La Dune de Bouctouche

Another Irving investment into his hometown is the Eco-Centre in Bouctouche which was established to preserve the amazing dunes and allow the public to enjoy the amazing beach. A boardwalk guides visitors along the dune which stretches about 11 km in front of the Bouctouche Bay. It is similar to the dunes at Kouchibouguac National Park.

Blaise and I built drip sand castles on the beach.

Salomé made Acadia into a mermaid. Acadia made her mermaid dance.

With all the space necessary, my nephew was able to throw stuff to his heart's content.

We had some excellent mango frozen yogurt at an ice cream stand across the road from the dune before heading home.

Bouctouche: Irving Arboretum

We had the great privilege of visiting the Irving Arboretum in Bouctouche, NB. New Brunswick tycoon J.D. Irving (oil refinery, logging, paper mill) is the patron of the gardens and forest.

Walking paths take visitors through forests planted with 5000 varieties of trees and lovely fields with flower gardens that rival Butchart Gardens in BC.

Also located in the public park is the non-denominational Irving Memorial Chapel. The woodwork and stained glass is marvellous.

Christian Tour Part 7: Roman Catholic

I thought it would be suitable to attend a service at the local church where my father and his parents attended for many years. I had been to the St. Henri de Barachois Catholic Church once before for my uncle's funeral in 1983. After the service, I took my kids to visit the grave yard behind the church to see the graves of their great uncle and great grandfather.

I arrived early (I was by myself, so this was quite easy to achieve ;) and sat in the centre and read through the bulletin and admired the simple decor. The service I attended a service on the 14th of August, the day before the national celebration of the Acadians which is based on the patron saint of the Acadians, Sainte Marie. The day celebrated for her ascension to heaven is the 15th of August and so the church was decorated in the blue, white and red with the yellow star (for the Virgin).

The song leader wore an outfit bearing the colours of the Acadian flag. The congregation followed the liturgical service with a little booklet printed especially for the week's services. Four people helped the priest direct the service with readings, prayers and attending to the instruments of the sacraments.

As with the other liturgical services I've attended this summer, the congregation participated in the songs, readings and prayers and somehow knew when to stand and sit.

The sermon focused on a gospel reading of Jesus' interaction with the Canaanite woman. I'm not sure I agreed with all of the priest's commentaries, but he did have some good insights. I was surprised at how lighthearted the priest was in the free sections amid the liturgy. At the end he had a few patriotic Acadian words to share.

On a side note, I was keen to see the actual things that represented all the swear words I learned at French junior high.

This is the old church established in 1826. It's a museum now and it hosts concerts. I visited with my father to see the pre-Vatican II relics.

Dieppe Kite International

We took the kids to the Kite Competition in Dieppe, NB. A carnival was set up on one side of the park at a relatively low cost for rides. The kids all wanted to go on a couple rides - even while it was raining. I guess rides have that strong of an appeal!

Before it started raining, a field nearby offered trick kite demonstrations which I really enjoyed. Five kites (each made up with 12 kites strung together) were flown in unison to music by a group from Michigan. A man from Québec then demonstrated a similar feat with three kite groups on his own. Another Canadian showed some pretty amazing control with a single trick kite, including the ability to set it to flightfrom the ground and land it repeatedly.

Prior to that, the kids went to a large tent and decorated their own kites for free and then flew them with the little wind that there was - which made the pros look even better with how well their kites flew.

The festival lasted almost a week. It is the largest of its kind in the world.


Christian Tour Part 6: United Church of God

The United Church of God is one of the scores of churches that sprang from the break up of the Worldwide Church of God that occurred in the early 1990s. The main issue surrounding the disintegration of the church was the leadership's change of position regarding when the Sabbath should be celebrated (changed from Saturday to Sunday). Another distinction of the Worldwide Church of God is that the adherents continue to celebrate the Old Testament feast days (Atonement, Tabernacles, Trumpets, Unleavened Bread, Passover, etc.) and vocally shun holidays celebrated by mainline Christians (ie. Easter, Christmas) because of the pagan connections to their institution.

My father and his girlfriend keep the 7th day Sabbath and so they participate with various other Sabbath observers and they invited me to attend this small group of believers in St. Louis de Kent. It is a house church connected to a network of other United Church of God small churches.

We arrived late (naturally) to find the small group (about a dozen people) gathered in the kitchen/dining area. I was surprised to see the men bearing ties and the women were in dresses (I had shorts and a polo shirt on - I'm glad too, the temperature was really high).

The sermon was about to begin: an online 60 minute audio message by an Australian minister. Some information about the downloaded sermons was shared at the beginning of the sermon including a jab at Easter. The topic of the sermon was a meditation on the life of Sampson and in particular the decisions he made early in his life that ultimately led to his demise.

