Gordon: On our last day in Quebec (we spent almost four weeks in the province) we visited Miguasha Provincial Park. It exists to protect an area in which a remarkable collection of fossils, mostly of fish, have been unearthed. The 380 million year old fossils show the evolution of lobe finned fishes that were the ancestors of the first terrestrial vertebrates. The fossil collection was astounding in its variety and the details preserved in some specimens. Miguasha is one of a limited number of UNESCO designated sites in Canada.
We crossed into New Brunswick at Campbelltown, and two days later we have made our way to Caraquet, where we are staying for three nights. The long stay will enable us to attend the Acadian national holiday (August 15) in the town that is considered to be the cultural capital of Acadia. We have been seeing Acadian flags and other symbols since Bonaventure, on the Quebec side, but in this area of New Brunswick the Acadian kitsch is thick.
My mother’s maiden name was Marguerite Marie Leblanc and she grew up in a French speaking Acadian family in the Memramcook valley near Moncton. My ancestors arrived in Canada around 1655, and until my generation their first language was always French. It was in a previous visit with relatives in Moncton that I realized that several of the members of my mother’s family are Acadian nationalists, keenly attuned to the history of their culture. It is therefore with more than the usual tourist interest that I observe the celebration of the Acadian national holiday.
Of course, with 30,000 visitors descending on Caraquet accommodation is at a premium. Ruth unsuccessfully called a number of gîtes and hotels looking for a place to stay through the 15th. We later received a call from one of the gîtes she had contacted, saying that we could stay with a friend who provides overflow accommodation. As a result, we are lodged with Mme. Chaisson (a very common surname in the area), who has given us the run of her bright, beautiful house, and cannot do enough to ensure our comfort. She refers to me as “le garçon” which I find flattering since I will be turning 60 in a week. We have been struck by the warm, relaxed hospitality in the Acadian area and our host has it in spades.