Land in sight!

I left Fredericton and followed the highway back into Nova Scotia. I still had a day to spare before my friend Eiko was coming, so I decided to make a stop over at the “Five Islands Provincial Park”. By the time I had reached the park, the drizzle had stopped and I could set up my tent with a perfect view of the bay. Since it was still high tide, there was no point in going to the beach, as it was non-existent.

Looking out into the bay of the “Five Islands Provincial Park”
The “Five Islands Lighthouse”

The next morning I packed up everything and headed to the beach. This area of the “Bay of Fundy” is famous for the numerous semi-precious stones that can be found between the high tides. They are deposited by the strong currents or fall down from the mineral-rich cliffs, which are slowly eroded by wind and waves. I did find a cool rock, but I didn’t know if it was just quartz or something more, so I left it there, hidden under a big rock, waiting for the ocean to reclaim it.

The colorful rock formations are only visible from the beach
I decided to take a picture instead of the rock since I had enough luggage

My next stop was also very specific to this area – tidal rafting! And it turned out to be one of my favorite things to do on the east coast. I had booked it with one of the biggest companies on the Shubenacadie River, which had everything perfectly organized. And timing is the key factor here! After everyone had put on their yellow rain gear (for wind protection) we headed to the water, where we could see the tidal bore, a small wave, coming up on the river.

Preparing to go tidal rafting in bright yellow rain gear

We saw giant sandbanks disappearing within five minutes – a 12m difference between high and low tide means that the water level rises 1m per 30 mins on average, often even faster. For the next hour we were riding the up to 2m tall waves created by the tidal currents that pushed the water up and inland. It was a lot of fun and everyone got soaked!  I couldn’t imagine how it would be with 5m waves, the highest ones that our guide had had in her four years of working here.

Back in Halifax it was already nighttime

After a hot shower I drove back to Halifax, where Sarah had successfully defended her Master’s thesis. Together we had a look at the activities offered in the downtown area for the “Tall Ship Days”. The waterfront was full of famous ships, including the “Blue Nose II”, but all of them were already closed for the day. Instead we had a look at one of the busker shows, where a group of international street artists were playing with light and fire.

The street artists were playing with light and fire

As Sarah had more time now, she also showed me the “Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park” the next day. It’s not too far from the city and offers hikes along the beautiful coastline. The big rocks reminded me a bit of “Peggy’s Cove”, just without the tourists. That might also have been due to the weather, which was quite foggy, compared to Halifax where we had left while it was still sunny. And as we returned to the city we left the fog behind.

The weather was pretty foggy when we visited “Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park”
Fortunately the rocks were not slippery, so we could explore the rocky coastline

All afternoon we walked around the waterfront and tried to get a closer look at the different ships. Most of them were open for a visit, but we didn’t feel like lining up for too long, so we only went onboard the “Blue Nose II”, where everyone was shuffled over the upper deck for a quick look. And after a huge serving of delicious fish and chips in Dartmouth, located on the opposite side of the bay, I drove out to the airport once again. This time it was for Eiko.

On board the “Blue Nose II”
This Spanish ship looked like it was from a pirate movie

Living like the kings

After I had gathered enough energy, I continued the journey through New Brunswick on my own. For most people it’s just a “drive-through province” to get from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island or vice versa, but I had a few spare days to discover more. I continued along the Fundy shore until I got to St. Andrews, a small town right at the border to the US. It has several attractions to offer, one of them being the mansion of Sir William Cornelius van Horne.

The mansion of Sir William Cornelius van Horne has fifty rooms
The “games room” is dominated by the giant pool table

In 1888, van Horne used to be responsible for building the Canadian Pacific Railway to connect the country from coast to coast. He managed to do so under time and under budget – pretty amazing for such an ambitious project! Even the queen was impressed and rewarded him with the knighthood. The house, which used to be his summer home, is located on a small island and can only be visited at low tide, when the access road is not flooded. Right next to it is a “bath house”, where he used to go bathing in his natural swimming pool.

The bath house and the natural pool (right side), which got fresh water with every high tide

Another attraction of St. Andrews is the “block house”, a small wooden hut that was used for defense during American civil war. Back then, Loyalists, who were still loyal to the British crown, fled from the states and sought refuge on the Canadian side of the border. There used to be several of these small towers to defend strategic places such as the harbour, but most of them did not survive the troubled times. This one almost burned down a few years ago, when someone purposely set it on fire.

The block house is an old defensive structure right by the waterfront

The block house was heavily armed

After I had walked through the picturesque downtown area with the colourful wooden houses, I continued back inland. I had chosen the “Kings Landing Settlement” as my next destination. It was advertised as a historic reenactment of early days of European settlement in Canada (ca. 1820-1920). I expected something similar to “Fort Louisbourg”, just more focused on the life of the plain people. And I was not disappointed by what I found.

Taking a stroll through the downtown area of St. Andrew’s by the Sea

The old style “Algonquin Resort Hotel” is towering above the city

I followed the dirt road that led from the entrance to a small village. From time to time I had to make way for some of the horse drawn carriages that transported unwilling walkers through the area. But on foot it was easier to take a peek into the printing room, where someone was showing how the manual press worked, or talk to the villagers, who were complaining that the cows had escaped their basic non-electrical fence and had eaten half of one of the vegetable gardens.

Visitors can walk or take one of the horse-drawn carriages

Each house has its own vegetable garden

Another building was home to the village school. One room, where about fifteen students were reciting the poems that the teacher found suitable. Next door was the general store, where the farmers would go for tools and hardware or their wives for much needed household articles. Everything was neatly furnished and decorated and the properly dressed actors completed the picture and brought you back to the times long gone.

The village school has only one room

Time stands still inside the general store

On the way back out I talked to some other villagers, who pointed me the way to the fully functional mill right by the river. On one side was the flour mill, grinding buckwheat into flour while leaving the shells behind. These could then be recycled and used as filling for pillows. On the other side of the river was a sawmill, like it was used for turning logs into thin boards. The giant turning cogwheels made a lot of squeaking noises, but were quite impressive.

Flour mill (right side) and sawing mill (left side) are fully functional

The villagers are happy to give an insight to their daily lives

After leaving the “Kings Landing Settlement”, which probably never saw a king on its premises, I drove straight to Fredericton. Despite being the capital city of New Brunswick, it’s only the third largest city in the province, after Moncton and Saint John and has less than 60.000 inhabitants. It was named after the second son of King William III of Britain – Frederic Augustus. For me it was just a short stop on my way back to Nova Scotia.

Fredericton has several grand buildings despite its relatively small size

The old barracks are now in the city center