Travel: Bear necessities, lobster fishing and so much more in Canada’s New Brunswick

Rodd Hotel on the banks of the river in Miramichi, New Brunswick

A CHANCE to go on a bear-watching safari and then to do a spot of lobster fishing in Canada? How could I refuse!

My husband Dave and I flew with WestJet from Glasgow direct to Halifax in Nova Scotia to begin an epic road trip around the Province of New Brunswick.

Halifax is a couple of hours drive from our first destination of Shediac, known as The Lobster Capital of the World.

Our host for the night, Monique, was waiting at Webster House B&B. She had thoughtfully laid on some locally-sourced snacks as she knew we didn’t have much time to make our lobster cruise. Webster House is the former family home of Dr John Clarence Webster, a famous surgeon in the early 1900s. After he developed blood poisoning, Webster pioneered the use of gloves during surgery so he could continue to work.

Lobster Tales cruise didn’t disappoint. Ron Cormier took us out into Shediac Bay, giving a running commentary, switching seamlessly between French and English so quickly we didn’t always notice.

We pulled lobster creels from the sea before being given a demonstration on the best way to get all the meat from the lobster.

Then we had to put it into practice. I did fairly well for a first attempt, although I did make a bit of a mess. The taste was worth it, though – fresh and salty, but not too fishy.

After a comfortable night’s sleep and a gourmet breakfast, we set off up the NB-11 highway to Miramichi, stopping at Kouchibouguac Park on the way.

We followed our guide, Philip, by car through the forest roads, then cycled on fat bikes which are available to hire. Fat bikes have thick tyres which make cycling effortless, even for a novice like me.

The park has seven different habitats for wildlife of all shapes and sizes. They’ve recently added new areas to camp, park your Winnebago or hire an oTENTik, which is a cross between a tent and a log cabin.

Among the many things Philip told us was the fact that bears eat different fruits throughout the seasons. When they’ve had blueberries their poop is blue, and when they’ve had other berries it’s red! Kids love info like that – guess I’m a big kid.

It was raining when we arrived at Rodd Miramichi River Hotel, which is a shame as we didn’t see it in its full splendour.

It’s set right on the banks of the Miramichi river, with lovely patios outside most rooms. After a late lunch at a nearby Irish pub, we set off to find Little Big Bear Safari.

We weren’t sure what to expect when we were driven into the woods and asked to do as we were told.

On arrival there were a couple of bears there already which our guide Richard expertly shooed off so we could disembark and go straight up to the viewing platform.

In all we saw 13 bears including four cubs.

Richard stayed with the bears, leaving food hidden in and under several logs, and stuck high up trees to encourage the bears to stand.

They seemed happy enough with Richard around and only a couple of teenage males showed any aggression towards one another.

We were enthralled by their antics, particularly the cubs, for a couple of hours until the bears headed back into the woods.

Back at the hotel we had a late dinner at their restaurant, 1809, sitting by the window watching darkness fall over the river. Gorgeous.

Next morning it was up bright and early to head to Beaubears Island Big Canoe Adventure. Beaubears Island sits at the point where Northwest and Southwest Miramichi Rivers meet on their journey to the Atlantic.

After being kitted up with life jackets and paddles, we set off in a 26-foot voyager canoe with our guide, Tim, and four young helpers.

We paddled across to explore the island, which was famous for shipbuilding in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.

It’s hard to imagine the island as it was back then, inhabited by hundreds of people building ships, as today it’s a peaceful, government-owned nature reserve.

We were shown many different species of trees and how work is ongoing to create and maintain trails for visitors to enjoy all areas on the island.

If I had just one little moan, it would be the mosquitos. Repellent spray didn’t seem to deter them.

However, on a happier note, we had, after just two days in the country, fallen in love with Canada.

A chance to go on a bear safari, lobster fishing and whale-watching in Canada? How could I refuse?!

