A Business Trip to Moncton (28-29 April 2009)

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction. 1

Getting to Moncton from Ottawa. 1

Moncton. 3

Visit to the Magnetic Hill outside of Moncton. 6

Shediac - The Giant Lobster and Flying Boats. 10

Returning to Ottawa. 13

 

Introduction

 

I had to make a short trip to visit the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) offices in Moncton.  I left early on Tuesday morning and arrived in Moncton at noon.  During in the evening, I drove around the area to see the Magnetic Hill and Shediac.  After working on Wednesday, I caught a plane on late in the afternoon for the return to Ottawa.

 

Figure 1. Map showing route from Ottawa to Moncton

Getting to Moncton from Ottawa

 

The flight to Moncton involved a change of planes at Dorval Airport in Montreal (Figure 1).  I had an Air Canada ticket for a flight from Ottawa to Montreal at 0715 hours but because only had carry-on luggage, I was able to switch to the departure at 0600 hours (left, Figure 2) for the 45 minute flight on a Dash-8 (right, Figure 3).  During the flight there was an interesting sunrise (right, Figure 2) and prior to landing at Dorval, we passed over the federal Prison de Bordeaux which is run by my employer – the Correctional Service of Canada (left, Figure 3).

 

Figure 2. Bombardier (formerly de Havilland) Dash 8 departing Ottawa (left), sunrise near Montreal (right)

Figure 3. Prison de Bordeaux (left), Bombardier Dash 8 at Dorval (right)

This earlier departure made for a more relaxing time waiting at Dorval Airport for the departure at 0935 hours.  There was plenty of time for a breakfast of pancakes and time to watch the end of the ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ movie on my laptop (left, Figure 4).

 

Figure 4. Whiling away time on laptop at Dorval (left), Canadair Regional Jet at Dorval (right)

The flight from Dorval to Moncton was on a Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) (right, Figure 4) which is not one of my favourite aircraft due to its cramped quarters and windows mounted so low that it forces me to bend over in my seat to see out.

 

Taking off from Dorval we passed over a couple of unpainted CRJs outside of Bombardier’s Dorval facility (left, Figure 5) and then over Montreal (right, Figure 5).

 

Figure 5. Pre-delivery Canadair Regional Jets at Dorval (left), CRJ winglet over Montreal (right)

Coming into land at Moncton, we passed over a classic highway cloverleaf (left, Figure 6) and I could see the shadow of our CRJ (right, Figure 6) passing over the ground.  We landed at 1215 hours and I picked up a rental car and was soon at my hotel, the Crowne Plaza, in downtown Moncton near the CSC offices.

 

Figure 6. Cloverleaf near Moncton (left), CRJ’s shadow when landing at Moncton (right)

Moncton

 

Moncton is located on the lower Petitcodiac River Valley that was originally settled by Acadians in the early 1700's but the valley fell under English control during the Seven Years' War, after the fall of Fort Beausejour in 1755. The Acadian population was subsequently expelled with English resettlement beginning in 1766 after the arrival of seven Pennsylvania Dutch families at Moncton.

 

Figure 7. Map of Moncton and area

The Petitcodiac River forms the southern boundary of Moncton (Figure 7).  This river exhibits one of North America's few tidal bores, a regularly occurring wave that travels up the river on the leading edge of the incoming tide, i.e. a tidal wave.  The bore is actually caused by the extreme tides of the Bay of Fundy which, due to the rapid rise of the incoming water levels, forcibly sends a retrograde wave of water flowing upstream in tributary rivers that normally flow into the bay.  This wave can vary in size depending on several factors including lunar phase and atmospheric pressure (storm surge) and is also influenced by the shape and the depth of the river. The incoming bore travels up the river on top of the outgoing water flow.

 

In 1968, the construction of the Petitcodiac River Causeway (clearly visible in Figure 7 beside the ‘Riverview’ label) created a permanent blockage to the natural flow of the river; resulting in the creation of the Petitcodiac headpond on the upstream side of the causeway. Downstream from the causeway, the river began to fill with silt, reducing the effect of the once-famous tidal bore and altering the river channel for several kilometres. The river had formerly been navigable to commercial vessels upstream as far as Moncton, but the rapid siltation of the river put an end to this.  Finally after years of pressure, the government has adopted a three phase plan to end up with a free-flowing river again.  This will eventually see the replacement of the causeway by a 280 m long bridge in 3-4 years.  During my visit, I could see the trucks dumping stone along the river bank to shore up vulnerable areas to allow the causeway gates to open.  As well on a local radio station, I heard an interview with a representative from the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper organization talking about their countdown to when the causeway gates will be opened in the spring of 2010.

