Uniquely Colourful Edmundston
Colourful Character and Good Eats Galore
The Edmundston-Madawaska area has more character (& characters) to welcome you, and enough good food & good times to hold you for a long time! However, you may find yourself planning a return visit before you even leave. I promised to come back to celebrate 'La Grande Grouille' (The Big Pumpkin) Fall Festival while I was still exploring the NB Botanical Garden in Saint Jacques. See link at end of this story for more information on the garden and this autumn event.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception ~ A Grand Lady
The spectacular Gothic & Romanesque Cathédrale de l'Immaculée-Conception is a grand lady in the city of Edmundston. Recognized as a provincial historic site in 2001, this roman catholic masonry church, built in 1880, towers proudly over the city accentuating its' importance in the community. You have to marvel at the scale of this massive feat of architecture. The organist was rehearsing for an upcoming service on the huge three-manual and pedal, 44-stop organ when I walked in, making the visit all the more special. Do put this beautiful church on your list of things not to miss.
Find the Hidden Secrets
Once you let the awe and wonder sink in, have a little fun finding the anomalies inside the cathedral. Look for the shell & animal fossils hiding in the marble walls. Discover the first two stained glass windows, that disappointed the community, so much so that they hired another artisan to design more realistic artwork for the remaining windows. Then in a 'Where's Waldo' like search, try to find the 'man in a suit' hiding in one of the stained glass windows. Apparently, this 'suited' man commissioned the window and insisted that the artist incorporate his likeness within all its' glory.
Get Churched at the Arts Centre
A delightful piano crosswalk leads the way to Centre des Arts d’Edmundston, a former church transformed into a hub of creativity. This is well worth your time if you love the arts as much as I do. You are invited to 'discover & rediscover many artists for all tastes' through the Centre's performances in music, dance & comedy. Workshops for emerging interests are also offered as well as exciting visual arts exhibitions. Currently, 'Guerre des Toiles' by Luc A. Charette is on display. It is a study of pure expression & freedom.
Unique Urban Art
Creative artwork in many forms is prevalent all over Edmundston from the 'Mosaiicultures' garden sculptures & stained glass benches at the NB Botanical Garden to the downtown Edmundston frescos to the Edmundston Convention Centre's 'Four Seasons' stained glass window art and unique sculpture, to the City Hall art gallery inside to 'The Founders' full size wood carvings outside to the Literary Tour poetry and street art. Pick up a tourism guide, enjoy a walk about town, and stop enjoy the views, inside & out.
History buffs, will appreciate the authentically rebuilt Petit-Sault Blockhouse interpretation site. The British Army originally built this fort in 1841 to strategically protect territory being disputed between England and the United States. A treaty was signed designating the St. John River as the boundary between Maine & New Brunswick. Personally, I ran out of time to take this in but I did love the view from the top!
"All Aboard" For Kids of All Ages
Guy is into trains. This is the understatement of the year. He has completely transformed his house and his property into 'Du Réel au Miniature: Le Centre d'Interprétation des Voies Ferrées' and his wife let him! Together, Guy & Geraldine run this Railroad Interpretation Centre year round. If you have children or are young at heart and love trains as much as these two do, you are in for a treat. This model railroader has 1,000 square feet of miniature railroad layout & 2,500 feet of small scale rails & bridges on 7 acres of property. During summer months, the one km circuit is available for train lovers and kids of all ages to take a ride on the railroad.
If being active is your thing, Edmundston has many options - on land or on water. Having a full itinerary, I squeezed in the hydrobike experience from the marina and it was a blast. I took a few photos of the experts first then took one out for a spin myself. They are very stable, easy to operate and just a fun way to spend a half-hour. There are lots of active lifestyle activities to enjoy in the area like walking, hiking, geocaching, rock wall climbing, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, golfing and mountain biking the many scenic trails at an easy, intermediate, advanced or expert level.
Crafty Characters & Award Winning Craft Beer
The old downtown Police Station is now the home of Petit Sault Brasseurs, a local craft brewery. After a tasting experience with friends (it's a tough job but someone has to do it), I realized the only thing Petit Sault Brasseurs is guilty of ~ is delivering really good ale ~ award winning actually! Make sure you try my favs: Tante Blanche, Bob LeBoeuf, Phémie-la-Bootlegger (Chocolate Maple Truffle Porter) & their newest brew ~ the tasty grapefruit-nosed Spoutnique.
The buzz is real about this Belgian-inspired with a Madawaska County twist craft brewery. Each brew is named after a legendary or colourful character. My new friend Luc Cyr, the talented sculptor & artist in residence at the NB Botanical Garden, inspired the brand labels with carved wooden caricatures he was commissioned to create. They are proudly on display behind the bar on a tall shelf. For more information on where to find this microbrewery & others on the Northern NB Beer Trail click on the link below.
When in Rome...
Trust me and walk into L'écluse & order a 'ploye' with maple sugar butter, a 'Haskap' juice & a Nitro Coffee. Then grab a seat with a view of the river, and get ready for a traditional Brayon meal with an exciting new anti-oxidant juice and a coffee on-tap with a real kick. Note: Brayons are proud inhabitants of Madawaska that truly personify the uniqueness of their heritage.
Ployes are unique ~ never flipped, always gluten-free and made with buckwheat flour. This pancake-like meal saved many a poor family to calm the appetite and 'plug' the stomach. Now enjoyed by many and served with maple butter or 'cretons' ~ a local meat spread. Find them at the Farmers Market or restaurants featuring 'Acadie Gourmet'.
Café Bistro Lotus Bleu ~ Retro Goodness
This vegetarian, organic and fairtrade cafe, fully furnished with bright, colourful recycled materials, is a great place to get a healthy lunch. A friendly, relaxed atmosphere with funky & fun decor welcomes you to stay awhile for lingering conversations. Try the date squares made daily by the owner's mom Lili Fyfe. I met this special lady & enjoyed one of her freshly baked wares - which were still warm by the way. Omnomnom!
Go 'Back to the Future' at the Antique Automobile Museum
Well they may not have a DeLorean time machine vehicle, but they do have one of the very few Bricklins that were once manufactured in New Brunswick! That's just the tip of the iceberg too as Burt will take you on a tour of the antique cars and transportation related items with quirky side notes and clever tidbits of little known facts. So whether you are a vintage automobile enthusiast or just are a curious car lover, pop into the Antique Automobile Museum to admire the showcase. Tell Burt the Maritimes Maven sent you!
This post was sponsored by Tourism Edmundston-Madawaska; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.