Being a student, one of the best parts of summer is the chance to trade my school readings for a good book. With exams over, I took the opportunity to finally get down to reading Jacques Poitras' Irving vs. Irving, which came out in September of 2014. Anyone who knows even a little about New Brunswick knows that the Irving family plays an immense role in the province's economy. In many ways, this role-if not dominance-is visible to anyone who so much as passes through the province: you'll likely fill-up with Irving gasoline, be passed by Irving trucks on the highway, and see signs for numerous attractions named after or featuring the Irving family and its companies. There is, however, a lot more below the visible surface, from the companies owned by family members (including trucking, rail, and food companies) to the Irving's role in provincial politics. Irving vs. Irving focuses, primarily, on one of those Irving-dominated industries in particular: print media.
Himself a former employee of both the Telegraph-Journal and the Times-Transcript, Poitras uses Irving ownership of virtually all English-language print media in the province (and some French-language print media) as a vehicle for exploring the dynamics of New Brunswick's wealthiest family. In particular, Poitras often zeroes in on the apparent, if not inherent, conflicts of interest involved in coverage of Irving-centric stories. Through this lense, Poitras takes us through a chunk of New Brunswick history, Irving history, and the history of the newspapers themselves.
Irving vs. Irving is a well-written, and extremely well-researched book that offers a look into an important NB topic. Poitras has an approachable and thorough writing style. The story of the Irvings can at times be hard to follow- Poitras provides charts, such as family trees, to help clarify, and gives the occasional reminder of just who he is talking about, making it a little easier to grasp exactly what is going on.
For those not from the region, Irving vs. Irving provides an excellent backgrounder on the Irving family, with an in-depth look at the family's role in NB media. In doing so, Poitras also gives helpful nods to other topics- events in NB politics, provincial dynamics and, perhaps most interestingly, the limitations of small news markets. Anyone who would like to get a closer grasp on these elements of New Brunswick would be well advised to read this book.
For those from the Maritimes, Poitras provides an important investigative-style account of aspects that play a major role in NB (and, at times, regional) politics. The background and insights provided by Irving vs. Irving are, in my opinion, important for anyone interested in the issue of media in the Maritimes.
Sunday, 14 June 2015
Commuting aside, Fredericton's trails have become my new weekend pastime, especially on nice days, and so today's focus is more on recreation and making the trails network a part of your visit or day out.
South Riverfront Trail Number 3 on the trails map (link above), this path follows the South bank of the Saint John River between Waterloo Row and the Delta Hotel. Most of the path is paved, with the exception of the short portion between the walking bridge (more on that great spot below) and the park fronting Waterloo Row. This trail passes a number of the City's main attractions, and offers spectacular views of the river.
Crosstown Trail Number 8 on the map, this one is more utilitarian than anything else, bridging the distance between the Lincoln Trail near UNB, and the Valley Trail near the Exhibition grounds. It's not paved the whole way, and parts of it follow along the streets. This is one of the more confusing paths.
Valley Trail Number four on the map, picks up where the Crosstown leaves off and follow the south bank of the river west of Fredericton. I can't write as much about this one since I've yet to have the pleasure, but based off where it goes, I expect fantastic river views.
North Riverfront Trail Number 11. This trail runs between the walking bridge and the Nashwaak Commons on the North Side of the river. This path offers some really great views of the river and takes you through some nice parks (and past an assortment of businesses). There is a big caveat though: the condition of the trail between the Westmoreland Street Bridge and Carleton Park (near the walking bridge) varies from small path perched near the river, to steep tiny path. Heed the signs that warn of rough trails ahead!
Northside Trail Number 12 on the good ol' map,this trail heads west from the Trail Visitor Centre, starting through the backs of neighbourhoods heading behind houses, and eventually veering closer to the river. This one provides a useful connection between the different trails on the North Side, and would probably be useful for commuting. Paved.
Nashwaak Trail 14 Follows from the walking bridge on the west side of the Nashwaak River. Much of this path feels isolated, though it actually heads behind neighbourhoods and houses. The trail pops out near Marysville providing access to services, then heads back into the woods and over a great walking bridge with lovely views. Connects to the NB trail.
Gibson Trail Number 15, connects the Trail Visitor Centre and Marysville, on the East bank of the Nashwaak River, although it goes further away from the river than the Nashwaak Trail tends to. Along this trail is Hyla Park, an amphibian preserve.
Pedestrian Bridge (Left) Number 1 on your map, this former rail bridge provides fantastic views of the river and both sides of the city, while connecting the North and South sides.
Suggested Routes If you've been following my blog (or you've read back), you'll know that I previously did a post with a suggested walking tour downtown. The nice thing about the bike trails is that they actually reach most of the attractions you'll want to see downtown, connect to several hotels, and provide an alternative, tree-lined, and more leisurely route. I've also added a route that takes you a bit further out of town into Marysville.
