Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ritchie Wharf, Miramichi, New Brunswick

The Miramichi River and coastal villages that line it made for a very picturesque side trip.  On August 4  we left our “exciting” anchorage at the Baie du Vin which is at the entrance of the Miramichi for the four hour cruise up this lovely river.  This area is much flatter that the Gaspesie but still very pretty.  Several small villages combined in recent years to make up the town of Miramichi.  

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Along the way we had to stop for our periodic pump out.  Out of the three possible stops, only two had pump out stations and the one we were planning to stay at did not.  The first one we stopped at did not have an attachment that fit the hose so after topping off our fuel tanks, we moved to the next one which did have the right attachment.   While awaiting  the dockhand, we met two very friendly guys who helped us dock and took a great interest in our boat.  So of course, Jonny invited them on board for a tour.  One was a Canadian firefighter who had some interesting stories to tell.

Afterwards, we headed the short distance to Ritchie Wharf where we spent the night at the free dock near the center of town.  There, we found a charming little village and extremely friendly people.  It should be noted that New Brunswick is the only official  bilingual province in Canada.  But there are some areas that are more predominately French speaking and others that are primarily English speaking.  The Miramichi River area is very much English speaking so it’s easy for us to communicate again!

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We took a walk into the village with Duane and Di and stopped for lunch at a local restaurant.  We learned about Miramichi’s Folksong Festival that was taking place this week with a special event on the night we were staying.  Finally, our timing was working out!  We bought tickets to the evening’s event.

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Our boats were big attractions on the wharf and many people stopped by to admire them.  Duane took Clyde for a walk which never ceases to amaze us.  One especially friendly man offered Duane and Di the use of his car for any errands they needed to run!

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After a quick and delicious new preparation of our donated mackerel, we hurried over to the folk festival that was taking place in the local performance space.

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What a great evening!  This is the 58th Miramichi Folksong Festival, Canada’s longest standing folk festival.  The event consisted of 11 different performances.  Many of them were from the Miramichi area and all but one, Canadian.  They each performed three or four folk songs of different types from local traditional pieces to Irish and Scottish numbers.  Many of the performers composed and performed their own songs.  We were very impressed by their performances.  The event was organized and hosted by a charismatic woman named Susan Butler who has been directing it for 33 years!  During her introduction, she noted the audience members who were from areas outside of Miramichi and she pointed us out as folks from Florida traveling on a boat.  During the intermission, several audience members came up to us and enthusiastically welcomed us to their town and asked about our trip.  The highlighted performers were a family from Ontario known as The Ballagh Bunch from Ontario.  They were especially outstanding and included six members who  sang, played violin, keyboard, guitar, drums and performed Irish step dancing!

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The next day we stayed at the wharf until noon doing boat chores and the like.  There was a great lighthouse at the end of the wharf and a very cool ship’s standing rigging  mounted on the parkland next to the waterfront.  A playground and collection of historical cabins were also located adjacent to the wharf.  Lynn explored those cabins which included a historic  photographic exhibit (including pictures of Queen Elizabeth and King George during their two visits to the area).   Visiting this quaint area was a real treat and gave us a wonderful feel for the local villages and warm people of New Brunswick.

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