How many times can a person drive through a town and not stop to see what is there? Apparently, many. I am guilty. I have blown through on my way to the FUNDY NATIONAL PARK. Again on the way to the Hopewell Rocks . I spent a day looking for Semi palmate Plovers at Mary’s beach last year, but the town didn’t garner a stop that day either. I came here a couple of years back looking for Walton Glen Gorge ( the first time; That didn’t work out so well). Another time- I had hoped to walk across a suspension bridge that use to be here, but it was removed.
After locating The Cuts Quarry; A Swimming Hole Secret.. I followed a gravel road out of Cambridge- Narrows, looking for the Mervin Covered Bridge. That detour landed me smack dab in the middle of Sussex. I did get my mural map that day, but It was late so I didn’t stay long enough to find many.
Somewhere between the Summer Of The Beach story and The Miramichi River Route, as I would do it., I researched several attractions that would bring me to Sussex as a destination. and not just, a passing through town. Here is my story.
I FOLLOW HIGHWAY 10 towards the greater Sussex area. Using the local map until I find the turn off I am looking for. It is a bumpy patched up road but I am not deterred, I am chasing four covered bridges and this road links them all. I past barns, fields and I have a few close encounters with cows, tractors, I even see a few kayaks floating down the river. As I find each bridge, I take a picture, then strike it off the list.
Next up is a road side attraction. I am giddy with delight to find Daisy and her calf Buttercup. I set the timer on the camera and walked up to the rear end of Buttercup, like I was the winning trainer in a horse race photo. They have their own fenced in yard and they are too cute to miss. Commissioned by the Irvin company, created by Sculptor Harold McEachern.
Finally I reach the town of Sussex. This just happens to be the Mural Capital of Atlantic Canada. I park the truck grab my mural map, and start walking down Main street for a treasure hunt to find them all. Several times, I was standing admiring one and my back would be to another. I’m eyeing tourists on the street knowing they are checking off murals too. Competitiveness kicks in and they want to know how many I have left, ” did you find #7 yet? they inquire. I keep my map close to my chest, sneak a quick peek and say, “ah Yes I did ” With a smile, volunteering no secrets to its location.
I am on my second to last one, #22 The Growth of a Town, I know it is not far from Princess Louise Park. I gawk left and right, my driving equally as swerve- past a museum, a ball park and a restaurant, there it is, on the back of a long building. I pull the truck over to the shoulder and get out to take a few pictures. The sun is directly above the building so I get closer, to be in the buildings shadow. I notice a man crouched down close to the wall. What is he doing? Of course I have to go over there; to find out what this fella is up to.
He is delicately tracing a black line with a paint brush. I approach with some noise so I don’t startle him. ” Hello” I greet him.” Hello” he says without look away from his work. I ask him if he is doing some maintenance on the mural he says “Yesss” drawing it out, as if it should be obvious.
Finding this a bit puzzling, I try a different line of questioning. ” Are you the painter of this mural?’ He says, ” no, the original artist passed away before he could finish it. I completed it for him”. He stands and turns toward me. He is middle-aged with about a years growth of greyish beard and a pony tail. He is wearing paint splattered clothing and glasses. A quintessential look for an artisan. He continues speaking ” I work for the town maintaining the murals” My mind races with more questions. ” I am Kelly, what is your name?” “Fred Harrison ” he says.
I am sure the star struck look registered on my face. This man in front of me, is a famous Canadian mural artist. He painted; The Coming of the Railway, and Dairy town to name a few local ones . ” You are THE MR FRED HARRISON?” I have hit the jackpot “Can I take your picture sir?” ” please”
He smiles and says ” I’m not very photogenic” He gives a little grin in a, salt of the earth way. I am very impressed and grateful. I tell him I am a travel blogger covering some of the highlights of Sussex and he is one of them. I explain “it will be a few weeks before I publish the story.” I continue, “I am so glad to have met you and to be able to present a famous artist to my readers.” I thank him for his time and his wonderful creative works of art. He nods and returns to his painting.
I take a little break from mural hunting to digest my celebrity encounter with a walk on the Sussex Walkway Trails. I wish I had been better prepared; so many questions I could have asked him. I continue strolling and exit the trails and walk down the road a bit.
then I enter into O’Connell Park to capture a picture of Jakab’s tool shed.
I keep going forward walking over the stone bridge and further down to locate the sculpture Sense of Place. Part of the Saint John Sculpture Symposium Trail.( More to follow on this story.) Located at the corner of Magnolia and Main street. I circle back to get my truck. I have the last mural to find #16 The Royal Visit.
I park at the tourist building, and walk to #16, it is just around the corner. On my return, I meet up with two couples standing beside the historic markers outside the railway station looking a bit bewildered.
