Getting advice from locals has been a great benefit on this trip. And they all unanimously recommended going to the Acadian Village near Caraquet. We eagerly took their advice, and then did even better – we stayed there! As it turns out, the Hotel Chateau Albert cost little more than staying at a Super 8. So we jumped at the experience, and booked two nights. Located out in the countryside, it meant a total rest day. We would be confined to the village for the duration.
Arriving at the village, we were met by Albert. Complete with bowler hat, he drove us to the hotel in a Model A Ford. There he showed us to our room and introduced us to the 1910s era amenities – hardwood floors and beautiful woodwork, claw foot tub, pull chain toilet, pitcher and bowl with soap on the bed stand (okay, there was also a real sink). No phone and no TV. All fine with us. We didn't even to bother to ask about wifi – but lo and behold, there it was! It seems the Acadians know when to make some concessions to the modern world.
It was totally unique staying in the old village. We were surrounded by other historic buildings, and it was fun to be there during the off hours. We could see the costumed workers arriving in the morning and the village coming to life.
With this being the last week of summer, everything was very quiet. In fact, we found out at breakfast that we were the only guests in the 24 room hotel. As a result, all the staff were very solicitous and attentive. Visiting the village we could spend as much time as we liked in each building, and had the full attention of the craft person in each one. That was a good thing, as the primary language was French and we only needed to wait a few minutes at most to have them explain things to us in English. And with few other visitors, they were happy to answer our questions and share their knowledge.
With all day to spend touring the village, we had a most relaxing day. We had no option but to just hang around until it opened at 10:00, and our tour was decidedly unhurried. We even took a break mid-afternoon before completing our rounds.
The village is comprised of about 40 buildings, situated in three areas to represent different periods of time. The earliest were from the 1700s to mid 1800, then the latter 1800s, and finally the early 1900s. They were well spread out in the rural environs, and the farms included small crops growing and barnyard animals. Many of the buildings were originals relocated from other areas in the province, and a few were reconstructions.
Each building had someone inside to tell us the story of the people who lived or worked there. In each of the homes, they had an authentic dinner cooking over the fire or stove, and when it got to noontime, we would find two or three staff members gathered for their meal. Even the homes included some kind of working craft display, such as spinning, weaving, straw hat making and bread baking. The artisans in the shops were all skilled in the old craft techniques and we were fascinated by them. The flour mill was one of our favorites. It was hydraulically powered, and drove all the machinery to separate the wheat, sift it and grind it. It was quite the operation! We'd been told that the bartender in the saloon had some good stories, and indeed he had a captivating way of relating the antics of those that frequented his establishment years ago.
Wanting to stay off our bikes for the day, we ate an early dinner at the little Acadian restaurant on site. It gave us a chance to sample the salt pork and salted cod from a previous era. We could also see dark clouds gathering on the horizon, and felt good about being able to huddle in our old-time hotel if it rained.
Tomorrow we return to the twenty first century and our bikes. In the meantime, we've enjoyed traveling back into history at the Acadian Village. It was good advice.