New Brunswick is Canada's only official bilingual province. Though officially bilingual, it is not necessarily synonym that one traveling to New Brunswick will be able to get along in their native tongue. The majority of Francophones speaks good English (particularly in the south), while the majority of Anglophones can scarcely ask where the washroom is in French. The situation is further muddled by the existence of a local dialect known as ‘Chiac’ - a combination of 400 year old French, English, and slang which has somehow coagulated into a functioning (if occasionally bewildering) language unto itself.
The French speaking population (Acadian) is historically located along the coast in their historical 'Acadie' region, which goes from the Quebec border until the Confederation Bridge and further south. The English speaking population is traditionnally located more inland by the river area. The languages regions are usually well reflected by the town names which either reflects the tie with England while the French town names are more often traditionnal Acadian or Native names.
Having said that, New Brunswick is a fantastic place to hitch. Of the three Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island); New Brunswick has been found to be the easiest place to get a lift, to a degree that one may occasionally hitch from point A to point B in as little time as it would have taken them to drive.
New Brunswick’s major urban centers are Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton. Moncton (the largest) offers little to a traveler with the exception of a chance to view the Tidal Bore, which is an interesting natural phenomenon. Aside from that, the bar scene’s not too bad, and if you happen to be the sort of person who has a thing for filthy strip-clubs, then you’ll find you’re in luck; otherwise, it is best avoided. Saint John is a beautiful and interesting city, particularly its market, and is a decent stop-off point on the way to the US border and other points such as St. Andrews and St. Stephen. Fredericton is by far the most picturesque of the three, offering river tours, a good bar scene, and an art gallery. This said, the main attraction of New Brunswick is the Acadian coast with it's amalgam of huge dunes complex and sandy beaches mixed with tiny traditional fisherman's port.
The three cities form a sort of triangle in terms of highway access; each is roughly an hour to an hour and a half from the other two. Saint John is the easiest of the three to hitch into or out of, as the highway runs directly through it. Fredericton is a little more tricky, and can be nearly impossible to hitch out of heading south (a sign is recommended).
Border Crossing to Maine, United States
Places of interest
The places of interest which may be easily accessed from the main highway with little messing around on back roads include:
- Parlee Beach:
Just outside Shediac, near Moncton. Nice sand, nice water, fun place to spend a day
- Kings Landing Historical Settlement:
Located above Fredericton (the Provincial Capital) and only a few minutes walk away from the main highway at the Lake George exit.
- The Hopewell Rocks:
Formations of conglomerate rock created by the impressive tidal action of the Bay of Fundy. Take Route 114 from Moncton heading towards Fundy National Park. The Park is also worth a visit and has a Hostel. Just after the Rocks, on the way to the Park, in a village called Riverside Albert there is a bar (easily visible from the highway) known as the Village Pub which I highly recommend. Say ‘hi’ to Terry for me. These sites are located in Albert County, which is probably the easiest place to hitch in the province.
- The Sackville Waterfall Park:
Visible from the main highway, located in the charming town of Sackville (close to the Nova Scotia boarder). It’s actually rather boring, but is a nice place to eat a sandwich.