THERE SHOULD BE NO POUTINE RÂPÉE, Tintamarre festival or Chiac language left in New Brunswick, but more than 250 years after the Acadians were expelled from Canada, their culture continues to thrive. Arriving on the East Coast from France in 1604, they formed Acadia, a colony of New France distinct from Quebec. They fished and farmed there until 1755, when the English expelled the colonists, who had refused to pledge an oath of allegiance to Britain. Ten thousand Acadians were deported to New England, France and Louisiana. Thousands died in the exodus; a small number remained by hiding in the woods. Over time they reappeared and migrated northeast to unused lands. Today there are 25,400 Acadians in New Brunswick, where they still have close ties to the sea.
— Mandy Savoie
1. Lobster Tales, Shediac Lobsters come in blue, red and sometimes white and have a dominant claw — and Captain Ron Cormier knows why. Passengers help their Acadian host catch these bottom-crawling crustaceans on a two-and-a-half-hour cruise, during which Cormier shares “the best recipe in the world” and lobster is served Acadian-style: the cooked meat is eaten cold, by hand.
2. River Boat Tours, Miramichi Azade Hache’s family arrived in Canada in 1609 and, on the double-decker Max Aitken, he recreates their experiences in a 90-minute tour that invokes the battles, the expulsion and the lives lost on the Miramichi River. Passengers will feel like they’ve travelled back through time, especially when locals in period costumes board the ship and artifacts, such as a French musket ball from 1757, are passed around.
3. The Cajun, Tracadie-Sheila Diners experience Deep South culture in a quintessential Acadian town on the only Mississippi-style paddlewheeler in the Atlantic provinces. The boat is actually a restaurant docked in the harbour that serves Cajun seafood and Acadian breakfast. The view outside may not look like the bayou, but on the ship, you’ll feel like you’re there.
4. Nord d’Est V, Shippagan No occupation personifies the Acadian experience like fishing, and for two and a half hours travellers can jig for mackerel and fish for cod in New Brunswick’s commercial fishing capital. Captain Michel Boudreau supplies both entertaining fishing stories and ice, so patrons can bring their catch back to land.
5. Le Bot’ à Chansons, Caraquet The goélette Jos-Frédric is the perfect stage for Donat Lacroix, the Acadian Elvis, who serenades passengers with songs about Acadian life and the sea in a lively two-hour show coproduced with his wife Émée. Harboured in port, visitors can relax to the sway of the water and enjoy the novelty of a “song boat” without seasickness.
6. Cozy Cockpit, Bathurst As this sailboat glides down Chaleur Bay past small Acadian fishing towns such as Petit-Rocher and Nigadoo, visitors should keep their eyes peeled for the bay’s phantom vessel. For more than 200 years, residents have seen a burning ship with three masts. One yarn claims that the apparition is from the Battle of Restigouche, when the English fought the French, Mi’kmaq and Acadian militia for New France.