Posts filed under ‘Caraquet’

Introduction to Acadia

Acadia is one of those places that’s hard to define. In the 18th century, Acadia was a definite place: French lands along the Atlantic in the New World, stretching from the Canadian Maritimes to New England. Then many of Acadia’s inhabitants were ousted, and a large number resettled in Louisiana, where they became known as Cajuns. Now, Acadia is generally used to refer to parts of the old Acadia that have retained French culture, most often in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

For me on this trip, Acadia meant three things: francophones, big churches, and delightful seafood. I love all three of these things deeply.

After the foggy moose on the loose night of driving, Jules and I arrived at Crystal and Matt’s brand new home in Bathurst, NB. Literally, they’d just moved in a week or so earlier, but were gracious enough to host us. They even had a guest room ready! Jules had known Crystal for about 8 years, and I’d “known” here for a long time through Jules, but we’d never met in person before I showed up on her doorstep at 11pm with a giant suitcase. Crystal had made adorable gift baskets for us with New Brunswick guidebooks, local soap, and saltwater taffy. I really love saltwater taffy, especially when travelling.

Crystal, me, and Jules
Crystal, me, and Jules (photo courtesy of Jules) — it was too bad that we had to leave so soon, but she sent us on our way with breakfast and a fab pot of coffee.

Our planned destination was Caraquet, straight east of Bathurst, and proclaimed the “capital” of Acadian New Brunswick, but as usual, we found some places to stop on the way. Driving out of Bathurst, we hopped on Highway 11 and the scenic Acadian Coast route, as designated by New Brunswick tourism. The route is marked by a cheerful red sign with a starfish logo. Our starfish friend stayed with us until we crossed into PEI later that day and he showed us some fantastic sights.

Around Pokeshaw, a small town on Chaleur Bay, we caught sight of a striking coastline, and eagerly turned into the first driveway that we saw for a park. A handwritten cardboard sign nailed to the side of a makeshift shack said that we had to pay $2 to drive in. We were skeptical. The whole thing looked fairly sketchy, and the driveway was configured so we couldn’t really see the park. A girl, who looked about 14, trotted out of the shack to collect a toonie from us, and we handed it over.

We were pretty glad that we decided to take the $2 plunge.

One of my favourite portraits that I’ve taken of Jules

me and Jules
Happy girls at the Pokeshaw park! (photo courtesy of Jules)

Looking back up at the highway from the water at Pokeshaw — the “toll” shack is hidden behind the clump of trees, and my little rental car is on the right.

Our next stop was Grand-Anse, the next town on Highway 11.

Grand-Anse church
Grand-Anse, like most small Acadian towns, boasts a large, impressive church.

After Grand-Anse, we stuck to the path and continued on to Caraquet, which was clogged with tourists. It took next to forever to get through town to the information centre, where we had planned to ask for a restaurant recommendation. So many people were in front of us in line, though, that we decided to just pick up a guidebook and do it ourselves.

We ended up picking Café Phare. The price range was a bit more than we wanted to spend, but most of the restaurants in Caraquet were higher than we expected, so in context, it looked like a good option. Indeed it was, because the soup that we both had there was the best bowl of soup I’ve ever had in my life. It was an incredible bouillabaisse, with huge pieces of shrimp and lobster mixed in with whitefish, and I’m not sure what else. The broth was perfect, the seasoning was perfect, the lobster was so fresh. If I wasn’t in love with Acadia already, that bouillabaisse sealed the deal.

And then, when we went up to the counter to pay, Jules dropped a coin, bent down to pick it up, and likely gave herself a minor concussion when she whacked her head on a wrought-iron coat rack on the way back up. It was so loud that everyone in the small café stopped talking and stared at her. Fortunately, she was okay, and I made sure she didn’t fall asleep and could count the number of fingers I was holding up before we continued our tour of Acadia.


October 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment


A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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