Victoria Day Long Weekend in Shediac, NB

For the Victoria Day long weekend me, Joel and some friends ventured to the beach in Grand Barachois, just outside of Shediac, NB (thanks for organizing, Sara!).  We rented Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages (there are 6 in total).  We were greeted warmly by owner Judy when we arrived and she quickly set us up in our cottage.  We were blown away by the fantastic view just in front of the cottages of the sand dune and Northumberland Strait just beyond.

The cottages are set up great for families.  All 6 are identical with three small bedrooms, a bath and kitchen, all furnished with everything you need for a weekend getaway (you do have to bring your own linens).  The cottages are located at the very end of the road leading into a campground, so there is little traffic and plenty of space for young ones to run around unfettered.  There is also a little play set there that the little ones really seemed to enjoy playing on, even when one of our beach days got rained out.  Each cottage has its own picnic table and fire pit and there are two BBQs to share between the cottages.  Our only complaints with the cottages were that a BBQ for each cottage would be more convenient and there were some minor issues with some cottages not getting enough hot water vs too much.

We spent the glorious Saturday afternoon exploring Gagnon Beach, which is a wonderful beach with soft, fine sand.  It was great to feel the sand between my toes and the warm of the sun again.  It felt like summer.  We waded through the tide pools, flew kites, hunted for shells and found hermit crabs to show the kids.  It was heaven along the Northumberland Strait.  When we returned to the cottages, in true Maritime fashion, we had a feast of lobster and then sat around the campfire and enjoyed some time spent together and a few tasty beverages.

Our second day was not nearly so nice, but we made the most of it.  The kids didn’t seem to care as they were happy to run around the yard in their rubber boots most of the day.  Joel and I slipped into Shediac to get a quick snap with the world’s largest lobster and Joel was super excited to get some bread and chocolate croissants from La Boulangerie Francaise.  Later on that evening, the rain finally stopped and we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset and one more campfire before turning in.

We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend and highly recommend Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages, especially for groups or families who want to have a reunion/get together.  Here are some images from our weekend:

View of the sand dune and Northumberland Strait from the cottages.
Our cottage. Each is exactly the same.
Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages
Great day for kite flying!
Ahhh, this is heaven.
Looking back at the cottages from the beach.
A quick walk on the beach before the rain came in
Rainy day visit to the giant lobster in Shediac!
Photo op with the big guy and his fisherman friend
Lucked out finding the home base of La Boulangerie Francaise
So many yummies!
Last night and the skies are clearing, making for a gorgeous sunset

If you would like to know more about Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages, here’s some info:

The Perseverance of Light

A province waits with bated breath

A killer’s on the run

Our friends and neighbours are in harm’s way

When will all this be done?

Darkness resides within our souls

We cannot shake it free

A young man with hatred in his heart

Is all that we can see

Three men will return no more

Each a wound we cannot bear

Our sorrow runs an ocean deep

A lifeboat we all share

Families huddle in their basement cells

The dog goes on the floor

They anticipate the moment

They can go outside once more

The hours pass slowly by

The brave pursue the weak

Floodlights and sirens pierce the night

It’s Justice that they seek

Finally, the monster has been caged

Dawn breaks; a brand new day!

Like sunlight through a pane so black

Right always finds a way

 Moncton Strong

Because the Maritimes Are Worth Saving

Back in March, The Globe and Mail published an article titled, How the Maritimes became Canada’s incredible shrinking region.  In the article, author John Ibbitson claims that the Maritimes are facing eminent economic collapse if action is not taken immediately, due to the loss of many young workers faced with a lack of opportunities at home.  This, apparently, has left us with a population of aging, stuck-in-their-ways fuddy-duddy’s unwilling to accept change.  You can read Ibbitson’s article here.

In the same month that Ibbitson’s article was published, Springhill, N.S. mayor Maxwell Snow announced that the town was no longer fiscally able to maintain its township and would be dissolving into the county.  For a town as rich in history as Springhill, this was a major blow to most residents of the town and surrounding areas.  For those not aware, Springhill was the site of a major coal mining disaster in 1958 where 75 men died and another 99 were trapped for days underground before finally being rescued.  The disaster bonded the community tightly, as people came together to support each other in its aftermath.

Also in March, after 115 years in business, The Oxford Journal announced it would be shutting down.  The Journal was owned and operated by the same family for over 100 years and was the self-described “Friendly Home Paper of Central and Eastern Cumberland County”.  The paper fostered community pride by regularly featuring the accomplishments of local schoolchildren.  My name and/or picture appeared a time or two.  Its loss will be deeply felt.  To say that March was a bad month for small towns in rural Nova Scotia is a major understatement.

For a moment it seemed as though Ibbitson’s prophecy was coming true and that small towns were going to start collapsing all around us.  And many of the things that he wrote are certainly true.  We do need to make changes in order to ensure the future success of our region.  We are struggling; of that we are well aware.  But we are far from defeated.  And while Ibbitson does make some good points, he doesn’t live here.  He’s looking at numbers on a page and saying that we are headed for disaster.  And to say that we are a population unwilling to accept change is simply generalizing.

