Moncton is one of the largest cities in New Brunswick (Neu Braunschweig) pop 149,000. The City is in fact three, Dieppe, Riverview and Moncton with 3 mayors and 3 municipal administrations, talk of overkill in terms of bureaucracy. A large river Petitcodiac or chocolat crosses Moncton and has daily tides or bore on which you can surf the 6 feet waves. What is surprising is the fact that the water surge comes from the Bay of Fundy quite a distance away.
The city is named after British General Robert Monckton, an aristocrat who was a soldier, colonial administrator and politician in Canada and New England and later a Member of Parliament in London. He is considered by historians as a contemptible figures of the colonial era in British North America. He and his commanding officer Governor Charles Lawrence (Nova Scotia and Massachusetts) engineered the ethnic cleansing of Acadians in 1755. His military career appears to have been about putting down rebellions in Europe, Scotland, New England and in Canada, an enforcer in other words. Other war criminals of the time and colleagues of Monckton where General Charles Cornwallis, Earl of Brome and Field Marshal Jefferey, Baron Amherst who served as Governor General of British North America from 1760. All are dubiously honoured with names of streets and towns. Though Cornwallis who founded Halifax had his statue taken down recently after much campaigning by Natives, Acadians and Scots in Nova Scotia.
The Maritime Provinces have lots of places named after towns and Princes from Hanover and Lower Saxony in today’s Germany. The reason being that the Royal Family in the UK where German Princes and King George III was also King of Hanover, a title which will be held until 1917 when King George V decided on the advice of his ministers to change the family name to a more British sounding one and abandon any claims in Germany.
So we went to Moncton on Monday, an easy 2 hours drive from Charlottetown via the Confederation Sea Bridge across the Strait of Northumberland. On the road in New Brunswick as you cross marshland and forests signs warning you to keep a look out for Moose especially at dusk and at night when these giant creatures weighing more than a ton will suddenly cross the highway. A quiet drive, a little boring, the excitement comes as you cross the 12 Km bridge over the sea, in winter it can be quite windy and there can be restrictions due to gale force winds. On the way back the wind was quite strong and I could not drive more than 60Km per hour, the limit at all times is 80 Km. Upon arriving on the Island I noticed the flashing red sign stopping all on coming traffic due to the wind, so we just made it. Usually such restrictions can last a few hours or a few days depending on the weather. It is an experience and a marvel of engineering when you see all the ice below passing under the bridge, the view is spectacular.
Moncton has a city is largely a place of work and study with 2 universities. Lots of shopping malls and a Costco. It also has a large diverse ethnic population and many West Africans live in Moncton. For shopping Moncton offers variety and choice not found in PEI, it is also a bilingual city with its large Acadian population. Acadian French has a different inflection and accent than French spoken in Quebec. I find it more melodious and with clearer pronunciation.
We went to Moncton to see Ballet Atlantic which is the ballet company of Atlantic Canada. The dancers all have a European training and the choreographer is Russian. The company was founded in 2001 and Capitol Theatre is its home.
The Capitol Theatre or Théâtre Capitol in downtown Moncton is an 800-seat, restored 1920s-era vaudeville house on Main Street that serves as the centre for cultural entertainment for the city. Designed by René-Arthur Fréchet in 1920, it was rebuilt by Fréchet in 1926 after it burned. Having been converted to a cinema early in its history, the theatre was purchased by the City of Moncton in 1991, restored to its original look commencing in 1992, and was officially reopened as a performance space in 1993. It hosts the productions of Theatre New Brunswick and The Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, as well as symphony orchestra.
Moncton has 2 good hotels, the Marriott and the Delta both next to each other. There are lots of good restaurants, that is about it for Moncton and if you want to see art well you will have to come to Charlottetown or go to Fredericton, the Capital of the Province to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery which has a beautiful art collection and a new wing. Sir Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) began planning the construction of an art gallery in New Brunswick early in the twentieth century. After considering a number of locations, Lord Beaverbrook settled upon the city of Fredericton. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery was gifted to the people of New Brunswick by Lord Beaverbrook and officially opened to the public on September 16, 1959.
So this was our 48 hour getaway, we went South-East, LOL! In April we hope to go to Halifax which also has a wonderful art gallery, museums, good restaurants and an IKEA.