Many historical wooden covered bridges survive in the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
The long flight begins with an early morning start from Calgary, Alberta to a plane change in Hamilton, Ontario before landing at the final destination, about 3,600 KM (2,240 miles) east, in Moncton, New Brunswick.
There are a few minutes to appreciate the Inuit Art at the Moncton Airport before my friend and long-time hiking partner provides transport to Shediac, New Brunswick for an excellent dinner and the traditional exchange of gifts.
The following morning breakfast is excellent at the Au Bayou Pub and Restaurant in Shediac before driving in a light drizzle of rain, on gravel back roads through small rural communities, to find the Cocagne River # 3 (Poirier) Covered Bridge. This typically single-lane, covered bridge was constructed in 1942 and is relatively short at 41 m (136 feet) in length.
Covered bridges are prolific in many locations and countries around the world. The generally wooden, single lane bridges were designed to protect the structural integrity of earlier construction materials from weather. At time of writing, there are 62 covered bridges in the Province of New Brunswick, down from a maximum over 300 in the 1960's.
The most famous, and longest covered bridge in the world is the Hartland Covered Bridge in New Brunswick. This magnificent and historically rich structure spans the St. John River at 391 m (1,282 ft) in length. The Hartland Covered Bridge, which opened in July, 1901, was designated as a National Historic Site on June 23, 1980 and a Provincial Historic Site on September 15, 1999.
A few minutes are taken to wander back and forth through the Cocagne Covered Bridge # 3 before taking the short trail to the Cocagne River below to enjoy the wet, aromatic foliage and long grasses which partially conceal toads hopping about on shoreline rocks.
The serene and beautiful Cocagne River is a fitting prelude to our drive into Moncton for a tour of several historical treasures created by early settlement of French and English pioneers, hundreds of years earlier.
There is evidence the first foreigners to sail to New Brunswick were the Vikings. Archeological information also indicates the indigenous people of New Brunswick, including the Mi'kmaq, the Maliseet and the Passamaquoddy First Nations, shared eastern coastal land for about 7,000 years before the arrival of the Norsemen around the year 1,000.
The French followed with initial explorations by John Cabot and Jacques Cartier in the early 1500's. Subsequent English occupations set the stage for hundreds of years of intermittent Civil War as competing nations fight for the rights to lucrative land and sea resources.
The Americans entered the fray in The War of 1812. Indigenous people, British, and French stood strong together and aimed the cannons south to defeat the Americans. The push into American territory was sufficiently significant to allow the British to burn down the Whitehouse. Without that critical victory, there would be no Canada.
For a Western Canadian, the history here in the Maritime Provinces is overwhelming and fascinating. Additionally, on this trip, my gracious host has arranged for us to set foot, for the first time, on the Province of Newfoundland, a massive island off Canada's East Coast known affectionately as 'The Rock'.