Take a lunch! Eat in a park!
Things will be great!
From the trail, follow the overpass (sign pictured left) for easy access to City Hall and the arts and crafts shops of the Garrison District. This route also offers signs for attractions (pictured right), easy bike parking, washrooms, and the tourist information centre.
Beaverbrook, the Legislature and the Playhouse are actually more easily reached by turning off the path where it reaches the statue picture left-this offers the advantage of following the direction of traffic on Queen, which is one way, though bike parking is harder to come by, and signage is lacking.
From the Walking Bridge, follow the lovely tree-lined Lincoln Trail south, passing many older homes. The Fredericton Farmers' Market can be reached by turning off the path at George Street (pictured left when travelling north. Travelling south from the bridge, turn off at the first street the trail crosses).
The Crown Plaza Hotel's parking lot, (sign pictured left) and the Delta Hotel are both located right on the pathway. Bike rentals are available near the Lighthouse on the Green, and bike parking is available at the Library and the Lighthouse, amongst other locations.
Loop Through Marysville The architecture of the former mill town of Marysville has always been some of my favourite in the city. The Nashwaak Trail and the Gibson Trail make a near-perfect loop through this area: from the TVC, pick one and head north until you reach the aptly-named Bridge street, cross over the bridge, and then head back down the other side. If you want to see more of the architecture, head east up the hill on Bridge St. for a few blocks. While heading along the Gibson trail, the Hyla Nature Park makes for a worth while stop.
A few tips
Guidance Signs Notice that the name of the trail appears in the blue box, attractions (and their distance) in the green section, and little markers for washrooms and food in smaller blue boxes at the bottom. If you're coming from the US, remember that a Km is 1000 metres, and that a mile is about 1.6 Km or 1600m. See the picture on the left for an example.
Trail Maps are located at strategic locations along the trails, on big signs (left).
Parking is not always the easiest thing to come by, but can be found in many parks, as well as at the Lighthouse on the Green and the Fredericton Public Library
Shared Use Fredericton's trails are mixed-use. This means that, no matter whether you're biking, running with a friend, or walking with a stroller, all these other uses are also going on at the same time on the same paths. Bikes are supposed to be limited to 15 Km/h, yield to pedestrians, and ring their bells when they pass-if you're biking, keep these rules in mind. If you're not on a bike, remember that not everyone follows these to a T. Paths are much busier weekends and, of course, nice days.
Kids I wanted to make this a separate note. Pathways are great for families, especially on weekends and sunny days. Both people with kids and all other trail users need to keep in mind that sometimes kids are a bit unpredictable-I've seen way too many situations where parents aren't watching kids, or are watching them but let them run into the path of oncoming bikes. Similarly, bikes need to make sure to yield to kids (who, as pedestrians, have right of way), exercise extra caution around them.
Trail Visitor Information Centre (TVC) is located just past the pedestrian bridge on the North Side, and has bathrooms, water for dogs, and information.
As a final note, especially for people from out of town, it's important to be aware that while Fredericton's trails are excellent, they're not 100% perfect. Sometimes you'll see curb cuts that are missing, trails that unexpectedly become dirt paths or sidewalks, or cross the street without warning, and signs may be missing. Signage is better on some paths than others, but still often lacks indications for tourist attractions.
Saturday, 13 June 2015
Well folks, I've decided that it's time to get down to blogging once again. Yes yes, I know that the summer is already well in full swing, but better late than never, right? Over the course of the next few weeks, you can also, hopefully, expect to see some changes to the way this blog works. I'll be updating some of the info sections, fixing the tags that somehow went a bit askew, etc. I do, however, hope to get into some more in-depth content and return to the more narrative style I'd always intended this blog to have (hence this chatty little post. You'll also notice a change in what I'm writing about-I'm travelling less than in previous years, which will mean more articles focusing on familiar places, more posts about books/culture/news/events, etc. And now, without further ado, onto that post I was promising....
Thursday, 26 February 2015
This is the beginning of a series of posts on that perennial favourite: pizza! In Sydney, Cape Breton, people take their pizza loyalty seriously. Very seriously. In most cases, you're either a Napoli family or a Kenny's family. You'll find few other pizza places in the city. Napoli pizza is located on Charlotte Street in Downtown Sydney (although they've a new location opening up soon as well). It's a small little pizzeria with, as I said, a very loyal clientèle, and it can be quite busy at times. Two things distinguish Napoli from other pizza places: 1) The crust: Nova Scotians, and especially Cape Bretoners, like their pizza with a thin, floppy crust. Napoli delivers on this wish- a piece of pizza comes nowhere nearing supporting itself if you hold it by the crust, and the crust itself is flavourful and soft. 2) The cheese: Napoli uses Saputo mozzarella, and is not skimpy on the cheese; this is exactly how pizza is on TV, with cheese that slides off if you hold it, and stretches when you bite it. I once even had a friend who had lived in Italy tell me, while visiting Sydney, that Napoli's cheese (and the pizza overall, really), was the closest she'd ever had to real Italian pizza here in Canada. Aside from these two star features, the toppings are delicious and plentiful, and prices are quite reasonable. Without a doubt, Napoli is the best pizza in Sydney, if not Nova Scotia.
