Hurricane Ophelia and a pervasive northern low decided to join us on an early October drive from Nova Scotia to St. Andrews By- The-Sea in New Brunswick, a beautiful and evergreen-lined drive on impeccable Canadian interstates—kind of like driving through the world’s largest Christmas tree lot.
As things turned out, just like us, our uninvited guests—northern low and Ophelia—fell in love with the charming town of St. Andrews By-The- Sea and decided to stay for the long weekend. Reminding me of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quote, The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. Or, to paraphrase, grab an umbrella and go for a walk, followed by curling up with a good book in front of a crackling fire. We did both.
Founded in 1783 by United Empire loyalists after the American Revolution, this picturesque town with its gridiron street plan, world-renowned Kingsbrae Garden, acclaimed golf courses, water sports, whale watching, 18th-century homes and unique art galleries is a delight in any weather. Gray skies blending with the silver horizon of the bay and ominous clouds framing the 1867- built All Saints’ Anglican Church actually enhanced the town’s beauty.
Our stay at the Kingsbrae Arms, a Relais & Chateaux country house inn, was the perfect weekend retreat. Recipient of countless awards, the welcoming staff spoiled us with quiet, charming accommodations, leisurely breakfasts overlooking a garden vista, cocktails in the cozy library and exquisite, romantic dinners. Lobster, scallops, mussels and salmon run amok here and Chef Guillaume Delaune knows exactly what to do with them. Other lodging options include the grand dame perched on the hill, the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel. Built in the Tudor style in 1889, she’s a bit tired, but a must-see nonetheless. Stroll through the massive lobby with its vintage rattan seating and enjoy afternoon tea on the Veranda. I felt like I was on the Titanic, without the looming iceberg. Steps away from the water’s edge is the Europa Inn, a great maritime village experience for lodging and dining. Rossmount Inn, a 10-minute drive out of town, was our favorite place for dinner. Don’t miss this one. Harbor-front eateries like The Gables, Lobster Bay Eatery and Kennedy Inn will satisfy any and all seafood cravings.
But, here’s the thing: The amazing thing about this part of Canada is the Bay of Fundy, a 170-mile-long ocean bay. Voted a finalist in the global New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign, it is one of the world’s most dramatic and dynamic coastlines, boasting the highest tidal range in the world. One hundred billion tons of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy, creating two high tides and two low tides every 24 hours. This means that a lovely waterfront home becomes a murky, muddy mess for six hours of every daytime and a boat docked buoyantly at high tide some 30 feet out in the bay can be reached with rubber hip boots at low tide.
The Bay of Fundy—truly a phenomenon. St. Andrews By-The-Sea—truly a treasure.