Birthday Weekend, Part 2: Moncton Wildcats & Dorchester Plovers

Cape Breton Island, NS; Dorchester and Moncton, NB (Map)

Autumn 2012.


The ferry will take longer on night crossings so tourists can get a full nights sleep. So although the sunrise wasn't until 7 or 8 at this time of year, it was pretty much morning by the time I disembarked and found myself on the North Sydney streets. Pulling my full size luggage with one arm and my bike bag with the other, I muscled my way over to the waiting car rental agent.

It wasn't long before I was on my way out of North Sydney. Setting my sights for New Brunswick, I took the fastest route out of Cape Breton, as I didn't want snow and trees for my birthday.

Passing this familiar, gambrel-roofed house along the way, I realized that this was my weekend and I could do whatever I wanted with it.

It was finally time to park and investigate. The long driveway had no reason to be plowed, so parking at the road, I moved through the ankle deep snow past the large spruce tree into the uncultivated front yard of the farmhouse.

One of the first things I noticed inside was mail from 6 years ago; strange because it didn't seem like the house had seen 6 years of deterioration.

The above picture shows most of the remaining items I found inside, so maybe this house saw some item removal and maintenance in recent years.

It was so clean & nice inside that I regretted not needing a place to sleep tonight. This would have been perfect!

Going back outside, I noticed that what I thought was a shed was actually a small stable. Seeing as there were horse magazines strewn about the living room, this would make sense.

I meandered through the backyard for a bit, soaking up the pretty house set upon a large plot of land with a decent view over the nearby foothills. Whereas I thought the driveway was long, now looking at the satellite view, their 'backyard' was cleared 4x as far back into the trees.

It's a shame that either this person didn't have children or the children don't care about the old farmhouse (then again, it's not like this area is a den of job opportunities).

Anyway, after having passed this place maybe 10 times over the past 5 years, I was truly glad that I finally stopped.

(Of course Christian would ask what my favourite part about this trip was, and this house experience was my answer.)

Returning to my car, I wasn't overly impressed that it was still snowing at the abandoned house and coming down even more as I continued on my way. Knowing that the Cobequid Mountain Pass is higher in elevation and prone to snowfall, I was concerned that I might find inclement weather when I finally left Nova Scotia...but the fact of going south played a bigger role as I gained elevation and eventually found a snowless land before me.

Perfect. Heaven.

I would only travel 10 km on the New Brunswick TCH before exiting at Sackville and heading to the next New Brunswick town of Dorchester. Whereas I've been to Sackville plenty of times, Dorchester was uncharted territory; one with opulent houses and sprawling views over marshes and estuaries.

Dorchester is best known for the Dorchester Penitentiary, the long-time maximum security destination for all of Atlantic Canada and the oldest active federal jail outside of Kingston.

I also knew of Dorchester from its setting upon the Bay of Fundy where apparently they get a lot of sandpipers; resulting in things like the Dorchester Sandpiper Festival, and Shep, the world's largest Semi-palmated Sandpiper.

The penitentiary is obviously the major employer in Dorchester, but in the 1960s, the premier of New Brunswick, Louis Robichaud, attempted to diversify their economy. He tried to encourage the petrochemical industry to take up residence in Dorchester by building an industrial park, railway spur, wharf, lighted roadways and a fertilizer plant.

Industry would never show up & now you can drive strange secluded roads with broken lamp posts to a shell of a building sitting upon the Bay of Fundy.

One of the major reasons the development failed was because of the incredible tides and the associated silt load - which made short work of the government's wharf.

I walked through the building and down to the shore. It appeared to be low tide on the Memramcook River, as I could walk right around the broken & crumbling wharf.

With the snow left behind in Cape Breton, it had to be approaching the lower 40s here with little to no wind. This was more of the December I remember from yesteryear and I subsequently dawdled about and enjoyed the conditions.

Leaving Dorchester, I had a 30 minute drive through Memramcook to the TCH & over to Moncton. Pulling up to my first ever hostel experience, I retrieved the key, checked out my digs and left on foot to explore Moncton for the first time because of a hockey game tonight. As it was getting into the evening, I needed to quickly find a place for a bite to eat, maybe a beer, and then a cab stand to get out to the Moncton Coliseum on the edge of town.

Although there's an Old Triangle Alehouse in Halifax which I've visited a handful of times, the other options of Moncton weren't overwhelming and I knew the Old Triangle was reliable. I went with the old tried and true by stopping in there for a large Hoegaarden and some delicious spinach dip - and seeing as we don't have Hoegaarden on tap in NF, this was a wise decision.

After a 5km cab ride, I found myself handing the cabbie money and rushing into the fray of vehicles and pedestrians outside the coliseum. I made my way to the ticket counter, since the ferry delays meant that I wasted $20 by buying a ticket to Friday's game when I was now here on a Saturday.

Karma would be my lady tonight though, as a middle-aged man asked if I was about to buy a ticket. I said that I was, before asking him if he had one for sale. He told me that he did not, but that he had one that I could have.

Well look at that, 2nd row! Thanks Linton!

After scanning my ticket, I passed through the ushers and into the wide concourse. There was some bottlenecking, but nothing too bad. I made 4 or 5 rounds of the concourse before settling high up in the old wooden seats - which were great because only the upper level has wooden seats & I loved the united sound of them closing shut when people silently stood up for the national anthem. Although only built in 1973, that moment gave the Moncton Coliseum some old time charm.

(I guess there was old time charm in the bathroom as well, as they had a very strange and close setup. 5 urinals on the wall as close as possible, with two book-ending the five on each end. The end ones were so close that the right side of those urinals touched the left side of the back wall urinals. Who would be comfortable in that situation? How could you use them without touching the other dude? I did not find out.)

Going for a walk at intermission, I noticed my boy Evgeny Artyukhin was once a Moncton Wildcat! Woot!

I didn't spend the whole game in the upper levels as I joined Linton after the 1st intermission. This was obviously after I made sure to continue my QMJHL tradition of having a poutine at each stadium!

So now that this is my 6th QMJHL stadium, I say Moncton's poutine had to rank at #5. Drummondville, Victoriaville, Gatineau & Sydney's were all better.

As for the actual game, Moncton handled Chicoutimi by a score of 4-1. I was most excited to watch Czech Dmitri Jaskin, a St. Louis Blues draft pick who would later be called up to the NHL in April.

To my non-scouting eyes, not surprisingly, Jaskin looked quite good out there, making his presence known and creating opportunities. This made me really excited to see him with a Blues note on the front of his jersey, something I look forward to in 2013-14.

As for the future of Moncton Coliseum, there are lots of people and politicians pushing for a new, $105 million, downtown arena and convention centre. Recently, a councilman in the town brought up the fact that no one is considering a simple $27 million renovation to the old Coliseum, so maybe it isn't a foregone conclusion that the Moncton Coliseum will be gone within this decade?

I walked back downtown for more of the Moncton experience after the game. Simply pointing myself towards the skyscrapers and walking through ball fields, hopping fences and skirting industry, it was an interesting stroll through a darker, rougher looking part of the Hub City.

I walked right downtown in thoughts of maybe going out for a pint, but decided against it. Returning to the hostel, I exchange brief pleasantries with two French dudes who were staying there, before climbing into the top bunk of our bunk bed at 11 p.m. on a Saturday.

Onward to Part 3!


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Burin 2012, Now With More Arm!


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1 - Wikipedia - Dorchester, NB

2 - Wikipedia - Moncton Coliseum

3 - Tourism New Brunswick - Shep

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