My First Day in Canada

July 12, 2019


(Photo credit:

Friday morning I left Hampden, Maine and headed east on scenic Route 1 which would take me to the border crossing at Lubec.  It was raining and as I approached the border I thought about making a few side trips but decided that the rain, wind and low cloud cover would not yield very good photos so the first few items are photos I found online.

Just before crossing at Lubec I had a chance to drive east a short distance to see the West Quoddy Head lighthouse, the easternmost point in the United States.  Here’s what it looks like on a nice day:

west-quoddy tripadvisor

(Photo credit:

The border crossing itself was quite simple.  A short but high bridge took me into Canada’s New Brunswick province – no line, no waiting.  After answering about a dozen questions I was on my way.  The next decision was which ferry to take.  I was now on Campobello Island and had to catch a ferry to Deer Island at the top of the hour.  I had already lost an hour by crossing into Canada (Atlantic Time Zone) and decided to pass on seeing the Roosevelt Campobello International Park (which I drove past just a short distance form the border station) as well as the Head Harbour lighthouse (aka East Quoddy Head) at the northern tip of Campobello Island, which would have delayed me another hour.

Here is US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s summer cottage at the International Park (if you can call a 3-story, 34 room structure a “cottage”):


(Photo credit:

And here is the lighthouse:


(Photo credit:

Without making those sidetrips I waited only about 10 minutes for the 11 AM ferry to Deer Island.  I drove onto the ferry, which could probably hold about a dozen vehicles, for the 20-minute ride.



Those photos were taken from inside my car with the driver’s window down (briefly).  All I could think about during the ride was the scene in the War of the Worlds remake where the alien machine rose up out of the water causing a ferry full of people and vehicles to tip over….

What I should have been thinking about was the Old Sow Whirlpool which the ferry has to circumnavigate during the ride to Deer Island.

From the internet:

Old-Sow-Whirlpool divebuddies4life

(Photo credit:

This whirlpool occurs twice a day, about 3 hours before high tide.  It also occurs, but with lesser intensity, 3 hours before low tide.  It can be as large as 250 feet across.  It is the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western hemisphere and the 2nd largest in the world.  The blue ship in the upper left corner appears to be a ferry like the one I was on.  Motorized watercraft must be aware of the effects of the whirlpool but are usually powerful enough to escape it but operators of sailboats and canoes/kayaks MUST take heed of the warnings they are given or they may be drawn in to it.

I was crossing at 11 AM local time and high tide that morning was at 856 AM so we had no worries.

Once on Deer Island I drove up the east side of that island and waited for another ferry for another 20-minute ride to Back Bay on the mainland.


You can see the ferry approaching.  It held about 18 vehicles.  There were more than that in line ahead of me so I had to wait a half hour for the next one.  Once on the ferry I was parked on the inside lane (of three) next to the bridge superstructure with a large pickup truck to my left so I couldn’t see a thing as we crossed.  It rained hard just after we got underway and we weren’t allowed to get out of our vehicles (on either ferry).

Once on terra firma I drove a short ways north (passing the 45th Parallel in the process) to what we in the US would call an interstate highway, Route 1 (in Canada called a provincial highway, NB-1 in this case, and in some other cases called the Trans Canada Highway).  I took it west a short ways, then took a scenic secondary road down to the town of St. Andrews.  There I found the Algonquin Hotel (resort):



I then drove into town, a charming little coastal town:




And this is their harbor:


I was there about 145 PM and low tide would occur at 315 PM.

Next I took different scenic road back up to Route 1 and headed east towards St. John.  I passed St. Croix Island on my left but visibility was very poor and I didn’t stop to take a picture.

St. John is a large city and I knew I wanted to eat at City Market, downtown.  I found a place to park nearby and walked in light rain to the Market:


I had just eaten a late lunch and scoped out the various eateries planning to come back for dinner before heading to my Airbnb in nearby Rothesay.  I went out to explore the downtown area:



Several years ago various towns had a contest where individuals or organizations painted a themed animal or item and scattered them around town.  Richmond VA had fish, Rochester NY – rocking chairs, Raleigh/Durham NC had red wolves (though there was a timing issue so it didn’t go over very well).  St. John had salmon and while I saw quite a few I will only post 2 here:



I walked down to the waterfront and considered walking around the harbor on their nice walkway for exercise but the rain and wind intensified (wrecking my umbrella in the process) so I went to Plan B.


I went back to my car and drove across town to see the “Reversing Rapids”


Evidently the water under this bridge flows in two different directions as the tides change.  There is a huge paper mill complex off to the left in this photo which is directly across from the formal “rapids viewing area”.  I read that a few years ago some organization dubbed this the worst tourist attraction of all time…

I drove back to City Market and learned, much to my dismay, that the vendors were all closing up shop for the day (at around 530 PM on a Friday!!) so I grabbed something to eat in Rothesay before checking in to my Airbnb.