Following the sermon a CD-track accompanied a couple hymns and prayer closed the service.

We enjoyed a potluck together and in the afternoon, one of the worshippers took most of us on his decommissioned fishing boat out to a sand dune where we enjoyed the quiet, the sun, water (not me) and the sand.


Family in a Canoe

My canoe is 10 years old now. I bought it for my 2001 trip down the MacKenzie River. When we moved to Montreal in 2003, my father brought my Old Town Discovery 169 to his place in New Brunswick and I'm glad he did (though I regularly wish I had a canoe to play with in Alberta too).

While visiting my papa and mémère, I get to take the kids out on the gentle Kouchibouguac River (part estuary). There are cedar, maple, spruce, apple, birch, poplar, and many other trees lining the shores. Keeping the place alive are many birds (herons, kingfishers, …). Pollution in recent decades have killed much of the water life I remember seeing when I was young, notably the trout and eels.

I love the sound of the water as we paddle and watching the kids gleefully pick floating leaves from the river.

Amber and I are talking of planning an over night canoe trip with the kids on a local river when we return in acouple years. One of the great things about canoeing is that you can carry lots of gear, much more than the hiking alternative.

Christian Tour Part 5: Baptist

A group of men from churches in Albert County, NB were the first team received by Impact Ministries in Guatemala when we arrived in the fall of 2005. Many of them attend the Hillsborough Baptist Church so I decided to visit them on Sunday.

The building they meet in is over 100 years old and is stunning! The room is a large square with a vaulted wooden ceiling. The altar is set into a corner flanked by a pipe organ and a wall sized stained glass window. Speaking with one of the volunteers following the service I learned that the monthly heating and electrical costs are $3000 causing much stress on the congregation and giving some of them a reason to build a new church (I suggested investing in energy efficient alternatives).

Choruses and hymns were sang with the aid of PowerPoint, a piano and drums. An offering and children's story preceded the sermon on listening to God. The church is looking for a pastor as their pastor of 20 years retired. Two elderly women shared a song and then communion was shared by the passing of bread and grape juice.

I was greeted by Bruce, Gary, and Merton when I walked in and following the service I saw Danny, Merle and Richard all from that first team of men. Thanks for the blessing guys!

Nifty Street Signs

Now nifty is that? I want one too!

Acadia's corner is in Cap-Pelé, NB.

Christian Tour Part 4: Seventh-Day Adventist

I visited the Moncton Seventh-Day Adventist Church on August 6 with my ever faithful son and my father and his girlfriend. This is the first congregation I attended as a child in 1980. The church built a new building in 1995, their third meeting place since they were established in 1892.

We joined the Sabbath School discussion at about 10 AM as Blaise went to the children's program. One of the things I always enjoyed about the SDA church was the study groups prior to the worship service. Some groups would discuss the global study guide while others might discuss other topics. This morning the topic was worship, but the topic was frequently hijacked by comments on how bad popular music is for us, especially it's proliferation and beat.

All the children joined their parents for the worship service at 10:45. A hymn song service accompanied by piano was followed by announcements, invocation, scripture, prayer, offering, children's story, and special music (a lovely a cappella rendition of "More than Wonderful").

The church's new pastor spoke eloquently on the topic of worship and service to God.

Attendees gathered for a potluck meal in the adjacent small gymnasium following the service and several met the next day to gather beans they were growing for donation to the local food bank.


Kayak: Kinnear to Kouchibouguac

I kayaked with papa today from our friend's camp on the Kinnear River which joins the Aboujagane River to the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of Robichaud Office and then up the Kouchibouguac River to our place. There was some light rain in the forecast, but the weather was perfect being a little overcast, a slight breeze and a lovely temperature. All together the trip took about 2 1/4 hours of leisure paddling plus a 30 minute snack break. The route was roughly 15 km.

Wind rippling through birches and maples. Water pushing over reeds. Kingfishers diving. Herons wading and taking off in lumbered flight. Smell of salt. Sea birds flocking on the dunes. Echoes under the five bridges we pass beneath. Trout splashing as they snatch insects on the river's surface. Mother duck distracting us from her little ones.


U2 360º Tour, Moncton, NB (with The Arcade Fire)

Well, this was pretty sweet! Two of my favorite bands one after the other with my wife and some great friends in the inner circle just a few feet from the stage.

Amber dropped me off at Magnetic Hill so I could get in line early, which didn’t do much aside from me getting the inside scoop on what was going on. It was pouring rain and I was expecting to be soaked, so it wasn’t bad – the best part of the rain is that it kept the crowds from turning up early. I was number 402 in the line and they wouldn’t give me numbers for Amber, Dallas and Claudia so I ended up waiting for them after getting into the venue (they were in the 900 group if they had numbered the line).