 

On the short trip from the airport to downtown Moncton, I stopped for a look at the Petitcodiac River.  The tide was out exposing is muddy red banks (Figure 8).

 

Figure 8. The tide is out on the Petitcodiac River in Moncton

The older residential district near downtown has some interesting historic house (Figure 9).  As well the older part of Moncton has a number of interesting churches including one with an impressive entrance (Figure 10).

 

Figure 9. Historic houses in Moncton

 

Figure 10. Moncton church with an impressive entrance

Visit to the Magnetic Hill outside of Moncton

 

On NW outskirts of Monction is the Magnetic Hill (Figure 7) which has been a top attraction in New Brunswick for over 100 years. It was originally part of a provincial highway but the Magnetic Hill stretch of road was eventually sold to the City of Moncton and it has been preserved as a tourist attraction while a bypass highway was built around it.  I visited the Magnetic Hills years ago with my parents when it was part of the highway but this time it was very different and was a polished tourist attraction with a very impressive sign at the entrance (Figure 11). 

 

Figure 11. Magnetic Hill entrance

Because it was not tourist season, it was possible to drive the Magnetic Hill without paying the normal $5 fee.  I spent about a half hour at the site during which five cars came in to check out the hill.

 

The instructions for testing out the hill with one’s car were not exactly clear (Figure 12).  Point number 5 in the English instructions appears to indicate that you should go backwards up the hill.  The same point in French is clearer.

 

Figure 12. Instructions for Magnetic Hill

As can be seen in Figure 13, it does appear that the road from the white post to the horizon does slope up hill.  Following the instructions I stopped my car at the white post and put the car in neutral.  After taking my foot off the brake, the car moved forward reaching a top speed of 20 KPH (inset, Figure 13).

 

Figure 13. My car ready to be pulled up the Magnetic Hill

So what is the secret of the Magnetic Hill?  A magnetic hill (mystery hill or gravity road) is a place where the layout of the surrounding land produces the optical illusion that a very slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope.  Therefore a car left out of gear will appear to be rolling uphill.

 

The secret of the Magnetic Hill is readily apparent when one drives toward the white post in the left to right direction in Figure 13.  As one approaches the white post, it is readily apparent that the car is working to climb up the slope.  This is also clear if one walks toward the post in the same direction.  Therefore the mystery of the Magnetic Hill is much stronger if one approaches the post from the right side in Figure 13. 

 

On the return flight to Ottawa we passed over the Magnetic Hill and its companion Magic Mountain water park (Figure 14).

 

Figure 14. Aerial view of the Magnetic Hill and Magic Mountain water park

Shediac - The Giant Lobster and Flying Boats

 

The Giant Lobster is located in Rotary Park where it figures as a focal point at the town's entrance.  The Giant Lobster was built in 1992 and measures 11 metres (35 ft) in length, 5 metres(15 ft) in width and stands a 5 metres(16 ft) in height.  It is touted as the world's largest lobster because it weighs approximately 90 tonnes in toto (55 tonnes for the lobster and 35 tonnes for its pedestal).  I saw the lobster in 1999 when my parents and brother were returning from a visit to Newfoundland.  My father who was born and raise at Sandy Beach in Gaspé told us that his father talked about a couple of fellows who caught a large lobster that was so big they got scared and pushed him overboard using the oars.  Perhaps this lobster tale inspired the Giant Lobster!J

 

Along the shoreline near the lobster are a series of stores for tourist that resemble a fishing village.  However these were closed when I visited around 1900 hours well before the tourist season.

 

Figure 15. At the Giant Lobster in Shediac

There wasn’t much happening in Shediac when I visited but there certainly was during the age of the flying boat.  On 13 July 1933, the Italian General Italo Balbo, Minister of Aviation in Benito Mussolini’s cabinet, and his armada of 24 Savoia Manchetti S-55 flying boats alighted on Shediac Bay having completed the first massed flight of aircraft ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  The armada was on its way to the Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition (left, Figure 16).  The flight was undertaken for political propaganda purposes to emphasize military exploits and it served to draw the Italian people's attention away from the effects of the depression.

