Campobello Island is accessible by bridge from Lubec, Maine, or by seasonal ferry in New Brunswick, Canada. It's sizable enough to host two major parks, including the only international one: Roosevelt Campobello International Park. It's jointly staffed, managed and financed by Canada and the United States in the spirit of friendship. At this time, however you travel to Canada, you must upload proof of full vaccination to ArriveCAN ahead of your visit.
Some other helpful tips: As soon as you cross the bridge into Canada, you shift from Eastern Standard Time to an hour ahead in Atlantic Time. Also, depending on the season, you may not have any dinner options. Do like a Customs official told me: head to Lubec's Fisherman's Wharf, with waterside alfresco seating, featuring their famous 1 lb. Maine lobster dinner!
The island is home to two different provincial parks and boasts traditional lighthouses.
Roosevelt Campobello International Park's 2,800 acres encompass lots of natural areas, including nine hikes, forests, bogs, dark sand beaches and several historic buildings. Roosevelt Cottage was purchased by FDR's parents as a pleasant summer retreat. The future president enjoyed swimming and boating in the Bay of Fundy as a child.
He inherited the property and continued the tradition with his wife, Eleanor, and their children. In a cruel twist of fate during the summer of 1921, FDR fell ill and it was in the cottage that he was diagnosed with polio.
Visiting the cottage is a deep learning experience, in part because all the tour guides — including the Canadians — spent time studying their subject in FDR's hometown of Hyde Park, N.Y. I found out that Eleanor was adamant that the cottage remain a place of relaxation, so telephones were not permitted to be installed.
When FDR became president during one of the most turbulent times in history, he was forced to be rowed to a Navy vessel anchored in the Bay of Fundy to receive critical reports. Another surprising fact: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. was born there. Thus, he was prohibited by the Constitution from ever being president. Considering Eleanor was the niece raised like a daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt and she was a well-educated woman for that era, she clearly would have realized the consequences of having her son outside the United States.
Another unique aspect is the "afternoon tea with Eleanor" at a neighboring cottage. Each day, a different park ranger develops her own program, highlighting an aspect of her choice. I found out that due to Mrs. Roosevelt's support of civil rights for Blacks, a potential speech scheduled in Tennessee during the Civil Rights era was considered too dangerous.
Amazingly, Secret Service refused to protect her. So, she obtained a carry permit for a gun! That would probably shock today's Democrats.
Next to the Roosevelt Cottage is the historic Prince Cottage, home of The Prince Café. There's outdoor seating overlooking the bay. Because the park is jointly run by both nations, they accept Canadian and U.S. dollars, as well as credit/debit cards.
The Whale Watch Motel is a casual and laid-back place to stay. It has a beach house vibe, but the rooms are spacious, with amenities like a BarcaLounger, minifridge and microwave, a back deck and Wi-Fi. The grounds have games, grills and fire pits.
If you're wondering where the locals eat and hang out, it's The Porch at Friars Bay Inn for all your meals. It has all kinds of local art and crafts, music for sale. The place has a seaside theme and it's definitely come-as-you-are. If you're staying for an extended period of time, or for you, it's "Eat to live, not live to eat," they've got you covered. You can order freshly made healthy smoothies with ingredients like greens, local blueberries and hemp hearts.
The Porch also serves traditional Canadian Maritimes cuisine. The Captain breakfast appears to be Campobello Island's answer to the British breakfast: two eggs, two bacon strips, two sausage, fried bologna, fresh-cut home-fries, (French toast or) fish cake, two slices of toast (the choices included sourdough).
When you remember that New Brunswick has part of the Appalachian Trail, then fried bologna starts to make a lot of sense! The fish cake is salted pollack made into a fried cake, like a coddie: mild and delicious. It offers two condiments, tartar sauce and chow-chow. The chow-chow is like a ginger marmalade.
For a nature and FDR history-laden getaway right across the border, Campobello Island is a memorable trip!
Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's youngest female solo violinist. A world-traveler, Fleishman provides readers with international flavor and culture. She's debated Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren and Dr. Phil. Fleishman practices law in Maryland with a J.D. from the University of Baltimore, a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman's Reports — More Here.
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