Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Camping Near Campobello

I’m not old enough to remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, but for some reason I recall hearing about Campobello as the place he used to go for summer vacations. It turns out that Campobello is an island in Canadian waters, just off Lubec, the easternmost town in Maine. Campobello Island and Lubec are on the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, that famous Canadian bay in which the difference between high and low tide is more than 50 feet in some places.


Our campground is a lovely little place in Lubec surrounded by water on three sides. The park bills itself as the easternmost campground in the US, and since it’s in the easternmost town in the US, the claim is probably true. Even at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, the tides are really amazing. Below are photos from our campground at low and high tide. You can see the difference.

DSC_0156DSC_0173 FDR’s parents vacationed on Campobello Island when Franklin was just a baby, but he came back to the island every summer up until his early years in the White House. At the time, the only way to reach the island was by boat. Now, the FDR International Bridge spans the narrow waterway between Lubec and Campobello Island. And since the island is in Canada, there is a border crossing at the bridge. In July and August, a ferry connects the island with Deer Island in New Brunswick, but other times the only way onto this piece of Canadian soil with a motor vehicle is from Maine.


The Roosevelt cottage is within an international park funded by both the US and Canadian Government. It was sold to a private family by Elliot Roosevelt, one of FDR’s sons. In the 1960's the family that bought it  turned it over to become a park which is open to the public at no cost. DSC_0159

Many of the furnishings and artifacts, like those in FDR and Eleanor’s bedroom were Roosevelt possessions.  The house and visitor’s center have lots of historical photos of the family enjoying their summers at Campobello. An interesting aside (to me, at least) – there are many photos of son Elliot Roosevelt as a boy. I actually interviewed Elliot a few times when he was Mayor of Miami Beach. If I recall correctly, he was highly unqualified for public office when he ran for the Mayor’s seat. My grandparents were living in Miami Beach at the time, and I knew my grandfather was going to vote for him. When I asked him why he said: “He’s Roosevelt!” At that time, on Miami Beach, that’s all one needed to get elected.

Aside from the Roosevelt cottage, Campobello is a lovely island.


Evidence of the extreme tides are visible wherever you can see water, especially when the tide is out. I guess the local fishermen learn early to tie up their boats with very long lines.


There are several picturesque lighthouses on the island. The one in this photo can be reached only at low tide because the path to it is under several feet of water at high tide. The province is nice enough to warn tourists that planning to spend a long time at the light house could be problematic.



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