A May 2005 trip
to Fredericton by moatway
Quote: Fredericton lies quietly on the banks of the beautiful St. John River, a university town and provincial capital. Its stately homes and public buildings call out to the traveller to pause and spend some time on its riverwalks and in its pleasant downtown.
If you are over-nighting in the Fredericton area, you should be able to see King’s Landing, a short drive north of the city up the river. When the dam was built at Mactaquac, it was decided to preserve many of the 19th-century buildings that were about to be threatened. They were brought to this site and form an attractive exhibit centered on early 19th-century working farms.
The city is relatively small, although there are two parts to it, "up the hill" and downtown. "Up the hill" you will find Prospect Street and access to two malls, The Fredericton Mall and the Regent Mall (which is the better of the two). On Prospect, you will also find a selection of motels and fast-food restaurants. You can get down the hill on Regent or Smythe Streets, and down the hill is really where you want to be.
It’s a full-service hotel and a great place for a family on vacation or just passing through. The rooms are nice enough, clean, well decorated, etc., and when I call, I ask for something on the second floor outside and to the rear of the building. The hotel is built around an inner courtyard that contains a pool, hot tub, and poolside bar. Rooms with balconies overlooking the courtyard often have a chlorine smell to them, but since the province went smoke-free in public spaces, cigarette smoke from the courtyard isn’t a problem. I like the upstairs-outside rooms because I like to sleep with the windows open, although I have always been pleased with the ventilation/heating/cooling system. Even so, the addition of a series of townhouses behind the hotel has blocked the view down to the river for some of those rooms. There may be less reason to go to the back of the establishment, as Route 105 in front is not as busy as it used to be, and it is now a rural highway and not a main route.
If you’re making Fredericton a destination for a couple of days, you might want to unwind in the exercise room or on the driving range or the nine-hole course to the rear of the building. The restaurant on site provides good service and good food, and there are a guest laundry, complementary newspapers, and room service. I guess I’m describing a hotel that is perfect for the business traveler, but it is equally good for the family on the road with its extensive entertainment facilities for all.
The only issue may be access to the city. Well, from the hotel to downtown, it is 5 minutes across the bridge. There is also plenty of free parking, and in winter, it is a custom of the hotel to put up a tent shelter for "ski-doos" using the nearby trails. It’s a great destination.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 29, 2005
Ramada Hotel Fredericton
TRANS CANADA HWY2
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B5E3
The interior decoration may lead you to believe you’ve walked into a Mexican cantina overlooking the Pacific. The coral-coloured walls are covered with an eclectic collection of Mexican memorabilia and family photographs. The tables are covered with brightly coloured cloths, and there are little sombrero lights hanging above them. It is a bright and welcoming place. The kitchen is in the back and opens to the restaurant. It may not be the prettiest kitchen in the world, but you’ll have to make up your own mind about that.
Service is quick and friendly, and the menu is extensive. I have lunch here every time I’m in town, although they are also open for breakfast and dinner. There is a different lunch special every day: flautas, chimichangas, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, and burritos, ranging in price from C$9 to $10. Dinner specials range from C$13 to $18. Menu selections run from salads to nachos, burritos, seafood, and a variety of platters, samplers, and combination plates. There is even a low-carb menu. I tried a beef burrito, which was served with rice and refried beans, and my wife tried a vegetarian quesadilla. Both were excellent, and as I said, you may not be aware of the spices until you’re finished eating, and then you discover that you are really, really happy with what you’ve had. It all goes well with a selection of Mexican beers or a wide variety of specialty drinks, such as margaritas.
Over several visits, I have always walked out completely happy with the experience. I recommend that you try it if you’re in town.
El Burrito Loco
304 King Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Regardless, immediately after the reception area (adult $5), there are three very valuable works by Salvador Dali: the magnificent Santiago El Grande (perhaps Dali’s best-known work), which is flanked by two extraordinary Dali portraits of Sir James Dunn and his wife, Lady Dunn. To the rear of that gallery is the Marion McCain Atlantic Gallery, which is hung with the works by Atlantic Canadian artists. On the occasion of our visit, the gallery concentrated on works by New Brunswick artists like Molly Lamb Bobak, Miller Brittain, Jack Humphrey, and Joseph Plaskett. It was remarkable to see them all together.
