We began our day with a wonderful treat, the Couchies! George and Carolyn have joined us on our Maritime holiday.
Today’s plan is to explore Ministers Island, but we need to wait for low tide, as you literally drive along the ocean floor to the island.
While waiting for low tide we walked along the wharf, shopped in the quaint stores and decided we needed fish and chips at the Kennedy Inn and Shiretown Pub. Ben says the Kennedy has some of the best fish he has tried and I would have to agree.
While the tide was going out, it wasn’t quite low enough to drive to Ministers Island, so we introduced the Couchies to one of our favourite places for one of our favourite activities – Pendlebury Lighthouse to search for sea glass. It didn’t take Carolyn long to get her sea glass eyes.
Finally low tide, not sure if I am more excited to tour around Ministers Island or to drive across the ocean floor.
We made it across! With the $10 admission, you have access to the whole island and attractions. You are also given a pass that you must return when you leave to ensure that everyone is off the island before high tide.
There is lots of history on this island. During excavations in the 1960s and 1970s evidence was discovered of a Passamaquoddy settlement dating back thousands of years. Graves, tools, a shell midden and remains of buildings indicate their presence on the island known as Consquamcook. The Covenhoven has some of these artefacts on display.
In 1891 Sir William Van Horne purchased his first parcel of land on the island. His daughter Addie purchased the last piece in 1926. Van Horne was president of the Canadian Pacific Railway and was responsible for its speedy completion. The CPR history is interesting to me because it is an important part of Canadian history but also I have family connections to the CPR – my great grandfather and grandfather worked for CPR and currently my uncle and cousin work for the CPR.
Our first visit was to the barn. It was enormous! The tour guide explained that Van Horne would inspect the barn with white gloves to ensure it was clean enough. He then assured us Van Horne did treat his employees well – they were paid more than others and didn’t have to work on Sundays.
After the barn we drove by the windmill and gas house to the Covenhoven.
The Covenhoven began as summer cottage and underwent numerous modifications to become the 50 room estate it is today. This house is a display of history, art and Van Horne’s diverse interests.
We then walked down to the Bathhouse. It was built in 1912 and constructed from red sandstone blasted from the beach below. The panoramic view from the bathhouse inspired many of Sir William Van Horne’s paintings.
Before leaving the island, Ben had told us the beach area marked P7 was a must see. It was a bit of steep trek but definitely worth it. The beach was fabulous – sea shells, rocks, sea glass and sand dollars. Erosion created interesting details in the rocks.
Time to leave the island and head for dinner. We have reservations at Niger Reef Tea House which is near the Blockhouse. I’d recommend the tenderloin steak with blueberry whiskey glaze that was freshly barbecued. Friendly service but unfortunately they forgot to place Ben’s order, so he received his food when we had finished ours.
After dinner, we walked around the Blockhouse and on the beach. More exciting than sea glass a baby seal was resting on the rocks in front of us.
Thanks St. Andrews for another amazing day.