Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

St John, NB

We have been without an internet connection for the last three stops, so I am developing a backlog of things I want to post.  This is not new for me, but at least now I have an excuse.

St John is a busy sea port that has the unique feature of the highest tide in the world at a commercial port.  The tide generally runs near thirty feet and can be a real challenge to vessels. One of the famous features of that tide here is called the reversing falls.  In fact, it is the tide rushing in towards high tide in the St John's river near the power plant rising higher than the outgoing flow of the river that causes first the rapids at that point to become still and calm.  Then as the tide reaches a level higher than the level of the river, it appears that the flow of the river is reversing upstream. We did get to see the river rapids and full outward flow and were back to see the river completely calm in the same spot as the tide was rising.  Unfortunately due to scheduling issues and bus malfunction, we missed seeing the reversing falls. Still, it was amazing to see the river rapids stilled by the incoming tide.

Between the visits to the river rapids, we toured the city center  and the market square.  The square is very interesting in that most of the buildings in this downtown area can be reached thru skyways between the interconnected buildings.  You can start in the shopping mall, then visit the library, city hall, the New Brunswick's Museum, banks, hotels, restaurants, travel agents and so on without ever going outside.  We walked much of the area inside and enjoyed  the museum and an outstanding city market all without going outside.

We did walk the streets, as well, and these gave us a good workout as they are all steeply up and downhill.  Along one street, we found an interesting nod to some of the famous people who called St John home.

The commercial harbor was quiet while we were there, but it regularly sees cargo and tank ships calling throughout the year.  We were also informed that the port now hosts dozens of cruise ships every year.  Our guide pointed out what appears to be a large sand pile on one of the docks.  It is, however, the remains of the winter snow that totaled a record of over 300 inches in just a few months. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Power and Justice

Just off the shore from St Andrews is the 500 acre island called Minister's Island.  So called  because in 1790, the new pastor of the Anglican church in St Andrew's decided to build a home on the island.  It could only be reached by boat or over the dry bed of the bay at low tide.  The reason why he decided to live on a deserted island without the comforts of the town has been lost to history.  The house he occupied still stands and is the  most significant historical structure in the area. Access has not changed at all from that early period.  We crossed at low tide  on the sea bottom in a tour bus.

What makes the island a tourist attraction is the summer home of Sir William Van Horn, the Chairman of the Canadian Pacific Railroad from 1899 to 1915. He purchased the island property to build a summer residence consisting of a 50 room home, very large barn and other buildings.  He kept the pastor's home, which is now located adjacent to the barn.  The island still had no services when he started construction, but he wanted running water in the home so he dug a well and filled an underground tank, which was a buried rail tank car.  He then built a pump building to move the water to the home and to fire stations around the house.

The home has a spectacular view of the bay.  At the south side of the island he build a tower for viewing the bay, on the lower level is a changing room for the large pool that was dug out of the sandstone bottom of the bay. The pool was designed so that it filled up during the high tide and when the water receded the pool would remain filled with water.  At every tide change the water was refreshed.  You can still see the shape of the pool, but the hole has been filled in over the years with sediment.

The barn was huge for its time. Three floors and a loft.  He kept prize winning cattle and Clydesdale horses. Apparently, he was quite the task master.  He visited the barn every day while he was in residence.  The story goes that as he approached the barn one day he noticed some of the workers looking out the windows. This meant the workers were not doing what he paid them for.  The next day he ordered all the windows to be moved to the second floor.  He must have been a hard man to work for!

Our second stop of the day was the county courthouse. It has been in use since 1840 until the present time. Our guide provided a good overview of how the trial system works in Canada.

 Next to it is the old gaol, where the only light or air that prisoners could obtain was thru the small slits in the walls.  The gaol did not close until the 1980's.