Looking for something to do this summer? Why not spend a weekend exploring the Mighty Miramichi River with your friends. Miramichi is no more than a few magical hours by car from any of New Brunswick’s major cities, but offers big sky living on the banks of the Miramichi River.
We planned a weekend on the river, starting with a full day guided kayak tour on Saturday morning with Stephen Paul of First Nations Tourism, followed by a guided river boat tour on Sunday with Miramichi River Boat Tours.
We left Moncton on a Friday evening after work, and within two hours we were checking in at the Rodd Hotel right on the river. We stopped along the way for dinner. There are plenty of dining options regardless of where you’re coming from and this includes Miramichi staples such as Cunard Restaurant, Portage Restaurant and Andrew’s Fish & Chips.
We started bright and early on Saturday morning at Metepenagiag Heritage Park - located at the head of the Miramichi River - and met Stephen who was our tour guide for the day. He showed us around the lodge before heading inside the museum where we saw a movie showcasing the history, culture and heritage of the Mi’gmaq in Metepenagiag, which is often referred to as Red Bank. The movie was actually quite the experience, with 3D images projected around the room that would light up as the scenes changed. It felt like I was in the movie!
After the movie, we toured the rest of the museum by ourselves, but that was easy and fun because all the information was displayed in Mi’gmaq, English and French. I learned the Mi’gmaw community in Metepenagiag is very rich in culture and practices that can be traced back to over 3,000 years ago. There’s a section of the museum filled with unique items such as cups and knives made of wood with unique engravings, but all significant to the culture.
After the self-guided tour, we headed back outside to meet with Stephen and his associate Bob who drove us down to the riverbank where the real fun began. There were four kayaks ready for us. Stephen got us prepared and suggested that we use bug spray to enjoy the experience without any distractions.
On our kayaks, we headed down the river for about three hours. The water was calm and even the deepest areas were only five feet. Two areas had a higher flow of water, but nothing we could not handle with Stephen guiding us. During the trip, the views and landscapes were heavenly. At one point eagles literally flew over us and followed us around for a bit. That’s not something you get to experience every day! Further down the river, we came across the biggest eagle’s nest that I have ever seen. Even in movies, I’ve never seen such a wonder. We eventually headed back to shore for a meal.
We camped by the shore, enjoyed the beauty of the Miramichi from land, and ate locally prepared steak, fish and mushrooms followed by dessert. The food was naturally prepared in front of us and it was easily a highlight of the day. After eating, Bob rewarded all four of us for completing the tour with handmade wooden necklaces. Stephen bid us farewell in the Mi’gmaw language with a message that translates to “see you soon” because in their culture there’s no such thing as goodbyes. By the time we got back to our hotel for the afternoon, we stayed close to town for dinner. I can definitely recommend the restaurant at the Rodd Hotel.
On Sunday morning, we boarded the Max Aitken boat which has been operating on the Miramichi River since 2003. Guided by Captain Azade Haché, we sailed for about 45 minutes down the river. It’s another side of the Miramichi I hadn’t seen before. The view was spectacular, the breeze was very calming to the soul and Captain Azade pointed out areas of interest such as Beaubears Island, French Fort Cove and the Waterford Green Park.
Because it was 5 o’clock somewhere, we indulged in some beverages from the New Maritime Beer Company. Miramichi’s new craft brewery, the first in the city, produces IPA and stout beers. The boat arrived at Ritchie's Wharf and then headed back to the Rodd Hotel dock where we got off. Time to head back home!
In one word, the entire weekend was sensational. We learned about rich Canadian and Mi’gmaw culture and history. There were many moments of laughter and joy along the way, and the whole experience was like recharging in nature - we highly recommend it.