Birthday Weekend, Part 3: Moncton

Moncton, NB (Map)

Autumn 2012.


Having went to sleep so early, I slipped out of the hostel around sunrise. I walked the cool streets to a diner which was inexplicably expensive, although decent.

I continued up St. George Street until I found myself in front of Moncton's cathedral - which needs $7 million in repairs and they've subsequently discussed destroying.

I have my doubts that they were all that serious about destroying such a landmark, but I still wanted some pictures and to see it myself.

The Sunday service was going on shortly, but I didn't see all that many people just yet.

Built in the late 1930s, this church originally provided services for 1500 people, but that number is now down to 300.

It is the same problem which plagues churches all over Canada & the States.

Recently, Acadian community groups have asked to move into the basement of the cathedral, so that their rent would go to this building's upkeep instead of random landlords at various buildings around Moncton.

The Notre-Dames-de-l'Assomption Cathedral is Moncton's 2nd tallest building at 246ft; behind only Assumption Place (265ft).

What you see in the above picture isn't Assumption Place, but rather the NBTel, er, Bell Aliant Tower, which stretches to 417ft.

Since I had walked enough of Moncton's downtown to satisfy my curiosity last night, I went to the riverfront and treated myself to their fantastic skatepark this morning.

The car's temperature gauge only registered a few degrees above freezing, but at least there wasn't any of that awful white stuff like back home. As it is never enjoyable to slam against the concrete at these frigid temperatures, I was being extra careful, even though there were hundreds of things I wanted to try.

Nevertheless, I messed up on something really simple and massaged the unforgiving concrete with my shoulder and side. To add insult to injury, as I lay there I realized that one of my pegs was loose and the axle nut was stripped.

I would drive around to Wal-Marts and Canadian Tires for the next 2 hours, but failed to find a damn axle nut. It wouldn't be like a bike shop to be open on a Sunday, so as a few flurries began to fall in the Canadian Tire parking lot, I had enough of trying to bike today.

The next thing I wanted to check out sat over on Mountain Road.

Mary's Home, a 1904 gothic castle built as an orphanage, sat over there in questionable hands. I had read that it was put to auction and bought by a local developer, who didn't have to disclose his bid or detail what he planned for the property . This set off alarms for me.

Not wanting to miss seeing this fine building before he left it unsecured and some dimwit teenager burnt it to the ground so the developer would have cleared land to build gaudy apartment monstrosities, I made sure to stop by today.

After having read about how it had sat open with people inside destroying architectural features, spraypainting and setting off fireworks, it was nice to see it secured this day.

Anyway, that developer defaulted on the mortgage for this place & it has since went to public auction. This makes me wonder what happened with his security systems, who the next owner will be, what their plans will be, etc.

And this is how you get rid of a historic building folks. (Although they're a lot more efficient in places like Detroit.)

En route to my last Moncton destination, I happened upon the Université de Moncton all of its 1960s/70s glory! Bleck!

Moving into an intersection, I looked across and spotted the circular ruin between two houses.

Quickly parking, I made my way through a marsh to a hill overlooking the structure.

Wow! What neat ruins these were!

Coming from a recent Michigan trip of so many ruins, what did we have here? How long ago did the structure burn down?

I walked the outer ring between the supports. I cut inside as the ring spun away from me. Paths led across the centre, but the unmitigated parts were harder to maneuver. I made it back to the supports to cut in & out of them.

This was much better than expensive diners, stripped axle nuts or 1970s university buildings...

Of course I knew what these ruins were: the Sunny Brae Arena, built in 1922 and burned on February 26th, 1928.

I would be excited enough about arena ruins, but then you also should note that it's a circular arena built with Roman inspiration. With this noted love for arenas, this was actually one of the few times where I've sat at ruins and pictured life in the past - men in bowler's hats and women in long, wide dresses; skating in black and white times with smoky skies and the entire town at the rink.

Some great vintage pictures can be found at the following link.

It was a good thing I was by myself, as anyone else would have grown tired with a circular ruin much quicker.

I eventually left Sunny Brae, excitedly going north from Moncton for the first time in my life.

Continue to Part 4!


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1 - Historic Moncton Castle Sold -

2 - No bids for Castle Manor in Moncton -

3 - Sunny Brae Rink - Canada's Historic Places

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