The Good Life

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
Our friend Brian left Calgary shortly after we did. Tired of the downtown working life and the untenable commutes, he just stopped. Sold his house, bought a camper, struck up a blog called My Time, My Way, and hit the road.

He left with no big plans other than to tour the continent. Brian is a very personable and curious man – he will pick someone out of a crowd and decide for himself that he needs to talk to THAT person. And then he does just that. As such, he has an incalculable number of stories from his travels that he carries with him.

What he didn’t do was try to foresee too much into the future and lived on whim. And he never could have known, upon leaving Calgary in August of 2011, that he would end up in New Brunswick. That he would become a fisherman and soon captain his own boat. That he’d live solo in a tiny trailer, that he’d work the lobster season, the clamming season, and then create his own season of house-painting.

Nor did he probably know how happy he would be to do it all.

Not that it’s an easy life by any means (ask Brian to show you the pose used for clamming), but Pete and I both, being fully appreciative of the desire for change from a corporate life, could see the potential of what Brian was enjoying. It may not be a simply carefree life at all, but it could be a very good one.

What he didn’t do was try to foresee too much into the future and lived on whim. And he never could have known, upon his leaving Calgary in August of 2011, that he would end up in New Brunswick.
New River Beach, New Brunswick

Brian and I walking.

On the day we met Brian, we were on our way from Grand Manan to Saint John. We stopped at New River Beach and enjoyed a breakfast picnic we had packed; our consumption of it delayed by a panicky Pete. A dense fog, wispy at its edges, hung low over the long stretch of beach. Pete wanted to ignore the meal and go straight to shooting, and Brian snickered at his insistence that he had to capture it now before the fog lifted. This is New Brunswick, Brian explained, the fog always comes back.

He wasn’t wrong. Over the course of several hours, we caught up on each others news, swapped travel stories, and strolled along the water’s edge while the fog lifted, descended, and lifted again. This was a pattern that would repeat itself often during our two weeks in the province, and for these two landlocked Albertans who had never seen such a thing, it was fascinating.

We talked about the lives we used to have – I originally met Brian because he had been working with my sister – and none of our offices were far from each other in downtown Calgary. Can you believe those lives now? That this is where we are compared to where we were? I couldn’t, and neither could he.

Can you believe those lives now? That this is where we are compared to where we were?

New River Beach Jump

New River Beach Above

Ripples New River Beach, New Brunswick

New River Beach Fog

Brian could have chosen to live anywhere, really, but he chose New Brunswick. It was surprising to me when he settled here, without ever having been, based on everything that we’d heard about the province before. Our expectations on arrival, dictated by years of hearing nothing very notable about the province, weren’t extremely high.

It is our job, and our nature after seven years of travel, to be a bit judge-y of those places we visit. It’s not often we come up with a resounding negative perception (let’s be honest people, travel is awesome), but it’s also not often that we feel overwhelming positivity. And if there is one definitive quality that Pete and I critique every place on, whether explicitly or totally subliminally, is liveability. I would say that in our seven years of traveling, the places that make our worldwide “liveable list” amount to less than a dozen. While a two week visit may not be adequate time to pass sound judgment, we still both say that New Brunswick is now on the list.

We admit to scouting real estate and finding some shockingly good value compared to the rest of the country. (There’s a whole island near Grand Manan on sale for just a cool million Canadian pesos. Okay, so maybe that one is a stretch goal for now, but still, what a steal.) We were told that Saint John is a hotbed of innovation and thus maybe a perfect place from which to base our virtual businesses. Pete loved Fredericton; I felt more partial to the stretch of land between Moncton and the Hopewell Rocks. I want a bit remote yet still accessible. I want to watch the tidal bore come in every day. I want to be near the dramatic coast shaped by the Fundy tides.

And if there is one definitive quality that Pete and I critique every place on, whether explicitly or totally subliminally, is liveability.

New River Beach Straight Down

Brian said he comes to New River Beach only sometimes. Near his tiny place he has a smaller stretch of beach. Someone placed an old chair there and he usually has it all to himself.

My guess is that there are many such places that exist in this overlooked province. And maybe, just maybe, Pete and I will someday endeavour to find our own.

WHERE WE STAYED

From the island of Grand Manan, and after our stop at New River Beach, we made the quick drive to Saint John where we checked into the Hilton, right on the waterfront. The location simply couldn’t be beat and we were comfortable and well taken care of during our stay.

This post was produced by us, brought to you by Tourism New Brunswick.

