Tag Archives: Irving Nature Park

My Favourite Place in the World…The Bay of Fundy

Since my posts this week have been in the “tourism” vein, I thought that rerunning this post from last April would be a fitting way to end the week…feel free to vote…we need all the help we can get:

For the last 26 years, I have lived within half an hour of my favourite place in the world: the amazing Bay of Fundy!  On the CBC news this morning, I learned that the Bay has made the finals of an international contest to designate the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  It’s the only Canadian nominee in a prestigious list of 28 tourist attractions which includes the Dead Sea, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest.  I’ll put “my Bay” up against those places any time…

Located on the east coast of Canada, the Bay of Fundy stretches some 170 miles between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (http://www.bayoffundytourism.com/).  It has the highest tides in the world: 50 feet (time between low and high tide is 6 hours and 13 minutes).  There’s even a blog about the Bay of Fundy: http://bayoffundy.blogspot.com .

My first experience with the Bay was when I lived in Moncton – we had relatives visiting from Ontario, and we took them to Hopewell Rocks to show them the huge flowerpot rocks carved by the powerful tides of the Bay.  I remember going down the many steps to the beach (and then huffing and puffing all the way back up!).

Hopewell Rocks at Low Tide...

After moving to Saint John in 1997, the Bay was literally five minutes away…this is where I discovered my beloved Bayshore Beach – the place I have already instructed my loved ones to scatter my ashes when I’m gone.  Bayshore was a “happinin’ place” in the early part of the 20th century, but fell out of favour when West Side residents started travelling more in cars.  The water at Bayshore is bone-chillingly cold a lot of the time…you wade in, and by the time you get to shin-depth, you’ve lost all feeling in your ankles – the kids still swim there though!  The beach is sandy, but also covered with interesting stones and seaweed, as well as driftwood.  The kids love looking for “beach glass,” small pieces of glass that have been worn smooth by the action of the sometimes violent waves of the Bay.  There are a few shells on Bayshore, mostly clamshells, and the occasional hermit crab.  A few years ago, I remember sitting on the beach for at least an hour, watching a small bright green beetle crawl around on my arm (people think I’m strange, but I happen to like insects that don’t bite me!).  Fog can roll in from the water at any time – the West Side is known for its natural air conditioning!

Bayshore Beach...

A few miles from Bayshore, the Irving Nature Park offers a picturesque mix of nature trails, beach, marsh area, and cliffs.  Each trail (varying lengths) is named for an animal found in the area: Squirrel, Seal, Deer, Heron, Frog, and Chickadee.  All trails are groomed with cedar chips.  We have spent many happy hours at the Nature Park…I remember seeing the biggest porcupine I’d ever seen there…he came lumbering out of the tall grass as we walked by, and then waddled off on his way.  Periwinkle shells, as well as pretty stones can be found on the beach at the Nature Park.  We also like to visit the park in the winter and toboggan down the big hill.  More athletic types bring their cross-country skis and use them on the trails.

Irving Nature Park Coastline...

If we want a change of pace, we hop in the van and travel 45 minutes to St. Martins.  There are caves there that we enjoy exploring at low tide.  Fishing boats equipped with lobster traps bob in the water nearby.  There are some beautiful nature trails on the Fundy Trail as well – in August, we take buckets along to harvest wild blackberries.  I’ll never forget my oldest daughter’s stricken expression when she found out after walking for an hour that the trails there weren’t circular like at the Nature Park – “You mean we still have to walk back to the van?!”  One of the most challenging trails is the Hearst Lodge Trail – I would recommend it only to people who enjoy fear!  After starting out on what we thought was a nice little walk, we arrived exhausted, muddy and traumatized at the Hearst Lodge some 2 hours later – not for the faint of heart!  I wondered why we saw people walking with ski poles on the way up, and I soon found out (note to self: flip the map over next time to see the level of difficulty before starting on the trail)!

St. Martins Caves at High Tide...

Another pleasant drive is in the other direction to St. Andrews (about an hour).  This charming little town was originally settled by the Loyalists – many of the original 18th century structures survive.  St. Andrews is known for the century-old Fairmont Algonquin Resort, the Kingsbrae Garden, the Huntsman-Aquarium Museum, and the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre.  Its main street is lined with boutiques and cafés…I enjoyed a lovely cup of blueberry tea there once.  We have also visited railway magnate William Van Horne’s 50-room mansion on Ministers Island – the island is accessible only at low tide.   

It would be awesome if the Bay of Fundy became of the official Seven Natural Wonders of the World…please place your vote here: http://www.new7wonders.com/en/index/.  Winners will be announced next  year.

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