Canadian Atlantic Provinces Deluxe 49 Day RV Caravan
Bar Harbor, Maine, has been welcoming visitors to this delightful city for more than a hundred years. It’s the perfect starting point to rendezvous and get acquainted with Fantasy’s WagonMasters and fellow guests to begin this 49-Day Atlantic Provinces caravan. We gather at our campground, listen to our orientation, enjoy a Get-Acquainted party and (of course!) enjoy a Maine Lobster Welcome Dinner.
We’re off the next morning to cross into Canada and spend the next three nights in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Brunswick, totally enjoying the views from our ocean-front campground. We visit Kingsbrae Gardens, consisting of 27 acres of themed gardens, streams, ponds and sculptures. We’ve left time for an optional short drive to Ministers Island, but at low tide. During high tide, it really is an island, but low tide allows people to drive or walk directly to the 500-acre island. It was home to the summer ‘cottage’ of Sir William Van Horne, who was the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, featuring 50 rooms, including 17 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.
The next two days are spent in Saint John, where we visit the remains of Fort Howe, built by the British in 1777 to protect local residents from rebelling Americans. Next stop is the Old City Market, taking up a full city block – the oldest continuing farmers’ market in Canada. At the Saint John River, we marvel at the Reversing Falls that occur every 12.5 hours. At low tide, the 450-mile long river flows into the Bay of Fundy. However, when the bay’s tides begin to rise, they slow the course of the river until it stops completely, called a slack tide. As the bay tides become higher than the river level, the river begins to flow upstream, creating rapids. And after high tide, the upstream flow gradually subsides and the normal flow out to the bay resumes.
We learn more about the tides of the Bay of Fundy, moving on to Hopewell Cape. Here, we take a tram to Hopewell Rocks – aka the Flowerpot Rocks. At low tide, we can walk along the ocean floor, exploring coves filled with flowerpot-shaped rocks. We wait for high tide to see the same rocks become small islands in the sea.
Crossing into the province of Nova Scotia, we see the unique seascape created by 160 tons of water moving in and out of the Bay of Fundy’s Tidal Bore each day, twice a day. That evening, we enjoy the first of many delicious campground cookouts.
We spend three nights of ocean-front camping in historic Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. On our guided bus tour, we visit Fort Anne, originally built by the Scots in 1629, and also Port Royal, which was established by French fur traders to resemble the fortified farm hamlets built in France in the 1600s. Our day concludes at the Annapolis Royal Gardens.
Traveling onward, we spend two nights in Lunenburg, a planned British colonial settlement established in 1753 that has retained its original layout and overall appearance. We visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, which allows us to experience life in a fishing community as we board wharf-side fishing vessels and view a living fish exhibit.
We’ve got four nights in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. We take a guided bus tour, visiting the Halifax Citadel to relive history by listening to rifle fire and bagpipes. We’ve planned to be precisely in Halifax during the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. This is an incredible show of talents and traditions, with bagpipes, highland dancers, military traditions, acrobatic acts, music and dancing. A true taste of Nova Scotia and surrounding culture.
When the Titanic tragically sank in 1912, the remains of those who perished were brought to Halifax. We view their graves at Fairview Cemetery. At the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, we learn more about life aboard the Titanic and view many artifacts salvaged from the ship, considered the most luxurious vessel of all time. Thankfully, we don’t board the Titanic, but instead we delight in our own cruise of Halfax Harbor on a tall ship, which offers views of the city’s major attractions and iconic landmarks. And there’s lunch at the Prince George Hotel, with Four Diamond service and delicious delicacies. There’s even enough time left in the schedule for an optional drive to the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove – home of the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse that has kept watch over the ocean waves and working lobster boats since 1915.
We travel on to North Sydney, boarding a ferry to Grand Codroy, Newfoundland. The next day, we are ‘officially’ welcomed at a Newfie ‘Screech In’ ceremony — conducted by locals for those not born Newfie, known in this part of the world as ‘come-from-aways.’ The ceremony involves a unique lesson in the history of trade and the celebration of traditions. We’re now official!
Our drive around ‘the Rock’ continues with a stop and delicious campground dinner in Port Au Choix before we travel on to St. Anthony, which claims to be the ‘Iceberg Capital of the World.’ Located on the northern tip of Newfoundland (and the northernmost point of our tour), this small town also claims to be the ‘Seafood Capital of the Atlantic.’ We test this theory at a Viking Feast dinner and a tour of Norstead Viking Village, which portrays life in a Scandinavian port of trade in 790-1066 AD. We enjoy more Viking food for lunch and then carry on to L’Anse aux Meadows, the archaeological remains of the earliest known European settlement in the New World, which highlights the Viking lifestyle of the time. Due to the immense amount of capelin feeding grounds, this area of Newfoundland offers the longest whale-watching season in North America. Though whale watching may not be for everyone, this is an option to check out the magnificent creatures from land or sea.