17 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • August 15 2016

    Beautiful words and images Dalene and Pete. New Brunswick looks like a perfect part of the world. My husband and I also have list of liveability criteria. I need to be in a city by the sea in a temperate climate. But I also need to be close to pristine wilderness like New Brunswick. I look forward to visiting Canada soon and discovering this area for myself.
    Katy Clarke recently posted..Where to get your Italian culture fix in London

    • August 15 2016

      Great Katy! Depending on your definition of “temperate”, New Brunswick might be a tougher sell in winter. 😉 But the pristine wilderness part of it? BIG CHECK.

      • September 7 2016

        True dat. 😛 Saint John, for instance, gets very cold in the winter (stretches of -25C before windchill), but the snow doesn’t last into May like it can in Newfoundland and it’s not a wet cold.
        Melissa recently posted..How to Spend 4 Days in Granada, Nicaragua

  • Deb
    August 15 2016

    Hi Dalene and Pete. I love your posts and pics–simply fabulous. Please keep ’em coming.

    You’ve inspired me to house and dog sit, and to renew my travel dreams from 30 years ago. Before work, house, kids and debt, the world was my oyster. Yet I was cautious and traditional. Now I’m in my early 50s, I’ve rediscovered my desire to do stuff that moves me and to explore beyond my small day-to-day world.

    Thank you for your inspiration.
    Deb

    P.S. I’d like to hear more about your livable list of places, especially Canadian ones. Cheers!

    • August 15 2016

      How wonderful Deb! Congratulations on renewing your travel dreams! 🙂 You are about the third person today that has asked us about our liveable places. That has inspired me to write another post! Stay tuned for that one soon.

  • Bruce
    August 15 2016

    So, where else is on that tough to make list? Would really like to know.

    Thanks for writing

    Bruce

    • August 15 2016

      Hey Bruce – thanks to this question being asked several times today, I’m going to write another post about this. (Or you can see our very brief list posted on our Facebook page comments for this post.) 🙂

  • August 15 2016

    Hey it’s your boy Brian 🙂 you two rock if you didn’t already know this. The visit, as always was way too short!! Sending you some big clammer digger hugs! 😉

    ps…there is a small community I just discovered, wish I had of known it was there when you came. The Chance Harbour Spa https://www.facebook.com/Spa-Chance-Harbour-113945445350414/ is located on Cranberry Head Rd…Cranberry Head Rd is maritime cryptology for “heaven”…its waiting for you when you return 😉
    Brian recently posted..365…wow does it fly

    • August 19 2016

      It was so great to see you!! We’l be back for more, and the spa. 🙂

  • August 15 2016

    Lovely piece, as always. And I love the photos of the fog rolling in! You’re definitely making me want to go spend time in this part of Canada!
    Amanda recently posted..The Amazing American Southwest in Photos

  • Love Brian’s story as it sounds a little like ours. We were tired of the grind of the 9-5 and traded it in for an RV and now are full-time RVers living in PEI and will be making our way across the country to Vancouver Island in less than a month.

    Having lived in New Brunswick for a couple of years, it’s certainly not a bad place to live, but we love PEI in comparison. You’re always close to the ocean and Charlottetown is a booming and progressive city. The food on the Island is superb and available everywhere. It’s amazing how many good spots there are to eat on such a small Island.
    Adam Doolittle/Kate McCallum recently posted..My Mostly Failed Attempt To Capture The Perseid Meteor Shower

  • August 23 2016

    Such a great story, thank you for sharing! After recently visiting Alberta last week, our first time in Canada, I’m excited about the prospect of visiting other parts of the country. New Brunswick is definitely being added to the list!
    Brian recently posted..Time Travel Tuesday | Boston

  • Sounds dreamy…is your friend single? 😉
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges recently posted..16 days, 7 flights, 3 countries…1 carry-on.

  • September 7 2016

    I’m so glad that you guys fell in love with the province I grew up in! It’s taken me a decade of living away to realize how special NB really is. I grew up in the Kennebecasis River valley just outside of Saint John and when I go home now I’m always shocked by how pretty it really is. Was it always like that? Probably and I just took it for granted.

    The housing market is also really affordable, even compared to St. John’s. 🙂
    Melissa recently posted..How to Spend 4 Days in Granada, Nicaragua

  • September 7 2016

    Guys,

    I’ve made Fredericton, New Brunswick my home base due to its culture, simple beauty, friendly people and affordability (having friends and family nearby is the cherry on the sundae).

    11 microbreweries in a city of 60,000 people. 2 universities and colleges making it a young place compared to the rapidly aging population elsewhere in the province.

    There is a thriving tech sector here as well (google ‘Knowledge Park’), so you might want to consider this place alongside SJ. Glad you are taking such a liking to the Picture Province! 🙂

  • March 2 2017

    Hey Dalene,

    You’ve just captured such a beautiful place to unwind. Love the photos! Hope to get there soon. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Oliver

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