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Obviously the main thing to do in Saint John, New Brunswick, is to eat lobster, although scallops go down well, too. Once you’ve eaten lobster rolls for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you’ll obviously want to look at the water since the Maritime city of Saint John, population 120,000, is considered the Gateway to the Bay of Fundy, but don’t stop there …
You should also check out the art in Saint John. Actually, even if you’re not an art lover you’ll be checking it out because sculptures and installations are everywhere in this walkable heritage town, so you can hardly miss it. Handily, the Discover Saint John tourism board provides a free art map/walking tour pamphlet so you can wander around outside, stop for lobster breaks, take a few shopping side expeditions and enjoy the harbour views while soaking up some of the public art that dots Saint John’s downtown core. So here’s the route I took:
1) Look at the weird unfriendly people.
Fortunately, these stoney-faced figures turned out to be wood, which is why they weren’t very talkative, unlike the average person in Saint John who wants to know everything about you and how they can help. And it’s a lucky thing that this crowd didn’t prove to be real flesh and blood, but an installation by John Hooper called People Waiting, because one of the guys has three arms.
Note to the curious: you have to walk around it and it takes some time to find the third arm attached to the guy in the green suit.
2) See more grumpy people in a really cool clock.
Also by John Hooper, this carved sculpture and working clock stands across the street from People Waiting at the Market Square Entrance, the entry to a mall that happens to have great shopping and where I spent too much money on a jacket and skirt.
3) Commune with nature
You don’t come to the Maritimes and the Bay of Fundy not to check out the wild rugged forests and great swaths of trees. Of course you also want to see animals. So cross the street again to the Market Square Boardwalk and look at a moose. The big bronze beast was done by Forest Hart, and commissioned not by nature lovers, but by Moosehead Breweries Ltd.
4) Get helpful hints on how to take a picture
How thoughtful of Saint John to explain exactly where your photo ops exist. This one shows the entrance of Saint John City Market and includes Figurehead (look up at the top) by Carol Taylor, which was inspired by the figureheads on bygone wooden ships.
5) While you’re at it go inside
This is especially important if it’s raining, foggy or you want a snack. It’s another great photo op and you don’t even need a sign to tell you that.
6) Cruise over to the Saint John Arts Centre in Peel Plaza
It’s only about a two minute walk away. Outside is a stone sculpture titled Fiddlehead by James Boyd. Be forewarned, you will find fiddleheads everywhere in New Brunswick. I’ve seen a booth at a market where every piece of jewelry the woman makes has a fiddlehead design, you will also find them on your plate in a restaurant and now you can see this one etched in stone.
7) Go into the Saint John Arts Centre
This may be the coolest building you’ll see in Saint John. It used to be a library and the architecture is old world grand. DeLancey’s Brigade Mural is not to be missed, unless of course you do miss it, and then you’ll lose out.
Walking tours in Saint John
There are plenty of other walks you can do in Saint John: The Loyalist Trail, the Victorian Stroll and the Prince William Walk. Pick up a brochure at the Discover Saint John tourist centre and you’re on your way. Considering Samuel de Champlain landed here back in 1604 you can imagine there is plenty of history and plenty to see. And also to eat. Because the lobsters were here even before that.
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