The tourist office is closed for the season. I understand their disappointment. I strike up a conversation, “Hello, are you visiting from out-of-town?” One of the gentlemen speaks for them all. “Yes, we just got here.” He pauses, ” You wouldn’t happen to know what is available to see and do around here?
I smile and say, “Well I do know a few things that may be of interest. Let me see if I have any information pamphlets.” I return to my truck and grab my old 2016 New Brunswick Tourist Guide book. The group has migrated over to my truck .”It has seen better days but, all my notes are in it, so it should help” ” What kind of things are you interested in?” one lady says, “murals?’
I tell her she is in luck, I just happened to have just finished my last one,” I hand off my mural map and explain what all the markings and notes mean ” this X is the sculpture, this X is the stone bridge and this circle is the Hussar’s Museum. You’ll need to get a map of the greater Sussex area, to show you the covered bridges, walking trails and don’t miss Daisy and Buttercup” One of the ladies takes a picture of my Sussex area map and the other one writes down the coordinates of a couple of the covered bridges, I marked as favourites in my GPS. “I wish I could open the tourist bureau and help you further.” They laugh and thank me. I wish them luck.
I set out for Ward Road for covered Bridge #14 McFarlene, that spans over Wards Creek. Like all of them, it is single lane, so I pull over next to someones mall box and step out for a pictures. Several vehicle motor through and I wait for an opportunity to get a clean shot without a car in it.
I slowly approach the entrance; A little bump some darkness, wooden beams fly by, and they I re-emerge. I carry on north and turn down Dutch Valley Road, which merges into Creek Road. On my left is a rock exposed cliff, I notice on the map, there is a walking trail along it. This must be Sussex Bluff. The Hike Part 3 I will check it out tomorrow.
Both #12 Urmey, on Trout Creek, and #13, Moores Mill, are marked with blue covered bridge sign pointing towards them, making each easy to find.
As I finish up being a shutterbug, I am happy it was a successful day; seven covered bridges, one road side attraction, twenty seven murals, one famous artist, I helped four tourists, walked around a new park and saw one new sculpture. My GPS says I am eight kilometer away from a camp ground which sounds good to me, so I keep driving down the twisty no shoulder Creek Road. My destination is Adair’s Wilderness Lodge.
I walk through the front door of the log building and stop at the desk ” Hello, I was wondering if you have any camp sites available?” A tall grey haired gentlemen say “Yes” he said he will take me down to see them. We exit through a back double door, and stop at the outer building. He shows me the showers, toilets and laundry area, then he says ” just drive over the bank, pick any spot you want”
I thank him. We walk in the rear door again and a large German Sheppard dog starts to bark. ” “Page, that is enough” a lady commands. ” Hello I am Ida” She introduces herself as the dog trots away to its bed. I tell her I am a Kelly, travel blogger for Maritime Mac website. ” I was in Sussex doing a story on their murals.” She says she has something to show me, and I follow her to a side door. “We have two murals here at the lodge” She says, while opening a door to a large formal dinning hall. There, set in the rafters are two exquisite murals. Painted by none other than Fred Harrison. I tell her I had the privilege of meeting him in town earlier in the day. I ask if I can take some photos, she agrees and leaves me in the room.
I now have all the murals in Sussex completed. Finding theses ones is a bonus, just like it was meant to be.
I return to the lounge area, an elderly lady is reading a book, ” Is this seat taken?” I ask. She says ” no dear, have a seat” I introduce myself and she says she is Myriam Templeton. “It is nice to meet you.” She says she is here having a visit with Ida, they are long time friends. She is 82 years old, her husband is out working on his projects, he has a sugar bush camp in the area. The waitress asks if she can get me anything? I ask for a cooler and she brings me one. I ask Myriam if she would care to join me for a cocktail. She declines but on cue, a pot of tea arrives. ” She likes her afternoon, tea” Ida remarks.
Myriam, tells me what wonderful people work here and “this waitress, she is just a fire cracker none better.” We chat for a while, each sipping out drinks. She tells me about her son and daughter living in Ontario, and speak with pride of her grand children. We enjoy the late afternoon together. I excuse myself and take seat at a table for dinner I am rather hungry.
After dinner Myriam, her husband Jim, and Ida and Larry sit and discuss their day as old friends do. Jim tells me of his two shoulder replacements, he says “I couldn’t lift a hammer before I got them, but I am good as new now.” At 84 he is still enjoying a hard days work. I step away to let the friends chat, I am off to bed. Tomorrow is the next leg of my Sussex adventure. To Walton Glen Gorge…….ous. (It is an amazing place, check out the story)
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1m9IMFrCHuDQr9OtF8Yq6HUKr7LM“>Sussex and area Map of covered bridges, parks beaches trails waterfalls.
This story was the day before my visit to Walton Glen Gorge, but I wrote that story first, so I could link this one to it. Part 3 Sussex Bluff is next.
Happy Travels From Maritime Mac.