The Canadian Maritimes are a must-do on the bucket list of any seafood lover. This region is renowned for its picturesque coastal landscapes, exceptional seafood, and rich cultural heritage. Each province in this region has something to offer, from mouth-watering cuisine to lively festivals, making it a worthy addition to your bucket list.
Geography and Composition
The Canadian Maritimes, also known as the Maritime Provinces, features three provinces: Novia Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. With the addition of Newfoundland and Labrador, they form the Atlantic Provinces, stretching along maritime Canada’s eastern coastline.
This area comprises a cluster of peninsulas and islands on the eastern Canadian coast. It’s the northeastern extension of the Appalachian highlands, featuring fertile valleys and ample fishing opportunities.
Prominent cities in this area include Halifax, Saint John, Summerside, Charlottetown, Moncton, and Fredericton.
History and Cultural Heritage
The Canadian Maritimes played a significant role in Canadian history, initially sighted by explorer Bjarni Herjolfsson. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Indigenous
, the Mi’kmaq, inhabited the region. This group constituted a single linguistic and cultural entity, save for their neighbors in the upper Saint John River valley, the Wolastioqiyik, who spoke a different Algonquian dialect.
In the early 17th century, French settlers upended Indigenous reign over the region, challenging the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik presence. French Acadia soon came into existence, featuring various isolated settlements and united by a common language.
However, by 1763, the French surrendered all of Acadia to the British, passing the power to the monarchy. After Britain took over, people from all over flocked to Canadian shores, including those from present-day Switzerland, Germany, Scotland, and Ireland.
The mix created a melded blend of cultures, heritage, and traditions that formed the Canadian Maritimes as they’re known today. Several historic sites and landmarks remain an ever-present reminder of the past and the nation’s foundation.
Surrounded almost entirely by water, Nova Scotia is home to kilometers of coastline, tasty maritime cuisine, and dozens of outdoor activities and natural wonders. It’s known for the picturesque Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, the historic Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, and the Halifax festivals, including the International Busker Festival and Pop Explosion Festival.
New Brunswick is a Canadian province featuring sprawling, untouched wilderness, delectable cuisine, and the Bay of Fundy, which boasts the highest tides in the world. Visitors can explore rugged landscapes, scenic forests, museums, and historic sites. Various festivals, such as the Festival Acadien, celebrate the province’s Acadian heritage through music, dance, and traditional food.
Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Prince Edward Island is a small province known for its beautiful beaches, scenic landscapes, lush countryside, and rich heritage. This province is small but mighty, stealing the culinary spotlight and boasting a cultural heritage celebrated through various festivals and events.
Its first inhabitants were ancestors of Mi’kmaq, Indigenous peoples who have lived in the area for thousands of years. Eventually, it became one of the original four provinces of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, playing a significant role in Canada’s history.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is a Canadian province on the east coast known for its rugged coastline, diverse cultural history, and awe-inspiring natural beauty. It’s home to various animals, from whales and seals to caribou and moose.
It boasts strong cultural traditions, including a musical heritage filled with an assortment of styles, from traditional folk music to contemporary pop and rock. Its stunning landscapes and remarkable national parks make it a popular destination for visitors around the world.
Culture and Festivals
Canada’s Maritimes boasts a rich history teeming with a cultural blend of stories, music, and folklore. The region’s history, geography, and blend of people lend to the diversity of its culture, creating a beautiful fusion.
This region hosts numerous festivals, including the Celtic Colors International Festival, which draws crowds throughout October and features Celtic music, dance, storytelling, workshops, and lectures. The Halifax International Busker Festival livens the streets in August, featuring a rowdy celebration of music, comedy, and circus arts.
The list of festivals continues, featuring celebrations like the Atlantic Fringe Festival or the Festival Acadien de Clare.
Atlantic Canada offers various types of delectable cuisine, from tasty seafood dishes to traditional dishes and desserts. Cuisine in this area reflects the cultural diversity and coastal heritage of this area, featuring a blend of seafood and locally sourced ingredients.
Given the location, the options are heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, which offers fresh seafood such as scallops, oysters, lobster, and mussels. Certain areas are known for specific foods, like Novia Scotia, which offers its world-famous lobster in delicious lobster rolls, poutine, and more.
The Canadian Maritimes are teeming with opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are plenty of hiking opportunities and campsites spread across national parks in the areas, including Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Kejimkujik National Park, and Prince Edward Island National Park.
This area is also great for water sports and activities, including kayaking or canoeing and whale watching during the summer and fall. During the winter, the activities list remains impressive, with ample snowboarding, sledding, skiing, skating, and ice-climbing opportunities.
Practical Travel Tips
When visiting the Canadian Maritimes, there are a few things to keep in mind, including the following:
- Best time to visit: Early summer to early fall is an ideal time to visit the Canadian Maritimes. However, since this is generally peak season, late fall can be an excellent time to visit as well.
- Pack for changing weather: Weather conditions can change based on the time of day and your proximity to the ocean, so pack accordingly.
- Be respectful: As you travel through these areas, be respectful of local communities and their heritage. Ask permission before entering private property or taking photos.
- Plan ahead: If you travel during peak season, plan ahead and book your accommodations in advance. Hotels, motels, and other lodgings often fill up fast during this season.
- Plan your route: Public transportation isn’t available in all areas, so if you don’t want to rent a car, plan your route around the transportation options available.
- Swim with care: The water in the Canadian Maritimes is much cooler than the warm water of tropical climates. Be mindful of those chillier temperatures, tides, and strong currents when swimming.
Schedule a Tour of the Canadian Maritimes Today
Exploring multiple Canadian Maritimes in a single trip can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know the best places to visit. At Caravan, we handle the details, so you don’t have to.
Our guided tours take you through the Canadian Maritimes, stopping at key points along the way to maximize your experience. We explore numerous cities, attractions, and activities, enjoying tasty food and beautiful views. Ready to schedule a tour? Call us at 1-800 Caravan or +1-312-321-9800.