Sightseeing in the Historic Resort Town of St. Andrews by-the-Sea!

Large Houses in a Variety of Colours Very Close to the Calm Blue Sea With a Bright Blue Sky and Fluffy White Clouds

View of Multi-Coloured Houses in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick From the Water

St. Andrews by-the-Sea (also known simply as St. Andrews, New Brunswick or St. Andrews NB) was Canada’s first seaside resort and is one of the best remaining examples of colonial heritage left in North America. It was settled in 1783 and named after Saint Andrews, Scotland. It is located on Passamoquoddy Bay and perfect for those interested in adventure, culture, eco-tourism, and relaxation.

The quaint New England Style town is both charming and picturesque, and is an ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is known as a summer resort town since the late 1880’s. St. Andrews by-the-Sea is located less than two hours from three different major airports, making it quite accessible. It is approximately 1 hour from Saint John or 103 km (64 miles), about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Fredericton or 137 km (85.1 miles), and around 30 minutes from the United States border or 34.6 km (21.5 miles).

These are some of the awesome places to visit and things to see in St. Andrews by-the-Sea:
 
 
Visit the Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island
 

A Cobblestone Pathway Leading to a Long Black Mansion With Green Grass on Both Sides of the Pathway, Green Trees in the Background, a Blue Sky, and a Large Fluffy White Cloud on the Left

Van Horne Residence on Ministers Island Near St. Andrews by-the-Sea

Sir William Van Horne was the master builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the 19th century and early 20th century estate on Ministers Island was his summer getaway. His family stayed there from June – October. The 50-room residence was built in three sections from 1892-1901 and included 17 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, and 11 fireplaces. The 500 acre (202.3 hectare) island is about a 5-10 minute drive from St. Andrews by-the-Sea and can only be reached during low tide as you must drive, bike, or walk approximately one kilometer (1/2 mile) across the ocean floor to reach it. Therefore, during high tide the island is inaccessible as the bar that connects Ministers Island with the mainland is under at least 4.3 metres (14 feet) of water. You need to make sure you check the tide schedule before visiting so that you will have enough time on the island before having to depart, as well as the tide chart posted at either end of the bar before crossing. The island is safely accessible for about 5 hours during low tide. If the bar is underwater or partially underwater it may take up to 6 hours before you can safely reach the island or safely access the mainland. Tide schedules change daily and weekly. Depending on the season and day, low tide may occur only once a day during the estate viewing hours.
 

Dirt Road With Blue Water on Both Sides, Green Trees Lined Up in the Distance, and a Blue Sky With Large Fluffy White Clouds on the Right and Small Fluffy White Clouds Above the Trees

Bar (or Seafloor) Connecting Ministers Island With the Mainland of New Brunswick at Low Tide

Angled View of Small Dirt Road From a Piece of Land to Another Piece of Land, the Land in the Distance is Lined With Green Trees and on the Left is Some Hills, Blue Water on Both Sides of the Road, a Blue Sky With a Few Scattered Fluffy White Clouds

Bar (or Seafloor) Connecting Ministers Island With Mainland New Brunswick, Which is Getting Smaller Nearing High Tide

What to See

Ministers Island is recognized as a nationally and provincially designated historic site. Besides the mansion, you can check out the large collection of artworks and take a short walk to the bath house, which was essentially the swimming pool. The water to fill it came from the sea when the tide was high.
 

A Circular Structure Built Into the Sea, Most of Which is Stone, the Upper Portion Has White Windows All Around, and a Charcoal Grey Peak

Van Horne Estate Bath House on Ministers Island Near St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

Moreover, just behind the mansion is a carriage house, stable, windmill, and gas building.
 

Rectangular Cobblestone Building With Large Doors on the Side With Windows, a Single Entry Door With Windows on the End With A Vertical Window on the Left, Two Vertical Windows on the Upper Portion of the Building, and a Vertical Window on the Upper Side Portion Jutting out of the Charcoal Grey Roof, Blue Water in the Background, a Green Tree Behind on the Left, a Blue Sky, Green Grass on the Right and Left

Van Horne Estate’s Carriage House on Ministers Island Near St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

It is quite impressive and interesting to see how inventive Sir William Van Horne was and how he was able to overcome the challenges of an island cut-off from the mainland for large periods of time, due to the tides. He was able to be self-sufficient by using very advanced technology for the era and created a comfortable lifestyle for him and his family. For example, Van Horne generated gas for lighting and used solar power in his greenhouses to produce a wide range of fruits and vegetables, some of which were not available elsewhere in the region.
 

