Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bring out the Stanfields

Since we're on the topic of historic Bay of Fundy companies and also winter approaching, I'd be remiss in not mentioning Stanfield's: the Underwear Company. Based in Truro, Nova Scotia, Stanfield's has been making apparel for Canadians since 1856!!

Known originally for their fabulous longjohns (see photo), the company now makes a full array of layers for durability & performance year round. These days, with so many people dressing poorly for winter then complaining about being cold, I'm all for bringing back longjohns...think of them as 'country goes city chique'!

And here's a little known fact: Stanfield's has a really great factory outlet on Logan Street in Truro - open daily, Tues-Sat, year round.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Have you hugged a lobster lately?

Lobster season is underway again in the Bay of Fundy and neighboring regions. In tough economic times, not only does the price of gasoline lowers due to lack of demand...the price of lobster also takes a kicking. Lobster, it seems, is perceived as a luxury food.

The tricky bit is when prices get so low that it costs more to catch lobsters than they sell for retail. Wholesale lobster prices are sitting at about half of what they were last year - this is a serious concern for our region. In a effort to support our rurally-based lobster fishery, I'm doing my personal best to increase demand by buying lobster every week. So hug a lobster, or, if you don't care for lobster, hug a lobster fisherman - he (or she) can probably use the encouragement!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The start of our storybook winter?

One of the things I really like about living here is our four 'story book' seasons: spring's buds & blooms, summer's warmth and verdant greens, fall's flash of leaf colours, and winter's white.

It's actually quite early to have snow here on the Bay of Fundy (most of the time we just squeek in our first snowfall a couple days before Christmas) but we had a freak snow storm yesterday!

It was the big fluffy snow - my favourite! that burdens trees and neutralizes the forest into a black & white. Here's photo taken from my car window. Sadly, this morning it all seems to be melting away....well, nice while it lasted!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bay of Fundy car ad?

With so many attractive and accessible beachscapes around the Bay of Fundy, I've often wondered why our region doesn't get selected more often as car ad shooting location...I mean really, there are only so many ways they can keep showing the desert...

As far as I know, Bay of Fundy has only been used once officially for car promo: GM truck road tests at Cape d'Or Lighthouse in Advocate Harbour back in Nov. 2006 (only a couple months after I started this blog).

So, to show the potential of this, I took it upon myself to create this sample Volkwwagon promo photo of me and my beetle. With a bit of practice, I even mastered the frozen Barbie smile - well, the cool November weather helped!

Monday, November 17, 2008

One BIG Bay of Fundy fishie!

It's not uncommon during lobster fishing season that traps or lines sometime attract other little sea creatures. However, a couple Bay of Fundy fishermen in Alma, New Brunswick, encountered a first last week: the discovery of a 28 foot long, 4000 lb. basking shark mixed up in their lines.

Basking sharks are the world's 2nd largest fish and are found in all the world's temperate oceans. You needn't worry about encountering one and the beach though...they are slow moving and harmless (doesn't have teeth like its cousin, the Great White). It's called a basking shark because it's most often observed when feeding at the surface where it appears to be leisurely basking.

Unfortunately, the guys weren't able to free this one before it died of a struggle. Gear entanglements are not this shark's biggest threat though... elsewhere in the world it is overfished for its valuable fins, flesh & organs. Thanks to Doug Watson for this photo!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where's the big wall of water?

There's no doubt that the top question visitors ask when visiting the Bay of Fundy is: Where do I go to 'see' the tides?

The answer to this question may not be what you think. Before visiting Fundy, most people know two things:
1. that we have the highest tides in the world (with a vertical height of 50 ft/16 metres)
2. that we have tidal bores or rapids of some sort

Unfortunately, tourists often put these two facts together as one thought and then expect to see a 50 ft 'wall of water' or tidal wave gushing into our bay 2x day.

Fundy residents know that there's no tsunami-style wall of water here. In fact, the places where you can see the rapids & bores (like Reversing Falls in Saint John, New Brunswick and Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia) are not always the best places to see the full vertical effect of the tides (the many Fundy wharves where boats sit on the ground at low tide).

And, at the risk of confusing our poor visitors, there is a third tidal effect (somewhat unsung) which is every bit as impressive:
3. the horizontal effect - places where low tides exposes miles and miles of dry ocean floor.

In truth, when the tide comes in it often laps gently on windless days or is a bit more turbulent on windy days (and during hurricanes). Here's a photo I took a few days ago in the fog just as the tide turned at low tide and started to come back in. Not the wall of water but no less beautiful and amazing a phenomenon that can take your breath away...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bay of Fundy inspires hooked rugs

I've long contended that life here by the ever-moving ocean stirs up the creativity of our residents. This is why my blog, which is essentially about the tides, also has sections on art and books & poetry! My grandmothers were both rug hookers and quilters so I confess to an early fascination with 'textile' art. Imagine my delight when I ran into rug designer and rug hooker, Vicki Graham, at a recent blogger's workshop (of all places!).

A note from Vicki to accompany this fine image of one of her Fundy-themed rugs....I live on beautiful Brier Island and started rug hooking when a friend introduced me to the traditional art of rug making. Over the years my interests have evolved into one-of-a-kind hooked, specially dyed rugs that have found homes all around the world. This is one is called "My Love", which I designed and hooked for my husband (a fisherman).

Vicki is also a member of the Fundy Region Hooking Group and teaches rug hooking with the Nova Scotia Rug Hooking Guild. Check out Vicki's website (and soon to be, new blog!)

If you know of a Fundy artisan that you think I'd like to meet, please email me at

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Holding fast on the ocean floor

Given the choice, I'd much rather walk our Bay of Fundy beaches at low tide than high. At high tide they are pretty pebble, sand or cobble beaches just as lovely as any other coastal locations in the world.

At low tide, however, the receding tide peels back an amazing view of life on the ocean floor. It's a habitat to which even our seaweed has adapted. This photo shows seaweed holding fast to a fist-sized rock throughout the tide cycle. It bakes during the exposed heat of the afternoon and six hours later rolls the ocean floor under 40 feet of turbulent tide. Twice a day, every day, all year long.

Friday, November 07, 2008

High - low tide Parrsboro harbour

Some people collect tea cups. Some people collect coins. I collect sets of high-low tide pictures of the Bay of Fundy....I suppose it has to do with always wanting to have images at hand to share with visitors who don't have time to stay for the 6 hrs between high and low tide. I was just cleaning out my massive collection of Fundy photos (over 2000 in 08 -- eek!) when I came across this high-low tide set of the Parrsboro, Nova Scotia wharf. It's a classic boats-on-the-dry-ocean-floor-at-low tide Fundy image but I never get tired of seeing it....and neither do our visitors!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Strange Fundy ritual

If you live around Fundy you'll know that our tidal waters are a teensy bit on the cool side - a result, no doubt, of a fresh batch of Atlantic ocean water coming in twice a day with the tides.

But, undaunted, we locals certainly swim or, at least, wade in the tide. When I was growing up, there was an older local gentleman who went to the wharf every day, year round, to soak his legs at high tide 'for arthritis'...em, to get arthritis surely...not to cure it! Little local kids will stay in for hours in the summer especially when the tide rolls in late afternoon over the sun-baked mud flats.

Last week I had a note from Kathleen Gidney down in the Digby Area who said she's made the idea of a dip in Fundy cool tides into a fun challenge for visitors participating in her scenic tours. A level 1 challenge is Fundy water up to the ankles; level 2 is up to the knees; level 3 is, well, not usually recommended for visitors without paramedics on hand!! Kathleen issues an "I survived the Fundy Challenge" certificate to all who get up the nerve to take the Level 1 & 2 challenge like the brave U.K. visitor in this photo. Fun!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fundy dulse harvest makes national news

Well, it must have been a slow news day in Toronto last week - Fundy dulse pickers got a nice spread in the Globe & Mail, Canada's national newspaper - right on! It's actually a brilliant article about one of Fundy's best known dulsing grounds: Dark Harbour on Grand Manan Island.

Although I've previously mentioned hand harvesting dulse as a bit of a hobby, the commercial harvest of dulse is anything but leisurely and glamorous!!

Tory Zimmerman's article is accompanied by a great short video/still documentary that really gives a sense of this lifestyle fishery - a window into one of our many Fundy worlds.

Blog photo credit: Laurie Murison, Grand Manan Whale Research site.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A poem from Fables of Fundy

A friend of mine recently discovered this fine little book of poetry in the 'free' bin at a garage sale - imagine! It's entitled: Funny Fables of Fundy & Other Poems For Children, written and illustrated by Grace Helen Mowat, published in 1928. Ms Mowat appears to have been from the Fundy city, Saint John, New Brunswick. Here's a sample poem...from a kindred spirit!

The Bay of Fundy

I like the Bay of Fundy,
Where the tides creep up the strand,
With driftwood for the fire,
And rockweed for the land.
From Yarmouth to Chignecto, around and back again,
They reach the Quoddy Islands and wash the shores of Maine.

I like the Bay of Fundy,
Where sandstone Islands wait
The rosy kiss of sunset,
Beside the western gate.
And up the inland rivers, that seek the Fundy tides
A pleasant land of apple trees and happy homes abides.

I like the Bay of Fundy -
For when the tide is out,
So many wonders of the deep
Are scattered all about.
Oh, happy Bay of Fundy; for there for evermore
Children find their fairy lands beside its lovely shore!