Returning to the reception area, we mounted the short stairway into the British Gallery, which, at the time, featured the works of Danzig-born Canadian artist Fritz Brandtner (on loan from the Montreal Museum of Fine Art). From this room, the visitor enters a triple gallery. The Vaulted Gallery features a permanent collection of 18th- and 19th-century art; to the right, the Hosmer Pillow Vaughan Gallery (also a permanent display) features an excellent collection of porcelain, a pair of tapestries, furniture, and a collection of paintings from the 14th to 19th centuries. It is an extremely eclectic and very fine grouping. Next to Sandro Boticelli’s "Christ Bearing the Cross" (c. 1500) is Tristan Hillier’s "The Crucifixion" (1954). On the left, the Max Aitken gallery features a couple of Gainsboroughs, and my personal favorite, Philip Mercier’s "Bacchanalian Piece: Sir Thomas Samwell and Friends" (1733), among other pieces, many of them portraits.
Downstairs, you will find a permanent collection of 27 Krieghoffs and a representation of other Canadian artists. Moving back to the reception area, one enters the Canadian Gallery, which features temporary exhibitions; at the time we were there, a new exhibition featuring the work of school children was being mounted.
I have visited the gallery many times over the years and have always enjoyed the permanent collection as well as the extraordinary quality of traveling exhibits. The building, which is ‘60s-modern in design and features excellent lighting and expansive galleries, is a wonderful place to spend some time.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 29, 2005
The Beaverbrook Art Gallery
703 Queen Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Although the building appears quite imposing from the exterior, once inside, you are greeted by a beautiful Gothic jewel box. It is 172 feet long, 67 feet wide, and 62 feet high in the interior. Once through the single door of entrance, the West Door, the visitor is presented with the whole cathedral. There is a nave with broad side aisles, beautiful Gothic stone arches separating them, and a central aisle leading to the choir and chancel. The transepts, clearly visible from the exterior, are actually quite short, but one is struck by the fine wooden roof, the structure of the heavy wooden pews, and the magnificent Gothic window of the apse. Below it is an altar of walnut and marble on which sits a wonderful altar cross and candlesticks. Before the altar are the 16 carved wooden stalls of the Canons of the Cathedral Chapter.
Other features of the cathedral include stone taken from cathedrals in Arras and Ypres as part of a tribute to the fallen of World War I. Stone was taken from Canterbury Cathedral and a font carved of Caen stone. As you leave the church, look up at the hammer beam roof once again, a beautiful example of medieval-style woodwork. Also, look up at the Gothic west window above the door, another beautiful part of an incredibly satisfactory whole. There are many fine churches in New Brunswick, but this one is truly special in its tribute to the medieval world. It has timelessness about it, and once inside, you feel that you might be in some little corner of England.
Christ Church Cathedral
168 Church Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick
The Legislature was built between 1880 and 1882 to replace Province House, which had burned on the site. It is built from New Brunswick stone brought up the river from Dorchester. Visitors arrive through the main doors of the Legislature, and in summer, you will be able to have a guided tour; we, however, were referred to the spiral staircase leading up to the next floor. The staircase is noteworthy: it is large, with three high-ceilinged stories, and freestanding. Made of walnut and ash, it was stabilized in 2004, and I guarantee that you will be impressed.
From the galleries, the visitor has a fine view of the Legislative Chamber. It was extensively restored about 15 years ago with new English carpeting, French wallpaper, and restored woodwork. The colour scheme is of muted green and yellow, an extremely handsome room. The height of the room is remarkable. I would guess it was upwards of 30 feet. The visitor in the gallery has an excellent view of the two great chandeliers that were originally gasoliers made in New York, each weighing between 660 and 800 pounds. One of them fell to the assembly floor in November 2002, but it has been repaired and remounted. The speaker’s chair and some of the other furniture in the room was rescued from Province House when it burned in 1880. The chair is flanked by the portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte, the monarchs at the time that New Brunswick came into being in 1784.
If you arrive during a session, you won’t be able to see the Council Chamber, which would be being used by the members. The Council Chamber was where the upper house of this legislature once sat, but the Council was dissolved in 1882. It is now used as a Legislative Committee Chamber and was fully restored to its original state in 1977. We couldn’t see it, but what we saw from the galleries of the Legislative Assembly was interesting. While a liberal member quizzed the minister responsible over the status of construction at the Acadian Village, other members read, played with their Blackberries, and chatted. The Minister of Health removed his shoes and put his feet up on the chair next to his. Frankly, if they had been in my classroom when I was teaching, a number of them would have ended up in detention.
I’ve been to legislatures from Baton Rouge to Santa Fe, and this isn’t the largest or the most ornate, but it is worth a visit.
Legislative Assembly Building
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Riverview, New Brunswick