsed after heavy rains back in 2020. Only the museum's gift shoppe remains open. Apparently, the NB Museum's administrators no longer trusted the Market Square's management team despite them having fixed the roof and want out. The problem is, the museum failed to secure a new location (their old location which is now the museum's archives is not the answer because it too is too decrepit and dilapidated) so without a new location, the museum might not come back for a very long time. This is all really, really too bad because the oldest museum in Canada was a perfect activity for a rainy day and I was looking very forward to visiting it . The other anchor to Market Square is the public library.

Saint John Market - Another Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall like place but more interesting. This is actually the oldest public indoor market in all of Canada so it is worth visiting. Being a rainy day, the cruise ship passengers crowded the market. There were craft vendors, produce vendors, artisan and specialty food vendors, and even foreign imports vendors here. I'd recommend this market over Market Square.

McAllister Place - This is the third shopping centre I visited (it was raining for much of the day on Wednesday so we had to find something to do) and this is where the locals go to shop. It sits in a strip mall setting of sorts and is anchored by H&M, Marks, Marshalls, and the Brick. McAllister Place is still a far cry from Toronto's Eaton Centre, Calgary's TD Square, or even the Carrefour Laval in Laval, Quebec but at least it is sustained. The problem is that it is pretty much a suburban style mall and that's about it. There is nothing eye catching about McAllister Place. In fact, based on the selection of stores and services as well as the shopping in general, the mall felt too American. There was a time when Canada had a lot more local and national chains of its own like Zellers, Eaton, or Bata Shoes, but increasingly they are being or have already been taken over by American chains. I made it a point to shop at Marks because it is one of the few Canadian chains left. BTW, there are no Hudson Bay Company's or Holt Renfrews anywhere in the entire province of New Brunswick just so you know.

Lancaster Mall - The last shopping centre we visited. Anchored by a Walmart, the rest of the mall is pretty much gone. One space has been rented out by a public library again while the rest of the shoppes have been turned to face outwards onto the parking lot. Nothing more to comment here.

Fort Howe - Great scenic overlook where you can view Saint John's entire skyline. Worth stopping by for a quick visit just to snap some pictures.

All in all, I feel that Saint John has potential but it is economically struggling right now. Other than the Irving Refinery and the Port, I cannot think of much other industry in the region.

Saint Andrews - Picturesque little town not far from the US Border and actually within site of Maine. We went here primarily to visit the Kingsbrae Gardens, which definitely is no Bouchart Gardens but still quite pretty and colorful. I swear there are New England communities that quite resemble this town though.

Campobello Island - Our final Canadian stop on our trip, I could consider this a second visit to Canada on the same trip because we had to cut back into the US from St. Stephens in order to drive there. There is a ferry service from Deer Island to Campobello but it is only season and they just happened to be closed for maintenance these two weeks. Yeah, it was a bit weird leaving Canada and then just an hour later end up back in the country via a different border crossing. If this were treated as a second visit, it would have been our shortest visit to Canada ever, lasting only two hours! The main purpose is to visit the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, which was FDR's childhood summer home. You get to see the cottages the Roosevelt Family once stayed and a lot of quaint memorabilia plus breathtaking views of Passamoquoddy Bay. The issue with Campobello is that it is far and not easy to get to so I cannot imagine huge crowds of tourists coming here. It's either you are in the area which makes it worth visiting or you miss it entirely. Back over the US side in Maine is West Quoddy Head State Park which is the easternmost point of the continental US and has a marker signifying it.

So that was the extent of my trip. Thank you, Canada for making it special!

Last edited by Urban Peasant; 06-11-2022 at 04:37 PM..
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Old 06-11-2022, 04:26 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
3,415 posts, read 4,755,883 times
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Default Other reflections

The last post was already too long so I have to add a second one here. These are other helpful reflections from my trip.

Border crossing/ArriveCAN - Crossing the border and using ArriveCAN is a lot more seamless than what Travel Canada purported. The border guard pretty much grabbed our passports and scanned them over his device which automatically displayed the ArriveCAN info, vaccination proof and all. I still downloaded the ArriveCAN app and printed copies of the receipt from the website version for backup. Still, the crossing did not feel all that much different than pre-pandemic days.

