Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Some time in Edmundston & the Foire Brayonne

New Brunswick is a gorgeous province.
It has incredible rivers, fabulous scenery, incredible sights and magnificent people with a colorful history.

I arrived in Saint Basile on July 31st, my destination for the evening - the Au NIDaigle B & B.

I was blown away by this Bed & Breakfast. Norma, the lady who runs it is a gracious, bilingual hostess who makes sure you have everything you need and is knowledgeable about Edmundston and the Madawaska region.
Au NIDaigle B & B

When I checked in, she asked me about allergies, what time I wanted breakfast, she took me for a tour of the house, and showed me where I could make a coffee or tea in the evening if I wanted one and then took me to my room.

The king sized bed was wonderful, the private balcony; gorgeous, but the bathroom and the therapeutic tub had me falling in love!

The Bordeaux Room - my home this evening
The balcony
Therapeutic tub in Bathroom
The bathroom with that gorgeous therapeutic tub!
After I got my bike unpacked, I rode to Pirate Cove for some supper.  It was a terrible meal.  The lobster roll I bought was filled with shell bits and the lobster poutine was horrid - the fries were hot, but the gravy was cold. They nuked it but then the fries became soggy and the nuking made the grease come to the surface.  I ate the lobster bits and left the rest - sadly the woman who runs the place was not interested in why I did not eat my meal.

That's $20+ that I wished I had not spent.

I returned back to the B & B, and was greeted by some of the other guests who were sitting on the veranda drinking wine and chatting and low and behold, we have a mutual friend in common - Jon Burman of Classy Chassis in Lakefield Ontario! Wally and Linda are from Oshawa!

The wrap around veranda is the favorite place to hang out
Wally and Linda are riders and we found ourselves talking about riding, the places we have visited, the people we know and our government and why I am riding. Wally is a veteran and gifted me with a Canadian Flag lapel pin, telling me I am a real Canadian - I was humbled and honored to say the least.
Linda, Wally's wife
Linda, Wally's wife
Wally and Rita
Wally and Rita
Wally and Linda's friends
Wally and Linda's friends
I retired to my room at about 10 pm, my first order of business?
You guessed it, filling the therapeutic tub.  What a little bit of heaven that was!

After a wonderful sleep, I got up and headed outside to the balcony for coffee and to start editing photos and do some writing. The fog was heavy and I was glad that I didn't need to jump on the bike to early.

I got some of my gear repacked and headed down for breakfast at 7:30 am.  I was treated, as were the other guests to Eggs Benedict, served with fruit, three different cheeses, sweet breads, the local delicacy of ploye and lively conversation.

The meal was perfection as was the service. Norma makes every guest feel special.
Breakfast Area
All ready for a magnificent breakfast

After breakfast and saying good bye to Wally and Linda I took a walk through the grounds of the B & B.  What lovely grounds they have.  The giant chess game was a hoot and every where you looked there was a carving or a picnic table and umbrella.

The Garden
The chess set is made from Styrofoam
The chess set is made from Styrofoam and the detail is incredible

B & B from the walkway
The view of the B & B from the walkway
The gardens are immaculate

As I never got to spend much time in the house itself other than to sleep and eat, I took a tour around it just to see what I had missed out on by enjoying such pleasant company the night before.  This place with its hardwood floors and sumptuous furnishings is not at all pretentious, but in fact is just - homey, comfortable.

Soon the sky was filled with brilliant sunshine and it was time to go and explore Edmundston.
The first order of business was to check out Edmundston Tourism's visitor centre.
It is an old train station and has friendly knowledgeable, bilingual staff.

The Edmundston Visitors Centre
After a brief chat about how to find some of the attractions I wanted to see, I decided to take in the Foire Brayonne - it is a festival that celebrates the Republic of Madawaska and the people who make up the Northwestern part of New Brunswick.

According to history, the Republic of Madawaska is represented by a flag that was created and raised by a man named John Baker during the conflicts between the US and Canada and features an eagle and six stars, one star for each of the founding peoples: Acadians, Quebecers, Scots, Irish, English and Aboriginals.

Madawaska region is called the Land of the Porcupine and the mascot for the Foire Brayonne is a Porcupine.  There is a sculpture at the entrance to the park of the mascot - he almost looks like a beaver until you look at his tail!

From the Foire Brayonne web site, here is the definition of the word Brayonne:
In the olden days, inhabitants of the Madawaska region cultivated an herbaceous plant called flax, in french known as "Braye". The pioneers grew flax on the plains of Saint-Basile. This plant was crushed to render it fibrous in order to make clothing. Thus the flax "brayeux" (shredders) came to be known as Brayons.

The term "Brayon" can also be associated with the first settlers of Canada, given that some French colonists originally came from the Pays de Bray in Upper Normandy. Several similarities exist between Brayons from the mother country and those from Madawaska, especially their contagious "joie de vivre" (happiness of living) and the renowned buckwheat pancake more commonly known as ploye. End Quote.

The displays and attractions at the Foire Brayonne were wonderful to take in, the snow shoe maker and the farmer "threshing" the flax by hand was wonderful to watch. As I wandered through the vendors booths and viewed the hand woven fabrics and hand crafted jewellery, the smells and sounds of a carnival enveloped me.
Snow Shoe maker
The Snow Shoe maker
Sifting flax the old way
Sifting flax the old way
exhibit of tools
An exhibit of tools from years gone by
I was drawn to the small stage down by the river where a jazz/blues singer was belting out a song - I don't know his name or the name of the song, but the man had a voice and a half and everyone seemed enthralled with him.
Jazz/blues singer
Jazz/blues singer
I took in the vendors village, there were all sorts of unique booths on hand like one devoted just to dolls and another that was just jewellery - there were locally made fabrics and all sorts of things to catch your eye!