I met some great folks from Fredericton, Halifax, Lévis, Grand Falls, St Johns, Iceland while waiting in line. I was given a seat to use and beer and cherries while waiting in line too!

Sopping wet, we made it easily into the inner ring just 20 feet from the stage. We saw other fans returning from the rear entrance where they didn’t think they could get in, but there were only about 600 people in there when we entered (capacity 2000). Amber gave me a dry shirt to wear as I was soaked (she was dryer). The sun came out briefly and it didn’t rain again from about 5 pm onward.

Carney was the first act. The singer plays Spiderman on the Broadway show that Edge and Bono wrote the music for (and which has notoriously has been postponed for ages). The band has been together for a dozen years, since they were 14 years old. The music was quite good, very classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Queen.

Arcade Fire had a sensational stage presence and their set just lacked a couple of my favorites (Ocean of Noise and Rococo). The entire band put everything into it and got the whole crowd going. I had a perma-grin the entire 12 songs.

The guy beside me noticed Arcade Fire’s setlist taped on a monitor (oops) and got a snapshot of it. He asked if I wanted to see it. I was weak! Great set:
  • Ready to Start
  • Keep the Car Running
  • No Cars Go
  • Haïti
  • The Suburbs
  • Month of May
  • Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
  • We Used to Wait
  • Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
  • Rebellion (Lies)
  • Wake Up
  • Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
It took an hour to switch up the stage for U2 during which time two Canadian Forces fighter jets (CF-18s) did multiple fly overs – we could feel the heat and it was LOUD! and AWESOME!

The Gigapixel 360° Photo Yellow Shirt Crew came out and started riling up the crowd and taking their picture. I was ready for them this time and made sure I was facing the camera. Here’s the shot stitched together. Miraculously, despite all the hands in the air, we can see our whole crew.

Ushered in by Bowie’s Space Oddity, U2 took the stage. The set was quite similar to the one in Edmonton with some nice additions. The crowd was so grateful in Moncton as U2 had never played a show in the Maritimes, let alone a 2-year tour closing show.

  • Even Better than the Real Thing
  • The Fly
  • Mysterious Ways
  • Until the End of the World (with a bit of Leonard Cohen’s Anthem, the song ended right on top of us with Bono and Edge reaching for each other from across the bridges)
  • I Will Follow
  • Get On Your Boots
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (lots of crowd participation on this one, followed by the a cappella first verse of The Ballad of Springhill also known as Springhill Mining Disaster. I’ve been to the Springhill museum just an hour away in Nova Scotia)
  • Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (with intro about how the band was close to splitting up before the Achtung Baby! songs were written, Stay was released later on Zooropa, and how the songs kept them together, the crowd went berserk when he sang “Miami, New Orleans, London, Belfast and Moncton”)
  • Beautiful Day (with the sweet intro by astronaut Mark Kelly in space)
  • Elevation
  • Pride (In The Name of Love)
  • Miss Sarajevo (one of my favorites)
  • Zooropa (so happy they’ve included this on their tour)
  • City of Blinding Lights
  • Vertigo
  • I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight/Discotheque
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Scarlet (with intro about Aung San Su Kyi)
  • Walk On
  • One
  • Where the Streets Have No Name (with Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah)
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
  • With or Without You
  • Moment of Surrender
  • Out of Control (their first single, followed by some champagne spraying of the crowd by Bono)
  • 40 (what a sacred way to close a concert and a tour!)
Larry Mullen Jr. closed the show as the crowd sang “How long, to sing this song?” with a drum solo and then walked to the microphone and closed the tour with “Thank you Moncton, we’ll miss you.”

Two summers ago, I agreed to go to splurge and fly Amber and me to Vancouver for a U2 show with my friends Chris and Christy as they had an extra pair of tickets for an October, 2009 show. The morning of that show, just hours before we flew to Vancouver, I bought tickets for a newly announced show in Edmonton scheduled for June, 2010. That concert was postponed until June 1, 2011 and earlier this spring the Moncton show was announced just days before we were planning to buy our flights to NB. Originally, I wasn’t expecting to see U2 anywhere, now I’ve seen them three times in less than 2 years and each experience has been unique and magnificent. What a gift.

Thanks to Claudia and Dallas for coming with us and for their photos. Thanks to Papa and Sandi for watching all four little ones. (secretly, I kind of wanted to put diapers on Blaise and Acadia and bring them too – probably not a good idea eh?, but seriously, how cool of a father would I be?