Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Classic Bay of Fundy Resort

Work travels this week took me to one of my favourite towns on the Bay of Fundy: St Andrews. When in St Andrews I usually stay at the Fairmont Algonquin. I love the ambiance and history of these classic resorts. Built in the 1880s, The Algonquin originally offered 80 guest rooms, with fireplaces in all the larger rooms. First guests paid $3 to $5 per night for a room complete with water closet!

One of The Fairmont Algonquin's most sought-after features in the early days was the 'cure all' saltwater baths. Saltwater was drawn from Passamaquoddy Bay and held in water tanks in the hotel attic. Guests would immerse themselves in the therapeutic solution in bathtubs designed with four taps - two for fresh water and two for saltwater.

I find it amusing that early advertising proclaimed 'No hay fever here!' and 'A general air of restfulness,' drawing many wealthy tourists with the promise of good health in elegant surroundings - a haven for rejuvenation. In some ways, not much has changed and that's the beauty of it; the hotel is still enchanting and delightful, with lots of great amenities - including spa, of course!

I snapped these two photos: one from my hotel room and one looking toward the main entrance. See previous post on another Fundy classic hotel: The Digby Pines.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bay of Fundy Cruise News

I just heard that Saint John is getting a new waterfront facility for hosting cruise passengers. The city's cruise scene has grown from 1 ship, 550 passengers in 1989 to 54 vessels, 138,450 passengers in 2007. In fact, all the world's major cruise lines now visit Saint John making it the 2nd busiest cruise port in Atlantic Canada. I was in Saint John this week and, judging by the three ships I photographed here on the waterfront, I think the new cruise visitor centre will very welcome!

Although Saint John is closer to the mouth of Bay of Fundy, one of the cool things is the myriad of Fundy-themed day trips up into the other tidal regions. This is a great way to offer cruise passengers an intro to the phenomenal Bay of Fundy. Take a look at Cruise Saint John for more info.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bay of Fundy whale video

Tom at Ocean Exploration Zodiac whale cruises in Tiverton, Nova Scotia, just sent me this 4 minutes video footage he taped a few days ago on the bay...these are Humpback whales flipper and tail slapping! proof that there are still lots of whales to see in the Bay of Fundy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blueberry Grunt

A Bay of Fundy recipe collection would be incomplete without a recipe for Blueberry Grunt. Grunt (not to be confused with other blueberry desserts such as Crumble, Crisp or Buckle) is best characterized by floating dumplings. I've always been a fan of Blueberry Grunt but my admiration took a leap when I tried this particular recipe about eight years ago from The Joy of Ginger cookbook.

Blueberry Grunt
4 c wild blueberries
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 tsp ground ginger or more
2 c all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 Tbsp cold butter
3 Tbsp candied or preserved ginger, chopped
3/4 c milk

- Boil blueberries, sugar, water and ground ginger in a large saucepan until juice is rendered, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut in cold butter using a pastry cutter or knife. Stir in finely chopped ginger. Add enough milk to make a soft, sticky biscuit dough.
- Drop dough by tablespoon in the hot berry mixture. Cover tightly & cook 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with French vanilla fresh or frozen yogurt.

(Candied ginger is available in bulk at most health food stores or, if you are really keen you can make it yourself!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

"new" Bay of Fundy Biosphere Reserve

Exciting news from the Bay of Fundy today! The upper Bay of Fundy has just been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The full region in New Brunswick stretches from the Tantramar marshes by the Nova Scotia border along through Fundy National Park and over to the Fundy Trail & St Martins.

Biosphere Reserves are areas of land and marine environments, which are internationally recognized by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation) Man and the Biosphere Program.

Biosphere Reserves promote and demonstrate a balance between people and nature. While Biosphere Reserves are not parks and don't have jurisdiction over land-management issues, they do serve to combine the four functions of conservation, sustainable economic development, community health, and support for research, education, and training.

It takes many years and tonnes of work to apply for such designation. Congrats to all who worked on the project (including my boss, Tom Young!)

Click here for the UNESCO site if you’d like to read more.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of course we've got whales!

Visitors to the Bay of Fundy rightly assume they can go whale watching in the summer but are often unsure about the 'whale situation' in the Fall. Not to worry: there are plenty of whales here now! Here 's the scoop from a few of our whale watch businesses...

Yes, the whale watching season is still going on! We'll be operating until October 10 and depending on demand and whale sightings we may stay on a little longer. We have been sighting finback and minke whales inshore and offshore, and humpbacks offshore. We have a special departure for a Right Whale cruise on September 30 - our blog is updated daily pretty much with information and lots of pictures ~ Lisa at Quoddy Link Marine, St Andrews, New Brunswick

We'll be operating until the 15th of October (weather permitting). There are still plenty of whales around and they tend to remain until mid November. Still a lot of great sightings to come....I'm sure! ~ Barb at Mariner Cruises, Brier Island, Nova Scotia

Still lots of great whale watching to come in the Bay of Fundy. We'll be open until Oct 15th. We saw Humpbacks, Finbacks and Minke whales today. ~ David at Fundy Tide Runners, St Andrews, New Brunswick.

I'm usually the last operation in the region to close ..... end of October! Last year we saw 8-15 whales each of our last trips end of October (better than the summer!) Humpbacks and fin whales, but Right whales were also around through into November (last year) .... just further away (closer to Grand Manan). Tom at Ocean Explorations, Tiverton, Nova Scotia.

