The province of NEW BRUNSWICK attracts fewer tourists than its Maritime neighbours, despite sharing a border with the US and offering some spell-binding scenery. The only province in Canada that is constitutionally bilingual (English–French), around 33 percent of the population is francophone, a legacy of New Brunswick’s turbulent history; settled by the French in the seventeenth century, the British occupied the region in the 1750s, its population swelled by Loyalists fleeing the American Revolutionary War in 1783.
Today the booming town of Moncton – the effective capital of modern Acadia – acts as a gateway to the province from Nova Scotia (the border lies 54km to the southeast). Assuming you have a car, the best of New Brunswick can be experienced on three main routes from here. Travelling west along the coast to the US state of Maine you’ll shadow the deeply indented Bay of Fundy, with a sparsely populated shoreline of forest, rock and swamp epitomized by the coastal Fundy Trail Parkway and Fundy National Park. The province’s big city is Saint John, boasting a splendid sample of Victorian architecture, while easily the prettiest of the region’s coastal villages is St Andrews, a Loyalist settlement turned seaside resort and equipped with a battery of tantalizing inns and B&Bs. The other main attraction is the Fundy Islands archipelago at the mouth of Passamaquoddy Bay, which includes Campobello Island, the site of Franklin Roosevelt’s country retreat, and the far larger Grand Manan Island, a wild and remote spot noted for its imposing sea cliffs and rich birdlife.
Heading north to Québec from Moncton are two further routes: the first slices up the western edge of the province along the St John River Valley via Fredericton, the provincial capital, which offers the bonus of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and a handsome historic district. The second route cuts north along the Gulf of St Lawrence to the cluster of small towns known collectively as Miramichi City. Near here are the untamed coastal marshes of the Kouchibouguac National Park and culture-rich attractions of the Acadian Coast and Acadian Peninsula, heartlands of the French-speaking Acadians.