Long before Canada’s confederation, the colonial settlement of St. Andrews by-the-Sea was established by American loyalists from Maine. Later, the town became a fashionable summer resort for well-to-do families who flocked to it on overnight trains from Boston and Montreal.
Now, an easy hour’s drive from the Hilton Saint John, much of the architecture in St. Andrews retains its picturesque 18th-century charm, earning its designation as a National Historic Site. It has become a popular summer destination for cottage-dwellers and day-trippers on both sides of the American-Canadian border.
In addition to its small-town allure, St. Andrews offers thrilling adventures on the high seas, including some of the best whale-watching in the world.
Here are three ways to enjoy this charming seaside town.
Ready for adventure? From June until the end of October, the Bay of Fundy is a rich feeding ground for several species of whales, including minke, finback, humpback and right whales. Jolly Breeze Whale-Watching Adventures offers two unique whale-watching experiences. Step aboard a tall ship for a comfortable sail that includes children’s activities, meals, snacks from the galley and a fully licensed onboard bar.
Or, for those who like to live close to the edge, don a survival suit and zoom out into the bay aboard a former FBI Jet Boat, where you will have a 95% chance of having a thrilling – sometimes up close and personal – experience with a whale.
Step back in time, through the lens of William Van Horne, the former president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. His summer estate, Covenhoven, is situated on Minister’s Island, a 280-hectare island, which, due to the tides, is only accessible at certain times of the day.
This is more than a museum. An exploration of the house, the stables, the grounds, the beaches, and the orchards is not only a pleasant way to relax, but a fantastic insight into the brilliant mind of Van Horne, who was also a farmer, art collector, painter, sculptor, musician, and entrepreneur. The buildings and barns at Minister’s Island are open from May to October, but the island itself and trails are accessible year-round.
Kingsbrae Garden is an award-winning 27-acre garden created in 1998. Attractions at Kingsbrae include flower beds, ponds, a labyrinth, cedar maze, an old-growth forest, and many interesting animals including alpacas, peacocks, and pygmy goats. At the Garden Café, enjoy delicious meals (think seafood chowder and lobster risotto) and, in the evening, experience fine dining prepared with seasonal ingredients from an award-winning chef. Finally, how about a chef-prepared picnic among the flora and fauna? Call ahead to reserve the evening meal or picnic. Kingsbrae is open seasonally.