Tips & Ideas

Tips & Ideas


submitted by: Sheila Sobell

Poised on the lip of the Bay of Fundy overlooking Hospital Island, once the immigration center and sadly the final resting place for hundreds of Irish hoping to escape the potato famine, and Minister Island where Canadian Pacific Railroad magnate Sir William Van Horne built his 50 room summer home at the turn of the century, sits charming St. Andrew by-the-Sea. Despite the economic rhythms of the last 80 years and the boom/bust/boom again cycles that swept the town, not much has really changed. A colony of some 250 handcrafters still knit and pearl 100 percent wool sweaters in colors that haven’t changed since Cottage Craft Fine Woolens opened in 1915. When the tide is out, the bay still parts for the trip to Minister’s Island and a tour of Van Horn’s home, the catalyst for other wealthy industrials and their families to make a similar commitment to summer in St. Andrews.

Pull up a chair, pop a cold one, peer out at the sea and discover your inner Zen, or perhaps more aptly, your inner beach bum.

Every day, the tides of Passamaquoddy ebb and flow dramatically, spawning a fascinating variety of sea life. Naturalists conduct guided walks through the tidal flats where you can observe the phenomenon first hand.  But if your tastes run wilder, whale watching tours on the Bay of Fundy offer the rare chance to glimpse the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, Sei, Humpback and even the 80 ft. Finback, along with purposes and sharks.

Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to nearby St. Stephen, home of the Chocolate Museum and Ganong Bros. Ltd, creators of the first five cent chocolate nut bar in North America, the Pal O’Mine. According to chocolate lore, founder Arthur Ganong and George Ensor, his factory superintendent, got the idea of creating a candy bar accidentally as a result of wrapping bits of chocolate in wax paper and stuffing them into the pockets of their foul weather slickers when they went fishing. Once a year in late September, the town celebrates a chocolate festival and the Ganong factory throws open the doors to its new factory for a real Willie Wonker experience. One hundred people get to tour the factory and sample as much chocolate as they want, but nothing can leave the factory grounds.

Even the hotels are a bit of living history. In 1996, Jay Remer and Greg Cohane poured more than $1 million and three years of work into meticulously restoring the Windsor House, a Georgian mansion built in 1798. The result is an intimate four bedroom, two-suite four Diamond AAA inn decorated with 18thand 19th century antiques and an arresting series of etchings called Queen Victoria’s Pets painted by Edwin Landseer, her favorite artist.

A year ago, Swiss chef Chris Aerni and wife Graziella opened a restaurant at their newly acquired Rossmount Inn. With a menu that actually changes daily, it quickly became a St. Andrews gourmet sensation serving unique dishes like fresh egg tagliatelle with garlic, tomato, chicken strips and olives and baked salmon, couscous, glazed red onion and lemon butter plus Swiss chocolate truffle cake with fruit coulis.

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Sheila Sobell is a professional travel journalist, and member of the prestigious Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). Visit her at .