I found Dominion Park beach by pure accident. I was driving towards an Island, that was connected by a bridge down in the area of Saint John, New Brunswick, When I saw the sign for Dominion Beach Park, I made a quick turn in and I was thrilled by the lovely location.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the temperature was nearing 30 Celsius. I got my chair, some sunscreen, a hat, and of course my sunglasses, and walked across the hot sand on the balls of my feet. Throwing my towel down and deposited the other items on it, then I made my way to the water. It didn’t matter that I had no bathing suit. I plunged in with just the shorts and t-shirt I had on..
Floating on the surface my hand easily cutting through the water, propelling myself around. I was in pure bliss. A lady swam up beside me and introduced herself and we made small talk about the refreshing coolness, and the wonderful hot weather we had been having. Then she pointed to a young man standing waist deep with his arms crossed, looking reluctant to enter. ” That is Sam” she said with a full toothy grin. Sam was her pride and joy. He was home for a surprise visit from the big smoke, A.K.A Toronto. I introduced myself to Sam and told him I lived twenty years in Toronto. We talked about the great dining, fashion, endless entertainment. Somewhere during the conversation. We shifted to local memories and he brought up a secret swimming place called “The Cuts.”
He said it was beautiful, and secluded -an old quarry, spring fed, “…cool clear, fantastic.” I asked with too much enthusiasm, “Where is it located?” He didn’t reply. He pinched his lips together showing remorse for saying too much. I pushed for more information about this secret place. He said it was on a long dirt road, somewhere up near Norton, if his memory was correct, “I really can’t say where.” he back Peddled. He tells me he went with others he didn’t drive and didn’t pay attention. I store the info in the back of my mind, knowing I was being stonewalled.
When I get home, I google it. I smiled when pictures pop up. I clicked on directions. and indeed it was an out of the way hidden gem. The following Thursday I set out with directions and a plan. Off the Trans Canada highway at exit 339 towards Cambridge Narrows, then its left and straight for a while.
I stopped and checked my map at a crossroads, then continue over the river and found The Pines Conservation Area. I pull in for a quick look. A lovely art piece reminded me of one I had saw in Grand-Bay last week. I snapped a picture for comparisons thinking there is a story in it, then file the info away.
I follow a trail down to the riverfront.What a lovely spot for a picnic. Remembering I have a mystery to solve I don’t linger and head out of the park.
I go left till I come to a corner store. I stop in. It reminds me of an old fashion store from my childhood, sloped floors dim lighting and a damp smell but stocked with everything a person could want- including an NBLC outlet. Behind the counter is a women mid-thirties, long black hair. ” Excuse me, do you know where The Cuts, is?”
” I do” she replies but volunteers no more. I remain silent and we keep staring, knowing the first to speak loses. After at least 30 seconds, she relents, figuring if I know the name of the “Cuts” I have a source that has revealed the secret. She gives me quick directions. I stamp them in my head, thank her and head out towards the right.
Not far up the road, I have to turn left, then a long strip of wavy pavement the heaves enough to give you motion sickness. It is pretty, lined with pines and lots of roadkill. I am going slowly looking left and right at each opening for a dirt road, The lady clerk had said,” The road goes East and West… turn East.” I see the sign for the road she spoke of, I make the turn. It is a gravel surface and I leave a trail of dust behind me. My next clue is to look for two large rocks; they signal the entrance. A car approaches from the opposite direction, It signals right, I see nothing but trees but this must be a local so I signal left. The driver gives me a long stare as he turns. I follows him up a benign trail.
The way is rough filled with deep potholes, then it widens into a large gravel pit. There are other vehicles. I do a half turn and park so I can look in rearview mirror at the quarry pool and its residence. I feel like I am about to walk into a private backyard barbecue.
I change into my bathing suit in the truck, grab my towel, chair hat and sunglasses. A few regulars look my way sizing me up, and not recognizing me, they turn away wondering who has betrayed their secret swimming hole. I ignore the looks and claim my spot depositing my belongs on the bank. As I approach the waters edge I hear a man telling a lady, the water is cold. I step forward, preparing myself for a shock of cold water, digging up an experience from Marble Mountain, on Cape Breton, also a beautiful, secluded old quarry, spring fed, cold clear and fantastic. We don’t want anyone to know about it either.
I don’t even hesitate, I slide right in. It is not as cold as our spot in Cape Breton. It is deep, very deep. Within meters of the beach, I am well over my head as I submerged in a wonderful cool delight. It is so clear, I can see the gravel floor to the bottom far below. A brilliant aquamarine shadow from the atop. I stay in the water paddling and floating for well over half an hour.
I watch people climb up the path surrounding the quarry. Thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies, whatever you prefer; They stand on the rock ledge facing the edge, then stepping off, dropping into the depths.
I spend an hours laying in the sun drying off. More people arrive with chairs, blankets and coolers. The beach front area is filling up. I over hear a few others say it is their first time here. I smirk, not such a secret after all. I think the rule is -make people work for it, rather than reveal its location. It is definitely rewarding for those willing to put the effort forward to finding this place. The Cuts secret is safe with me.
Cheers and Happy travels from Maritime Mac.