Travel

New Brunswick’s Natural Beauty And Noggin Befuddling Road Signs

When you are driving along the Trans Canadian Highway in New Brunswick, two things strike you. The first is the natural beauty of the landscape with its rocky outcroppings and dense pine forests. The second thing is the noggin befuddling road signs.

New Brunswick’s Natural Beauty

New Brunswick is all about experiencing nature in its most pristine state. The province is one of the three Canadian Maritimes, which also include Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The southern part of New Brunswick, which we visited, is bounded by the Bay of Fundy (with a rise of 52 ft, it has one of the highest tides in the world). Our pre-vacation research indicated that The Fundy National Park was one of the must-see attractions of the province. So, despite the fact that it was foggy and drizzling the day of our visit, we were determined to push on regardless. We selected the Matthews Head Trail because it is considered to be a moderately difficult hike and was purported to offer stunning views of the coast. The trail descended a steep path through the misty, verdant Acadian forest carpeted with beautiful emerald ferns and moss.

Root strewn trail through the Fundy National Park --New Brunswick's Natural Beauty And Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
Tree roots make the trail hard to negotiate, but the lush greenery of the trees, moss, and lichen make it worth the trouble.
Ferns carpet the forest floor in the Fundy National Park --New Brunswick's Natural Beauty And Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
Delicate ferns thrive on the forest floor throughout much of the trail despite the dense tree canopy.

New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs

Unfortunately, when we reached the coastline, the fog was so thick that the view of the Bay of Fundy was completely obscured. Nevertheless, the dramatic craggy cliffs were quite awe inspiring. And though we were disappointed to be denied the promised vistas over the water, the fog created a unique and wonderful feeling of being entirely cocooned and secluded in our misty communion with the woods.

Coastline of the Bay of Fundy --New Brunswick: Natural Beauty And Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
The coastline of the Bay of Fundy is the payoff at the bottom of the trail.

Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs

Foggy view of the Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick:'s Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
At the end of the trail, we encountered steep rocky cliffs that dropped down into the Bay of Fundy. Unfortunately, the promised view of the bay was completely shrouded in fog.

In the interest of complete disclosure, I have to confess that the trek back up the trail was extremely taxing and being the drama queen that I am, I did sit down at one point and suggested that my husband just leave me there.

The Fundy National Park-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
This particular trail is a loop, so you don’t traverse the same path you descended on your ascent. Ridiculously, I had hoped that the return to the trailhead would be less steep with fewer roots and rocks– no luck.

Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs

However, when we finally made it back to the car I and I had an opportunity rest my poor knees, I experienced the pride of reaching the summit of my own tiny Everest. And, more importantly, I was happy that we had taken the opportunity to experience first hand, New Brunswick’s natural beauty.

New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs

New Brunswick’s Noggin Befuddling Road Signs

While I appreciated the province’s landscape, navigating it was problematic, not just because the terrain is challenging but also because their road signs confused me.  New Brunswick is bilingual and in attempt to communicate succinctly to both English and French speakers, they have adopted an elaborate pictorial vocabulary for their sign posts. As Americans, we are used to seeing certain pictograms on signs indicating what amenities, such as gas, food, and lodging can be found at a particular exit off the highway. These symbols are pretty straightforward and easy to decipher–a fuel pump for gas stations, utensils for restaurants, and a bed for hotels. However, as we cruised down the relatively traffic-free roadways in New Brunswick, we were so puzzled by some of the signage that it felt like we were playing and losing some strange game of road trip Pictionary or whacko Hūsker Dū.

This curly-cue was one of the first symbols on an exit sign we encountered that perplexed us. What could it mean? You are entering a swirling vortex? Dr. Suessian plant life here? Who knows? Determined to figure it out, I immediately googled Canadian road signs and every other permutation of this query I could think of. We couldn’t find a single official site that explained the meaning of this enigmatic pictograph.

New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
I did finally discover that this crazy symbol is meant to depict a fiddlehead fern and indicates a Scenic Drive ahead. How the heck are you supposed to get that from this strange hieroglyph?

As we continued to travel the highway, we encountered additional signs that were equally mystifying. We started to collect them and come up with our own explanations of what they represented. This sign clearly depicts a barn but instead of animals, it is filled will people–curious. Were they having barn dances? We hadn’t gotten our Dosey Doe on since Jr. High but we were game.

Apparently, this is meant to denote agrotourism. Honestly, I didn’t even know that agrotourism was a thing.

I posited that this sign was warning us about angry pregnant beavers. My husband thought perhaps it was pointing the way to an impressive dam you could tour, you know, like Hoover Dam.

Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
In this instance, the triangulated beaver is supposed to indicate that a Canadian Park can be found at the exit.

This one really stumped us. Was this alerting us that instead of a rest room, a chamber pot would be provided at this particular exit? Or was it a reference to the musical “Oliver,” where Oliver Twist lifts his bowl up and asks, “please sir, may I have some more?” Perhaps they were offering gruel to wayward travelers.

Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
This odd sign is supposed to represent Local Artisan Crafts.