On the Left is a Charcoal Grey Windmill with Rocks on the Bottom, in the Middle is a Smaller Charcoal Grey Building, on the Right is a Small White Building With a Charcoal Grey Roof, They Are All Atop Green Grass With Green Trees in the Background and a Blue Sky with a Few Fluffy White Clouds in a Diagonal Line

From Left to Right is the Van Horne Estate’s Windmill, Gas Building, and Stable on Ministers Island Near St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

The estate also had a grain elevator and barn, which was a short drive from the mansion.
 

A Large White Rectangular Building on the Right With a Light Grey Roof and Windows and Two Circular Structures Built Into the Left Side, on the Right is a Square Stone Building With a Light Grey Roof and a Tall Circular Structure at the Back, Green Grass and a Blue Sky With a Few Small Fluffy White Clouds

Van Horne Estate’s Grain Elevator and Barn on Ministers Island Near St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

There are a number of trails (formerly carriage trails) on Ministers Island which you can hike, bike, or walk (nearly 20 kilometres or 12.4 miles). It is a great place for birding, especially during the spring and fall migrations (late April through May and then in August to mid-October). Alternatively, you can drive around the island. In winter the trails can be used for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

It is common to see artists and photographers around Ministers Island. The Gardener’s Cottage is available for artists in residence. Theatre and musical performances also take place on the island.
 
Tours and Operation

Guided tours of the buildings are available from about mid-May to mid-October where you will learn about the history of the island, culture, and Sir William Van Horne’s innovation. Make sure to check the schedule or book in advance. Similarly, guided tours of the trails can be booked in advance. Access to the island may be gained during off season, but not access to the Van Horne estate.
 
My Experience

Ministers Island is an enchanting place. Visiting the Van Horne estate transforms you back in time to another era. The island is a wonderful getaway and a fantastic cultural, heritage, and eco-tourism (or ecotourism) experience. My favourite part of visiting Ministers Island was the tour of the Van Horne estate. I didn’t expect everything to be so self-sufficient and advanced for the time and I enjoyed learning about it and stories about the family. It was also pretty cool to see the bar that connects the island with the mainland, which is essentially the sea floor, get smaller and smaller nearing high tide (and eventually disappear)!
 
 
 
Take a Whale Watching Tour with Island Quest Marine
 

Top Portion of a Black Whale Coming Out of the Blue Rippled Water, Green Trees in the Background With a White Rectangular House With a Pink Roof Among Them, and a Blue Sky With Lots of Little Fluffy White Clouds

Whale Seen Partially Coming Out of the Water on Whale Watching Tour in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

The Bay of Fundy is an ideal place for whale watching. I took a whale watching tour with Island Quest Marine, which is owned and operated by a local fisherman and his family. The custom built boat is 13.4 metres (44 feet) with indoor covered seating, outdoor seating, and an upper deck which passengers can take turns using. Tours run from approximately mid-June to mid-October and are fully guided and narrated. You will learn about the region’s culture, history, and wildlife.
 

A White Covered Boat on Calm Blue Water Next to a Wooden Pier, a Walkway Across the Front of the Picture Lined With Colourful Boats on Both Sides, Boats in the Background, Land Lined With Green Trees in the Distance, and a Blue Sky

Island Quest Marine Whale Watching Boat Docked in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

The Route

The boat once it left St. Andrews by-the-Sea went through Passamaquoddy Bay through Little Letete Passage, and then around several islands as there is a lot of mixing from the tides there which brings in a lot of fish, and therefore whales, as fish is their food source. Sometimes on the return trip to St. Andrews by-the-Sea they take the Western Passage, which is right between Canada and the United States.
 
What We Saw
 

In the Distance a White Lighthouse With a Red Cross on it and a Red Top, on the Right of it is Three White Buildings With Red Roofs, Large Rocks Around the Lighthouse and Buildings, Lots of Blue Rippled Water and Blue Sky

East Quoddy Head Lighthouse on Campobello Island, New Brunswick

We saw lighthouses including the East Quoddy Head Lighthouse (also called Head Harbour Lighstation), which is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. This lighthouse is located on Campobello Island (which is a part of Canada), and is where Franklin Roosevelt spent his childhood. The island has a bridge that connects it to Maine.
 

The Back of a Bald Eagle Perched on a Tall Branch With Tall Branches Sticking Up on Either Side on Top of a Brown Mound, Blue Rippled Water in Front and Behind the Brown Mound, Trees in the Background, a Blue Sky Filled With Fluffy White Clouds

Bald Eagle Seen on Whale Watching Tour in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

In addition, we saw a variety of birds including a bald eagle and numerous shorebirds, marine life such as seals and a lion’s mane jellyfish, and several whales.
 

Medium Sized Grey and White Bird Flying Over Rippled Blue Water

Bird Seen on Whale Watching Tour in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

In this area it is common to see Finback, Minke, Humpback, and Right whales. As well, there is a chance you may see a porpoise, dolphins, and the occasional shark and bluefin tuna.

On board there is a touch and feel tank that you can learn about and touch a few creatures found in the Bay of Fundy such as a starfish, a sea urchin, and an oyster. There are also samples of whale baleen.
 
Awards and My Experience
 

Three Seals Swimming in the Blue Rippled Water on the Right With Land in the Background With First Mud, Then Rock, Then Tall Green Trees, and a Blue Sky With Fluffy White Clouds on the Left

Three of the Seals Seen on Whale-Watching Tour in the Bay of Fundy, New-Brunswick

Island Quest Marine was awarded a certificate of excellence by TripAdvisor in 2015. This was not a surprise to me. Although I have been whale watching before, this was the best whale watching experience I have had due to the fact that we got to see several different whales, some of which were in fairly close proximity. The tour was also very educational, informative, and interesting, and the boat ride was fun. Additionally, we got to see other animals besides whales. I especially liked the seals.
 
Guarantee

What’s more, this tour operator offers a whale guarantee, meaning if you don’t see a whale during the tour you can go on another excursion for free!
 
 
 
Stroll Through Kingsbrae Garden
 

A Walkway With Pink and Red Flowers and a Tree of Pink and Red Flowers on Both Sides of the Walkway, on the Right is a White Arch and the Upper Portion of a Mansion, in the Background of the Picture is Green Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers, and a Grey Sky

Beautiful Flower Trees and Flowers Outside Entrance to Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

It is 27 acres (11 hectares) of horticultural gardens with over 2,500 different varieties of trees, shrubs, and plants including the prehistoric Wollemi pine, numerous pathways, manicured lawns, a manor house, a genuine one-third scale Dutch Windmill, cedar hedges, two ponds, streams, an orchard, a woodland trail through an old-growth Acadian forest, a labyrinth, a cedar maze, and more.
 

On the Right is a Black and White Dutch Windmill With Green Grass, Green Shrubs, Green Trees Beside and Behind it, On the Left is Pink, Orange, and Green Plants and a Tree With White Leaves

Dutch Windmill and Heath and Heather in Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

Types of Gardens or Themed and Display Gardens

There are numerous themed gardens such as a White Garden, a Knot Garden, a Rose Garden, a Hydrangea Garden, a Perennial Garden, a Cottage Garden, a Bird and Butterfly Garden, a Sculpture Garden (which is constantly growing as it displays the winners of the yearly Kingsbrae Garden Canadian Sculpture Competition), a Children’s Fantasy Garden (with child sized play houses), a Heath and Heather Garden, Rhododendrons, a Secret Garden, a Therapy Garden and a Scents and Sensitivity Garden (designed for those with special needs), an Edible Garden, a Gravel Garden, an Ornamental Grasses Garden, and a Container Garden. Several of these gardens are used for demonstration and experimentation with different gardening styles and therefore are continuously changing, so there is often something new to discover even if you’ve been to the gardens several times.
 