Masking - What the!? I thought Canadians were very regimental about mask wearing and social distancing but I guess all of that went out the door once the mask mandates were lifted. Nine out of ten locals were maskless, particularly the young people, and social distancing was definitely not practiced in many places. In fact, it really felt like we were back in 2019. I see more people masked up back here in Greater Boston than anywhere in New Brunswick though admittedly, Boston is a lot more crowded and diverse. I suppose there are greater chances of catching the virus here than there. Is this the case in bigger metropolitan areas like Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver?

Language - New Brunswick claims to be the only officially bilingual province but the language spread is very uneven. All of the Fundy Coast including Saint John is overwhelmingly Anglo, most stop signs say "Stop Arret" but sure enough there are ones that simply say "Stop". Many other non-governmental signs are only in English. I only heard French spoken in Shediac so it is communities along the coast of the Northumberland Strait that speak French.

Canadian tea - I was determined to load up on Canadian tea during this road trip because Canadian tea is so much better than that insipid dishwater passed off as tea down here in the States. I ended up purchasing three boxes of Barbour's King Cole Tea, three boxes of Canadian Tetley, and three boxes of Canadian Red Rose. The cashier at Atlantic Superstore (what they call Loblaws in the Maritimes) even got me an Optimum card which I used to get all nine tea boxes for discounted prices and this card I can use at any Loblaws, Provigo, or Atlantic Superstores in future visits. I also loaded up on a variety of Canadian brand biscuits and cookies. Oh yes, and in New Brunswick, the most popular tea brand is its own Barbour's King Cole Tea, based out of Sussex, NB. If Canadian Red Rose Tea is gold then King Cole Tea is platinum . It is one of the richest blends I have ever tasted.

Food - If you like fried seafood, New Brunswick is the place for you. I like fried seafood too but after two days of eating fried clams, we all felt we needed a change. There weren't many choices for other ethnic foods though. It is too bad there aren't any authentic Chinese restaurants in Saint John because there are not many Chinese living there. We had to settle for Westernized Chinese food which is just not the same (who puts broccoli in a Mo Gu Gai Pan dish?). Sigh. It makes that Congee Queen on Lawrence Avenue, East in Toronto seem like a distant memory.

Canadian Funny Money - I was also determined to make a killing on Canadian pennies so I can fill up an entire jar at home and this time I really did. I ended up purchasing a total of 66 rolls of pennies and even got additional large handfuls of loose pennies from a vendor at Saint John's Market and the kind manager at the duty free shop at the border. Yeah, I might have overbought because 30-40 rolls could already fill up the jar but hey, I said I was going to indulge on this trip. I even found some specialties such as old pennies with King George VI on them and an old Saint John river crossing token. As always, the task was not easy. I managed to get the first 40 rolls at the second bank I visited, they let me clean out their penny roll collection. After that though, I went through eight different banks with no luck until my 11th bank, which sold me just one roll, and the 12th and final bank which sold me another 25. That last bank however (it was a BMO branch in Saint John) had a very friendly teller, kind manager, and over a hundred rolls of pennies which after I purchased my 25, told me I could come back anytime to purchase more from them . At many of the other banks, I got the typical "We're not allowed to sell pennies to you" even though I pleaded with them I was only purchasing for collector's purposes. I really do wonder the real reason for this as even the RCM website made it clear that though taken out of circulation, pennies along with 50 cent pieces and silver dollars still remain legal tender and can be purchased and spent . I sincerely doubt the RCMP is going to arrest a teller or bank manager for selling funny money back into the public . Perhaps it has more to with the bank's accounting but I don't think I or anyone else will ever get the correct answer. It makes no sense that one bank branch says they're not allowed to sell and the next one lets you clean out their supply.