Monday, 21 July 2014
In the old York County Courthouse, in Fredericton's Downtown, sits Isaac's Way. I'm told Isaac's Way has expanded a lot in recent years, having come from a small location. The spot really couldn't be better, located right in the heart of the city (I've no doubt that it's packed at lunch on weekends). The beautiful historic building on the outside hides a swanky modern design on the inside, and there's no doubt that this is one of the better decorated restaurants I've been to in Fredericton. They also have a lovely deck out back, should the weather permit. I've been to Isaac's Way twice so far- once just for dessert, another time for a full meal (which will be the main focus of this review). We arrived when it wasn't so busy yet, and were promptly seated, and provided with plenty of water, and very friendly service. The service remained friendly throughout the meal, although, as the restaurant became busy, it was abundantly clear that it was also under-staffed, and we were left without drink refills, and then waited a long time to pay the bills. This isn't the staff's fault, of course-it was busy at an odd hour, and everyone remained really friendly throughout-but it was a bit of a nuisance. I ordered the special, Fish and Chips. It was served in a light batter, very non greasy, and well-proportioned between batter and fish. The fries were also nicely done. It was certainly not a bad fish and chips however, given the restaurant's reputation (and décor), I was expecting something a little better-it was quite average,really. My fellow diners tried a wide range of foods- the menu has some interesting choices- and the burgers, chicken, and tofu and peanut butter noodles all received positive reviews (I can vouch for those noodles-they were quite good). The prices for our orders were quite reasonable-the Thai peanut and tofu noodles, coming in at $16, was the most expensive at our table-although there were much pricier options available. The real treat at this restaurant, both times I visited, was the dessert. Their menu contains what appear to be home-made desserts, and they have the essentials: carrot cake, pie, and chocolate cakes. I've tried the brownie chocolate cheesecake both times, and it's, without any doubt, worth returning for. I've heard similar things about the carrot cake. Overall, Isaac's way has great atmosphere-well decorated and in a historical building, it will impress family, dates, good friends or business colleagues. There's a wide range of menu items-mostly the standard burgers, sandwiches, etc. but with a few fun twists-and the prices range from surprisingly reasonable (the burgers were around 12-14$ each) to a little pricier (but on par with the atmosphere). The service did really lag towards the end of the meal, however, and that is one of my bigger bet peeves. I also want to make a point of noting one thing that did impress me very much- a waitress taking the time to explain menu items in French to francophone diners. This isn't something I see nearly often enough in Fredericton, and I was extremely pleased to see it here.
Saturday, 21 June 2014
One of my absolute favourite things about living in Fredericton is visiting the Fredericton Market (more properly the Boyce Farmers' Market, as there is now a market on the North Side, which will get its own blog post). I's a lot of fun to head out on a Saturday morning and join the crowds-the market atmosphere is always a lively one-for some breakfast, lunch, crafts, or produce. The market also has a variety of unique shops-food vendors sell different interesting creations or flavours, and there's a lot of good snack food to grab and munch on as you walk around. It's also a great spot to find gifts and souvenirs. So, without further ado, here are some tips for Saturday mornings at the market When The market is open from 6 AM to 1PM, but it will be a different experience depending on when you go. Typically, if you want to avoid crowds and line-ups, and ensure that some of the more popular items will still be available, you should go early-say, before nine. Around nine or ten AM the market gets more crowded, as families, tourists, and people who just aren't early risers (guilty!) get out of our beds and wander down. While the market is open until one PM, I find that vendors start running out of things or even closing up by noon. Crowd levels vary, of course, with the weather and the season. Getting there/Parking Parking is perhaps the trickiest bit about going to the market. If you don't arrive early, you will have to circle the block for a spot-and don't be surprised if you wind up having to walk five or six blocks. If you're near the downtown area, I would recommend just walking, as you can avoid the headache of parking, save the environment a little, and enjoy some exercise. The Market is located on George street, just a few blocks East of Regent St. Direction of walking People generally tend to walk around the building in a clockwise manner, if you're facing the building from the street where the food vendors are. Food Food is the best part of the market, I think. Inside the building, you'll find a variety of baked goods and butcher shops. Outside is where the take-out style food is. There's also a restaurant in the middle of the building. Here are a few of the places you could keep an eye out for: FrostedFrosted is a cupcake vendor, just inside the market from the parking lot. The cupcakes are flavourful and moist, many with delicious butter