Sackville, New Brunswick is a small but bustling university town about 45 kilometers southeast of Moncton. Its arts and culture scene teems with events from music festivals to art shows to theater, and the town is proud to embrace its history as well as its bountiful nature.
One sight you can’t miss is thanks to the 17th-century settlers who founded Sackville, emigrating from around the estuaries of western France. Experienced in wresting tidelands from the sea, they created an extensive system of dikes called aboideaux, reclaiming thousands of acres of Chignecto Isthmus marsh and bringing the extremely fertile alluvial lands into agricultural production. Their raised dikes can be seen all around Sackville and into Nova Scotia.
Here’s a look at a few more sights you won’t want to miss.
Top 3 Sights in Sackville
Mount Allison University
Mount Allison Academy (later University) was founded here in 1843; a “Female Branch” was opened 11 years later. In 1875, the university gained the distinction of being the first in the British Empire to grant a college degree to a woman.
The beautiful campus, surrounded by stately houses and tree-shaded streets, is still at the heart of this town. A number of artists have chosen Sackville as their home, and one of the best places to see their work is at Mount Allison University’s Owens Art Gallery (61 York St., 506/364-2574; Mon.-Fri. 10am-5pm, Sat.-Sun. 1pm-5pm; free). The Owens ranks as one of the major galleries in the province and emphasizes avant-garde work by local, regional, and national artists.
Sackville Waterfowl Park
If you’re short on time and can stop at only one of the area’s several wildlife sanctuaries, make it the Sackville Waterfowl Park, a 22-hectare reserve where more than 160 bird species have been recorded. The main entrance, just a few blocks north of downtown, is easy to miss but offers interesting park displays. From this point, the sanctuary (open daily dawn to dusk) spreads out, with trails routed through bush and bleached wooden walkways crossing wetlands. Over 160 bird species have been recorded in the park; ducks, great blue herons, teals, and bitterns are common, while spotting loons, Canada geese, sandpipers, and peregrine falcons is possible. At the entrance to the park is Sackville Information Centre (34 Mallard Dr., 506/364-4967; May-Oct. daily 9am- 5pm, until 7pm in summer), with displays related to the surrounding bird-rich environment.
Another prime birding site is not far from Sackville. From Dorchester, 14 kilometers west of Sackville on Highway 106, turn off on Highway 935. The backcountry gravel road loops south around the Dorchester Peninsula—the digit of land separating Shepody Bay from the Cumberland Basin. Some 50,000 semipalmated sandpipers nest from mid-July to mid-September between Johnson Mills and Upper Rockport, where the road loops back toward Sackville. Roosting sites lie along pebble beaches and mudflats, and the birds are most lively at feeding time (low tide). Smaller flocks of dunlins, white-rumped sandpipers, and sanderlings inhabit the area from late September to October.
Where to Stay in Sackville
For a place to stay, consider Marshlands Inn (55 Bridge St., 506/536-0170, $125-145 s or d), among the province’s best-value lodgings. The inn, built in the 1850s, got its name from an early owner, who christened the mansion in honor of the adjacent Tantramar Marshes. The resplendent white wooden heritage inn sits back from the road under shady trees and offers 20 guest rooms furnished with antiques and a dining room of local renown. Open daily for guests and nonguests, the dining room is smart and elegant, with many steak and seafood choices ($17-30) including crepes filled with lobster, shrimp, and scallops.
Getting to Sackville
To get to Sackville from Moncton, take Highway 2 southeast for about 50 kilometers (30 minutes). From Fredericton, take Highway 2 west for 230 kilometers (2.5 hours).