 

Figure 16. Poster for Balbo’s expedition to Chicago (left), Balbo’s armada in 1933 (right)

General Italo flight from went from Orbetello, Italy to the Chicago via Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Cartwright (center bottom, Figure 16 shows planes in Newfoundland), Shediac and Montreal.  After a month, it returned to Rome via New York, Shoal Harbour and Lisbon.  It toto the distance covered was an impressive 12,000 miles.

 

Figure 17. Italian flying boat anchored in Shediac Bay in 1933

Prior to the trip, the Italians tested 96 of their S-55 flying boats and selected the best 25 ships for the expedition.  The S-55s were large twin-hulled planes with the pilots' compartment housed in a bridge between the hulls (Figure 17).  They were powered by two 800 HP engines in a push-me/pull-me arrangement above the cockpit.  Their cruising speed was 137 MPH with a cruising range of 2,500 miles.

 

The people of Shediac had prepared for their arrival by installing 25 stone anchors (weighing 2,000 pounds each) for moorings, setting up a fuel depot and installing telephone and telegraph lines.  Over three dozen Mounties were tasked with crowd control and protection of the seaplanes.  Even a special Canadian National Railways train was engaged to bring spectators from Moncton.

 

The planes were expected on 14 July but they arrived one day early despite having lost one plane in an accident in Europe.  The planes touched down one by one over a half hour period in the late afternoon.  After which the pilots were taken ashore from their flying boat moorings by a naval tender provided by the Royal Canadian Navy destroyer HMCS Saguenay.  They were welcomed and saluted by a guard of honour from the Saguenay, and at the following reception, General Balbo led the aviators in a fascist cheer and salute to their leader Mussolini, Il Duce.  The next day the flotilla was off to Chicago via Montreal where they proved to be a major attraction for a month.  Balbo was killed by Italian gunfire in 1940 while returning to the Tobruk airfield in Libya.

 

Shediac’s history with flying boats was not over as in 1939 PanAm set up a way station for their Clipper flying boat service between the US and Europe.  The supporting infrastructure was a Customs House and administration offices for PanAm built at Pointe du Chêne (4 km NW of Shediac).  The Yankee Clipper flew across the Atlantic on a route from New York to Southampton with intermediate stops at Shediac, New Brunswick; Botwood, Newfoundland; and Foynes, Ireland.

 

Figure 18. PanAm Clippers (Boeing 314 flying boat)

The inaugural flight occurred on 24 June 1939 carrying both transatlantic airmail and passengers including the comedian Bob Hope and the actor Edward G. Robinson.  Unfortunately for Shediac, the onset of World War II led to cancellation of the service in the fall of 1939 since commercial flight was becoming too dangerous.  However on 14 January 1943, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt flew a PanAm clipper across the Atlantic to the Casablanca Conference to meet with Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain about wartime planning.

 

By war’s end, advances in technology had led to land-based aircraft and airfields replacing the necessity for flying boats and ending the use of Shediac Bay as a landing area for transatlantic airplane service.

Returning to Ottawa

 

The flight from Moncton to Ottawa left about 25 minutes late at 1700 hours.  Again the plane was a CRJ.  Coming into Dorval we passed over a number impressive gravel pits (left, Figure 19).  While waiting on the tarmac for the skycart to get my carry-on, I saw the future passing by the past as a Porter Airlines Dash-8 passed the Air Canada hangar (right, Figure 19).

 

Figure 19. Gravel pit near Dorval (left), Porter Airlines Dash-8 passes Air Canada hangar at Dorval

At Dorval at 1835 hours, I caught an Air Canada A320 for the flight to Ottawa (it was bound for Edmonton).

 

While taxing to the runway at the Dorval Airport, we passed by the Air Canada Airbus A320 (registration number C-FFWN) that was painted in the livery in 2002 to celebrate Air Canada’s 65th anniversary.  In fact it was Air Canada's predecessor, Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) that had its inaugurated flight on September 1, 1937.

 

As can be seen in Figure 20, the 65th anniversary livery covers all 37.6 meters of the aircraft.  The livery is named "Symphony of Voices" in recognition of the thousands of Air Canada employees who contributed their names that form the red maple leaf.  Listed in alphabetical order, the names are approximately 15 mm in height and are painted Air Canada red.

 

Figure 20. Air Canada 65th anniversary plane (1937-2002) at Dorval, Montreal

After deplaning in Ottawa I picked up my car at the Park'N Fly and arrived home at 2000 hours.


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