Cloudy and rather humid start.
As planned, we visited the tourist office to get some gen on what there is to do around here. A rather disinterested official there provided us with some info, which we decided to peruse over a coffee and snack at a Tim Hortons, a very well-known coffee and snack chain, simply because I’ve never been in one.
The coffee and snack experience was pretty dire, to be honest – we won’t be in a hurry to go back to one. Shame, but at least a plan came out of it.
About 12 km out of Caraquet is a representation of an Acadian village (https://www.villagehistoriqueacadien.com/), which looked very interesting, so we decided to visit it.
A bit of history. Ever since Jacques Cartier discovered the eastern coast of Canada in the 16th century and claimed it for the French, his countrymen had sailed to this part of the world to make a living from the land and the sea. In 1604, Acadie was formally declared as a French territory, an area that covered northern New Brunswick and Nova Scotia today. The French people lived in more or less peaceful co-existence with the local First Nation people for many years.
Along came the English, having taken Québec in 1759 and now reigned supreme over Canada. They took over much of the land from the Acadians, deporting many thousands, but allowing others to stay to farm the land and make a living under their iron fist.
This large site represented an Acadian village that might have existed in this area from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.
It’s a 2 km walk around it, with about 40 buildings closely replicating different building styles, people’s lives, livelihoods and lifestyles for that period. Most of them had an individual inside, dressed as they might have been back in those days, impersonating actual people who would have lived here. This was a very powerful touch – they told you about how life was like at the time with a lot of personal detail.
Most of the houses were nominally owned by French speaking Acadians, but the Blackhall house was an exception.
We carried on around this very big site on a warm and humid day until we reached the 20th century area.
The visit took around four and a half hours in all, and was well worth the visit.
Next stop was a church called St Anne du Bocage (grove). This is dedicated to the Acadian culture – basically French Catholic – and, although modest, was peaceful and serene. There was a very pleasant walk around it, accompanied by piano music over loudspeakers. Sounds naff, I know, but it actually contributed to the spiritual atmosphere on the walk.
On the way back, we stopped at the only fine dining restaurant in Caraquet – the Origine Cuisine Maritime, which took some finding, being as it was hidden underneath a Dixie Lee fried chicken restaurant (!) To my delight, they offered a tasting menu with paired wines – just what we needed after days of fried or grilled food, almost inevitably with chips. Booked a table for later and returned to the room.
The restaurant was within walking distance, and we sat down to one of the best meals we’ve had in North America so far. Not sure I agreed with the pairing of the wines, but it all slid down most agreeably.
Back we tottered to the room, with the express intention on my part to finish today’s blog. However, we made the mistake of switching on the TV to see how the news of the Queen’s death was being broadcast.
The answer – very comprehensively and considerably less mawkish than I was expecting. It was actually quite involving, particularly when one realised that the Queen had visited Canada no less than 22 times during her reign. She was obviously, for the most part anyway, held in great affection by the Canadian people as the official head of state. All remarkably well done and without the myriad commercial breaks associated with North American TV.
So I apologise for the late posting, but I hope you understand why.
We leave Caraquet tomorrow for Miramichi further south, but we’re planning to visit the lighthouse at Miscou Island on the way. Hope you will see how that went.
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