With a history of European settlement dating from the early 1600s, New Brunswick’s human heritage is a sister story to its Atlantic Canadian cousins (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador). French, English, Scots, Irish would settle here. After the American Revolution a steady stream of Loyalists (people in America who were loyal to the British Crown) arrived. These included German, Dutch and Black settlers. Some Black immigrants were free; some were slaves who arrived here with their Loyalist families.
Not only is the human history fascinating here in New Brunswick. So is this province’s natural history. The Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world. Stonehammer Geopark reveals a billion years of Earth’s geological past. And Kouchibouguac National Park is one of Canada’s Dark Sky Preserves.
Here are three reasons why you should visit New Brunswick.
1-Bay of Fundy National Park
With tides of 12 metres or more, the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, and one reason why Parks Canada operates this park as one of Canada’s natural wonders.
The Atlantic Ocean floods into the narrow, long and “paper-clip-shaped” Bay of Fundy every 23 hours and 25 minutes. It’s the combination of the length and shape of the bay plus the “bathtub-like” rocking motion of the incoming and outgoing waters which creates conditions for the tide’s phenomenal height.
What’s totally thrilling is to be able to hike on the floor of the ocean during low tides at Hopewell Rocks, then kayak in the same spot, during high tide. These red sandstone rocks have been eroded by the sea and winds into flowerpot shapes, making fun if not sometimes challenging subjects for photographers. Remember, always, to be aware of the tides: being caught in rushing water here is no joke.
Parks Canada offers many stellar interpretive programs here, so check their website for family-friendly activities where you can learn about edible plants, go on a photo safari, do yoga oceanside, or even attend a traditional-style kitchen party. Don’t know what that is? A kitchen party is an authentic Atlantic Canada tradition, where families and friends bring instruments and their voices, and sing and play the afternoon away… often into the early evening.
A Geopark is a UNESCO world heritage park of special global significance due to its geological history. Stonehammer is North America’s first Global Geopark, being a collection of sites where we can explore a billion years of Earth’s history.
From the collision of continents, earthquakes, climate changes such as ice ages and more, New Brunswick just happens to be a place on our planet where the exposed geology can tell Earth’s geological history very well indeed.
How to discover and understand Earth’s evolution? Start at St. John’s New Brunswick Museum where interactive models in the permanent exhibit, “Our Changing Earth” demonstrate how continents collided and have shaped our current world landscape over 4.5 billion years.
After learning about Stonehammer’s significance, it’s time to jump in and experience some Geopark activities. Among these, consider kayaking with Go Fundy Events guides who paddle rivers whose watery routes were carved by glaciers 15,000 years ago. Bike, hike or drive the Fundy Trail Parkway to win aerial views of the Bay of Fundy’s extraordinary tides. For a full list of Geopark activities check the Stonehammer site.
3-Kouchibouguac National Park Dark Sky Preserve
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is on a mission! The organization is part of an international movement of astronomers who have recognized that light pollution is obliterating views of the canopy of stars, planets and galaxies. Accordingly, Dark Sky Preserves (DSPs) are being designated across Canada and the world, in order to identify and conserve areas where the dark sky can still be seen.
Enter Kouchibouguac, which was designated as a DSP in 2009. Because it is an area where no sky glow (artificial light) exists, this Canadian national park has been designated as one of Canada’s 17 RASC recognized Dark-Sky Preserves.
Parks Canada offers programs on astronomy and dark-sky themes, and is actively working to reduce park lighting.
Katharine Fletcher is a book author and freelance author who lives in Quebec but has a soft spot for Atlantic Canada.
The capital of New Brunswick, Fredericton, offers plenty of city delights.
Discover New Brunswick
For more ideas on things to do in Canada see Best of Canada.
Where to start your Atlantic Canada visit? Explore the city of St John’s.