Memramcook — The cradle still rocks

The village of Memramcook, NB, may be known as Le Berceau de L’Acadie — the Cradle of Acadie — but I came for a massage. I’m at the Memramcook Institute, formerly the Collège Saint-Joseph, the first successful Acadian institution of higher education. That college laid the groundwork for the modern day Université de Moncton. Times changed and the college morphed into a resort, the resort has a spa and here I am.

For a really good massage that can transform stress and body blockages, a lot of elements have to come together. The physical environment, the ambiance and the therapist — you need to get a sense that all of these things are right for you.  Every massage is different, but if any of the basic elements are out of whack, the experience can be more frustrating than healing. I know all of this from both on and above the massage table because I’ve been a massage therapist for 18 years. I work my body hard and it gets sore and distorted and tight and I need someone who really understands my body to get it all to release.

buidling face

Andrée Poirier Massotherapist

Andree poirier headshot

Andrée Poirier — My therapist that day

The Memramcook Spa is on the third floor of the Memramcook Institute. The lovely old building with its high ceilings, old woodwork and large windows has an ambiance that lends itself to relaxation and introspection. I like the fact that both learning and worship — two of the more evolved human activities — once took place here. The atmosphere is quiet, soothing, contemplative.

I first came here with my daughter for a going-back-to-school treat last August. I booked a massage with the therapist available that day, Andrée Poirier. It turned out well. Better than well, it was the best massage that I have had for a long, long time. So I booked with her again. I never asked her if she was related to Pascal Poirier, the first Acadian chosen to serve as a senator by John A. MacDonald and educated at the Collège Saint-Joseph, now the Memramcook Institute.  Next time I will ask about her connection to the place.

She was very present while doing her work on me — she paid attention. She combined basic Swedish massage with myofascial release and energy work. In layman’s terms, she did some basic stroking and kneading, some deeper work on my stuck spots by stretching the fascia (connective tissue that surrounds muscles and bones) and by frictions.  But best of all, I could feel her attention and soothing, focused, healing energy. She was also trained in Reiki. We were both in a meditative state as she worked slowly, deliberately and with great compassion. I felt great afterward, like a new woman.

Acadie reinvented

It’s curious the path things take sometimes, how everything can come together to structure a memorable experience. This place of learning and spirituality for the Acadian people reinvented itself —metamorphosed into a place of healing and recreation. My Acadian therapist is part of a new generation that has moved forward: competent, confident and generous. The cradle still rocks, although now to a different tempo.