Burgundy and Light Green Plants Planted to Form Celtic Knots With a Green Plant in the Middle and Green Hedging Around the Knots, a Brown Bench in the Distance With Tall Green Hedging and Green Trees Behind it, and a Grey Sky

Knot Garden in Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

Animals and Insects
 

A Brown Alpaca in the Doorway of a Dark Grey Structure With White Windows on the Left and a Darker Brown and Smaller Alpaca Next to it Behind a Rectangular Ramp, Green Trees in the Background and a Green Tree in Front of the Structure on the Left

Alpacas in Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

You can also find a variety of birds, butterflies, and insects, plus animals such as alpacas, peacocks, pygmy goats, ducks, and miniature donkeys. In the summer, daily at 10:30 am, there are live ladybug releases that the public is allowed to take part in and experience.
 

A Red and White Hexagon Shaped Structure With a Grey Roof Raised Up By Diagonal Pieces of Wood Covered by a Green Lattice Material With a Black Goat With a White Forehead and Nose in the Doorway on Top of Hay With a Wooden Ramp Leading From the Doorway to the Ground of Green Grass With Tree Stumps Scattered Around and a Green Tree on the Right and Left, With a Wooden Fence Enclosing the Space and Green Trees in the Background

Pygmy Goat in Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

Awards

Since opening in 1998 the garden has won several horticultural awards, including earning the title of Garden of the Year by Canadian Garden Tourism Awards in 2013. Kingsbrae Garden used environmentally acceptable best practices in its construction and continues to do so in their day to day maintenance and garden projects. It is designated a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Moreover, the Kingsbrae Garden is part of Canada’s Garden Route by Via Rail Canada. It was awarded Fodor’s Choice for Choice Travel Experiences in 2008 and the Project EverGreen Award in 2008.
 

A Rectangular Section of Green Grass With Yellow Rose Bushes Around it, a Walkway Next to that, on the Right of the Walkway on the Right are Pink Rose Bushes, on the Far End is a Brown Bench With Rose Bushes Behind it and Green Trees in the Background, on the Left is a Tall Green Hedge, and a Bluish Grey Cloudy Sky

Rose Garden in Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

Guide and Information

The garden is open from about mid-May to mid-October. You can do a self-guided tour (you will be provided with a walking map and a guide to the exhibits) or guided interpretive bilingual tours are available. There is a wide range of activities and special events throughout the year, including art workshops for children. It may take you anywhere from an hour to walk through the garden to several hours or even days to see and experience everything.
 
Amenities

Other amenities include delicious meals and desserts at the Garden Café, which turns into the fine-dining restaurant Savour in the Garden in the evenings and houses a small art gallery. I highly recommend visiting it! You can read more about my visit to the Garden Café here.

Additionally, there is a gift shop and if you would like to take some plants home with you then you may want to visit the Plant Centre during the growing season, which has a variety of hard to find perennials, shrubs, and trees in addition to roses, herbs, and annuals. A range of flower and vegetable seeds, soils, compost, mulches, organic products, tools, pots, and garden accessories can also be found. The Plant Centre can be accessed from the main parking lot, admission to Kingsbrae Garden is not required.
 
My Experience
 

Yellow Flowers With Pink Centres Pointed Downwards in a Large Brown Plant Pot in the Centre, a Bench in the Distance Behind it and to the Left, Two White Houses With Porches and Grey Roofs on Either Side of the Flowers in the Distance, Green Grass, in the Background Green Trees, and a Grey Sky

Child-Sized Play Houses in Children’s Fantasy Garden in Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

All of the gardens were magnificent! It was easy to see why it is a popular place for weddings. My favourite parts of Kingsbrae Garden were the flower trees located outside the entrance and within the garden as they were beautiful and unique, the miniature life-like play houses in the Children’s Fantasy Garden (they almost made me want to be a kid again), and the Sculpture Garden (especially the Beaver Frolic Sculpture by Gary Briggs which received an honourable mention in the 2014 competition). The sculptures are all quite impressive and some of the sculptures in the sculpture garden are for sale. Kingsbrae Garden is a great place to relax and you can spend quite a lot of time there without difficulty. It is beautiful even in the rain, so if you happen to visit and the weather isn’t sunny no need to worry (if you forgot your umbrella they will even lend you one!) 🙂
 

A Bronze Sculpture of a Beaver With a Red Hat Standing on Top of a Beaver With a Yellow Hat Standing on Top of a Beaver With a Black Top Hat With Green Grass and Yellow Flowers Around it, Green Shrubs, Bushes, and Trees in the Background, and a Bluish Grey Sky

Beaver Frolic Sculpture in Sculpture Garden in Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

 
The Kingsbrae Garden, Island Quest Marine whale watching tours, and the Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island are all Bay of Fundy recommended experiences.
 
