A Full on Lobster Experience in Shediac, New Brunswick
New Brunswick is a part of Canada you probably don’t know much about, but you should. It is absolutely beautiful, with pretty countryside and sandy beaches, and full of friendly people. In the town of Shediac, which is as close as you get to a vacation hot-spot in this province (it is popular with spring breakers and young people over the summer, but deliciously laid back the rest of the year).
Driving into Shediac, pretty much the first thing you see is a 36 foot long fiberglass lobster mounted beside the highway.
This is in fact the world’s largest lobster, and an essential photo opportunity spot to clamber up on. It is spectacularly kitsch, and serves as a reminder that Shediac is as much a fishing town as a tourist destination. Driving along the main drag, there are signs advertising lobster suppers, rolls, and every other lobster dish you can think of, but we kept on driving, heading towards the harbor to join a lobster cruise around Shediac Bay.
Lobster Tales is a family run operation that takes you out on the water, shows you exactly how lobster fishermen in the area work, tells you everything you could ever need to know about lobster, and then serves you up a traditional lobster supper. There’s also a little lesson in Acadian history, (the Acadian people are descendants of French colonial settlers in Canada’s maritime provinces, who still speak French) as the crew are all Acadians, with exotic sounding accents that are a joy to listen to. The whole experience is nothing fancy, but we had so much fun on that fishing boat that we wanted to stay on there all night drinking and talking with Ron Cormier, the owner of the operation.
Cormier has been running Lobster Tales for the past five years, and estimates that last year he took more than 10,000 people out on his boat (in their busiest months they run five tours every day). Cormier has been a lobster fisherman for more than 30 years, and when it’s lobster season he is out there hauling in his traps, so the responsibility of running the tours goes to friends and family.
From the minute you get on the boat, the jokes begin and carry on for the whole cruise. Everyone is made to feel like part of the show as they haul in lobster pots and get shown differences between male and female lobsters, and told all kinds of facts (some useful and others just interesting – did you know that lobsters can swim at up to 30mph?)
There were four rambunctious kids on the tour, including my four year old, and they just loved it. In the breaks between the show, the kids were merrily dancing to Acadian music on the top deck of the boat while us parents sipped on a beer (there is a very reasonably priced bar on board) and soaked up the late evening sunshine. When the kids got bored of the educational element, a member of the crew got out coloring supplies and sat with them so that we wouldn’t be distracted.
Not that the kids weren’t included, they had an opportunity to put elastic bands onto the claws of the lobsters and were dared to kiss the lobsters too (only the oldest in our group was brave enough to try it). Every kid got a chance to steer the boat, which they just loved, of course.
When Cormier showed us how to pull apart a lobster properly so that you didn’t miss any of the delicious white meat in the head or body, he made it look so easy. When they brought us all our lobsters, we didn’t quite manage to dissect them so gracefully but thoroughly enjoyed eating them in true Acadian style, complete with buns, coleslaw and mashed potato. Tea and maple cookies were dessert, which matched the low-key meal perfectly. We finished the tour reluctantly, as the boat pulled back in to the harbor we were still sipping on our beers and tapping our feet to the music.
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