Canadian Maritime Your Way
Perhaps you have visited New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island – the Canadian Maritime Provinces – in the past. You may be someone who wants to create your own adventures, rather than rely on a set itinerary. Or you may just not be interested in traveling with a group. Whatever the reason, Fantasy has prepared this Canadian Maritime trip for you – so you can do it YOUR way. We have reserved spots for you at all of the campgrounds on this 29 day tour, plus have thrown in a few dinners and tours and an experienced WagonMaster, but the rest is up to you! Journey through this spectacular area with Fantasy, set your own adventures and rely on our expert WagonMasters to provide any help you may need with your plans. It’s the Canadian Maritimes, Your Way!
Our group rendezvous is in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, just over the U.S./Canada border. There, we’ll have our orientation and Get Acquainted Party before heading to Kingsbrae Gardens for a tour of their 27 acres of themed gardens, streams, ponds and sculptures, followed by a unique Welcome Dinner. We’re provided with Parks Canada Discovery Passes which allow us with free entrance into Canada’s National Parks, and the next day we’re on our own.We may choose to drive to Minister Island – where railroad baron Sir William Van Horne built his summer “cottage,” consisting of 50 rooms including 17 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. Be sure to check the tides first – during high tide it’s an actual island but during low tide you can drive or walk directly on the ocean floor to the home.
We begin our journey north on Day 3, and we’ve got two nights in Fredericton, the Provincial capital of New Brunswick. You can visit the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, discover the past in the historic Garrison District, explore the many riverside trails and even kayak or canoe the Saint John River. If you’re into craft beer, Fredericton boasts the highest concentration of craft breweries and tasting experiences in the Maritimes.
We continue on to the small fishing town of Caraquet, located on the coast of one of the most beautiful bays in the world and offering magnificent views of the sea and the Gaspe Peninsula. It was settled by the French beginning in 1750 and today it offers undeniable Acadian and maritime charm and savory regional cuisine.
We drive along the coastline of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, heading to Prince Edward Island, or PEI as it’s known locally. To get there, we drive across the Confederation Bridge – all eight miles of it. It’s the longest bridge over icy waters in the world. Our home on the island is in Cavendish, and we’ve got four nights here for some serious fun and exploration. We can drive along the North Shore to PEI National Park and enjoy its pristine beaches and visit the fishing town of North Rustico and watch the locals catch lobster (or “lobstah” as it’s called in this part of the world). A not-to-be-missed stop is at the charming home of Anne of Green Gables, the beloved novel first published in 1908 by author Lucy Maud Montgomery. And Fantasy tops off our PEI stay with a delicious Fisherman’s Wharf Dinner, featuring the latest local catch.
We cross back to the mainland via the Confederation Bridge and head into Nova Scotia. Prepare to be charmed. We spend the next three nights on Cape Breton Island in the picturesque little village of Baddeck, located on the shores of Bras d’or Lakes, a great inland sea. We can use our time here to explore the famous Cabot Trail – one of the most scenic drives in the world. To truly experience the splendor of it all, venture from the main road onto spectacular hiking trails, and off the beaten path into colorful fishing villages that hug the coast. Kayak along the coastal waters or visit an artisan studio. We may choose to schedule a whale watching cruise – this area is teeming with sea life and presents one of the best locations in Nova Scotia to experience a close encounter with pods of friendly Pilot and Minke whales, great Humpbacks and Finbacks, as well as dolphins, porpoises, seals and many other marine wildlife. Tour the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site located right in Baddeck where he kept his summer home, and get a rare glimpse into the extraordinary heart and mind of a world-famous inventor whose genius helped shape the modern world.
Our next stop, Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and has a rich and exciting history. We spend four nights here, so we have plenty of time to sightsee. When the Titanic tragically sank in 1912, the remains of those who perished were brought to Halifax and we can visit their graves at Fairview Cemetery. At the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, we can learn more about life aboard the Titanic and view many artifacts salvaged from the ship – considered the most luxurious vessel of all time. Fantasy treats us to a delightful luncheon at the four diamond Prince George Hotel in downtown Halifax, but the real delight is that we have tickets to attend the world famous Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo!
And what is a Tattoo, you may ask? (In this part of the world, it’s definitely not ink artwork young people are having applied to their skin.) During the 17th century, drummers in Dutch villages marched through the streets summoning British soldiers to leave the local taverns and inns and return to their quarters. The drumbeat signaled local innkeepers to “turn off the taps” which was eventually shortened to “tattoo.” Today, it’s morphed into amazing fast-paced entertainment with marching bands, bagpipes, highland dancers, acrobats and military competitions. The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo takes place in Halifax one week during the year, and Fantasy has timed this trip perfectly so that we can attend what they claim is the “world’s largest indoor show.”
The Nova Scotia fun continues as we move on to Lunenburg, a meticulously planned British settlement which still retains a centuries-old layout and appearance. It’s one of only two North American urban communities designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered to be the best surviving British colonial town in North America. During our time here, we can visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, featuring a living fish aquarium exhibit and wharf-side vessels from the past. We can also drive to the Blue Rocks, Mahone Bay and Peggy’s Cove – home of the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, which has kept watch over the seas since 1915.
We camp right next to the ocean for two nights at Annapolis Royal. There we can visit Fort Anne, built by the Scots in 1629. There’s the beautiful Annapolis Royal Gardens to explore, and the nearby settlement of Port Royal, established by French fur traders to resemble the fortified farm hamlets of France during the 1600s’.
We overnight in Elm River, then cross back into New Brunswick for two nights at Hopewell Cape, right on the Bay of Fundy. Here, the tides move 160 tons of water in and out of the Tidal bore twice a day. When the tides are low, we can walk on the ocean floor among the Hopewell Rocks, a.k.a. the Flowerpot Rocks, due to their shapes caused by erosion over thousands of years. When the tide is in, these same rocks slowly disappear to become small islands in the sea.
We enjoy an incredibly scenic drive along the shores of the Bay of Fundy to our final destination – Saint John where we’ll spend the next two nights. We can visit Fort Howe, which was built in 1777 by the British to protect the locals from marauding and pillaging Americans. The Old City Market is the oldest continuing farmers’ market in Canada.
And we don’t want to miss the phenomenon of the Reversing Falls. During low tides, the 450-mile long Saint John River runs into the Bay of Fundy. Every 12-1/2 hours the bay’s tides begin to rise and they slow the course of the river until it stops completely. Once the bay tides become higher than the river level, the river begins to flow upstream, creating rapids. After the tide subsides, the upstream flow decreases and the normal flow out to the bay resumes.
We join our fellow adventurers for a traditional Fantasy Farewell Dinner and a Goodbye Continental Breakfast before we head out the following morning. It’s time to compare notes on all of our adventures, because after all, we traveled the Maritimes and we did it our way!