My wife, Adriana, came to New Brunswick on an international work internship program back in 1993. She worked in the same office and that is where we met.
Part of the program she was using involved tours of New Brunswick. On weekends they would travel to the four corners of the province. After a few weeks of this she asked me if New Brunswickers had an inferiority complex. You see she was amazed at just how many of the world’s largest or biggest or longest or highest things were scattered around the province -longest covered bridge, largest axe, largest lobster, highest tides and much more. Maybe, we were making up for our smallness with all these grand symbols?
At the time I was embarrassed to say I hadn’t seen much of the province. Although I was born in Moncton, I had never been to the Acadian Peninsula, Campbellton, Restigouche, and even the upper Saint John River Valley - only passing through.
Over the course of our marriage we have systematically visited just about every nook and cranny of the province. Gagetown, Neguac, Lameque, Kedgwick, Clair, Harvey (both of them), Grand Lake (both of them), Elgin, McAdam, Plaster Rock, Nackawic, and the list goes on. We have hiked just about every major trail in the province, too.
One of my favourite Instagram pages is Love.forlocalnb. It’s just two people wandering around New Brunswick all summer taking pictures and talking to people in every little town and village, it seems, across the province. You can read and hear more about their adventures at Huddle. Living vicariously through them you get to see the most impressive sites and interesting attractions. They only have 3,400 followers on Instagram - they should have 340,000 - it would be worth it for every New Brunswicker to stay tuned in. I believe they are engaged on TikTok and other social media.
As we look to attract a wave of immigrants to our province it is important for them and us to get to know the place better. I am always surprised at just how few from southern (read: English) New Brunswick seem to have visited northern (read: French) New Brunswick. It’s probably the same the other way. Why visit New Brunswick when you can go to Quebec or Ontario or even the US of A. Heck, these days we are more like to pile on planes (at least pre-Covid) and spend time on some foreign beach than trundling around New Brunswick.
But we should. There’s a strategic reason why. I’ll bet you have rarely seen the word ‘strategic’ in association with visiting New Brunswick.
As we get ever more globally connected we need to find ways to put down even deeper roots here. While we want globally engaged citizens we also want people who will fight for their local community. People who are vested in their neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities. People who will roll up their sleeves and work to make their little piece of the world an amazing place. That has always been the secret sauce for successful communities: volunteerism, giving back, strengthening the ties between people. We want New Brunswickers to love where they live.
It’s great to see and read about so many newcomers travelling around New Brunswick. We have many immigrant friends who love to hike and kayak and visit the far corners of our province. They are digging in. Putting down those roots. Building networks. Making friendships.
Those of us who have lived here for decades could take a cue from them. Get out there and see your province. If I say where is Beaverbrook, you should know. If I ask you where the other Grand Lake is located (east Grand Lake to be specific), you should know. Aldea Landry recently told me about Point Campbell up in the Peninsula. I have never been. Another place to put a pin someday.