A booth devoted to just lamps
Vendors Village
Vendors Village 

Engaging kids and parents
An old time school house engaging kids and parents alike!
The Canadian Flag
A special version of the Canadian Flag

Lots for the kids to do
St. John River
The view of the St. John River just at the outer edge of the festival grounds
After a couple of hours of wandering around and enjoying the sunshine, I made my way back to my bike and headed to the Comfort Inn where I would be staying for the night. Guildo, the manager was there when I checked in and we chatted about the trip and what I was doing.  He ensured me that if I needed anything all I had to do was ask.

I headed to the room and emptied out my bike.  After that task was accomplished I headed for the Antique Auto Museum and the New Brunswick Botanical Gardens.  I had forgotten how wonderful it was to ride my bike without all of the weight I was packing - it made finding my way around in a strange town much easier!

I took in the Auto Museum first and while it is small, the collection they have there is filled with impressive examples of the automobile's history in New Brunswick.
vehicle displays outside museum
The outside of the museum has all sorts of farm and equipment vehicle displays
The lady behind the counter took me on the tour and answered all of my questions - she was super knowledgeable about every vehicle in the place!

The first vehicle was a Brickland that belonged to Richard Hatfield - a former premier of this wonderful province.

The info sheet on Malcom Brickland
wall of memorabilia devoted to the Brickland
A wall of memorabilia devoted to the Brickland
I loved the antique toy display and marveled over all of the grand old ladies that graced this museum. The half scale model of the Moth airplane was absolutely well done.
In the Museum

In the Museum
The half scale model of the Moth Plane
I am not sure which vehicle was my favorite but the Rolls-Royce was stunning as was the Willy's.
the Rolls-Royce
The Rolls-Royce

The Rolls-Royce
The Rolls-Royce from Back
The Rolls-Royce from Back

The Rolls-Royce

There were so many captivating displays and every where you looked there was something from the past that drew you like the old bicycle display...
The Old Bike at Museum
The Old Bike
The Old Bike at Museum
The Old Bike
The Old Bike
There many, many old cars on display and the ones I have shown you here are but a few.  These last two auto photos are two that really captured my imagination - the Nash in particular is a dream car of mine!
A 1905 Russel Roadster
A 1905 Russel Roadster
1939 Nash
1939 Nash
I thanked my guide for the journey through the past and headed out across the parking lot to the New Brunswick Botanical Gardens.

As a former florist, I found this place utterly amazing. The sculptures, the pathways, the trees and gardens were impressive.

I had lunch in the Cafe Flora, a Maple smoked bacon, apple and cheese pannini and some Aisan dumplings.  If you are a bacon lover - this is a must try sandwich.

The service was attentive and in English!

I wandered over the grounds marvelling at the waterfalls and small bridges, everywhere the fragrance of the flowers filled the air.

I stopped into the Herbology building and listened to the French seminar for a few minutes, after it was done, the herbologist, Chantal Dufour spoke with me in English and allowed me to take in the smells of the dryer where the herbs are dried to make teas and tinctures.

The herb gardens produce everything that the herboligists use in making tinctures and other natural products.

Chantal Dufour giving a lecture on herbology

The facility is well equiped and beautiful and Chantal is one knowledgable lady!

The next stop was to meet carver Luc Cyr.  My grandmother was a Cyr. The Cyr's that came to New Brunswick were only one family with 9 brothers and hence anyone with the last name of Cyr is related!

Luc has MS and is confined to a wheel chair. Having been a carpenter all of his life, he found his passion in carving and he is so talented.
His wife, Paulette does all of the painting of Luc's carvings.

He describes her talent as taking his carvings and creating life in them.

He is more in awe of her ability than he is of his own.  He told me that he began "sniffing" wood at the age of 6 and never looked back and in fact still has his grandfather's wood working tools, many of them dating back 150 years!

After the stimulating conversation and being in absolute awe of this man's skill, I wandered through the 8 acres of flowers, trees and displays feeling so peaceful.  The beauty making me miss the art of floristry.

The last display I took in before leaving was the butterflies.  The tropical environment that they live in is humid and pungent.  Everywhere you turned there were butterflies of every color, shape and size.

They are so pretty & so fragile. There were dishes with orange slices for them to feed on everywhere and I was amazed at the colonies that flocked to the slices.

I so enjoyed the gardens and encourage you to take some time in Edmundston.
It's beautiful and the people are so friendly.

I headed to my room at the Comfort Inn feeling like I had really gotten to know this city and it's history.

Guildo and his staff at the Comfort Inn Edmundston are super accommodating and like all of the Comfort Inn's offer a good continental breakfast and so after a really deep sleep I found myself up at 5:30 am and in the breakfast room at 6.

There were tons of people already eating and the number of bikers was impressive. I met riders from all over Quebec and Ontario who were looking at the gloomy rain filled skies and sighing.
Breakfast room
The breakfast room 
What a friendly crew!

I had laundry to do amongst a few other things and did not need to leave until around noon, I took my time hoping the rain would pass. (It did not!)

After getting some laundry started, I headed back to my room to do some writing and editing of photos and soon found it was time to pack up....next stop Grand Falls and then off to the Potato World and Potato Chip Company - rain or shine...

Until later - ride like everyone around you is blind and can not see you...

Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider