2008 Keys 2 Canada travel blog

sign at the entrance to St. Croix Island International Park

and the flags of the two countries

a bronze model of the settlement

one of the settlers in bronze

it was a good combination of interpretive signs and bronze sculpture

bronze of an Indian guide

mourning their dead

park rangers

the beach was fogged in

but as we were leaving the fog began to lift and we...

Calais border crossing - U.S. Customs on the left and Canadian Customs...

we are now four hours ahead of California

Canadian Customs

the St. Croix River - Canada on the left and Maine on...

Welcome to Canada

the first block past customs - the Currency Exchange

the Chocolate Museum

an automatically closing door to prevent fires in the chocolate factory

cocoa beans

some of the innovative boxes, including the first heart

some of the beautiful decorative designs

the factory's traditional logo

chocolate mixing pot

mixing pots for jelly beans and other hard candy

St. Stephen's dock - with Maine across the St Croix River

old river boat

St. Stephen's Visitor Center

road construction on Highway 1

ebbing tide

the road to St. Andrews

outskirts of St. Andrews

main street downtown St. Andrews

our campground at St. Andrews

we can see the water from our site - this is the...

the rocks are our seawall and the tide is out and still...

offshore island and fog

remains of an old fishing weir

fish have declined and they're down from 300 weirs to only about...

Navy Island across the sound

walking out on the tidal flats

we think that may be Deer Island in the fog

looking toward St. Andrews

the tidal flats are covered in seaweed and clam and mussel shells

this is not like our California kelp

the view back at the campground - believe it or not, I...

this is the very lowest ebb

I couldn't quite make it to this rock without getting wet

the sailing ship is a whalewatching boat

offshore weir - these are to catch sardines or herring

an idea of how far out I am

returning from a whale watch

three sails rigged but he's using the motor

he's putting in to Saint Andrews

this picture was taken about four hours later at 8:30 PM

the tide is about 2/3 of the way in

and the flats I walked out on are under about 6 or...

our site for the night

And a walk out a quarter mile at low tide - Monday, July 14

We checked out of the Hilltop at 10:30, but it immediately became 11:30 when Madolyn reset our clocks in anticipation of crossing the border. The Maritime Provinces are on Atlantic Time so we are now an hour later than our family in Florida and four hours later than our family in California.

The border is about 15 miles up the road, but on the way we spotted St. Croix Island International Park so we turned in to see what it was all about. It is a joint Canadian/American park honoring an attempt by the French to establish a settlement on this continent in 1604. The settlers built their community on an island at the mouth of the St. Croix River, and while it only lasted through one winter (which is better than the English did at Roanoke Island) the lessons they learned were put to use on their next settlement on the mainland. This settlement at Port Royale did succeed.

There is a nice little park with interpretive signs and very impressive heroic bronze sculptures, and there were two nice rangers to talk to us. The island was fogged in and we couldn’t see it, but as we returned to the motorhome the fog lifted very fast and we finally did see the island offshore. Later we saw it again from the Canadian side of the river, where there is another corresponding international park.

From there it was a short drive to the border at Calais, Maine, and we had an easy crossing to St. Stephen in New Brunswick. They allowed us to bring in our bear pepper spray, and the Canadian Customs officer was very nice. The border between the two countries here is the St. Croix River and it is not very wide, so on the Canadian side you can look across at Maine and it’s hard to believe you’re in a different country. But we very quickly got into it when a quarter mile up the road we came to the Ganong Chocolate Factory. Ganong Chocolate is a big deal in Canada but so unknown in the States that spell check doesn’t even recognize it as it does Hershey or Ghirardelli. It should recognize it!

We parked on the street right in front of it, and went in for a visit to their Chocolate Museum. Here you can spend as long as you wish, looking at their interesting displays on the chocolate and candy making processes, while you’re at it you can sample as much chocolate candy as you want. Needless to say, I wanted to camp there for the night!

The company was started by two brothers (named Ganong) who operated a grocery store in St. Stephen back in the 1870’s. The store wasn’t doing well so the brothers put in candy, which in those days was a specialty item. Right away things picked up, and soon the brothers were making their own candy to sell in their store.

Every time hard times would threaten they would come up with a new innovation to keep things going. One of their innovations was the first heart shaped Valentine box. They hired artists to come up with ever new box designs, and soon they were also a leading box manufacturer in Canada. At one time they employed over 700 people which was huge in this small community. Today there are still Ganong’s working at the factory, and while automation has reduced the work force to less than 300, the company is still going strong. We had lunch at the Old Chocolate Factory Restaurant on the grounds, and bought some candy to take with us.

On the way out of town we stopped at the Visitor Center and picked up some more good information. A camper at Acadia who had spent a lot of time in Canada told us “When you cross the border you’ll spend the first three hours talking to the first person you meet!” That didn’t quite happen, but everyone we did talk to was extremely friendly and helpful. The Canadians really go out of their way to make you feel welcome in their country.

A word on the currency rate of exchange. The advantage is now on the Canadian side. Where we used to get as much as $1.35 Canadian for each dollar of ours, we now get about $0.98. A large reason for this is that the Canadians have an intelligent administration in Ottawa while we have nothing but Bozo's in Washington.

But the downside for them is that it has cooled off tourism. So much so that their biggest supermarket chain is about to close one of it’s two stores in St. Stephen.

We continued on Highway 1 and 3 into the little seaside town of St. Andrews. It is a picturesque town on the water, and we were lucky enough to score a campground right on the waterfront, with a view of the tides and the fog coming in over the offshore islands.

After we got settled in I took a walk out on the tidal flats. The tide was out and the water had receded about a quarter mile. The bottom was covered with seaweed and clam and mussel shells. I took a number of pictures, and then we returned four hours later and took some more of the tide about 2/3 in. An amazing difference, and this isn't even the tides the Bay of Fundy is famous for.

Such a lovely place that we paid up for two nights. The pictures above will show you why.

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