While I was feeling language-challenged in the southern region of the Acadian coast, I wasn't at all prepared for the culture along the northern peninsula. Home to nearly 50,000 people across almost 2,000 km, more than 95% of the population here is Francophone. I had chosen to make two stops in the area -- Shippagan, so I could enjoy both Lameque and Miscou Islands, and Caraquet, known as Acadia's capital.
Shippagan lies between the Bay of Chaleur and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and is New Brunswick's commercial fishing capital. Il y a beaucoup de poisonneries ici! During my stay, I was constantly on the move, and mostly by bike. The main reason is that the Veloroute de la Peninsule Acadienne is a wonderful combination of planned cycling paths along scenic places. Unfortunately, the other reason was the impossibility of sitting at camp with hordes of mosquitoes! Initially, I assumed it was the combination of woods & waterfront, but was told that the area had nearly 10 feet of snow last season, creating springtime breeding sites. I'm seldom bothered by mosquitoes, and during this week, I used my campsite to simply sleep.
Thankfully, at my next stop (just 30 minutes NW) in Caraquet, this was not a problem. I enjoyed camping at La Maison Touristique Dugas, a quiet spot with access to the sea from a wooded nature trail. This lovely place has an interesting history, and has been in the family for 5 generations. The area is just delightful, and one of the many cultural aspects I love is that you can still go to the boulangeries, the patisseries, the poisonneries, and the cordonneries, instead of Walmart.
Much to my surprise, the week of my arrival in Caraquet was also the opening of the annual Acadian Festival, so there was much happening, and many people visiting from the region and Quebec province. I enjoyed music and a film en Francais, but shied away from the more "difficult" events like poetry! Mais, j'assistais à une messe tout en francais at a historical chapel. Surprisingly, I also did the tourist thing by spending a day at the Village Historique Acadien that portrays the Acadian way of life from 1770 - 1949. I was particularly interested because it is not a "model" -- they are actual Acadian homes and businesses that were moved here for preservation with period interiors, clothing, cooking, crafts, etc. I believe I was there for 5 hours!
One of my last days in the region, while riding my bike, I realized that I was thinking about something in French! There is still hope, and yes, an immersion course is in my future! I'm now on my final day in New Brunswick for the season, and back to the loyalist town of St. Andrews that I so enjoyed three years ago! Salty Towers is still open and affordable, the historic district is still preserved and humming, and the views are still stunning. Am I really going to "cross over" tomorrow?
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover