Canadian Geographic asked me to talk about my favourite place in Canada for their Our Country series.
I’ve travelled to a lot of places in Canada, from the east to west, in the summer and in the winter, through mountains, glaciers, and ocean shores – but there’s one place that was unexpectedly charming, and reinforced the value of letting go, travelling solo, and appreciating what we have right here in Canada.
That place is Moncton, New Brunswick.
A few months ago, I decided to take a solo vacation. Moncton was a short, inexpensive flight from Toronto. When I told people I was going there, they were like, “why would you want to go to Moncton?” but that only made me want to visit it more. I knew that I could find something there.
Moncton is a city in New Brunswick. It’s a university town, English & French speaking. Its most famous attraction is Magnetic Hill. People don’t seem to think of it as a destination. It’s an in-between – a place you stop on your way to Charlottetown or Halifax. I had done no research or planning – I’m not a planner – I just wanted to see what I could find when I was there.
I’m really lucky that anywhere I go, I can meet someone who watches my YouTube videos. These people have become my tour guides. In Moncton, I met up with Lise. She’s awesome. Very sweet, gracious, and proud to be from NB. All the locals that I met were really friendly. There’s something about the east coast that we tend to overlook: they’re some of the friendliest people that I’ve met on my travels.
Nobody does seafood like the east coast
The first reason you shoud get out to Moncton is the food. Let me tell you: I love seafood. I have travelled around the world – I had just come back from the Mediterranean with Contiki and had calamari every day – but does anyone do seafood like the east coast of Canada? I went to a gastropub called Tide & Boar. Oysters, mussels, scallops, lobster – I’m salivating just thinking about it. There was another restaurant called Catch 22. Amazing food and service. Fresh, local, inventive, without any of the pretension that you can find in some of the bigger cities.
Smaller cities know what’s up
Which leads me to my next reason to visit Moncton: smaller towns have these quirky things. There’s a laundromat that they turned into a cafe. There’s CBC, our national public broadcaster, is located in the same building as a supermarket. Donair chips. And don’t forget the river – officially, the Petitcodiac River – that they’ve affectionately dubbed the ‘Chocolate River’. It’s just really brown.
Roadtrips offer even more to explore
I love to drive, I love roadtrips. There’s something about being on the road, and being in control, having the freedom to stop where ever you want and discover all these things. That’s another reason why I loved Moncton. It’s great for roadtrips. Within 30 minutes to 2 hours, you could be in another city.
I drove out to Bouctouche, and practically had the entire beach to myself. I drove out to Shediac, again: amazing lobster. A giant lobster. And one of the most beautiful sunsets I’d ever seen.
You need to experience the tide
But what really made me fall in love with Moncton and the surrounding area was being able to observe the tide.
I drove out to Hopewell Rocks, which is just on the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy. A beautiful spot. And every day, you can observe the ocean coming in and going out. There are tons of trails to explore if you like nature. And you can actually walk on the ocean floor. I haven’t had the chance to do that anywhere in the world.
There was one moment where I was completely alone. I stepped a bit too far out . I had a lot of time before the tide was going to come back, but in that moment I panicked. It was a good reminder of my own mortality and just how insignificant we are on a huge planet.
When I finally made it to the beach, I met a family who was roadtripping from Vermont. The mom told me that she had driven the east coast of Canada when she was younger and always wanted her daughter to experience it – which reminded me of the roadtrips that I took across Canada with my own family. I took their photo and assumed that I’d never hear from them again, but they actually did reach out recently. It’s nice to know that I’ve got another friend somewhere in the world.
Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to Moncton, New Brunswick. There is so much to see in Canada, and even more to see in and around Moncton, but I’m not too worried – it just gives me a reason to come back again one day.
This trip and video were not sponsored.