Tag Archives: New Brunswick

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

Wel(l)come to New Brunswick

Slowly Raghu’s time on the east coast was coming to an end. His flight back to Calgary was leaving from Saint John in New Brunswick. We said farewell to the island and took the impressive 13 km “Confederation Bridge” that connects Prince Edward Island to the mainland. We continued on the main highway and arrived in Moncton, where we had heard about the “Magnetic Hill”. This is an optical illusion, where cars can defy gravity and go uphill in neutral gear.

The “Confederation Bridge” connects Prince Edward Island with New Brunswick
“Magnetic Hill” is an optical illusion, where cars can defy gravity

After this short but amusing stopover we changed direction and drove down to the coast. This is where the “Hopewell Rocks” are located at the Bay of Fundy. And this time I had looked up the right tide tables, which was important as we wanted to witness the highest tides in the world. We arrived exactly at high tide and hustled to get a good view of the famous cliffs. But except for a few people in kayaks there was not much to see. And the tall rock columns looked more like their nickname – “Flower pots”.

High tide at the “Hopewell Rocks” is popular for kayaking

Since the tides are about six hours apart, the tickets are valid for re-entering during the next two days. So we decided to leave the muddy brown waters behind to look for a nice lunch spot. We followed the coastline and found a picture perfect calm bay at “Cape Enrage”. With the sun shining from the bright blue sky and a happy stomach it was difficult to get going again. But we had to hurry up, if we wanted to set up our tent at the “Fundy National Park” and return to the “Hopewell Rocks” on time for the low tide.

“Cape Enrage” was a lot less crowded than the “Hopewell Rocks”
The bay was a perfect spot for our picnic

And once again luck was on our side and we managed to get the last spot at the campground in the national park. Once we had set up our tent it was time to head back. We parked our car in what seemed to be the same parking lot, but when we got to the viewing platforms, we couldn’t believe our eyes – there was hardly any ocean in sight! The water had retreated quite far, leaving behind a red and muddy landscape, scattered with deep channels.

The sea as we had seen it a few hours before…
… had turned into a muddy landscape with deep channels

Where there had been kayakers just hours ago there were now dozens of people walking and exploring the ocean floor. Of course we also headed down the stairs to have a look. Soon we realized that we had to take off our shoes in order to get a closer look, there was just no way of avoiding the more than ankle deep mud. It was definitely a cool experience and quite puzzling to think about the fact that this had been covered by more than ten meters of water the last time we had been here.

Now we were able to explore the sea floor
It was impossible to avoid the mud, so we just took off our shoes

After this hands-on, or rather feets-on experience we were happy to find a cleaning station at the top of the cliffs, where we could wash off the mud with high pressure hoses. By then we had decided to go back to the bay at “Cape Enrage” for what we thought would be a suitable location for an awesome farewell dinner. But the slight wind that had been there during lunch time had died down, giving hundreds mosquitoes the chance to take over the beach. Somehow we managed to cook, but eventually we retreated to car for dining in peace.

The cleaning station on top of the cliffs was well in use
The mosquitoes had turned our perfect spot into a little nightmare

For the next day we had looked up a nice hike in the “Fundy National Park”, but there was a lot of construction going on and we couldn’t reach our chosen trailhead. Instead we changed our plans and went on a short hike through the woods around “Bennett Lake” and “Tracey Lake”. It was nothing spectacular, but it was nice and quiet and a good place to calm down after everything we had seen the last few days.

The family version of the typical red chairs at “Bennett Lake”
After a short hike through the woods it was time to say goodbye to Raghu

From here it was not far anymore to Saint John, where I had to say goodbye to Raghu. And while he was heading back to Calgary, I was resting some more to get my diary up to date before returning to Halifax to pick up my friend Eiko.