Bike Ride - Summer 2002:
Bas St. Laurent & St. Johns River
Day Ten

Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)

Montreal to St. John, New Brunswick
Day Ten: Nackawic to Fredericton
Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Starting Out on a Rainy Morning

I was up at 06:00 and we hustled to be at the nearby gas-station restaurant for its 7:30 opening. It was an overcast and rainy day.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~08:20)
Nackawic: Starting Out


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~08:20)
Nackawic: Nackawic Motel


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~08:20)
Nackawic: View from Motel


Heading out from Nackawic

Our breakfast was done by 8:10 and Sheryl saw me off after a roadside photo. I headed into the rain, down the almost totally deserted road climbing up into the heavily wooded hills and away from the valley of the town of Nackawic. A sign just past the motel indicated that the next town of 'Mactaquac' was 43 km distant and that Fredericton, the day's destination, was 64 km away.

Keswick Valley to Nackawic
(Description of day-drive from Fredericton to Nackawic, from the Fredericton Tourist Guide: Removed from this lite version.)

There would be lots of serious hills that morning. Right out of town, I had to climb the first long, serious hill. I stopped at the crest to get a view back to the smoke rising from Nackawic's mill. Then I dropped just as sharply back to the lake level.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~08:20)
Nackawic: Back up the road towards Motel Route 105: Looking back after long climb


At 10:00 I was standing on the shoreline looking out over the angry lake at the town of Upper Queensbury, known by the sign as the 'Granite H.M.', whatever that means. Although the signs announced the presence of a town at that spot, I had trouble seeing any other evidence of one. A mileage sign there showed Mactaquac to be 16km and Fredericton 45km. I was making very good time, no doubt on account of the very strong wind that was pushing me along. Despite the hills, I had ridden 27km, according to the Mactaquac distance, or 19km, according to the Fredericton distance. (Who knows why they did not match!)

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~10:00)
Route 105: Angry Lake Mactaquac, from Upper Queensbury

I rode by 'Bear Island' and over three, separate high ridges, dropping to near lake level between each one. It was pouring rain all the way! At one point, I had to change my film in the rain. I found what shelter I could under the 18 inch overhang of a roadside building. While working so hard to shelter my open camera from the rain, I let a drop of sweat from my forehead fall onto the shutter and had a hard time drying it up.

Eventually, I was in the town of 'Lower Queensbury'.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~10:50)
Route 105: Mactaquac Line


At 10:50 I crossed the Mactaquac town line. I continued to ride and ride and ride. Was there a town anywhere? I came down a long hill past a big provincial park and campground. I passed a big golf course. Finally, at the end of another long downhill, just before the road headed out onto a causeway, I stopped into a gas station/convenience store to warm myself with a coffee. It was 11:45. I asked where the town of Mactaquac was and the girls laughed, "This is Mactaquac. This is all the 'town' there is."

(Description of Mactaquac, from the Fredericton Tourist Guide: Removed from this lite version.)

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~11:45)
Mactaquac: Looking back on the Convenience Store


While at the store, I called Sheryl from the land line (for there was no cell service.) She had booked a motel in Fredericton from the big Tourist Info Centre out on the Trans-Canada. It was on Highway 105, two or three kilometers past Fredericton.

I rode on down the hill and found myself crossing a wide bay of the lake along a narrow causeway. There was no shelter from the wind out on the open causeway and I felt its full force. Strong waves were being whipped up on the water. The rain still pelted me anytime I turned my face into the wind.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~11:45)
Mactaquac: Windy Causeway


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~12:00)
Mactaquac Dam: View Upriver


I saw the dam from the causeway and decided to ride across it and explore the other side, even though I knew it was out of my way. I rode over to a park on the far side whence I could get a good, downstream view of the dam. Upriver from the dam stretched a long lake, vanishing off in the distance in a dark haze, its waters being tossed by the wind. Downstream was a steep gorge, but no sign of rapids. It is possible that the tidewater extends right up to the base of the dam.


The Mactaquac dam is the largest hydroelectric generating station in the Maritimes. It opened in 1968 and produces more than 670,000 kilowatts. The dam raises the water level of the Saint John's River by almost 40 metres. It ia a rock-filled structure with a watertight clay core. The reservoir covers a surface of 8.700 hectares and extends approximately 96 kilometres upriver. Several towns, the old provincial highway, and an historic waterfall were submerged as the reservoir filled. (Adapted from the Mactaquac Tourist Map, with additional information)

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~12:00)
The Dam at Mactaquac


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~12:00)
Mactaquac Dam:Spillway Mactaquac Dam: River Gorge below Dam


Mactaquac to Fredericton

My return from the far side of the dam was difficult. The strong wind was now in my face and I had to struggle against it and the rain it was driving. There was construction on the dam, narrowing the heavy traffic to one lane, and none of the cars were happy to be following a bicycle. I swung off, briefly, at the dam itself, to get some more photos. Standing out on the dam, I could actually hear the wind howling as it blew through the metal superstructure. Leaving the dam, I still had a long, hard climb to get back to the my original junction point with Highway 105.