What Ibbitson hasn’t considered is the tenacity of Maritimers.  He hasn’t seen the fierce pride in the residents of these communities that I’ve witnessed since I started this blog.  Maritimers will never give up.  And I know there are so many intelligent, passionate people (of all ages) here who are fighting for the Maritimes and will continue to do so.  I’m willing to do my part, are you?

But we cannot live on pride alone.  We need to work together to achieve success.  So let’s commit to supporting and fostering local businesses.  Let’s spend less of our money in the States and more at home.  Let’s invest in the education of our youth.  Let’s show the rest of Canada and the world that we’re more than quaint fishing villages and Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse.  Let’s be innovative.  Let’s welcome newcomers.  Let’s build a better Maritimes.  Because I think we all know, it’s worth saving.

How do you think we can build a better Maritimes?


SJ Burger Week: AKA My Birthday Week & The Best Week Ever

Remember when I said that the Saint John restaurant scene is really hot right now?  Well, this week is one of the reasons why.  It’s the 2nd annual Uptown Burger Week and it falls on the same week as my birthday.  What luck!

Whoever thought up Burger Week is a genius.  Chefs in the Uptown area create original burger menus for this week only.  Unique burgers you won’t find anywhere else, like The Poutine Burger (Britt’s) and the Baloney Burger (Port City Royal).  There is truly something for everyone: beef, turkey, veggie, lamb, chicken, and fish options are available.  You can even get a Dessert Burger that looks to-die-for (East Coast Bistro).  People come out in droves to try these unique burgers.  I don’t know what the actual sales numbers are, but I do know that during Burger Week, my Twitter feed is so loaded with photos of delicious burgers that it makes you salivate just rolling through your feed.

Now, I can’t try every burger offered during Burger Week.  Partly because I’m wheat-challenged and partly because I don’t want to have a heart attack this week but I do make a point of getting out for at least one.  This year we went to Britt’s and tried out their competing burgers: The Poutine Burger and the Mecklenburger.  The Poutine Burger is topped with, you guessed it, poutine (why is this not already a thing?).  The Mecklenburger has Guiness carmelized onions, candied bourbon bacon, swiss cheese and house-made bbq sauce (yum!).  Two chefs at Britt’s created them and they’re going head-to-head to see who sells more.  They’re both winners in my book: well done, guys!  And there is still time to get out there and try more burgers people, Burger Week runs through Sunday.  The hardest part is picking which burger to try…

Other reasons this is the best week ever: it’s my birthday and I got some new hiking boots for when we tackle Cape Chignecto later this summer (thanks, River and Trail Outdoor Co!).  Also, we had our first couple +20 degree days this week and it was glorious!  Lawns are turning green, trees are budding, spring is here and the burgers are fantastic.  Like I said, best week ever.

Poutine Burger on left, Mecklenburger on right. Britt’s Pub.
Beautiful evening for a walk.
New hiking boots from River and Trail Outdoor Co. HBD to me!

A Maritime Kentucky Derby Party

As much as I love the Maritimes, it’s always fun to see new places.  Travel expands our minds and enriches our lives.  Sometimes, though, you just can’t make the trip.  I say that when you can’t make the trip, bring the trip to you!

I’ve always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby.  When I was a kid, my friends and I were pretty horse crazy.  I got this book for Christmas one year and in the back it had a list of all the winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown, up to the year of publication.  I poured over that list and practically had it memorized.  These animals absolutely amazed me, and still do.  Their speed and grace, their pure power.  I wonder, what must it be like to be the jockey on the back of one of these animals in the starting gate waiting for the start gun…the anticipation, the raw, tenuously contained energy.  Now that I’m an adult and know a little more about all the wonderful traditions involved in the event (The mint juleps! The hats! The infield party!), I want to go even more.

One day I may make it to the Kentucky Derby but for now, I decided to bring the Kentucky Derby to the Maritimes.  We turned it into a fundraiser for the local SPCA and had a donation bucket set up.  Five dollar fun bets were placed on the horses with the intention that if no one bet on the winning horse, all the money was to go to the SPCA.  In the end, favourite American Pharaoh managed to squeak out a win over Firing Line and several people got a little piece of the pot, some of who generously donated some of their winnings back to the SPCA.  It was a beautiful day and a great way to spend time with friends and raise a little money for a great cause.  As for American Pharaoh’s Triple Crown possibilities, only time will tell.  I’ll be watching and hoping for history to be made, for the first time in my lifetime.

The TV and mantel was the centrepiece of the day.
Remnants of my riding days.
A mint julep station is a must.
A little fun for a great cause.
Yummy treats.
Derby style.
Cheering on our picks. Go, Dortmund, Go!