About us

We have had a cottage in the Cocagne area since 2001. Our first trip here was to the Bouctouche Bay Inn. It was a cold fall day but the trip was wonderful and romantic enough for us to look for a cottage to rent the following summer. We found one in Caissie Cape and then from that Caissie Cape base we started to look for a cottage of our own. Months later we came upon a deal in Breau Village we couldn’t pass up and we’ve been here ever since.

Our first journalistic tour together took us to Indiantown, FL, to visit Mayan refugees from Guatemala. We made that trip in the tiny red Toyota Tercel Elaine’s father left her. It was Elaine, me and my son, Christopher, and we had a lot of fun talking to people, taking photos and recording voices.

We’re getting back to that spirit with our exploration of Acadie. We’ve done a rough sketch starting at Baie Verte where New Brunswick meets Nova Scotia and, so far, we’ve gotten as far as Miscou and Prince Edward Island with our picture taking. 

But our work these last few years has been as much about exploring “us” as it has been about exploring Acadie. We’re away from each other during much of the week these days and we need to reconnect. Somehow, our love affair with Acadie and with each other are inextricably intertwined. This isn’t just fun. We need to do this

Elaine Mandrona profile photo on Bouctouche Boardwalk

Elaine Mandrona

By trade Elaine is a massage therapist and nutritional consultant and ran a gym in Moncton for a few years. She works at Tidewater Physio in Lower Coverdale, near Moncton, these days. 

Originally from Connecticut, she has enough New York City blood in her to make me wary at times. If cold calls need to be made, she’s the one for the job, but I’m careful who I suggest we call because with her no-nonsense/get-it-done-now approach they’ll likely be sitting in our living room the next day waiting to be interviewed. I met her at a community radio station in Fredericton and there’s never been anyone else for me since.

The Navigator

She’s the navigator partly because I do most of the driving, but mostly because she loves maps. She’s slowly wallpapering our cottage with contour maps of Acadie. Add to that her excellent sense of direction and it’s not hard to see why she’s the one who gets us from point A to point B. 

I must confess, though, that some of my most satisfying moments are when I remember where an obscure turn will take us and she doesn’t. That satisfaction comes because she’s the one with the memory.

She remembers which birds migrate and which ones will be the first ones back. She remembers their songs, too. She remembers what we saw the last time we went down a particular road and what a building looked like before it was renovated. The latter goes along with her hobby of real estate. If she could squeeze more hours into the week, she would sell cottages, especially little cottages, her favourite.

She loves fish dinners but wonders why in a place where so much fish are being caught, it’s so hard to find a good, cheap fish dinner. Not fish and chips. A fish dinner.

Archie Nadon profile photo

Archie Nadon

On our team of two, Archie is the bridge between the creative and the technical. He’s the one who’s computer-savvy and finds sneaky ways to get me to use different programs and the web despite my Luddite tendencies. He moves me ahead in that way.

He grew up in North Bay,  ON, and, as he tells it, always longed to live by the ocean. It took him 30 years to get to the shore here, but then again, he’s persistent. It was his idea to buy a cottage. I remember when he proposed the idea to me at Caissie Cape it seemed like a radical move, but we have never looked back.

His family is French-Canadian, but not Acadian. They’re from Quebec and Northern Ontario from a long way back. His parents spoke French but he doesn’t but definitely would like to connect to his roots so exploring Acadie is a way of exploring his larger family. He says some of the Acadians here look like his people. We even saw someone once who was the spitting image of his own father, Archie Sr. Their real name is “Achille” but the name was garbled into “Archie” by anglophones long ago.

Archie is always in motion with lots of imaginative ideas for creative projects. He makes work playful. He likes travel to be a purposeful exploration. He’s the one who actually made a living in years past doing both journalism and photography, learning most of the ropes from a small pamphlet that he sent away for. In mid-life he went back to school to further his computer skills. He worked for a time at CFB Gagetown as a Flash developer making training courseware for soldiers but is now working towards becoming an editor. Camp Gagetown was where he was once posted as a soldier in the late seventies.

For sure, he’s the techie — sound recorder, equipment organizer, battery charger — for our photographic forays, and getting it all to work online. I hate driving and he loves it so he’s the operator of the transportation device as well.

When interviewing people, he can quickly get to the heart of the matter with his probing but gentle questions. Must be his background in psychology. People open up to him and usually like him immediately. He makes people laugh.