And my climb was not over even then, for from the junction, the highway made a long, steep climb over the Keswick Ridge. It's too bad there was no way to ride down along the river. It took me ten hard minutes, to 12:40, to reach the top of the ridge. From that high point, I was able to look far back along the lake upriver. Because the road was wet and slippery, I had to slowly descend the far side while clamping down hard on my wet brakes to get as much stopping power as possible. After the dam junction, traffic on the road had increased many fold and cars were passing me constantly, throwing up more wet spray. It was the exit from the Trans-Canada Highway on the far side of the dam which had brought all the traffic onto the road.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~12:40)
Route 105: View of Lake from Keswick Heights


(Description of Keswick, from the Fredericton Tourist Guide: Removed from this lite version.)

I began scouting for a coffee shop where I might get out of the rain for a while. At the foot of the hill, I came to Keswick Landing, where the road made a big, wide curve around a marshy inlet of the river. For a space, I was forced to ride into the wind again, and was very thankful when the road pointed eastward once again. The road crossed a small tributary amidst the flatland, over an old bridge.

There came a junction with a new and trendy, though tiny, shopping centre. The only restaurant was a pizzeria, so I rolled on. The road climbed up a bit, to follow a ledge, midway up the ridge overlooking the St. John River. The river was now meandering below through a broad valley filled with islands and marshes. I rode on into the town of Douglas.

I stopped at a convenience store at 13:00, to dry off a bit and to use the facilities. Alas, they had no coffee ready, and did not want to make a fresh pot for me, so I left.

I finally came to a nice restaurant ten minutes later, where I made a 20-minute stop to enjoy some hot soup and coffee. It felt great to dry off a bit, and the soup warmed my insides.

I as on my way once again at 13:30. The road continued on along the ledge overlooking the river, as before.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~13:00)
Route 105: On a Ridge along the meandering St. John


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~14:30)
City of Fredericton


I came to the Fredericton city limits at 14:40. Bits of the New Brunswick Trail opened up alongside the highway, but the roadbed was not in rideable condition. I stayed on the road.

I had studied the Fredericton town map while in the restaurant and knew that I had to leave Highway 105 at Sunset Street. At the entrance to town, Highway 105 would swung north, outside of town, and had become a freeway. Sunset Street would take me across a slice of suburbia, to meet Main Street, which would become Union Street. Union Street would bring me across the northern bank of the town. The main part of Fredericton was on the opposite shore. The portion on the north side of the St. John River was only a forgotten, backwater section of the city.

As I rode through town, I noticed some antique stores which I was sure Sheryl would want to visit. (It would turn out she did visit them, and I would be back myself to visit them the next day.) I came to an Irving gas station/convenience store where they had a cash machine, so I stopped for some cash. I took a detour to the waterfront, right across from the main part of town, to get some photos. Finally, I came to an old railway bridge which had been turned into a pedestrian/ bicycle crossing. I decided to ride across and check out Fredericton a bit.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~14:45)
View of Fredericton


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~14:45)
View of Fredericton


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~15:00)
Fredericton: Rail Trail Bridge

I had no sooner made it across when it was 15:00 and time to call Sheryl. She was right behind me and expected to be at the motel soon. “Let's meet at the motel” she suggested. so I gave up my idea of exploring on my own and turned the bike around to re-cross the bridge.


I continued, then, out along Union Street. I was just past the bridge where the highway crossed over the St. John’s River, near the Junction with Highway 2, when Sheryl came up behind me, honking. She passed me and went on ahead to the motel.

I got to the Norfolk Motel at 15:30. Sheryl had just finished checking in. She surprised me with the gift of a new pair of bicycle shorts and a new jersey, which she had picked up as she was driving through town.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 7: Day 10: ~15:00)
View of Fredericton from Bridge


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 9: Day 12: ~08:00)
Fredericton: Norfolk Motel


Sheryl’s Day: Nackawic to Fredericton: 79 miles on the odometer (903-826)

Sheryl left the motel after a while, got some gas at the Shell station, and then headed back across the river to the Trans-Canada highway. Along the way in, she stopped a the Tourist Information Centre, where she booked a motel for us in Fredericton and got information on antique stores and used bookstores that she would want to check out. She had already left the Centre by the time I called her at 12:00, and was able to tell me where we would be staying. She then drove on into Fredericton’s north shore. It is quite likely that she got there before I did, and I may well have ridden right past her, for she did a lot of shopping between 12:00 and 15:00.

Evening in Fredericton

I changed into my street clothes and then unloaded and unpacked all my bicycle sacks, so that things would dry out from the wet day. We decided we would spend two days in Fredericton, in order to have a chance to look around together, so I went back to the motel office and paid for another day.

We then headed out by car to explore the town. We drove back in along Union/Main to a used book store that Sheryl had seen and we hung out there until they closed at 17:00. Then we drove across the bridge into the downtown section and did a walkabout through the old section of town (where we had briefly stopped in 1998). We looked for the restaurant we where we had eaten in 1998, but could not find it, so we ended up at Moe's for supper.

After supper we drove back over to the North Side and stopped at the Tim Horton's drive-thru for some coffee, which we took back to the room to drink. It was 21:00 when we returned to our room. Sheryl read for a while, and then fell asleep. I read, drank some of the wine I had bought in Woodstock, wrote in my journal, and watched some TV. Only around 23:30 did I finally retire.

On to Day 11

Prepared by Roger Kenner
October 2002; October 2004;Lite-version: February, 2005