There are not many islands in the world like Minister's Island
We are at the end of a gravel road near St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Brunswick, which has taken us through a forest to the shores of the Bay of Fundy. It's late afternoon, and our car is standing on a small gravel area, from where we look over the water surface to Minister's Island. We were told that the island can only be reached by car at low tide, and we want to take a closer look - before and after, almost. So we drive twice to the point where you can reach the island: once at high tide and once at low tide, to see if that's really true. Apart from us there are two more cars on this gravel bank. From their owners, however, shows no sign of life. The tide probably will not reach this spot. But just beyond the warning signs, the bank descends into the water and there are no signs of a road. On the other side, on the shores of the island facing us, we can see a small hut - probably the control house for the access to Minister's Island. Well, the next morning we will know more. We return to the village and are curious about what awaits us the next day.
We want to go to Minister's Island, because there William van Horne, who probably cannot be wrongly called the “father of the Canadian railways”, owned his summer house. We met Van Horne several times during our trips to Canada, among other things we heard from him in Banff, as he was one of the driving forces behind the construction of the railroad hotels - the Banff Springs Hotel is also one of them - which was like the early train travelers through Canada provided their overnight accommodation. It turned out to be an extremely smart - and lucrative - business idea. Anyway, we wanted to find out more about this man and his life, and his favorite place seemed a good way to do that.
The next morning we should be able to make the way to the island by car around 9.00:XNUMX a.m., we were told. And so it was. The "road" to Minister's Island turned out to be a piece of flat seabed that was drained for several hours at low tide so that vehicles can reach the island on the bumpy gravel road. Susan Goertzen, who was waiting for us on the other side of the island, told us that this part of the way was the natural bottom of the bay. Due to the constant change of tides, it is impossible to work the subsoil by human hands, as ebb and flow bring constant changes that cannot be influenced.
There were only two residents on Minister's Island: Reverend Samuel Adams, who brought 1786 here with his family to the island. His small house stands until today just above the island coast. However, much larger is the property of Sir William van Horne, who bought the island and then built his summer house and extensive agricultural utility buildings. Van Horne spent many months of his life together with his family on the island. He was a very versatile man and a true self-made man, who not only worked in business as general director and later president of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Van Horne built a large residential building where he spent summers with his family, children and grandchildren, and occasionally friends. To a certain extent, one can still feel the creative spirit of this man, who not only painted his grandchildren's friezes on the walls of their children's rooms, but also created landscapes that testify to the astounding skills of this autodidact. Unfortunately, after his death, the estate was increasingly abandoned, and it is only in recent years that the province of New Brunswick begins to restore it and rebuild it with the few pieces of furniture left over from the original furnishings.
Worth seeing is the bath house, in which van Horne liked to draw back to painting. No wonder, it offers a magnificent view of the Bay of Fundy on one side and St. Andrews-by-the-Sea on the other side of the mainland. Below the cliff on which the building is located is the tide pool, an artificial pool that filled with fresh seawater daily at high tide - an ingenious construction that provided the fresh water and the daily cleaning of the pool, without staff was needed. This was done twice daily by the tide change in a natural way.
The farm buildings of the van Hornes also testify to the ingenuity of this man: his ideas flowed into the construction of the stables as well as in the breeding of certain cattle breeds. Van Horne showed great interest in the agricultural use of the island. This even went so far as to allow him to deliver fresh vegetables and fruit daily from Minister's Island by rail - no matter where he was in Canada at the time. Practically, if the railway line belongs to you, right?
As interesting as a stay on Minister's Island is - one should not forget! The tide comes every few hours and makes the return to the mainland impossible. We were on the island for three hours before the oncoming water forced us to stop our exploration. Too bad we would have liked to hear more about William van Horne and his life. A fascinating man!
In this video you can get a better overview of the attractions of the island.
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Source: own site research courtesy of Tourism New Brunswick and the Canadian Tourism Commission
Text: Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline