Atlantic Provinces Select 32 Day RV Caravan
Our northern neighbor is a world of loonies, toonies, Zambonis and exuberant hockey fans, eh? There’s so much to do and see in beautiful Canada, and Fantasy’s 32-day Atlantic Provinces tour is the perfect way to experience the scenery, the charm, the people and the culture of the northeastern part of this massive country.
Our group meets up in Bar Harbor, Maine for our Orientation and Get Acquainted Party. And what else could we do in Bar Harbor other than enjoy a delicious “Lobstah” Welcome Dinner? We meet our fellow travelers and Fantasy ambassadors, and receive our Parks Canada Discovery Passes, which provide us with free admission to any Canadian parks this year.
The following morning we cross the border to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Brunswick, where we’ll enjoy oceanfront camping. We have a tour of this beautiful town and stop for lunch at Kingsbrae Gardens – 27 acres of themed gardens, ponds, streams, waterfalls along with many species of birds and animals. There’s time for an optional drive to Ministers Island, which is actually only a part time island as it can be reached at low tide by driving or walking over the seafloor. The island is home to Covenhoven, the summer “cottage” of Sir William Van Horne (who was president of the Canadian Pacific Railway) – with 50 rooms, including 17 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.
We continue our travels through New Brunswick, stopping in Saint John. Our guided bus tour takes us to Fort Howe, built by the British in 1777 to protect local residents from rowdy Americans during the Revolutionary War. We stop at the Old City Market, the oldest continuing farmers’ market in Canada and stretching over a full city block.
We visit the Carleton Martello Tower, one of 16 defensive structures erected across Canada’s coast which played a major protective role until 1944. And we witness the Saint John River’s Reversing Falls – a phenomenon caused by the tides of the Bay of Fundy. As the bay’s tides begin to rise, they slow the course of the river until the flow stops completely. When the tides become higher than the river level, it begins to flow upstream, eventually creating rapids. As the tide lowers, the upstream flow of the river subsides and it resumes its normal flow back to the bay. And this occurs every 12-1/2 hours!
The tides of the Bay of Fundy continue their influence over this area when we move on to Hopewell Cape, home of the Flowerpot Rocks. We can take a tram to the rocks and at low tide we can walk along the ocean floor to explore these flowerpot shaped pillars. However at high tide the rocks become small islands in the sea.
We continue our Bay of Fundy experiences as we move into Nova Scotia, viewing one of its tidal bores – causing outflowing rivers to flow back upstream as the tide comes in. Then it’s on to Annapolis Royal, known for crafts, writers and artists. Again, we enjoy oceanfront camping. We have a guided bus tour to Fort Anne, originally built by the Scots but with later additions from the French. Other stops include Port-Royal, established by French fur traders to resemble France’s fortified farm hamlets and then the Annapolis Royal Garden for lunch.
Next, we camp in fascinating Lunenburg, which has retained its original layout and appearance since it was established as a planned British colonial settlement in 1753. We visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, which accurately depicts life in a fishing village through their living fish exhibit and wharf-side ships. We’ve plenty of time for an optional drive to Mahone Bay, the Blue Rocks and Peggy’s Cove – where since 1915 the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse has kept watch over ships and boats sailing the ocean.
There’s lots in store for us at our next stop – Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capitol city. When the Titanic sank in 1912, the survivors were transported to New York, but those who perished were sent to Halifax. On our city tour, we visit the Fairview Cemetery, which houses the graves of 121 of the passengers lost at sea. We also visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic which depicts life aboard the ship – the most luxurious vessel of all time — with many of its artifacts on display. And at the Halifax Citadel we learn about the fascinating history of the area in contrast with the modern bustle of the city.
We continue our journey north to North Sydney where we board the ferry for the short ride to Grand Codroy, Newfoundland, the island home to friendly “Newfies”!
There’s nothing like Newfie hospitality, but first it’s necessary to participate in a Newfie “Screech-In” ceremony in order to become an honorary Newfoundlander. And it’s somewhat of an obligation in this less traveled land!
We begin our exploration of Newfoundland by driving up the Viking Highway on the west coast as far as St. Anthony – located on the northern tip of the island and the northernmost stop on our tour. It’s also known as the “Seafood Capital of the Atlantic” and we take advantage of that with a Viking Feast Dinner. The next day we travel to Norstead, a recreated Viking village. With the help of costumed interpreters, we check out the blacksmith’s forging iron, step aboard a replica of a Viking sailing ship and learn how the seafaring Vikings navigated the Atlantic using a simple notched stick to measure the distance by the stars. After a Norseman lunch, we visit L’Anse aux Meadows, a historic site which is believed to be the oldest European settlement in the New World.
Due to the surrounding capelin feeding grounds, the St. Anthony area has the longest whale watching season in North America and Fantasy has left time to schedule an optional whale watching boat tour. There are also lots of opportunities to view a spectacular array of whales, dolphins, seals and other ocean mammals right from shore.
We head back south to Rocky Harbor – close to Gros Morne National Park. We enjoy a boat tour of Bonne Bay, feeling the spray of waterfalls splashing down the surrounding steep cliffs and view the native wildlife – including eagles, moose, whales, seabirds and so much more. We visit Norris Point, a picturesque coastal community named after the first white man to settle in this part of the world. There’s so much to do in the 1805 square kilometres of Gros Morne National Park – with dense forests, freshwater fjords, a variety of wildlife and tiny seaside communities.
We continue south to Grand Codroy where we bid farewell to Newfoundland and its friendly Newfies and board the ferry to return to Nova Scotia. Still there are more adventures in store! After camping in North Sydney (where we may choose to drive the spectacular coastal Cabot Trail) and a stop in Elm River we continue on to Prince Edward Island (or PEI as the locals call it) spending our final nights in Cavendish.
The journey to PEI is an adventure unto itself, as we drive over the Confederation Bridge – at 8 miles long the longest bridge in the world which crosses over ice-covered water. Once on the island, it gets even better. We enjoy live theater at the Confederation Centre Theatre that evening. The next day we tour the north shore, visiting North Rustico – (aka “The Crick” according to locals) — with its proud fishing traditions. We enjoy the iconic north shore beaches at Prince Edward Island National Park and learn the ins and outs of lobster fishing (and catching!) from friendly local islanders. We enjoy a special tour of the home of Anne of Green Gables, the beloved story of an outspoken orphan girl first published in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
PEI is bountiful – producing fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products on land and fish, lobster, oysters and other shellfish from the waters. We take advantage of these harvests at our delicious Farewell Dinner in Cavendish and at the Goodbye Continental Breakfast the following morning.
We’ve learned much about the culture, language, history and friendly people of our neighboring country, and this experience will stay with us forever.