Photo credits: Red hood & whale tail - Becky Cook, Mariner Cruises
Whale tail - Quoddy Link Marine

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bay of Fundy Island Aerial

Here's a couple of our Fundy islands from the air - i love the layers of sediment. Great photo from a colleague, Carl Newman, from Florida who 'happened to be driving by' (in the air, that is) on his way to Halifax to have his hurricane hunting aircraft serviced (yes, this is for real!).

The only thing is... I'm embarrassed to say that I'm not quite sure which islands they are...I don't often see the Bay of Fundy from the air so I'm a bit puzzled. I'm thinking they are Two Islands or a couple of the Five Islands in Minas Basin. Got any ideas? Send me a comment using the Comment tab below...!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Here's some Bay of Fundy insider information: how to enjoy a do-it-yourself, no-cost Bay of Fundy foot spa.

  • Visit the upper part of the Bay of Fundy - Minas Basin or Chignecto Bay - best.
  • Walk down to the beach at low tide, remove shoes, roll up pantlegs, walk out on the ocean floor, seek muddiest sections of beach
  • Enjoy the sklooshing of good clean mud between your toes, repeat, laugh, and celebrate our wonderful Bay in all its forms.
Took this video on Evangeline Beach, near Wolfville, this weekend. It was about 30 degrees with no wind so by late afternoon all roads lead to the beach, not to swim, but to mud. Not very sophisticated but oh, so fun! (p.s. don't forget to check the local tide schedule before you go and to keep a close eye on the moving beach around you!). Also please refrain from walking on these beaches in August when migratory birds are feeding & should not be disturbed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bay of Fundy Tidal Village on Stilts!

This week I was delighted that work-related travels took me to a great little Bay of Fundy community at the opposite end of the Bay: Bear River, Nova Scotia.

Bear River is not your typical town, even for the Bay of Fundy! True, like some it's located six kilometres inland on a tidal river but downtown you'll discover something peculiar: many buildings propped up over the river on stilts!
I took this photo at low tide. You can see that the river has become but a stream, revealing the stilts that underpin these historic buldings.

Easy access to this waterfront enables visitors to see both the horizontal and vertical effects of the Bay of Fundy tides. (There is a good explanation of these two tidal effects on the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership website). Seeing Bear River's high and low tide extremses definitely qualifies as one of the Bay's "cool things to do"!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Scoop on Wild Blueberries

Here are a few of the questions we commonly get asked about wild blueberries....

Why do they grow so well around the Bay of Fundy?

Wild Blueberries really like the glacial soils and climate in our region (including the state of Maine in the U.S.) - see map for key blueberry producing regions.

I've heard that Wild Blueberries are one of only a few berries native to North America. What are the others?

Like Wild Blueberries, Concord grapes and cranberries have grown naturally here for thousands of years.

How do Wild Blueberries differ from cultivated blueberries?

    • Taste: Their unique mixture of tanginess and sweetness give wild blueberries delicious burst of natural flavor, unlike the slightly sour taste of cultivated blueberries (in my opinion)
    • Size: Naturally smaller and more compact than cultivated berries, the wild ones deliver more berries per pound.
    • Performance: Wild blueberries hold their shape, texture and deep-blue color through a variety of baking and manufacturing processes. And they freeze extraordinarily well. In fact, individually quick frozen (IQF) wild blueberries maintain their quality for more than two years.
    • Higher Antioxidant properties: Wild blueberries contain more anthocyanin – a powerful antioxidant linked to protection against brain aging – than their cultivated cousins.
Visit the Wild Blueberry Producers Association website for more info on the health benefits of blueberries.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Raking in the Blue!

Those of us familiar with cattle or grain farms may be surprised to learn that there are farms around the Bay of Fundy whose sole existence depends on blueberries. Big business though they may be, blueberries are still mostly harvested here the traditional way: by hand with a blueberry rake! This rake looks like a strange combination of a metal dustpan and a broad-toothed comb (note the inside handle).

Most of our blueberries are wild blueberries (as opposed to the jumbo highbush or cultivated berries) so, as you can imagine, this is back breaking, if tasty, manual labour. Still, most of us have done it, and many continue to scoop throughout the blueberry season from mid-August through early September. There is nothing like being paid by the pound to teach you the value of a good day's work!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Happy Blogday to me!

All of a sudden I realized I've reached two milestones with my Bay of Fundy blog: I just made my 200th post and I celebrated my one year anniversary as a blogger this week. This Bay of Fundy blog was launched on Sept 2, 2006! It amuses me greatly now that I once worried I'd run out of things to say about the Bay of Fundy...clearly not a problem!
Here are a few of my favourite posts from the early few months of blogging:
Whales are following me!,
very cool Fundy 3D map,
Lobster for Christmas dinner,
Winter arrives on the Bay of Fundy.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Drying Dulse on the Beach

Although bagged dulse is available year round in every corner store on the Bay of Fundy this is the time of year when some of the best harvesting is done. As noted in previous posts, dulse is simply plucked out of the water at the lowest of low tides then laid out above the tide line to dry (so it doesn't get washed back out into the Bay when the tide comes in!). This activity is fairly low tech but it dries the dulse to perfection! Here are some folks at the task at Partridge Island beach, near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Previous dulse posts: Seaweed Anyone?, Do We Really Eat Seaweed?, Many Forms of Dulse, Got Dulse?,