Archived entries for New Brunswick

La Vallee

carpet_ranchFor many years in my youth I lived in the St. John River Valley, a place visited by The New York Times in an interesting piece that ran this weekend. In the Valley, the U.S. and Canada are one land, bound together by a shared heritage and linked by two common languages. It is a place both divided and stitched together by a river border that was always psychologically invisible to me, never part of my consciousness.

By virtue of its isolation, the region has managed to preserve much of its Acadian heritage and its French language and culture. This is the land where, 150 years ago, my great-great-great-great grandfather triggered the Aroostook War (my best claim to fame!), the border dispute that created the current boundary between the U.S. and Canada. The place is just about the least exciting of anywhere, but it is rather attractive in summer. Still, the best fried rice anywhere can be found at Bel-Air, my high school haunt in Edmundston, N.B. I yearn for it all the time.

A bit of Canada in Toulouse

Those familiar with the culinary delights of Edmundston, New Brunswick, will get a kick out of this photo.


The Willi Waller


This is one of the best videos I’ve seen. Ever. But you’ll probably only find it funny if you’ve spent a lot of time in New Brunswick and Quebec.

North to Canada, for an ocean view

The New York Times reports today that New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are quickly becoming the latest hot spots for Americans seeking the last bits of reasonably priced oceanfront real estate on the Atlantic coast.

“Once dismissed as too chilly, too rocky or just too far away, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are increasingly in the sights of Americans priced out of beach houses at home. They are drawing buyers from as far away as Florida, California and Texas. Seaside cottages, Victorian-style homes, town houses, rustic ranch-type houses, golf-course houses and parcels of ocean frontage are all for sale if you’re willing to go up, up and away — at least 500 miles north of Manhattan — and east into the Atlantic time zone. Americans are also buying in Nova Scotia, a neighboring Maritime province, but their interest there is longstanding.”

With Continental now flying from New York to New Brunswick, that horrific drive from Manhattan is now just as easy as an 80-minute flight.


The art of lobstering

I just came across a neat photo gallery of lobstermen hard at work in New Brunswick.


This shot reminds me of a line in an article about Maine I wrote last year: “Around his fishy boat, a flock of ducks and gulls gathers, swooping and swimming and being bothersome as he loads another trap with bait and lumbers it back into the sea.”



A bit of an inside joke

Sorry, but you’re only going to get this little joke if you’re from northern Maine, New Brunswick, or Quebec. If you know Canadian French, you’ll no doubt find yourself like me, ROTFLMAO after reading this entry from my friend Kim’s blog. She moved to Paris recently and has faced the inevitable learning curve transitioning to European French from Canadian French. Nothing has been more hilarious than an interaction she had this week that dealt with the word “doudoune.”

I would elaborate, but I think the Internet has a few unwritten rules regarding the level of dirtiness one should have on a public blog.

How far would you travel for sex?

normand_cornoA prominent businessman from Edmundston, the New Brunswick border town where yours truly survived scarring lessons in the French language nearly every day for nine years growing up, is being held in jail in Upstate New York charged with crossing the border to have sex with a minor. If convicted, he faces 30 years in federal prison.

Normand Corno, 49, allegedly travelled 400 miles to Massena, N.Y. to have a sexual rendez-vous with a 13-year-old girl. Though details of the crime were not immediately being released, it is speculated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers may have posed as a young girl on the Internet and lured the man to New York

You Roch my world!

It’s a bit shameful to admit, but one of my biggest guilty pleasures is singer Roch Voisine. The often rumoured-to-be-gay darling of Edmundston, New Brunswick, looks as strapping as ever on the cover of his latest album (below, left — and, well, on his last album cover, too). I’ve been hooked on Roch since first seeing him perform in the early 1990s, when one of his first English-language songs, which he had clearly struggled to write, was mired in awkward syntax. But never mind. Who cares how well you write well when you’re that hunky?

The real story about Roch surrounds his questionable sexuality. Rumours have swirled for years. Though he is married to a woman these days, he was the center of a scandal a few years back when Toronto television anchor Gord Martineau, in between on-air promos, lisped and called Voisine a “homo.


No sucking for Saint John

breastfeeding_coverUnless you’ve spent much time in Maine or the Maritimes, you may not know who the Irvings are. Thewealthy industrial family that owns a gas station chain, huge swaths of New Brunswick, and all of the province’s major newspapers, has never been lacking criticism.

The latest furor comes as the Irving newspaper group, which detractors say has cut off competition and monopolized the media in Atlantic Canada, pulled this photo of a breastfeeding mother off the cover of its alternative paper, here, and fired the editor that placed the photo there. (Full disclosure: I have, in the past, written for the Irving paper in Moncton.)

The photo accompanied a story on World Breastfeeding Week and noted New Brunswick’s low rate of breastfeeding. The paper’s owners ordered the photo pulled and replaced it with a cartoon of a mother and baby instead. Not only was the editor let go, but the writer of the story said he won’t work for the Irvings again. Pulling the photo, he said, “really didn’t do any justice to the story, or the real issue here, that mothers in New Brunswick aren’t breastfeeding their babies and babies are being shortchanged.”

First light

I love this shot I got today from my cousin of an amazing sunrise in remote New Brunswick, in the part of the province that our family holds so dear for its connection to our great-great-grandfather, the firebrand who taught us the value of living in two countries and the lessons learned from being at home in both.


Stink leads to border dispute

I went to dinner tonight with three St. John Valley expats which reminded me of this fun story about the region. Frenchville, a small town on the U.S.-Canada border (the U.S. is left of the river and Canada is to the right in this shot) where I lived for many years, is rather malodorous these days. The culprit: a chicken-manure composting plant on the Canadian side whose awful stench blows south on just about every breezy day. The problem: the international boundary that slices through the two towns makes regulation close to impossible without the creation of an international environmental and trade treaty.

