Sept. 15: Neptune Drive-In, Shediac NB

It’s Day 258 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. After a week of driving four hours or more every day, I was very happy to spend just over an hour to get from Sussex, New Brunswick to the Neptune Drive-In in Shediac NB.

According to an article in the Times & Transcript, copied into notes on a 2008 petition at GoPetition.com, then-owner Gilles LeBlanc’s father opened the Neptune in 1964. Cinema Treasures says the drive-in closed in 1985 but reopened in 1990. Then around 2006 it closed again, as Gilles put the place up for sale. That petition was delivered to the mayor of Shediac, who had earlier said the town could not afford the asking price of over $1 million.

(By the way, who was Gilles’s father, the founder of the Neptune? In a 2016 obituary, one Gilles LeBlanc, son of Edgar LeBlanc, passed away in Shediac at the age of 60. A 2005 New Brunswick news release said that “Shediac-area resident” Gilles A. LeBlanc pleaded guilty to a violation of the Clean Water Act related to “property owned by his father, Azor LeBlanc.” Then there was the Gilles LeBlanc, former Director of Material Resources for Villa Providence Shediac and son of Ronald LeBlanc, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 53. Was the Neptune’s Gilles one of these? I just don’t know.)

In 2010, “a local business person bought the property and approached (Jeff) Coates with a suggestion to lease the drive-in business,” according to a story in The Globe and Mail. Coates joined with Robert Farquharson to lease the Neptune. In the 2012-13 offseason, they switched to digital projection.

This video of the day, a 2013 report from Global News, casts doubt on the date the Neptune opened, but it’s also a nice interview with Coates and a peek at the freshly converted projection room. For another, wobblier, look at what it was like to visit the drive-in in 2014, check out YouTube.

On my final night in Canada this year, I got a chance to see a new release, American Assassin. I’m always happy to find an active drive-in during the off-season, and doubly glad to watch something fresh.

Miles Today / Total: 69 / 30477 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: American Assassin / 164

Nearby Restaurant: So I’m at the beach, and I want something historic yet inexpensive. The solution was Chez Léo‘s fried clams. It’s only takeout, and the fries aren’t nearly as wonderful, but those fresh, tasty clams can’t be matched just anywhere.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I couldn’t find a chain hotel in Shediac itself, which left me open to a reasonably priced night at the Hôtel Shediac. It’s in the middle of town but looks like it was built recently. My “executive floor” king bed room had the full set of modern amenities including a Keurig. With the pancake machine, breakfast was like a Holiday Inn Express. It’s all good.

Only in Shediac: Remember Animaland, concrete sculptor Winston Bronnum’s park from yesterday? Bronnum also built the most remarkable item in Shediac, the world’s largest lobster. The town calls itself the “Lobster Capital of the World,” so naturally it needed the lifelike 35-foot-long sculpture to remind visitors.

Next stop: Bangor Drive-In, Bangor ME.

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