We continue our journey, driving along the magnificent Viking trail to Rocky Harbor and camping near Gros Morne National Park for three nights. We cruise two fjords at Bonne Bay, watching moose, eagles, whales, seabirds and more in their incredible setting of waterfalls splashing down the surrounding steep cliffs. We visit the coastal community of Norris Point, named after the first white man to settle in the area. And we’ve got lots of time for all kinds of optional activities and tours for those who choose to do so: hiking to Western Brook Pond and taking a boat tour, fishing on the McKenzie River, visiting the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse (which has been guiding ships through Bonne Bay since 1897), browsing arts and crafts at Woody Point or just chilling in this gorgeous countryside. Our last night in Rocky Harbor is a fun one – we attend a performance by Anchors Aweigh, enjoying their local music, jokes and stories.
Next stop is Twillingate, a picturesque port town located on Iceberg Alley. We feast at the Twillingate Dinner Theatre, where our waiters not only serve up great food but also perform. The next day we visit Long Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1876 and is one of the most photographed sites in Newfoundland. At the Prime Berth Fishing Museum we can view life under the sea, and then we can marvel at the size of the polar bears at the Durrell Museum.
Bonavista, our next destination got its name from Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto (or John Cabot, as they call him in Newfoundland), who first discovered North America in 1497. His first words were ‘O buono vista!’ In English this means ‘Oh happy sight!’ And it certainly is to us. On the way, we may choose to stop in Gander to view the Silent Witness Memorial, marking the spot where a DC-8 crashed in 1985, carrying the 101st Airborne Division home for Christmas. The crash killed 256 American soldiers and the civilian flight crew. This peaceful setting overlooking Gander Lake is extremely moving, and the memorial sculpture of a boy and girl holding the hands of an American soldier is beautifully executed.
Another optional stop along the route is to see aircraft on display at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum, also located in Gander. This community’s airport played a huge role in the development of Atlantic aviation and also served as a refueling stop for transporting Royal Air Force planes during World War II. On 9/11, this small community played host to 6,700 people on international flights that were redirected from U.S. airports to land in Gander.
Once we arrive in Bonavista, we have three nights and plenty of time to explore this beautiful area, complete with whales, seabirds and icebergs dotting shorelines surrounded by trees. We may choose to visit Dungeon Provincial Park and see Dungeon Rock, created when two sea caves were eroded by the pounding sea and the top caved in, resulting in a large sinkhole. From there you can see the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse and possibly more icebergs and even puffins. Learn about Newfoundland’s history of cod fishing at Ryan Premises National Historic Site, and at the Bonavista Museum, experience the traditional lifestyles enjoyed by the friendly Newfies.
Next stop is Newfoundland’s capital city, St. John’s, consisting of colorful row houses and narrow crisscross streets. We tour the city (North America’s most easterly point) and visit Cape Spear Lighthouse, perched on a rugged cliff. Then it’s on to Signal Hill, which got its name from signalmen who used to sit on the hill to look for approaching ships. Their flag signals communicated the ships’ names to the harbor below. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first-ever transatlantic wireless signal here at the iconic Cabot Tower. The largest population of humpback whales return to this area every summer, and the next day we hope to see them, glacial icebergs and puffins during a whale-watching tour.
Once again, we board our ferry and return to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. We visit the Fortress of Louisbourg, built on Cape Breton’s rocky shoreline by the French in 1713. Today, it is a one-quarter reconstruction of the original town and its fortifications. When the War of Spanish Succession was settled with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Britain was given control of mainland Nova Scotia, while France was given Ile Royale, known as Cape Breton Island. On the eastern side of Cape Breton, the French found an ice-free, sheltered harbor to act as a base for France’s interests in the cod fishery and to serve as an important trading outpost because of its proximity to Europe and colonies in both New England and the West Indies. They named it Louisbourg in honor of King Louis XIV.
On to Baddeck, where we can opt to drive the Cabot Trail. Next stop is Elm River and the next day we travel to Prince Edward Island (PEI as it’s known to the locals), driving across the Confederation Bridge – eight miles long and an engineering marvel.
Our final stop on the tour is Cavendish, where we have plenty to do. We discover the stunning beauty and pristine beaches of PEI’s North Shore on our tour to PEI National Park. We also visit North Rustico and its proud fishing traditions.
And we tour Green Gables farm, the setting for the popular novel Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The land here is rich, producing a bounty of fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products; the local waters teem with fish, lobster, oysters, and other shellfish. We enjoy lunch at Café on the Clyde, part of the PEI Preserve Company. Later, we sit down to a lobster dinner at the world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf in Charlottetown before we attend live theatre at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
Forty-eight days later, our Atlantic Provinces Deluxe Tour is coming to an end. On our final night, we enjoy a delicious Farewell Dinner and reminisce about our experiences together in this magical land. We bid Prince Edward Island and our new Fantasy friends a farewell as we cross back over the Confederation Bridge to begin our journeys home.