Northeast of Fredericton, Route 8 traces the winding route of the famed salmon fishing Miramichi River through the wilderness of central New Brunswick.
For travelers headed to New Brunswick’s Acadian shore beaches and Caraquet, this is a shorter route than along the Fundy shore and the Northumberland Strait. But the Miramichi valley is more than a short cut. This interior forest has only small settlements scattered along the river, but they provide lodging, restaurants and interesting places to stop. The hospitality of the people who live in these towns is legendary. The gentle landscape is reminiscent of New England. Exploring the lands beyond Fredericton can enrich any vacation experience.
For Woodsmen and Train Enthusiasts
These forests have provided the people along the river with a living since early in the nineteenth century. That history is brought to life in The Woodsmen’s Museum, beside Route 8 in Boiestown. It’s easy to spot the pair of log-shaped building with an outsized axe protruding from the roof of one of them. This 15-acre museum is a chance to discover the lives of loggers who went into the woods for months at a time. A reconstructed logging camp with a bunkhouse, cookhouse, blacksmith shop, wheelwright, pitsaw, sawmill makes their experiences real. There is also a narrow-gage logging railroad through the woods and over a trestle. The museum is open daily from May through September.
A Tribute to the Miramichi, Salmon and Fishermen
Stop at Doaktown to visit the Atlantic Salmon Museum. For fishermen, the Miramichi has long been the holy grail of Atlantic salmon fishing. Cold, wide and fast flowing, the river has attracted fishing enthusiasts for the size and fight of these game fish that are born in fresh water, live their lives in the sea and return to fresh water to spawn. All the great sport fishermen who came here are memorialized in the museum, including baseball great Ted Williams, who frequently fished here. It’s a good place to learn about salmon, the development of gear and the people who fished the river. Those who want to fish the river or learn how to fish with a fly, can find information on guide services here (The whole river is privately owned and a licensed guide is required). Be sure to see the ice-house outside.
Also in Doaktown, look for the Doak Historic Site which tells the story of the founding family of this inland settlement. The original family’s furniture and belongings illustrate their times and regular craft demonstrations show the skills they practiced here.
A Scary Passage and Other Fun On the River
Between Boiestown and Doaktown, watch for a sign for the Priceville Swinging Bridge. A bridge suspended on cable has been at this spot for years and the resent bridge has been here since the last one was swept away in a flood. A pair of steel cables cross the rushing river with a walkway suspended below. Its swing and the great river views make it a must-do. At its base there is a good place to put in canoes and kayaks.
Canoeing and kayaking is another of the river’s major attractions, and rentals are found at O’Donnell’s Cottages and Expeditions at Doaktown. They also are a good place to stay, in rustic cabins that all have full kitchens and restful porches overlooking the river. Along with renting canoes and kayaks, O’Donnells provides guide services and transport to paddlers. Long term residents, they know the river intimately and their tales make the trip even more enjoyable. They can also arrange for fishing guides, tubing, hiking and many other activities.