 
 
Visit the Algonquin Resort

The Algonquin Resort was commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, making it one of the oldest hotels in Canada and a major landmark in the town. Many famous celebrities have stayed at this luxury hotel, so don’t be surprised if you accidentally run into one. You can read more about my experience at the hotel here.
 
 
Take an Off-Kilter Bike Tour

Take a sightseeing interpretive bike tour to explore St. Andrews by-the-Sea on a high-end mountain bike wearing a custom made kilt. There are 2 hour tours for beginners, as well as full day tours, overnights, and multi-days for different skill levels.
 
 
Walk Through the Downtown and Take in the Architecture
 

A Beige Coloured Mansion With a Green Roof and a Porch Decorated With Red Flowers and in Front of the Porch Small Green Bushes and Shrubs, Large Green Trees on Both Sides of the Mansion, a Large Driveway on the Right Leading to Two Smaller Buildings as well as the Mansion, a Huge Immaculate Green Lawn, a Burgundy Coloured Tree on the Right in the Middle of the Lawn, and a Bright Blue Sky With a Faint Single Cloud

A Mansion in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

Many prominent families had grand summer “cottages” which today would be called mansions, several of which were designed by the famous architects, Edward and W.S. Maxwell. A large number of the homes, commercial buildings, and churches that are 100 – 200+ years old have been restored and there are various styles, thus displaying the town’s architectural development. Hence, St. Andrews by-the-Sea has been designated a National Historic Site since 1998.
 
 
Visit the Farmers’ Market
 

Pavement in the Front, Then Several People at a Cobblestone Square With Small Square Shaped Peak Tents of Different Colours With Covered Tables Underneath With Tablecloths of Different Colours and Things on Top of the Tables, Houses and Buildings in the Background of Different Colours, a Dark Vehicle on the Right, Green Trees on the Left, and a Blue Sky With Many Many Small White Clouds

Outdoor Farmers’ Market in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

The St. Andrews by-the-Sea Farmers’ Market is located downtown outdoors in Market Square on Thursdays from the end of May until September between 8:30 am – 1:00 pm. There are local products for sale including homemade foods and pastries, local in season produce, flowers, plants, handmade jewellery, crafts, handmade soaps/oils, fine arts, hand forged iron work, leather work, pottery, traditional archery, stone products, paper products, weaving, sewn items, hand spun scarfs, handmade baskets, photography, and more. It is a great place to find local treasures.
 
 
Other Activites in St. Andrews by-the-Sea

Furthermore, there is excellent dining, the Fundy Discovery Aquarium, several art galleries, museums, shopping, golfing, bird watching, hiking, biking, kayaking, scuba diving, day trips to nearby islands, performing arts performances, many lighthouses and covered bridges, festivals and special events, and more. Likewise, there are winter activities available in St. Andrews by-the-Sea such as cross-country skiing, curling, skating, snowshoeing, the Winter Festival which includes the “Garden of Lights” and “Festival of Trees,” and more.
 
 
Conclusion

If you have the opportunity to spend a week or even a few days in this quaint little historic town, I would recommend at a minimum the following activities: visit the Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island, take a whale watching tour with Island Quest Marine, stroll through Kingsbrae Garden, eat at Garden Café or Savour in the Garden, walk through the downtown and take in the architecture, visit the Algonquin Resort, take an off-kilter bike tour, and visit the farmers’ market. Of course, these are just some of the wonderful things to see and do in Saint Andrews by-the-Sea, there are many other activities also offered if you have more time.
 
 
Favourite Part

Besides the large range of activities available and relaxed pace, what I liked most about Saint Andrews by-the-Sea was the Maritime hospitality. Although throughout New Brunswick people are very warm, kind, welcoming, friendly, and helpful, I found them to be even more so in this little historic town! It is a magical place I would love to go back to!
 
 
Map of the Bay of Fundy

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Location of Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada

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Location of Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada 45.077400, -65.610352
 
 
What is your favourite summer destination?

 
This was a complimentary trip courtesy of New Brunswick Tourism. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
 

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