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Exploring New Brunswick’s Rich Cultural Treasures

Sponsored by Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism

Mar 3, 2020

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From unique architecture to a thriving arts scene, this Canadian province comes tailor-made for fascinating cultural immersion.

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You stroll a historic street lined with colorful, centuries-old clapboard buildings and infused with old world charm. Along the way, you duck into artist studios, shops selling handcrafted keepsakes, and quaint restaurants.

This mix of old and new is a common scene in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, which plays host to some of the region’s most dazzling cultural attractions. Even better, many of these artistic, architectural, and historical treasures are still somewhat undiscovered, so you can enjoy them in relative peace and quiet.

Here’s where to go.

The Thriving Art Mecca of Fredericton

New Brunswick’s capital city, set in the central part of the province and bisected by the St. John River, is a veritable hotbed for the arts. In addition to acclaimed performance venues and galleries, you’ll also find Canada’s only college dedicated to art and design—and a higher concentration of working artisans than anywhere else in the country.

Begin by exploring the region’s most impressive collection of contemporary art at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, which features works by Salvador Dalí, Lucian Freud, Eugène Boudin, and J.M.W. Turner, as well as Canadian luminaries like Mary Pratt and Emily Carr. Then head to the Charlotte Street Art Center, where more than a dozen artist studios and performance workshops share space inside a historic 1884 building—and welcome visitors.

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Up for a show? Check out the Fredericton Playhouse, a 1,000-seat venue hosting an array of musical performances, theater, and dance productions from national and international artists. And to bring home some artistic creations, check out The Barracks Fine Craft Shops, set in an 1827-era military barracks. Here, local artisans sell jewelry, ceramics, textiles, hand-printed paper goods, and more from open-air stalls on the ground floor.

The Architectural Gem of Saint Andrews

One of New Brunswick’s oldest towns, Saint Andrews occupies a picturesque perch overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy beyond. But it’s also home to some of the region’s most distinctive and beautifully preserved historic architecture. In fact, the entire town is a designated National Historic Site: A majority of its buildings date to the 18th and 19th centuries and encompass a range of styles, from Georgian to Queen Anne.

Don’t miss a stroll along Water Street, and opt for a stay in one of the town’s most notable buildings—the iconic Algonquin Resort, whose bluff-top Tudor Revival structure dates to 1914. Be sure to check out the graceful Gothic-Revival Charlotte County Courthouse built in 1840—the oldest courthouse in Canada that’s still in use today. The city also features several homes in the American Shingle style by esteemed Canadian architect Edward Maxwell, including his own onetime summer estate, the 1899-built Tillietudlem. And for truly dramatic residential architecture, check out the sprawling 50-room Covenhoven, a late-19th-century summer retreat of former Canadian Railway president Sir William Van Horne, on the private estate of Ministers Island.

The Vibrant Historical Sites of the Acadian Coast

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The first French settlers to arrive on the shores of New Brunswick in 1604 called their new homeland Acadie. And though many descendants of these original Acadians were forcibly exiled from their colonies under British rule in the mid-1700s, many others managed to hide in—or return to—the region and keep their unique cultural traditions alive.

Today, an array of Acadian historical sites, museums, and cultural centers are scattered along the New Brunswick coast—particularly the roughly 165-mile stretch between Moncton and Caraquet—and make for fascinating visits. One highlight is the Musée Acadien, on the campus of the Université de Moncton, which has an extensive collection of Acadian artifacts and photos, along with interactive exhibits exploring both historical and modern-day Acadian culture.

To see history come to life, visit the Village Historique Acadien, just outside of Caraquet—a recreated historic village that lets visitors experience what daily life was like for Acadians in the 18th and 19th centuries. The community includes working farmyards, mills, woodworking and printing shops, and mercantiles—and also a restaurant serving traditional Acadian dishes.

Finish with some fun for the whole family at Le Pays de la Sagouine, an interactive Acadian experience in the town of Bouctouche with theater comedy, and authentic Acadian food. Occupying a recreated early 20th century fishing village, the site hosts cultural events, including performances of Acadian plays and music, Acadian cooking classes, and more.

Discover more treasures throughout the gorgeous province of New Brunswick!

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