Uncrowded, casual and filled with must-see sights for art lovers and history buffs, New Brunswick’s capital city will keep travelers busy for several days.
Set in a broad bend of the wide St John River, in the middle of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, Fredericton is a mid-sized comfortable, walk-able city of riverside parks and attractions for art and history fans. Founded in 1732 by Acadians and coming under British rule during the French and Indian War in the mid-eighteenth century, the city reflects New Brunswick’s dual French and British heritage.
Art and Culture
The Beaverbrook Art Gallery was a gift to the province by Max Aitken, the 1st Lord Beaverbrook, a financial and political leader of Atlantic Canada and the United Kingdom. Based upon his astounding collections, the gallery has expanded to include thousands of other works and is noted for its British and Canadian artists. The entry hall is dominated by Salvador Dali’s masterpiece Santiago el Grande. Inside are works of Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, JMW Turner and John Constable. The Cornelius Krieghof gallery is filled with nineteenth-century works showing Canada as it once was, and the new Marion McCain Atlantic Gallery is devoted to maritime artists. But not all the city’s art is here: while wandering the streets watch for the many private galleries showing outstanding works.
Craft and Decorative Arts
Fredericton is a center for working craftsmen and designers, with a population that supports and appreciates them. Canada’s only college of craft and design is here. The New Brunswick College of Craft and Design trains the finest craftsmen in the country, and shorter courses for beginners and non-professionals are offered in the summer. Near the Cathedral, the New Brunswick Craft Council has a shop selling highest quality hand-crafted glassware, pottery, inlaid wood, weaving and other arts. The city has a schedule of art and related events on its website. Be sure to browse the Carlton Artist Market on the narrow street leading to the Boyce Farmer’s Market, and in the artist shops of the historic Soldiers Barracks.
History and Beyond
In the center of the city, right long the St John River, lies Officers Square, once the historic center of an active British military base intended to hold off Americans. The entire complex is now a hub of activity. On the parade grounds in front of the old Officers Quarters, Red Coats still conduct the Changing of the Guard complete with fifes and drums — visitors are often asked to review the troops. In the Officers Quarters is the York Sunbury Museum related to the military history of the post, with other exhibits, including the stuffed remains of an immense frog. In the restored guardhouse, kids can suit up and march with a Red Coat. Across the green is the Soldiers Barracks, with craft shops in the arcaded lower floors and a museum on the upper floors.
Of Church And State
The New Brunswick Legislative Assembly Building is a gem of nineteenth-century monumental governmental architecture. Tours are given every half hour by knowledgeable guides that have a sense of humor as well. Filled with carved and turned wood, paintings, flags and royal paraphernalia the building is eye candy for lovers of Victoriana. At Brunswick and Church Streets is Christ Church Cathedral, built in 1845 and designed after St. Mary’s cathedral in Snettisham, Norfolk, England. It is an exquisite example of late Gothic Revival architecture and British ecclesiastical design.
With its wealth of art, culture, history and outdoor sport, hiking and paddling Fredericton is a little known treasure destination. Outsdie of the city attractions like King’s Landing add even more interest to this lively destination.