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How far East will we go?

We arrived at Hilltop Campground, a small mom & pop park in a rural setting between Calais and Eastport, Maine on Thursday afternoon, July 6th. We checked in and proceeded to our site # C7 which we found was level and ok for our 35' rig. Staff was friendly. Park was clean but a little tired. It needs some TLC but we chose it for the price (3 days at half price with Passport America) and the proximity to the local attractions.

On Friday, July 7 we took a quick trip around the area to get our bearings. We drove into Calais for a UPS return and filled up the truck with diesel. Two miles along Ridge Road from the campground is Boyden Lake. We drove the back road to the lake and ended up in Perry, Maine and continued on into Eastport, Maine whose fame is the easternmost city in the continental United States. The native Passamaquoddy Tribe has called this area home for at least 10,000 years. Some archeologists estimate the habitation at 20,000 years. The first known European contact was the St. Croix colony founded by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1604. Near present day Calais, the unsuccessful Saint Croix Island Acadia settlement predates the first successful English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia by three years. On June 25, 1604, Champlain and his men spent a long and severe winter on St. Croix Island with no fresh water and diminished supplies. Two-fifths of the men died of scurvy and the colony moved across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal in present day Nova Scotia.

From Eastport you can see across to Campobello Island which is the largest and only inhabited island in southwestern New Brunswick, Canada. It is the site of the Roosevelt's former summer home-turned-museum amid an expansive seaside nature park with trails.

We wanted to see the Bay of Fundy up close and personal so decided to road trip into Canada again. Saturday morning, July 8 we packed light and headed for the border crossing between Calais, Maine across the St. Croix River bridge into St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. We stopped at the first Tourism/Information venue to pick up some maps and ask some questions. While we were there, we walked down from the pier to the river bed. The St. Croix River empties into Passamaquoddy Bay and eventually into the Bay of Fundy so this area is affected by the the dramatic tidal changes. At 9:17 AM I took a screen shot of the tidal graph on my iPhone. The difference between the high tide at 3:13 AM and low tide at 9:41 AM was over 22 feet!

This was just a preview of what we might see as we continued on to Saint Andrews, a town in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada. This town is a national historic site of Canada, bearing many characteristics of a typical 18th century British colonial settlement, including the original grid layout with its market square, and the classical architecture.

While there we visited the British blockhouse guarding the harbor and St. Andrews North Point Lighthouse. This active lighthouse in St. Andrews, New Brunswick is on the southern tip of the peninsula in the Passamaquoddy Bay; it is commonly known as Pendlebury Lighthouse from the name of the family who took care of it. Again we witnessed more of the incredible tidal effects caused by its proximity to the Bay of Fundy.

Why are Fundy tides so high? Resonance — like a push on a swing. Imagine a parent pushing their child on a swing. A gentle, repetitive push by the parent will sustain a large back-and-forth motion of the swing. The parent must time the pushes to closely match the natural period of the swing, a condition called resonance. If the timing is poor, the swing will not move much.

In the case of Fundy tides, the “swing” is the shallow body of water between the edge of the continental shelf east of Boston and the head of the Bay of Fundy. The “parent” is the small Atlantic tide at the edge of the continental shelf.

When a rising Atlantic tide crosses the edge of the continental shelf into the shallow Gulf of Maine, it travels as a long wave to the head of the Bay of Fundy, reflects, and returns to the edge of the continental shelf. When the wave reaches the edge of the shelf, the dramatic increase in ocean depth causes most of the wave to reflect again and travel back toward the head of the Bay of Fundy.

The time for this cycle is close to the 12.4-hour period of the lunar tide, which means that each Atlantic tide gives the previously reflected wave an almost perfectly timed push. It is that small, repetitive, well-timed push that drives Fundy’s tides near resonance, making them so large!

The vertical tidal range is the difference between low and high tide. In the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy system, the vertical range of the tide is progressively larger toward the head of the Bay of Fundy, and largest in the Minas Basin.

The vertical tidal range is about 2 metres in the open Atlantic Ocean. Compare this with an average of 12 metres (40 feet) in the Minas Basin. It can even reach 16.5 metres (54 feet) on a perigean-spring tide!

From St. Andrews it was on to St. John into Memramcook, a village in Westmorland County, New Brunswick, Canada, which is located in south-eastern New Brunswick. We discovered that the community is predominantly people of Acadian descent who speak the Chiac derivative of the French language. Karen and I were amazed by the story of this people group.

The Acadians are an ethnic group descended from the French who settled in the New France colony of Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries. Most Acadians live in the region of Acadia, as it is the region where the descendants of a few Acadians who escaped the Expulsion of the Acadians (aka The Great Upheaval / Le Grand Dérangement) re-settled.

During the French and Indian War (known in Canada as The Seven Years War), British colonial officers suspected that Acadians were aligned with France after finding some Acadians fighting alongside French troops at Fort Beauséjour. Though most Acadians remained neutral during the war, the British, together with New England legislators and militia, carried out the Great Expulsion (Le Grand Dérangement) of the Acadians between 1755 and 1764. They forcefully deported approximately 11,500 Acadians from the maritime region. Approximately one-third perished from disease and drowning. In retrospect, the result has been described as an ethnic cleansing of the Acadians from Maritime Canada.

Most Acadians were deported to various British American colonies, where many were put into forced labor or servitude. Some Acadians were deported to England, some to the Caribbean, and some to France. After being expelled to France, many Acadians were eventually recruited by the Spanish government to migrate to Luisiana (present-day Louisiana). These Acadians settled into or alongside the existing Louisiana Creole settlements, sometimes intermarrying with Creoles, and gradually developed what became known as Cajun culture.

In time, some Acadians returned to the Maritime provinces of Canada, mainly to New Brunswick. The British prohibited them from resettling their lands and villages in what became Nova Scotia. Before the American Revolutionary War, the Crown settled Protestant European immigrants and New England Planters in former Acadian communities and farmland. After the war, it made land grants in Nova Scotia to Loyalists. British policy was to establish a majority culture of Protestant religions and to assimilate Acadians with the local populations where they resettled. Most Acadians in Canada continue to live in majority French-speaking communities, notably those in New Brunswick where Acadians and Francophones are granted autonomy in areas such as education and health. According to the two young Acadian women we spoke to at the museum we visited, the Province of New Brunswick is the ONLY bi-lingual Province in Canada.

From the village of Memramcook we continued traveling east to Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Known as the “Hub of Nova Scotia”, Truro's size, central location and historic downtown makes it a popular home-base for exploring the province and the world-renowned tidal phenomena of the Bay of Fundy.

We found a place for the night and checked in to the local Best Western. Had a wonderful seafood meal at the "Nook and Cranny" restaurant. After a quick dessert run to the local Dairy Queen, we returned to our hotel to retire for the evening. Quite a full day of traveling and exploring New Brunswick, Canada. Tomorrow we are on to Halifax, Nova Scotia!


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