Before reading this blog post, I want you to click the video above and let it play while you read. Pretty beautiful isn’t it? It looks like it could have been shot in Vancouver or Cuba or somewhere far away. I actually filmed it this summer right here in New Brunswick — in Bathurst, to be precise.
Every year, my whole family on my mother’s side meets up in Bathurst for our family reunion. My mom and her siblings grew up in Bathurst, and my grandparents now live right on Youghall Beach, the perfect spot to relax with family and enjoy the Baie de Chaleur. Each visiting family books a nearby cottage on Youghall Beach, and we spend about a week enjoying the area with bonfires, walking along sandbars during low tide, and at night, launching our own fireworks and being lulled to sleep by the gentle crashing of the waves.
Bathurst is certainly a “hidden gem” in New Brunswick.
To celebrate Canada 150, Bathurst had fireworks, music performances and activities for kids. And for anyone who isn’t in the region for Canada Day, there’s still another big celebration to look forward to: Bathurst Hospitality Days. The Hospitality Days run from July 17 to 25, and every summer the celebrations are worth checking out.
This year’s Hospitality Days boasted concerts, a golf tournament, a parade, car show and, of course, more fireworks. The list of activities goes on and on. Here’s a tip: if you’re in town for the fireworks, you can watch them from the downtown area, or you can get another view across the harbour at the Youghall Beach marina. That area is much less crowded and you can sit on the beach and relax while watching the colourful display.
Even if you’re not visiting during those celebrations, there are always lots of options for things to do, most involving nature in some way. This year during our family reunion some of us went fishing at the point by the Bathurst Marina. The Marina is also a great spot for kids with its boardwalks and a play park in the shape of a boat. There are many walking trails for a nice stroll or cycling, and one of my personal favourite attractions is the nearby Pabineau Falls in Pabineau First Nation just outside of the city. The falls are a roaring collection of rapids and small waterfalls. Though small, the current is powerful and impressive, and the area is just beautiful. Downstream where the current slows down, it’s nice to dip your feet in the water and be mesmerized by the water’s babbling.
Many people visit Bathurst to go golfing, while others go boating in the ocean or the harbour. You can kayak to Indian Island in harbour, or go walking and bird watching at the Daly Point Nature Reserve. One memory that always sticks out to me is when my sisters and parents and I went walking in Daly Point as kids, and a small bird flew onto my sister’s head, thinking her hair would make fine material for its nest. Its feet got tangled in her hair, and as it tried in vain to escape, she was yelling in panic! Pretty hilarious for an older brother, but not so much for my sister. Luckily, the bird escaped intact, as did my little sister’s hair.
It goes without saying that anyone visiting Bathurst in the summer needs ice cream, and I always make a point to stop by l’Igloo — the ice cream store on the way to Youghall Beach that has cow statues in front. It has seen different owners over the years, but it has always been a necessary stop for my family. A fun fact I heard recently is that Bathurst is the home of the famous McDonald’s McFlurry! Yes, apparently the Bathurst McDonald’s is where it was first invented by Ron McLennan in 1995, and it has now spread across the globe. Who knew?
And some exciting news for craft beer lovers like myself: Bathurst has its own craft brewery opening in the fall/winter: Four Rivers Brewing! I’m definitely coming back to visit in a few months when it opens.
Our reunion is something I look forward to every year. We’ve created so many family traditions in Bathurst, and I look forward to building more for years to come.