“What’s best about those seaside towns is that they are like time warps, and that’s why people go there.”
Nestled along the Passamaquoddy Bay of New Brunswick, Canada, is a charming colonial town as rich in beauty as it is in historical significance. Consistently voted as one of the 10 most beautiful towns in the country, St Andrews by the Sea, is a perfect capture of the relaxed character of maritime life. Views of the Fundy Isles link life in St Andrews to the infamous Bay of Fundy, where tides rise and fall up to 28 feet daily, a magical place identified as one of the 50 most intriguing places in the world. From the friendly faces and stunning shoreline views, to the sailing ships and seafood platters, summer is a time of life and energy, swelling this town of 1800 permanent residents to touristic proportions.
Founded in 1783 by the United Empire Loyalists, the town has worked diligently to restore and preserve many historical buildings and sights, obtaining status as a National Historic District. Walking the picturesque, shop lined main street, travelers view proudly displayed signage, highlighting the dedication of locals to maintain the roots of their heritage.
WHERE WE STAYED:
Seaside Beach Resort is the perfect place to call home while experiencing St Andrews. Run by David Sullivan and Beth Campbell since 1995, the resort offers 24 housekeeping units, with the heart of downtown a leisurely stroll away. Each unit is self contained and offers a private entrance. We had a 2 bedroom unit which offered a double bed in one room, as well as a double and a single in the other. The unit had a full kitchen (complete with wine glasses!!) as well as a living room with tv and pull out couch. The care, dedication and attention to detail is apparent in every inch of this beautiful and pristine property.
Walking beyond the massive, manicured lawn that features picnic tables and games of washer toss, you come to the real beauty of the property. Sitting on 200 feet of awe inspiring ocean frontage, travelers can spend a moment of perfection along the private boardwalk. There is nothing that compares to curling up in an adirondack chair with wine in hand, watching the sun set over the boat lined waterway.
ANOTHER ACCOMMODATION OPTION: If you are looking for a stay rooted in history, consider the elegant Algonquin Resort. This beautiful hotel, built in 1889 and restored to its luxurious and original splendor offers guests indoor and outdoor pools, a waterslide, spa, private beach, tennis and even a chance to experience a cocktail on a historic verandah. Combine this with a round at the award winning Algonquin Golf Course and you are in for a memorable stay.
ST ANDREWS EXPERIENCES FOR FAMILIES
Just off the shore of St Andrews is the enchanting 500 acre Ministers Island. Former summer home of Sir William Van Horne, the driving force behind the Canadian Pacific Railway, this historical gem is accessible to travelers during low tide, as cars and pedestrians cross the 1 km length of ocean floor. The house was built in the late 19th century, changing hands several times along the way, seeing it sold as a hunting lodge to a group that included the the likes of Frank Sinatra. These sales also included the unfortunate circumstance of all the original furnishings being sold off. Due to public outcry, the island was repurchased by the province, and many original items were recovered or donated back.
The main house has undergone extensive renovations thanks to the help of the VHEMI Board and its many volunteers. Both floors have been restored with a combination of both reclaimed original items as well as period appropriate pieces. Information sessions are held in the open front room every half hour, and last 10 minutes. Visitors and then free to tour the 50 room home at will.
The grounds offer miles of hiking and biking opportunities, and visitors can also tour the carriage house, workshop, mill and the original barn area, currently undergoing a $1.2 million restoration. Our favorite spot was the original bath house, where Van Horne’s artist-self found inspiration. It was also a gathering spot for family and friends to enjoy a swim.
The 27 acre botanical masterpiece known as Kingsbrae Gardens is voted one of the top attractions in St Andrews. With over 50,000 perennials paired with streams, ponds and even an old growth acadian forest to explore, it feels like a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland.
Those looking for creative inspiration will find it among the sculptures and art studio that offers interactive classes. Children will love the animals such as the alpacas, pigmy goats and peacocks, find adventure in the miniature houses and embrace the magical feeling each corner brings. Even your inner foodie can indulge the fine cuisine offered in the Garden Cafe, prepared by multi-award winning Chef Alex Haun.
ST ANDREWS BLOCKHOUSE:
Designated as a National Historic Site, the Blockhouse was built by the townspeople during the war of 1812, as protection against a possible invasion by the US. The blockhouse and several cannons are available for tourists to explore. What is just as worthwhile, is the view. Walking down to the water is an adventure for kids, and it is a beautiful and picturesque place to stop.
FUNDY DISCOVERY AQUARIUM:
The Huntsman Marine Science Centre is a not for profit, research and education facility, that harbors an interesting experience for families, and an incredible view to boot. Touch tanks within the Fundy Discovery Aquarium, allow visitors a chance to get up close and personal with some very interesting creatures. Kids will love the resident harbour seals, Loki and Snorkel. Plenty of fun education about life in the Bay of Fundy is offered as kids explore everything from seahorses and lobsters to salmon and sturgeon.
Viewing St Andrews from the water is something many travelers set out to experience. With tours that range from the tall sailing ship to small and quick zodiacs, excited onlookers can experience viewing seals, lighthouses, the stunning coastline and….whales. A couple of the most popular tours in the area are the Jolly Breeze Tall Ship and the Fundy Tide Runners.
EAT AT A DAIRY BAR/CANTEEN:
No trip to the maritimes would be complete without a stop at one of the canteens that dot the side of nearly every road. Offering fare that ranges from poutine and burgers to clams and lobster rolls, dairy bars are a maritime tradition. We opted for the seafood platter at the popular Clam Digger
St Andrews by the Sea is a step back in time, offering historical charm to the travelers trying one of the many pubs with seafood delights and sea view patios, or perusing the boutique shop discovering maritime treasures. It’s a small town that packs a large amount of adventure and beauty, a place not to be missed on any Eastern Canadian adventure.
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