cream frosting on top, and under $3 each. There are a variety of interesting flavours-get there early if you want to have all the choices! The Bundle HutBundles are an interesting creation, essentially similar to a large egg roll stuffed with a variety of different flavours-donair, teriyaki chicken, apple pie etc. They're a great snack to eat while walking through the market. Samosa Delite and Yummy SamosasAs a bit of an interesting phenomenon, a modified version of the samosa has become very, very popular in parts of southern NB. Samosa Delite and Yummy Samosa are the two main places to try NB's Samosas at the market-both have their own large following, so you'll have to grab a samosa at each to decide. Samosas are reasonably priced-a little cheaper if you buy by the dozen or half dozen-and come in a variety of flavours, including vegetable, beef, and chicken. They are also available mild (which is to say, not spicy at all) or hot. Note that lines can get quite long. Richie's BBQRichie's is a food truck selling a variety of foods, but my favourite is their donair. For those who haven't tried a donair yet, Richie's is a great place to do so, selling one of my favourites. A number of other foods are also available to try. Two vendors sell freshly squeezed orange juice at reasonable prices (one of my market favourites). Several vendors sell a variety of baked goods-you'll find everything from squares to berliners here- hot dogs, noodles, crêpes, and lobster rolls are all available outside. Produce and meat Those looking for produce and meat will find a variety of vendors. Most produce is sold outside, with several farms being present depending on what's in season-this is a great place to find fiddle heads, an NB specialty, and also local blueberries. Inside there are several vendors selling a wide range of meat, as well as a large fishmonger (you can get all your maritime favourites here as well, including clams, scallops and lobster, season dependent). In addition to produce and meats, there's a large cheese shop near one of the building's entrances, and a small shop selling homemade pastas.
Monday, 16 June 2014
I'd been trying to get to the Alehouse for a long time-as in, since it was the Garrison District Ale House. For those who don't know, a fire caused Garrison to relocate to what is now the King STreet Alehouse, a few blocks away. Last time we tried to check out this spot, the lineup was around 45 mins-a sure sign it must be good, but a long time to wait when hungry. So it was a nice surprise to see it fairly empty this past weekend for lunch. The Alehouse is a restaurant of the dimly lit variety, a classy kind of place that is comparable perhaps to the Keg in terms of atmosphere. The lunch menu contained a range of foods-a variety of starers, a few different sandwiches and wraps, and a whole host of hamburgers. The hamburgers ranged from around 11 dollars to the upper teens in price, and a are served with a choice of side; other meal options for lunch were comparably priced. The Alehouse also lives up to its name with an extensive drink menu consisting of, according to the server, over one hundred options. For lunch I chose the blue cheese burger, which came highly recommended. In a world where gourmet burgers have become a huge trend, the blue cheese burger has become a bit of a staple, as have a few of the other options on the Alehouse's menu (like the Thai peanut burger)-but with choices such as a pepperoni burger (with marinara sauce) and jerk chicken burger, there are some more creative options available. Sides ranged from the standard sweet potato and classic fries, to a bowl of the soup of the day-in this case, fiddle head and chicken chowder. All of the sides I tried were great, served exactly how I like them. The sweet potato fries were served with a chipotle mayo style dip-a touch many restaurants have dropped by which I liked seeing. The classic fries were long and thin, similar to a shoestring but still had a good potato flavour. The chicken and fiddle head chowder was an interesting combination and a nice chowder, though perhaps not the best way to showcase fiddle heads, which were a little overpowered by the chowder flavour. I only had a taste of my own burger this time round; the meat was fantastic, not overcooked, juicy and flavourful, and served in a generous portion. The burgers were also topped with crispy, caramelized onions, which was a real delicious treat. After a few bites of the burger together, I noticed something unusual-I couldn't taste the blue cheese. Now, normally blue cheese isn't something that slips in undetected. It's definitely there in my pictures, so either there was only a teeny amount (I didn't find any when I took the burger apart about halfway through) or it was just not a very strong blue cheese (which may appeal to some), but I was a little disappointed, especially given how delicious the burger and onions were. The bun also didn't hold together particularly well, although it was tasty. All in all, the food was good, and this is definitely the kind of place to come on an important dinner, like a meeting, date, or birthday. There are plenty of food options on the lunch menu (making me guess that the dinner menu must be satisfying as well), serve was quite speedy, and the atmosphere is appropriate for finer dining. There's also an extensive drink menu, if that's something you're interested in. I will warn you, however, that the desert menu was quite limited (only four options).