My husband Dave and I flew with WestJet from Glasgow direct to Halifax in Nova Scotia to begin our epic road trip around New Brunswick.

Halifax is a couple of hours drive from our first destination of Shediac, known as The Lobster Capital of the World.

Kaye with cooked lobster

Our host for the night was waiting at Webster House B&B. Monique had thoughtfully laid on locally sourced snacks as she knew we didn’t have much time to make our lobster cruise. Webster House is the former family home of Dr John Clarence Webster, a famous surgeon in the early 1900s. After he developed blood poisoning, Webster ‘invented’ the use of plastic gloves during surgery so he could continue to work.

Lobster Tales cruise didn’t disappoint. Ron Cormier took us out into Shediac Bay, giving a running commentary switching seamlessly between French and English so quickly we didn’t always notice!

We pulled lobster crates from the sea then were given a demonstration on the best way to get all the meat from the lobster. Then we had to put it into practice. I believe I did fairly well for a first attempt, although I did make a bit of a mess! The taste was worth it – fresh and salty but not too fishy.

After a comfortable night’s sleep and a gourmet breakfast, we set off up the NB-11 to Miramichi, stopping at Kouchiboigac Park on the way.

We followed our guide Philip by car through the forest roads, then cycled on fat bikes which are available to hire. Fat bikes have thick tyres which make cycling – even for a novice like me – effortless.

The park has seven different habitats for wildlife of all shapes and sizes. They’ve recently added new areas to camp, park your Winnebago or hire an oTENTik, which is a cross between a tent and a log cabin.

Among the many things Philip told us was the fact that bears eat different fruits throughout the seasons. When they’ve had blueberries their poop is blue, and when they’ve had other berries it’s more red! Kids love info like that – guess I’m a big kid!

It was raining when we arrived at Rodd Miramichi River Hotel, which is a shame as we didn’t see the hotel in its full splendour. It’s set right on the banks of the Miramichi river, with lovely patios outside most rooms.

After a late lunch at a nearby Irish pub, we set off to find Little, Big Bear safari. We weren’t sure what to expect when we were driven into the woods and asked to do as we were told!

On arrival there were a couple of bears there already which our guide Richard, known locally as the bear whisperer, expertly shooed off so we could disembark and go straight up to the viewing platform. In all we saw 13 bears including four young cubs.

Richard stayed with the bears leaving food hidden in and under various logs, and also stuck to tree bark to encourage the bears to stand. They seemed happy enough with Richard around and only a couple of the teenage males showed some aggression towards one another.

We were enthralled by their antics, particularly the cubs, for a couple of hours until the bears headed back into the woods, allowing us to leave.

Back at the hotel we had a late dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, 1809. We sat by the window watching darkness fall over the river. Gorgeous!

Next morning it was up bright and early to head to Beaubears Island Big Canoe Adventure. Beaubears Island sits at the point where Northwest and Southwest Miramichi Rivers meet on their journey to the Atlantic.

After being kitted up with life jackets and paddles, we set off in a 26-foot voyager canoe with our guide, Tim, and four young helpers. We paddled across the river to explore the island which was famous for shipbuilding in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

It’s hard to imagine the island as it was back then, inhabited by hundreds of people building ships, as today it’s a peaceful, government-owned nature reserve. We were shown many different species of trees and how work is ongoing to create and maintain trails for visitors to enjoy all areas on the island.

If I had one complaint, it would be the mosquitos. We’d used repellent spray on exposed skin but that didn’t deter them. Dozens of them even managed to sting through our clothing, including denim!

We’d only been in Canada for two days but already loved it.

Facts

Kaye visited as a guest of Tourism New Brunswick. A 10-day self-drive trip from the Independent Traveller costs from £1705. http://www.itiscanada.co.uk/nbautumn.php

Non-Stop flights from Glasgow Airport to Halifax on WestJet Airlines start at £455 per person return, then a three-hour drive to New Brunswick.

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