Friday, September 2, 2016

Saint John, NB

 

Thursday (Aug 25):

We arrived at the Rockwood Park Campground which is located on the top of a hill overlooking the city of Saint John. We were assigned to Site 86 which is in an area that looks like a big parking lot. We have full hook-ups but only 30 amp electric here in the park. The campground has a number of sites that overlook the city, but they are for much smaller RV’s. Rockwood Park is a 686 acre public park that has miles of hiking/biking trails, several small lakes and a golf course. Once we got set up we walked around the park before calling it a day.

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Friday (Aug 26):

On Friday we visited the “reversing falls” on the Saint John River. This is an area where the river narrows before it going in the bay. During high tides the river reverses direction due to the strength of the tides and flows upstream for a short period of time. The high tides were early in the morning and at sunset today, so we did not actually see any “reversing falls”.

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For there we visited “uptown” Saint John. It is the downtown area of the city, but is called uptown because you had to walk uphill from the harbour to the city. As with most cities parking is the hard to find in the central part of the town. We managed to find a city parking lot with a space available and began our walking tour of uptown Saint John. Saint John is one of the oldest towns in North America but most of the town was destroyed during a major fire that occurred in 1877. So with the exception of a few building (mainly churches), the architecture is “Victorian” of the mid to late 19th century rather than an earlier time. There is a walk around park of the harbour and a large shopping mall/office complex located on the waterfront.

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After walking around for a couple of hours, we stopped in at Bigtides which is a local microbrewery. We did a sample tasting of four of their beers and like the “stout” the best of the four. We then went around the block to Churchill’s Pub where we ate lunch. Connie had the mussels while I had fish & chips. They were OK but we have had better fare in Canada. There are several cruise lines that dock for the day in Saint John and there is a tourist industry that has developed to serve the passengers on these cruise ships. The day we were there a cruise ship from the Norwegian Cruise Lines was in port and everyone assumed we were cruise passengers (they kept wishing us a good cruise).

St. John, New Brunswick, Canada
Bigtide Brewing Co
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Bigtide Brewing Co
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After finishing our lunch we took another short walking tour of the Victorian houses located in the uptown area. There are a number of beautiful houses and also quite a few that are in need of maintenance.

 

Saturday (Aug 27):

Today we were going to visit the town of Rothesay located a few miles up the Saint John River to see the dragon boat races at a Chinese Festival. We drove to the designated parking area to catch the shuttle bus to the festival, but once we arrived we found that the races had been cancelled. It was too windy and the waves were getting in the boats as they tried to hold the first race, so they called it all off. We walked around for a few minutes, listened to some live music before getting back on the shuttle bus to return to where we had parked. We did end up doing some grocery shopping before returning to the campground.

Sunday (Aug 28):

Today we drove south for a few miles to visit the New River Beach. We stopped at the Lepreau Falls where the river drops about 20 feet over the falls. The area below the falls was used during the 1920-1933 period as a place for bootleggers to load flat bottom barges with alcohol to be taken out to sea and be loaded onto bigger ships for transport (illegally) into the USA during prohibition.

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We parked the Jeep and made our way down to the beach. This is a sand covered beach in a cove that is about 0.5 mile in length. There is a long way from the “shore” to the water at low tide due to the large difference in tides here in the Bay of Fundy. We did stick our feet in the water, but did not go any further than that. As with most of the beaches we have seen in Canada, people visit the beach but vey few get in the water. Even though the beach is located in a provincial park, there were a number of large homes located along the shoreline.

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Monday (Aug 29):

This was a “down” day for us. We took it easy in the campground and in the afternoon did some shopping in the “Eastside” area of Saint John.

Tuesday (Aug 30):

Today we drove to the Fredericton which is the capital city for the province of New Brunswick. It is located about 1.25 hours away from Saint John, away from the coast on the Saint John River. It was established by the British as a military site in the 1760’s. In 1783 about 2,000 Loyalists, American colonists who remained loyal to the King of England, left their homes and relocated in what is now Fredericton. The town was named after one of King George III sons, Frederic and later became the capital city. A large portion of the downtown business district burned in a series of fires in the late 19th century, so most of the original frame wooden buildings no longer exist. Here is a photo of the oldest wooden business structure in the business district.

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We visited the Visitor’s Center located in City Hall to get some information about the city. They also gave us a “free parking” pass good for three days at any of the public parking spaces in the city. We got our bikes out and rode along a trail that follows along the Saint John River.

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We stopped at the Government House Mansion that was once home to the Governor General of New Brunswick when Canada was still a colony of Great Britain.

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After finishing our bike ride we had lunch at Isaac’s Way which is a local farm to market restaurant located in a building that used to be home to the courthouse in Fredericton. We got a table on the patio out back with a view of the river and sampled some of the local brews with our lunch.

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After lunch we joined a small group (there were 6 of us) for a guided walking tour of the downtown area. We stopped at what remains of the British military compound where soldiers and officer lived full time. There was never a fort built in Fredericton but is was what we would call today a small military base.

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We also stopped at several other historic buildings along the streets of downtown Fredericton. The city being the capital houses many of the provincial government functions in this part of the city.

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Lord Beaverbrook, William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, was a Canadian businessman who was knighted in the early 20th century. He made lots of money, ran several business and served in the legislature. He built several building downtown including a theater for his wife. He also donated money to numerous causes including a world class art museum in Fredericton.

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After finishing our walking tour we visited the Christ Church Cathedral. There are a number of stories about this cathedral including how it came to be. To build a cathedral in the British Empire a city had to have a population of 10,000 and be granted approval by the British monarchy. When the Bishop of New Brunswick want to build this cathedral the town of Fredericton had less than 5,000 inhabitants. However because the Bishop “knew” the right people close to Queen Victoria, a charter was granted for the cathedral and Fredericton was approved as a “royal city”. The bishop wanted to build the cathedral where the existing Anglican parish church was located, so he bought another site for the parish church and started building the cathedral in 1845. It took eight years for the construction. They ran out of money before they finished so several parts of the cathedral were not completed as planned. The Bishop and the architect fought and the architect never sat foot in the cathedral. In the early 20th century a lightning strike caused a fire that destroyed a portion of the cathedral. The insurance money along with local contributions allowed the cathedral to finally be completed as planned and how it remains today. Even though it is the “Cathedral Church” for Fredericton it is not the Anglican parish church which is called Christ Church as well. There is a lot of confusion because some events (weddings/funerals/etc.) are held at Christ Church and others at Christ Church Cathedral and people are always showing up at the wrong one. It is a beautiful structure with a large pipe organ and many stained glass windows. The guide who lead the tour also told us several other interesting tales about the church including one about it being haunted by the wife of the Bishop who had the church built.

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Connie will miss these warning signs we saw across Canada (but we never did see any moose).

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Wednesday (Aug 31):

Today we had a light rain in the morning followed by heavy fog in the afternoon. By early evening you could not see more than 50 feet in any direction due to the fog. We did laundry, cleaned the Duchess inside and out and got ready for our return across the border tomorrow. We threw out a few items of produce along with Connie’s basil, thyme and sage plants since we are not suppose to take any of these back into the states.