A volunteer committee measures the stink each day: “The scale runs from zero, which means ‘no detectable odor,’ to four, which means ‘offensive.’ But it doesn’t stop there. ‘There’s also four-plus,’ Emma Underhill said last week as members of the Frenchville Clean Air Committee nodded in agreement. ‘That’s when you can taste it’.” Having suffered through the Frenchville stink, all I can say is a sarcastic, “yum!”


New Brunswick legalizes gay marriage

frederictonHaving spent a good chunk of my youth near not-so-gay northern New Brunswick, I’m panting this morning after a judge in Moncton ruled that the province’s definition of marriage violates the rights of same-sex couples, thereby making it Canada’s ninth province or territory tolegalize gay marriage. Only Alberta and Prince Edward Island (as well as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut) have not legalized gay marriage, meaning that 90% of the Canadian population now lives in a jurisdiction where such unions are equal under the law. Premier Bernard Lord, who has publicly said he is an opponent of same-sex marriage, has said he will follow in the steps of other provincial leaders and not protest the court’s decision.

“Homosexuals in our province are going to be less looked down upon,” a leader of a gay support group in the province said. “Since the legislation will be changed, it means that gays and lesbians will be on an equal playing field – that’s the big change

This could be New Brunswick’s Day

Four gay couples head to court in Moncton today, suing for the same rights afforded heterosexual couples. Based on the ease of challenges to marriage statutes in other Atlantic provinces, today could be the day that New Brunswick legalizes marriage for same-sex couples, joining seven other provinces and the Yukon.

Afternoon update: A judge has denied a motion by four religious leaders who wanted intervener status on this case. Judge Judy Clendenning said that regardless of the court’s ruling on the rights of same-sex couples, churches will retain the right to marry whomever they choose. A full ruling is expected next week on whether the province will allow same-sex marriages

Maine Considers a Shift to New Brunswick Time

A bill under consideration in the Maine Legislature would shift the state from the Eastern to Atlantic time zone. It is one step closer to enactment after the State and Local Government Committee voted unanimously to approve the bill to put Maine in a zone where it’s an hour later, joining the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

The bill makes a lot of sense for the clusters of population along the eastern and northern border, contiguous to New Brunswick, but has found surprising support among those in the Portland area, who wish to have an hour more of daylight each day.

Gay marriage for New Brunswick?

Four gay couples head to court in Moncton today, the first couples in the province seeking the legal right to marry. New Brunswick (you know, that province next to Maine) is only one of three provinces in Canada, along with Prince Edward Island and Alberta, in which same sex couples cannot marry. The suit takes a new twist on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada’s Bill of Rights. The couples allege that they face double discrimination. First, they are not seen as equals when compared to heterosexual residents of New Brunswick; second, they are discriminated against because 90% of Canadians already have the legal right to marry.


When I was in high school in the late 1990s, I remember when an Edmundston bar decided to host a weekly “gay night,” and the newspaper op-ed pages did not stop smoking for months. The vitriol that came out of that protracted debate colored my perception of the place for years to come. It’s not all pretty like the Restigouche River, above. So if gay marriage were approved in conservative New Brunswick I would be (pleasantly) surprised.

April 17

A magazine produced in Canada for gay youth, Young Gay America, is selling out in Boston.     

In “I’ll take Boston,” a piece contrasting New York and Boston real estate and lifestyles, one person interviewed takes a hit at Boston’s notoriously NYC-gazing attitude and declares, “It’s remarkable how little New Yorkers think about Boston and how much Boston people think about New York.”

The Globe explores life in Maine-New Brunswick border towns in today’s piece, “One community, two nations,” which looks at the impact of new regulations requiring all U.S. citizens to have passports when reentering the country from Canada, regardless of the length of stay, which can often be mere minutes in these communities which rely on each other for basic services

Living in the Borderland

The Globe explores life in Maine-New Brunswick border towns in today’s piece, “One community, two nations,” which looks at the impact of new regulations requiring all U.S. citizens to have passports when reentering the country from Canada, regardless of the length of stay, which can often be mere minutes in these communities which rely on each other for basic services.

Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw

moose_jawWill Ferguson, Canada’s leading humourist has a new book out titled, “Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada” (Knopf, 2005). Not only is it a hilarious account of Canada’s diversity, but when I came across it in a Toronto bookstore recently, I was pleased to see that one of the chapters is about my great-great-grandfather (so I definitely think it’s a worthwhile read!).

Ferguson recently spoke about the process of creating this book, and about crisscrossing the swath of God’s country (for lack of a more fitting adjective) where I spent much of my youth: “We’d been on the road for hours, heading into northern New Brunswick. The wipers sloshed back and forth, barely able to keep the windshield clear. Bucket-throws of water washed across our view. At midnight, we crossed over into dangerous territory. The Republic of Madawaska. A self-proclaimed independent state, Madawaska is wedged between the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick and the state of Maine. The population is francophone, but the people are neither Quebecois nor Acadian; they are les Brayons. And Madawaska is their heartland: La Republique.”

McKenna named ambassador

Prime Minister Paul Martin has officially named Frank McKenna Ambassador to the United States. The former New Brunswick premier will lead Canada’s largest diplomatic delegation outside of Ottawa.

Louis Robichaud dies

Louis Robichaud, the premier who took 60s-era New Brunswick and transformed it from backwater to a Canada’s only officially bilingual province, dies at age 79. He was also the first Acadian premier in Canada. Also today, Statistics Canada reported New Brunswick leads the nation in new job growth, reversing a decades-old trend of decline, especially in the northern reaches of the province.

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