Posted Up in Sackville

Despite the impending first snowfall of the year, Oliver and I have temporarily relocated to Sackville, New Brunswick–90 minutes and half a world away from Charlottetown–for The Weather Station gig tonight at Thunder & Lightning.

The original plan was to stay at the Fairfield in Moncton, 30 minutes up the road and on the fringe of that urban wonderland, but the threat of post-show-snow forced me to cancel our reservation there last minute (thank you, Marriott, for allowing that!) and book us in to the Coastal Inn in Sackville, just 20 minutes walk from the venue.

Oliver’s first impressions of the Coastal Inn: “it’s not swanky and modern.”

Which is about as good a description of the Coastal Inn as I can imagine: it’s a decidedly utilitarian hotel at the intersection of Sackville and the highway, and I expect that the bulk of its business comes from hockey tournaments, waterfowl tourism, Mount Allison University proximity and stranded winter travelers. But it’s clean, the staff are friendly, and it’s possible to walk downtown through a trail dedicated to the aforementioned waterfowl.

Oliver is spoiled, of course. He’s seen all manner of interesting accommodations, from Osaka to Liguria. So what did I expect?

Sackville is a town that reveals itself slowly. For years we paid it no heed, missing it entirely on the way both to Ontario and to Nova Scotia.

But then Shauna McCabe invited me to speak to her Mount Allison class back in 2008 (about psychogeography and Plazes), and I had coffee at the Bridge Street Café, and got into the habit, thereafter, of making Sackville a pit stop on the way elsewhere.

I peeled away another layer when I saw Stephen Fearing here in 2014, and, more recently, I’ve been parking my car at Rod Allen’s lot and heading east or west on VIA Rail.

Today we discovered the Cranewood Bakery, tucked in behind the Bridge Street strip: excellent coffee in the former Mount Allison presidential manse.

And, as a little diversion before we even landed here, we took the road 20 minutes north to see the imposing Dorchester Penitentiary, which we’d previously seen only from the return VIA train back in June.

Like Charlottetown, Sackville is a town better outfitted than those of similar size elsewhere.

In Charlottetown it’s because we’re the provincial capital; in Sackville’s case it’s because of Mount Allison. There would be no cause to have good coffee, tasty milkshakes, and tony bookstores and art galleries without Mount A; it would be Montague rather than North Adams. (Although, it must be said, even Montague has a craft microbrewery now).

In a few minutes we’ll don our all-weather gear, suit up Ethan, and head downtown for supper at Mel’s before heading a few doors down for the show. The Weather Station has proved so popular that they’ve put on a second, earlier show that starts at 6:00 p.m., which is just fine for our too-old-and-too-young-to-really-rock selves. That said, the drink special is the Negroni tonight, so we might have a repeat of The Paris Situation. Thank goodness for Oliver.