New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy
We crossed the border and headed south to follow the Fundy Coastal Drive that follows the Bay of Funday. We started in Saint Andrews a wonderful small town. In our last trip we took the ferry from Saint Andrews to Campbello Island where President Franklyn Rosevelt spent his young years at the Rosevelt summer home. We continued into Saint George, a small village that was having a farmers market at the local Royal Canadian Legion hall. It was small but we picked up some sausage and sourdough bread while having conversations with the locals, they were fun.
Some interesting facts on the Bay of Fundy:
- The amount of water that flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy during one tide cycle, is more than the combined flow of the world’s freshwater rivers!
- Located on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine, the Bay of Fundy is a wonder of Mother Nature. It lies in a rift valley known as the Fundy Basin, between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
- According to some sources, the word ‘Fundy’ is derived from the French word, ‘Fendu’, which means split. However, there are others who believe that it comes from ‘fondo’, the Portuguese word for funnel. No matter what the origin is, it is a place of endless adventure for tourists, where they can marvel at the breathtaking coastline, swept by the world’s highest tides.
- The shape of the bay can be compared to a big funnel, which gradually tapers and becomes shallower at its upper end. It is estimated that approximately 100 billion tons of water flow in and out of the bay in one tide cycle, i.e. in every 12 hours and 26 minutes. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/interesting-facts-about-the-bay-of-fundy.html
We made our way back up to Saint John and spent the night at the Rockwood city park. It was raining most of the time, so the idea of golf was out! In the morning we started back along the Bay of Funny with Amherst, Nova Scotia as our destination. Driving down through the village of St Martin we crossed an old bridge where the view of a waterfall and barn was just great. The highway left the coast up to Sussex and then back down to Fundy National Park. The park is a very popular destination for camping and hiking. At the end of the park is Alma, a post card picturesque town we remembered from out last trip.
Amherst, Nova Scotia
The morning was beautiful and we went to the Amherst Golf Club. We were fortunate to be paired with a couple from Truro, Nova Scotia, Spud and Patty. Spud grew up on Prince Edward Island, main crop, potatoes, hence named Spud, and spent 31 years in the Royal Navy. He was doing a practice round for the Amherst Open to be held a few days later. Patty was a family lawyer and still actively working. The course was hilly and reminded you of playing a Scottish course. We had a great time playing and then continued the trip to Truro.
Spud suggested we play his home club, Truro Country Club. We were joined by two gentleman, that did not play a lot of golf, so it was an interesting round. The course also reminded us of being in Scotland with lots of long fescues to try and hit out of! As we were playing the 17th hole, Spud came running over and gave Janice a hug as he was playing a parallel hole. It was nice to see him. Fun course and very enjoyable.
As we were cleaning up the next morning we had a problem with the RV. We looked for an RV service company and found one about an hour away on our route to Cape Benton. They opened at 8AM and we arrived just afterward. They fixed it, billed us $85 and we were on the way by 8:45.
We were scheduled to play golf at The Lakes Golf Club at Ben Eoin at 2:15. Our reservations were at a local, highly rated RV Park called Ben Eoin Beach Resort and Campground. We made the reservation a day earlier and arrived before golf to check in. The grounds looked beautiful, on the lake however they were putting us outside the gate by the highway next to two Porta Potties. for over $50 a night! We cancelled and went to the golf course and moved our reservation to the next day.
Many of the people we met told us that the Louisbourg Fortress was a very special experience. We found Riverdale RV Park only a few miles from the fortress which made the morning arrangements easy with the park opening at 9:30. This being Canada’s 150th anniversary the entry fees to the national parks were free.
The fortress was one of the main French defensive positions protecting the port of Louisbourg, which at the time was the third largest in the “New World” just behind Boston and Philadelphia.
The walls were constructed mainly between 1720 and 1740. By the mid 1740’s Louisbourg was one of the most extensive and expensive European fortifications constructed in North America. it cost over 30 million French livres. The fortress went thru two sieges, the first in 1745 and again in 1758. In 1748, there was a treaty that restored Louisbourg to France in return for territory gained in the Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium) and the British trading post at Madras in India. The British forces left, taking with them the famous Louisbourg Cross, which had hung in the fortress chapel. This cross was rediscovered in the Harvard University archives only in the later half of the 20th century; it is now on long-term loan to the Louisbourg historic site.
In 1758 the British seized the territory again to make it part of the expanding American colonies. The fortifications at Louisbourg were systematically destroyed by British engineers in 1760 to prevent the town and port from being used in the future by the French, should the peace process return Cape Breton island to France. The two sieges, especially that of 1758, were turning points in the Anglo-French struggle for what today is Canada.
