I realized a life long dream in visiting the Atlantic Canada and Maritimes areas last October. It turned out to be everything I'd hoped it would, and so much more. The people are incredibly friendly, a pleasantry that visitors to Canada are made aware of again and again. The habitat of the region is striking and replete with verdant multi-colored forests, streams, rivers and coves with waterfront homes and sailboats moored a short way off. The coastlines were sculpted with bold gray rocks and topped off with lighthouses, almost like a grand ice cream sundae concocted for fall adventurers touring the region.
Although I was to fish my way through the entire region, the second massive cold front of the season dropped temperatures, added rain, and served up some very chilly temps. This was no problem for me, because this weather belongs to the Maritimes during this season. More importantly, I'd have more time to explore the sights, sounds, offerings and the attractions that would be of appeal to the anglers — as well as their families — who would come to fish here in the future.
I booked passage on the Carnival Victory. This turned out to be an ideal mode of transportation. Every need was taken care of and we sailed around the area on high seas, bays, and inlets.
Saint John/Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
The first Maritimes port of call was Saint John/Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick. Our actual arrival was on an early morning that featured cool, brisk weather with an occasional light shower. As the ship docked and prepared for disembarking, I was ready for a tour that I'd worked out and chosen months earlier. Based on thorough research of this destination, I'd chosen a venue that included the city of Saint John itself, City Market, Reversing Falls Rapids and the village of St. Martins.
As the ship was "cleared", I was excited to be in a coastal destination that featured the world's highest tides. As a Florida angler, my usual tide-change heights of a few feet were no match for this exciting region which featured rises and falls of as much as 28 feet! The daylong sojourn was being handled by Aquila Tours.
Once onboard the comfortable tourbus, we made the short trip through Saint John to the Reversing Falls Rapids. The sight of such huge volumes of water racing at breakneck speed in multiple directions was novel, exciting, and downright humbling. A thorough discussion by our guide made this magnificent spectacle quite meaningful. As the bus resumed its journey back to the town's center, afterimages of the river cascaded through my mind's eye.
The next stop was Market Square in Saint John. This centralized attraction features delectable fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, (of course) local seafood, and practically any larder for the northern kitchen. The proprietors arranged their food items for display in floral patterns reminiscent of the shops of Nice and Barcelona. In addition, don't be surprised if a shop owner presses you to sample a piece of dried dulce seaweed!
Our next destination was the quaint and idyllic fishing village of St. Martins. We arrived at low tide to find the lobster and herring fleet sitting on wood frames that would help buttress the boat's keels as the vessels were completely aground at low tide! This quaint and extremely pleasurable village features a small lighthouse, two covered bridges, and a tidal cove that would satisfy the most demanding travelers or traveling photographers.
The climax of our St. Martins excursion was twofold. We lunched at the Huttge's family's famous oceanside Caves Restaurant on homemade biscuits and rich seafood chowder. After our repast, our guide encouraged us to explore the tidal caves in the distance. She advised us as well to scour the rocky low tide beach for "rocks with rings" that was sure to bring good luck.
When we returned to the Saint John seaport in the evening, it was time for the Victory to set sail for Halifax — one night and a full day would bring us to this must-see destination.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
My party and I were especially lucky to plan and spend our day in Halifax with someone so qualified to familiarize us so completely: Deanna Wilmshurst, the communications manager of Destination Halifax. Our itinerary was such an exciting and thorough venue: Peggy's Cove, the Halifax Citadel, the Halifax Waterfront via the Harbour Hopper, and finally, Pier 21. These wonderful attractions are "stand-alone" excellent, yet when they're combined with a fishing trip in this region, memorable becomes unforgettable, as it did for me.
Upon arrival, our ship debarked in cold clear weather- a perfect day for touring! Deanna picked us up in her spacious van and whisked us off to Peggy's Cove. On the hour-long drive, we passed through countless hills, lakes and multi-colored forests of fall. I did spot some fish that I was relatively sure were smallmouth bass.
Peggy's Cove is an unforgettably beautiful rugged coastal fishing village. It is highlighted by some of the most majestic rocks and lighthouse scenes I have ever seen. In the cold high winds, we climbed the rocks to the base of the lighthouse, which had a cozy post office at its base. In the enveloping warm sanctuary, postal officials were proud to tell us this was their nation's smallest post office! Upon on our descent, Deanna surprised us with hot gingerbread and lemon sauce and took us into a native watercolorist's art gallery for an excellent display of painted work.
This was only a small part of my experience and I'm sure that many outdoors families would have a memorable time.