The tours through the cruise line that included anything to the Bay of Fundy were already sold out by the time I got around to booking our excursions. Not to be deterred, I found a local company in St John that offered a similar itinerary, at a better price, so I jumped on it and made a booking for the two of us.
Then a day later I received an email from the tour company that the tour I had booked with them was no longer being offered. Bummer!
Back to square one. I tried to get us wait listed and then decided to just hold-up until we were on-board to see if there were any cancellations.
It turned out that two of our dinner table mates, Pete and Fran also had a tour cancelled so we decided to get off the ship when we first arrived, team up and see if we could get a cab or find a local tour that would work.
Tim and I were the first ones off the ship and were directed to a tour desk offering “Bay of Fundy” tours which is what I most wanted to see. As it turned out, this was one of the same tours offered by the ship that was sold out. They had four seats available for us and we snapped them up.
Having time to wander around the pier for an hour before the tour was to depart, we came across a young guy singing karaoke. He asked if we had any requests and I suggested “Imagine”. He laughed, and said he had not sung that in years, and did we know the words. After we turned out to be no help, he instead decided to make up the words on the fly.
He did indeed know most of them, but periodically through in a few original lines, which turned out to be hilarious as he blended comments about our cruise and people passing by with the original lyrics. His talent leaned heavier on his creativity than his singing skills, but we got some good laughs, especially when Tim got out his iPhone, turned on the flashlight and started swinging it as if at a nighttime concert.
Saint John is the oldest incorporated city in Canada. Samuel de Champlain landed in Saint John Harbor back in 1604, and the municipality was created by royal charter in 1785.
There were three scheduled stops on our tour. The first one was at City Market, a combination farmers market, food court and craft fair. Each year the ceiling is decorated with a theme. For 2017, it was based on celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday and the hanging flags will be auctioned off as a fund raiser at the end of the year.
Tim and I took a quick swing through the inside, but since we seldom buy any souvenirs, spent most of our time checking out the park and a cemetery across the street.
The Bay of Fundy has the most dramatic and highest tide changes of anywhere in the world – a dramatic 29 foot difference! We got to witness the tides from Stone Hammer Geopark aka Fallsview Park which is a UNESCO Site.
When the tide is out (low tide) the water from the Saint John River, flows into the Bay of Fundy. As the tide starts to come back in, the water flow stops the flow of the river.
“As the bay tides begin to rise, they slow the course of the river and finally stop the river’s flow completely. This short period of complete calm is called slack tide. It is only at this time that boats are able to navigate the Falls. Shortly after this slack tide the bay tides become higher than the river level and slowly, at first, the river begins to flow upstream. As the bay tides continue to rise, the reverse flow gradually increases and the rapids begin to form, reaching their peak at high tide.” – new-brunswick.net
At this point the tidal waters are actually 14 ½ feet higher than the river.
“After high tide the bay tides begin to fall and the upstream flow of the river gradually lowers until the bay tides fall to the level of the river – once again resulting in another slack tide. The river then resumes its normal course and begins to flow back out of the bay. The bay tides continue to fall below the level of the river until at low tide the rapids are again at their peak, flowing down stream.”
With the reversal, the tidal waters are now 14 ½ feet lower than the river level. This incredulous 29 foot change occurs twice a day.
Our final stop on our tour was at the Carleton Martello Tower, a National Historic Site.
The tower was closed for renovations when we arrived, so we were not able to climb to the top to enjoy the view. However we did watch a brief film that explained the military significance.
“During the War of 1812, when the US declared war against Great Britain, Royal Engineers built the stone tower to protect New Brunswick’s largest and most important port.” pc.gc.ca
Our time here was brief, and we did not have time to check out the interactive exhibits in the Visitor Center. Tim did however spot two more of the random red chairs that have been placed throughout Canada in celebration of their 150th anniversary.
Here are a few more scenes I captured along our drive around Saint John:
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got out the door early and were able to get seats on one of the local tours that included the Bay of Fundy. We later realized that part of the problem with all of the tours being sold out was that there were THREE cruise ships in port at the same time. For a town this small, that was an enormous influx of people.
As a tiny side note: as we were leaving port, our captain made an announcement, to please indulge him the sounding of the ships horn. The Regal Princess is the only one of the fleet that has special horns that when sounded will play the Love Boat theme. How we laughed as the other two ships responded with a meager blast or two. The decks and most balconies were filled for sail away, as we waved to our fellow travelers.