On Tuesday the weather was even better so we visited a spot we had both been looking forward to - the Irving Eco-Centre on the Bouctouche dune.
The Bouctouche dune is "one of the few remaining great sand dunes on the northeastern coastline of North America". It stretches for 12km parallel to the east coast of New Brunswick.
The dune is a fragile habitat where migratory shorebirds nest and native grasses try - with varying success - to anchor the dune from the ravages of wind, water and erosion. The dune is also getting narrower due to rising water levels, a side-effect of climate change.
The Irving family/industrial conglomerate, whose roots are in Kent County (and whose presence is overwhelming in New Brunswick), has created an impressive infrastructure on the dune. An interpretive centre, lookout tower, and slate of educational programs help locals and tourists alike understand the ecological importance of the dune and the surrounding habitat. 2km of meandering boardwalk allow visitors to walk the dune and see the flora and fauna (well, birds, mostly, and crabs and other shellfish) that populate it.
To the right of the boardwalk as it appears in the photo above is a saltwater marsh, fed by the tides that slip over and around the dune; we saw graceful herons feeding there. (Too far away to photograph without a zoom, sadly.)
(<= saltwater marsh) There's no admission fee to experience this beautiful natural treasure; I'm not sure how the financing works (the lack of an admission fee made me wonder mightily), but as far as I can tell the Irvings built the thing "as a gift to Kent County" and donations and gift-shop sales certainly contribute.
The Eco-Centre was a great experience, but just driving through this part of the province is a treat all by itself. Take, for example, this roadside shrine to the Virgin we saw not far from the park entrance. You'll spot these here and there around here - a reminder of the very French, very Catholic history and culture of this place.
Weather was definitely improving. Wednesday would be sunny and 23°; time to explore Kougibigouac National Park and hit the beach!