Now I do admit, just for fun, I gave the cashier at Tim Hortons three pennies and to my surprise, he accepted them. I had no such luck with spending my fifty cent pieces that I brought with me. No less than four vendors rejected the coin including Walmart and Marks, the cashier at Sobeys even going so far as telling me Canada only has 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 1 dollar, and 2 dollars for coins This was after I told her to look at the Canadian coat of arms on the 50 cent piece . That Canadian 50 cent coin remains the black sheep of the family because so little people have seen it, heard of it, or appreciate it. I feel sorry for the RCM for trying to promote the coin over the years only to find each attempt fall flat. Oh well, I'll just return the 50 cent pieces to my collection because I appreciate it.

Last edited by Urban Peasant; 06-11-2022 at 04:39 PM..
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Old 06-11-2022, 06:06 PM
 
2,487 posts, read 1,409,012 times
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Do a lot of Fundies live around Fundy?
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Old 06-11-2022, 09:10 PM
 
Location: Toronto
13,330 posts, read 13,544,469 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Peasant View Post
The last post was already too long so I have to add a second one here. These are other helpful reflections from my trip.

Border crossing/ArriveCAN - Crossing the border and using ArriveCAN is a lot more seamless than what Travel Canada purported. The border guard pretty much grabbed our passports and scanned them over his device which automatically displayed the ArriveCAN info, vaccination proof and all. I still downloaded the ArriveCAN app and printed copies of the receipt from the website version for backup. Still, the crossing did not feel all that much different than pre-pandemic days.
I've used the ARR/CAN app 4 times over the last few months and it takes a few minutes to fill out and they keep a record of your vaccination upload (as you mentioned), so it really isn't a big deal. If you aren't 'tech' savvy and have problems working around a phone app it would be a bit or an ordeal, but otherwise it really isn't bad and I haven't had any glitches (knock on wood) yet. I've also found Canadian Customs more concerned about where I went, how long and what I was bringing back than anything Covid. Not one covid question in the 4 times i've gone through other than what you fill out on the app.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Peasant View Post
Masking - What the!? I thought Canadians were very regimental about mask wearing and social distancing but I guess all of that went out the door once the mask mandates were lifted. Nine out of ten locals were maskless, particularly the young people, and social distancing was definitely not practiced in many places. In fact, it really felt like we were back in 2019. I see more people masked up back here in Greater Boston than anywhere in New Brunswick though admittedly, Boston is a lot more crowded and diverse. I suppose there are greater chances of catching the virus here than there. Is this the case in bigger metropolitan areas like Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver?
I've noticed this too. I think people feel they are double or triple vaxxed and that it is just time to move on with life....There are still some people wearing theml, but i'd say atleast in Toronto its about 20 percent in malls etc otherwise, most have shed it. Social distance - what is that - sounds like something from the past.

I also see you got set up with an Optimum card. Little tip - Loblaws parent company that owns obviously Loblaws, Provigo in Quebec, but also the Superstore grocery stores you'll see like Real Canadian Superstore or Atlantic Superstore etc, they own a discount chain called No frills as well and also Shoppers Drug Mart (like Walgreens or CVS as you probably know) and some others. Point being, you can use your optimum card at all these places - something to know if you come back. Its one of the better loyalty programs here in my experience. Glad you enjoyed your Atlantic Canada trip. Its a special place!

Last edited by fusion2; 06-11-2022 at 09:37 PM..
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Old 06-12-2022, 05:11 AM
 
Location: Pa
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Urban,

Have you ever been to Prince Edward Island on past trips? If not you definitely want to check it out very different than NB, red sand beaches, amazing seafood ie lobster, muscles, fish. We have been to all 50 states and most of the Canadian Provinces but travel 2 days each way from Philadelphia to visit the island, it’s that special to us.