Beginning in 1961, the government of Canada undertook a historical reconstruction of one quarter of the town and the walls.
Our wonderful tour and experience
Our visit started with a bus ride from the visitor center to the fortress where we were greeted by a story teller in the first building. He told us about the settlers that lived outside the fortress that survived on their catch of fish which was salted and sent back to France. It was good for two years. When the fortress was being attacked, upon warning, the settlers burn all their homes and stored their important things inside the fortress. If they did not burn their homes, the British would set them on fire with the settlers in the homes.
All of the staff are in period costumes. Each outfit was locally made and sized for the actors that worked in the park. At the entrance to the main gate we were greeted by a guard. John had a red coat on, and the guard said it was the wrong color! One of the events you could participate in was shooting a musket. Janice had her sights on that, so we went to sign up,
We past by the guard house and went to the main fortification where the soldiers were had their barracks. Nice accommodations: Eight beds for 24 soldiers, three to a bed, the good news, one was on 24 hour duty, so only two in the bunk bed at a time. There schedule was 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off. The building also housed the prison, a chapel, officers quarters and the governors quarters. The governors quarters were remarkably nice, with a fully staffed kitchen, dinning room, sitting room and two bedrooms. As we toured the building we met actors the told us all the stories of life in the fortress.
It was time to shoot the musket and we were taken to the guard house to meet the soldier assigned to us for the musket shoot. First we had to put on a wool uniform, mostly for protection from sparks but also made us look like a soldier from the period. Our shooting instructor George, took us outside the guard house to instruct us on shooting when we were interrupted.
At 11:00 there was a presentation on how soldiers were recruited and what their life was like at Louisbourg. Since we were already dressed in our period customs George asked if we would stand with him in front of the100 guests and be new recruits to the fortress. Being the shy people we are, we said yes.
George told us that recruits were picked up in lower income areas of French cities, no education. not married, mostly drunks and of course young. They were recruited for this wonderful adventure to the new world for a six year enlistment. They were promised a place to sleep, at least one meal a day and paid 9 livre a month. One livre could buy a shoe or a bottle of wine. All they had to do was sign their X on the contract and it was off for the adventure of a lifetime. George asked us if we liked it so far, we nodded yes and he went back to his story.
He talked about the 24 hour day and discussed the punishment if caught sleeping on the job. If the sergeant wanted to make an example of you, your punishment was 12 hours sitting on top of this man made horse. Since the uniforms were all wool, the chaffing of the legs, keeping your balance was very punishing. He joked that id you saw a soldier walking down the street bull legged, you knew where he spent his time the day before.
The trip over from France was about 13 weeks and they knew they were close to Louisbourg because of the smell! All the honey buckets dumped outside the wall.
The recruits were not told in advance that they had to pay 7.5 livre per month back to the King of France which left them with a monthly decision on shoes or wine.
George finished the presentation and we returned to shooting the muskets. John shot first, holy cow!! It was Janice’s turn, George taught her about the rifle and safety and was ready to shoot. What an experience for both of us, it was like being in a slow motion picture as the rifle fired and the smoke filled the air! Here are a bunch of great pictures from our experience along with a picture taken down the rifle..
This is the site of the first lighthouse in Canada. This is the fourth lighthouse built on this site in 1923, others were damaged or built of non sustainable materials. The first one was constructed in 1730 to help ships navigate to the Fortress.
The Lakes Golf Club at Ben Eoin
We had re-scheduled the golf for 2:30 and arrived in time for some lunch. The weather was overcast with a 20 MPH wind. This course is as beautiful and challenging as any we have had the pleasure to play. Here are some of the views of the lake and various holes on the course. If you ever get the chance to play, you will have a wonderful experience, we sure did.
Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site:
The first fact that surprised us, having only known him for inventing the telephone, was that he was Canadian, from Scotland and not an American, must have missed that note in school. The visit to the park which is located where he summered with his family in Baddeck, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island. He was 30 when he invented the telephone, but the many other projects and inventions he was involved with were never taught to us as children. He competed with the Wright Brothers to build the first flying airplane. The “Silver Dart finially flew for 1/2 mile in 1909. He also built the first hydrofoil boat that set a worlds water speed record of over 60 MPH. His greatest passion was working with the hard of hearing, which was a problem with his mother and wife. Helen Keller said that he took her from darkness to light.
It was a wonderful few hour of discovery.
The next day were were taking the 6 hour ferry to Newfoundland, our most northern destination.