When we saw this sign we joked that it indicated that if you exited the highway here, you would dream of egg cups or maybe, they were saying, we have rooms for rent over our hen house.

Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
Although we didn’t immediately get this one, we did manage to figure out relatively quickly that this indicated a Bed And Breakfast.

We were really excited when we saw this sign, as the only meaning we could come up with was that they would be so thrilled by our visit, that the mayor would offer us the key to the city in some lavish ceremony.

Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
I still have no idea what this means.

This one was so confounding that, even though we were totally into our hilarious road sign guessing game, we couldn’t come up with even a single idea for this mind bending rune.

Bay of Fundy-- New Brunswick's Natural Beauty and Noggin Befuddling Road Signs
?

I would love to hear your interpretation of this and any of the other signs we encountered.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in another post about our trip to New Brunswick:

 

 

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31 thoughts on “New Brunswick’s Natural Beauty And Noggin Befuddling Road Signs

  1. Oh Lisa,
    What a fabulous trip. I showed my husband and in his words “that is Awesome”. I think I have an added trip to my bucket list. I have always wanted to see Canada. Your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for being my traveling writer.
    DH

    1. Thanks so much. I am glad you are enjoying the photos. If you like the pics of New Brunswick you will flip over Prince Edward Island (although my pics don’t really do it justice). It’s so gorgeous that we are seriously thinking of buying property there.

  2. Spectacular scenery that I enjoyed immensely from a comfortable chair – thanks for doing all the hard work for us! I’m clueless about that last sign!

    1. Thanks for joining me as an armchair traveler. I am determined to figure out that sign and if I do, I’ll let you know.

  3. You had me laughing out loud with your sign husker du. I liked the angry, pregnant beavers best. I think the last sign is: If you turn right here, you can wash your clothes on a washboard, but don’t turn your back on the craggy rocks.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. You should have seen us driving down the highway in New Brunswick, we were totally cracking each other up. I think they must have been on some serious drugs when they came up with some of those signs. I think your washboard idea is an excellent guess!

  4. I’m chuckling right now 🙂 I live in Miramichi, New Brunswick, and yes, our road signs can be crazy to decipher! The key means there is a designated heritage site/museum nearby – the key to our past. The fiddlehead stands for a scenic river valley drive ( where fiddleheads grow in abundance in the spring) and the weird round one? I can not find it anywhere, nor have I seen one. My best guess is that it means there is an aboriginal heritage site nearby.
    I’m so glad you enjoyed Fundy Park 🙂 There really is so much to experience in our beautiful Picture Province!

    1. Thank you, Jenny, for helping to unravel the mystery of some of New Brunswick’s road signs. We loved NB. It is so beautiful and peaceful and while perplexing, we enjoyed your road signs as well. Thanks so much for commenting. I really appreciate it.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. New Brunswick is truly gorgeous. It was not our first rodeo with fog either. We have been to Niagra Falls three different times over the years and on two of those occasions, the fog was so thick that you could stand on the edge, hear the water and feel the spray, but not see a darn thing!

      1. Same thing in the Smokies – that is why they’re called the Smokey Mountains. I remember driving to the top of the tallest mountain once and a group of tourists were standing and griping about the fog. One guy said, I drove a thousand miles to see fog?

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. The last sign continues to be a mystery. It looks a bit like an alien hatching. Let’s hope that’s not what it is!

  5. Well, if the beauty of the trail you shared, wasn’t enough, the giggles that ensued as I tried to decipher your signs was. Great writing!
    🙂 gwingal

  6. Wow, we live on the west coast of Canada which is also amazingly beautiful. However, having put 5000km on a rental car to tour the Maritimes we can honestly say it was one of our top most beautiful holidays ever. We toured in late Fall and the colours were spectacular. We also thought of buying there but it is just too far for our family to visit regularly. You are truly blessed.

    1. Yes. I was definitely feeling my age on that upward trail. But, New Brunswick really is beautiful and we enjoyed every minute of our vacation there, even the crazy road signs. They really gave us something to laugh about. Thanks so much for commenting.

  7. We went on a cruise where New Brunswick was one of the stops. It was beautiful, but you never really get to see everything when you cruise. I think that we need to make a trip back. Thank you for sharing on the Pin Junkie link party.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I agree with you. Even though we were there for several days, we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to. We will definitely make another visit to beautiful New Brunswick.

  8. Those roadsigns are fabulous! The last one means ‘beware of fire consuming you from the left while you are wearing a fabulous bird costume’ and the key is clearly’ exit here for an explanaiton of all the signs’.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I love your interpretation of New Brunswick’s wacky road signs. You’d definitely win the game of Car Husker Du!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on my New Brunswick post. It is a beautiful place and the road signs certainly kept us entertained!

  9. Thank you! We were trying to figure out what a twisted, bent potato had to do with the Bay of Fundy. It wasn’t until we saw the close-up that the beaver emerged. And my search lead me here for the explanation. You’d think there would be an official on-line listing. Alas.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. It does look like a twisted bent potato! You do have to wonder if they intentionally made the signs so indecipherable to just mess with the tourists.

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