One of the largest cities in New Brunswick, Moncton is at the end of the narrow Petitcodiac River estuary. It is one of the tips of the Bay of Fundy, and the surrounding area is famed for having some of the world’s highest tides. Moncton has a strong cultural scene with many visual and performing arts, as well galleries and fine dining.
The Acadian city is an important east Canadian road and rail junction and has a French-speaking university. The French settled in the northern end of the Bay of Fundy in 1638, but the English destroyed their settlement a few years later. German settlers arrived here via Pennsylvania in the second half of the 18th century.
1. Bay of Fundy Tidal Flow
Twice a day the rising tide funnels through the Bay of Fundy to create some of the highest tides in the world. Water sweeps into the Petitcodiac estuary as a meter-high wave, swelling its trickle into a broad lake and covering nearby mudflats and salt marshes. In Moncton, the muddy riverbed becomes a 7.5-meter deep river within an hour. Tidal Bore Park in the city’s downtown is the best place to catch the natural phenomenon, with a clock showing when to expect the next bore.
Address: Main Street, between King and Steadman Streets
2. Magnetic Hill
Magnetic Hill, northwest of Moncton, is one of Canada’s most visited natural wonders. It owes its fascination to the fact that a driver can put a car in neutral, release the brake and feel that the car is being drawn uphill as though by some ghostly hand. As the hill is such a sightseeing classic, other tourist attractions have sprung up in the area.
The Magnetic Hill Wharf Village is a tourist area with shops and restaurants designed to look like an old maritime fishing village. The nearby Magnetic Hill Zoo is home to more than 500 animals representing about 80 species from around the world.
3. Hopewell Cape
The Bay of Fundy tides flood the marshes around Moncton, but in Hopewell Cape they have carved unusual sea stacks. The Hopewell Rocks, also known at the Flowerpot Rocks, are tide-sculpted pillars. At low tide, you can walk on the ocean floor and look way up at the earthen cliffs. At high tide, the water covers all but the plants growing on top.
Also in Hopewell Cape, there’s the local-focused Albert County Museum. The heritage buildings and artifacts at the museum recall the area’s pioneer, shipbuilding, and logging past.
Address: 131 Discovery Road, Hopewell Cape
4. Cape Enrage
Cape Enrage is the site of an 1838 lighthouse that still remains in operation, as well as an outdoor activity center offering zip-lining, rock-climbing, rappelling and kayaking. The center began with six students and their teacher in 1993.
For those not seeking an adrenaline-pumping activity, the magnificent view of the towering cliffs and light station at Cape Enrage is worth the trip.
Address: 650 Cape Enrage Road, Waterside
5. Parlee Beach Provincial Park
Shediac’s Parlee Beach Provincial Park is thought to have the finest sandy beach on Canada’s Atlantic coast, and in summer, the relatively shallow water here can get as warm as 20°C (68°F). The park has campsites as well as picnic areas and changing facilities. Nearby Shediac is an Acadian town that prides itself on being the lobster capital of the world. The town has numerous shops and galleries, as well as lots of restaurants where seafood is the specialty.
Address: 45 Parlee Beach Rd., Pointe-du-Chêne
6. Kouchibouguac National Park
Kouchibouguac National Park lies on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and takes in a variety of ecosystems. Coastal vegetation (including about 25 species of orchid), salt marsh, high dunes, long sandbars and tidal lagoons stretch for close to 30 kilometers along the shoreline. Bike and walking trails offer easy ways to explore the park, and it is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with thousands of duck, geese, and other wildfowl. Seals love to bask on the sandbanks offshore. Further inland, forest and river habitat supports black bear, beaver, moose, deer, fox, and coyote.
The park has campgrounds and picnic areas. Bike and canoe rentals are available in summer, with skis and snowshoes available in winter.
Address: 186 Route 117, Kouchibouguac National Park
7. Université de Moncton
Université de Moncton was founded in 1963 with French as its primary language. The university provides the Acadian community with its own academic institution. There’s a very interesting collection of modern Acadian artworks housed at Galerie d’art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen. Other exhibits in the gallery include pieces by national and international artists.
Address: 405 Université Avenue, Moncton
Sackville is located five minutes from the Nova Scotia border, on the Tantramar Marshes. The marshland provides wonderful habitat for birds and consequently is a good spot for bird watching. Visitors may want to check out Sackville Waterfowl Park.
The town has several museums, galleries and theaters. Campbell Carriage Factory Museum, originally a tannery, was converted to a carriage factory in the middle of the 19th century. The museum houses more than 6,000 artifacts related to horse-drawn vehicles, agricultural equipment, and caskets. Sackville’s Boultenhouse Heritage Centre has exhibits that highlight the shipbuilding era and early settlement years. And located on the Mount Allison University campus, Owens Art Gallery has amassed a permanent collection of more than 3,000 works.
Address: Route 106, Sackville
9. Fort Beauséjour National Historic Site
Fort Beauséjour is a national historic site about 60 kilometers southeast of Moncton, near the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border. From the earthworks, which are all that is left of the fort, there is a fine view over the Cumberland Basin and Chignecto Bay. French settled here in the second half of the 17th century, calling the land “Beau Bassin.”
The area passed to the Scots and English under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, and the border between British Nova Scotia (New Scotland) and French Acadia was similar to the provincial boundary today. The French built Fort Beauséjour on their side and the British built Fort Lawrence on theirs. The British captured Fort Beauséjour in 1755, and then proceeded to deport French-speaking Acadians.
Address: 11 Fort Beauséjour Road, Aulac
Bouctouche, about 50 kilometers north of Moncton, is another traditional Acadian fishing community, and the birthplace of K.C. Irving, an industrialist once reputed to be one of the richest men in the world.
La Dune de Bouctouche is one of the few remaining sand dunes on the northeast coast of North America. The dune extends across Bouctouche Bay, providing a vital marine habitat. The Irving Eco Centre provides information on the dunes, area wildlife, and habitat preservation.
Address: Route 134, Bouctouche