I have posted a lot of information here if you have never been.

https://www.fodors.com/community/can...d-pei-1664364/

Tom
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Old 06-12-2022, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Boston, MA
3,415 posts, read 4,755,883 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post

I also see you got set up with an Optimum card. Little tip - Loblaws parent company that owns obviously Loblaws, Provigo in Quebec, but also the Superstore grocery stores you'll see like Real Canadian Superstore or Atlantic Superstore etc, they own a discount chain called No frills as well and also Shoppers Drug Mart (like Walgreens or CVS as you probably know) and some others. Point being, you can use your optimum card at all these places - something to know if you come back. Its one of the better loyalty programs here in my experience. Glad you enjoyed your Atlantic Canada trip. Its a special place!
Thank you for the tip, Fusion. I had already known that Loblaws owns No Frills (I've been there once, it's pretty much a Canadian version of our Price-Rite) but I did not know that they owned Shoppers Drug Mart as well. It is good to know I can use the Optimum Card at so many different places. I love supermarkets, I feel so at ease every time I am in one.
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Old 06-12-2022, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Boston, MA
3,415 posts, read 4,755,883 times
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Originally Posted by TLC1957 View Post
Urban,

Have you ever been to Prince Edward Island on past trips? If not you definitely want to check it out very different than NB, red sand beaches, amazing seafood ie lobster, muscles, fish. We have been to all 50 states and most of the Canadian Provinces but travel 2 days each way from Philadelphia to visit the island, it’s that special to us.

I have posted a lot of information here if you have never been.

https://www.fodors.com/community/can...d-pei-1664364/

Tom
Thanks TLC. I was contemplating a day trip to PEI but ultimately decided against it for this trip because there were already too many things to do back in NB. I admit the $50 toll coming back across the Confederation Bridge is a bit of a turnoff for me. The one place I would have had interest in seeing was Founders Hall in Charlottetown because I like history but it was closed for good and turned into other uses some years ago due to lack of patronage. It's really too bad that Maritime Provinces such as New Brunswick and PEI struggle to keep their tourist venues open but they just don't have the money that Ontario and Quebec do. Other than that, sandy beaches and seafood dinners sustain my interest for a day but not longer. I am a city guy by heart and this trip to NB was an exception in that we spent more time sightseeing away from the city than in it. Now Toronto, ON is a place I could never get tired of. I could spend all day riding the Bloor-Danforth subway line to my heart's content and see as many neighborhoods as possible. Still, as I grow older and when the din of city lights and noises tire me, I will start visiting quieter places more frequently.
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Old 06-12-2022, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Vancouver
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Thanks for the report.

I must get to the Maritimes one day.
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Old 06-12-2022, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Pa
325 posts, read 282,365 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Peasant View Post
Thanks TLC. I was contemplating a day trip to PEI but ultimately decided against it for this trip because there were already too many things to do back in NB. I admit the $50 toll coming back across the Confederation Bridge is a bit of a turnoff for me. The one place I would have had interest in seeing was Founders Hall in Charlottetown because I like history but it was closed for good and turned into other uses some years ago due to lack of patronage. It's really too bad that Maritime Provinces such as New Brunswick and PEI struggle to keep their tourist venues open but they just don't have the money that Ontario and Quebec do. Other than that, sandy beaches and seafood dinners sustain my interest for a day but not longer. I am a city guy by heart and this trip to NB was an exception in that we spent more time sightseeing away from the city than in it. Now Toronto, ON is a place I could never get tired of. I could spend all day riding the Bloor-Danforth subway line to my heart's content and see as many neighborhoods as possible. Still, as I grow older and when the din of city lights and noises tire me, I will start visiting quieter places more frequently.
Worked in NYC for 10 years, commuted into city from NJ, 1-2 hours each way depending on traffic, time of day and weather and now live in the Philadelphia suburbs, I have my full of cities give me PEI..
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Old 06-12-2022, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by Urban Peasant View Post
Thank you for the tip, Fusion. I had already known that Loblaws owns No Frills (I've been there once, it's pretty much a Canadian version of our Price-Rite) but I did not know that they owned Shoppers Drug Mart as well. It is good to know I can use the Optimum Card at so many different places. I love supermarkets, I feel so at ease every time I am in one.

No problem buddy

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Originally Posted by Natnasci View Post
Thanks for the report.

I must get to the Maritimes one day.
I have to admit Nat - i'm surprised you haven't been yet lol
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