Time and Tide

Hopewell Rocks at High Tide, September 19, 2:45 pm

I had always wanted to see the famous high and low tides in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, though I doubted I could do this without some guidance. So Martine and I took the Hopewell Rocks and Bay of Fundy Coastal Tour offered by Roads to Sea of Moncton, New Brunswick. About ten of us crowded into a minibus with Anna-Marie Weir, our capable guide.

We started by going to Hopewell Rocks at low tide, around 8:45 am. We learned that we had by accident picked a day when the difference between high and low tide would be 45.3 feet (13.8 meters). Afterwards, we saw several other sites affected by the tides, including the Harvey Shipyard, the Alma Lookout, the boats in the harbor at Alma, and Cape Enrage. The first three of the above, we saw twice, at intervals that graphically illustrated the striking difference made by the tides.

Below is the same location as the above photo in the early morning at low tide:

Hopewell Rocks at Low Tide Earlier the Same Day

We were able to walk among the rocks and take pictures . One can see by the markings along the bottom of the rocks how high the tide normally comes.

That Wednesday we took the tour started with the threat of rain, which, by early afternoon, became a reality—as you can see in the first photo above. Irrespective of the weather, we enjoyed the tour to such an extent that it was one of the highlights of our recent vacation.

Below is a photo of the personable Anna-Maria Weir and the minibus we rode on the tour:

Anna-Marie Weir of Roads to Sea

Martine and I had been in other areas with substantial tidal variation, especially when we visited Normandie in France about fourteen years ago. The high tide at Mont St-Michel reputedly would come in so fast that author Victor Hugo compared it to the speed of a galloping horse. Alas, we never were able to time our visit to see the variation with our own eyes.

Later in the trip, we even crossed the Bay of Fundy in a roll-on roll-off ferry that runs between Digby, Nova Scotia, and St. John, New Brunswick. It was interesting that the ferry docked at both coasts by a steel bridge that moved up and down with the tide. Ours was a surprisingly smooth crossing over its three-hour length. We were even able to eat a delicious supper with the famous Digby scallops, which are particularly huge and succulent.


FDR’s Canadian “Cottage”

FDR’s Summer Home on Campobello Island

During his youth, Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent many of his summers on Campobello Island in the Province of New Brunswick, just a few hundred feet from the Easternmost Point in the United States at Lubec, Maine. Since the 1960s, there is a bridge that connects Lubec with Campobello. But back when FDR stayed here, it was approachable with difficulty, by a combination of trains and ferries.

In 1921, FDR discovered during a visit to the island that he had a paralytic illness, which was later diagnosed as polio. That was a watershed in the ambitious young man’s life: From being an active outdoorsman who loved sailing the waters of Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy, he found himself increasingly a cripple. From that point on, he didn’t have it in him to spend much time time at Campobello.

That was not the case for his wife, Eleanor, who continued to visit the island—especially after her husband died in 1945. One of the highlights of a trip to the massive “cottage” at Campobello is a daily event known as “Tea with Eleanor.” For twenty lucky guests, tea and cookies are served in an adjoining cottage; and the knowledgeable waitstaff tell stories about Eleanor, who is much loved by the local people.

Campobello Island is a strange little island. To buy gasoline or perform many other services, the residents must cross the border into Lubec. There are two restaurants on the island and, I believe, only a couple of places where tourists can spend the night. The cottage is surrounded by a large park and criss-crossing hiking trails, where once there were other resorts for wealthy tourists around the turn of the century.

Lubec and Campobello are about two hours east of Acadia National Park and the resort at Bar Harbor.