Thursday, 7 July 2016

Where the water pushes back

Saint John, NB - Canada

7 - 10 July 2016

With a border crossing coming up, we made sure we ate or cooked up any vegetables we had. After our last encounter with the US entry point near Vancouver, we decided it would be better to throw out any vegetables than declare them to see what they wanted to take and give them a reason to search you and waste time. We made a list of the wine we had, nearly 8 litres plus we bought 24 cans of beer just before we crossed the border, duty free. No problem. All he asked was where did we live, had we been in Canada recently, did we have any alcohol or firearms. Nothing about our food.

Railway line near the Reversing Falls

As soon as you enter Canada, the road becomes a dual highway, perfect roads with wide shoulders. The highway is fenced to try and stop animals coming onto the road. As we are in New Brunswick, which is bi-lingual, the road signs are in French and English and yay, we are back to kilometres, kilograms and celsius. Brightly coloured money that doesn't change very much in value from the receipt we get to our bank account as our currencies are about on par. It costs a lot more to fill the tank here but it's still cheaper than home.

Kids on a leash

There only seems to be one campground in Saint John. I booked it just in case but it wasn’t even quarter full. It’s in a perfect location, close to the city, close to the Reversing Falls and close to an Atlantic Superstore – a supermarket. We couldn't get into our next campground at Fundy National Park for a couple of days, so it's a good chance to catch up on some rest.

The Reversing Falls

The Reversing Falls, but it's hard to see what's happening in a still photo

The Reversing Falls are a phenomenon that is more dramatic here than other places because of the Bay of Fundy and its really high tides. While rivers normally flow into the sea, twice a day, the Saint John Harbour pushes the water back, overcoming the river current and making the water fall five metres in the opposite direction.

Not sure where you would end up if you got into one of these whirlpools

The best times to view them are half an hour before low tide and half an hour before high tide. There are a couple of places to view them, from the visitor centre and across the highway at the end of fallsview road, which also has some information boards that explain what is happening. On the incoming tide the fish come in from the sea into the freshwater and then go back on the outcoming. The birds follow them both times for breakfast and dinner. You would not want to be caught in those swells and whirlpools.

Water is trying to go both ways so waves oc

It was these falls which they believe used to be waterfalls, stopped the sailors in 1604 going further up the river as they frightened them. Samuel de Champlain, Map-maker for Henry IV of France named the St John River as they entered the mouth of the river on June 24, Saints day for John the Baptist. He wrote that “after rounding a point it narrows again an dforms a waterfall between two lofty cliffs where the water runs with such great swiftness that if a piece of wood be thrown in, it sinks and is never seen again.” They continued exploring the coastline. A park next to the Reversing Falls visitor centre is filled with large wooden carved statues, each one has an information board explaining how that person contributed to Saint John.

Some of the old houses

A bit of history

This is Canada’s oldest incorporated city. Forty thousand British subjects came here during the American revolution in 1774-83 to escape persecution. There would be more older buildings but there was a great fire in 1877. The fire would have been put out sooner if the city hadn’t decided to save some money and share the horses with the public works department. So when the fire broke out at 2.30pm, the horses were working with the city workers. They had to be brought back to the fire stations to collect all the gear and head out again to put out the fires. The poor things were tired from working all day anyway; then they had to pull a double shift.

The city market which has a roof built like the hull of a boat

There are three self-guided walking tours you can do around the city and we chose one of these. One of the buildings is the Old Court House that apparently has a wonderful spiral staircase. When we got there the place was closed up and looked deserted so when we walked by the current Law Courts we called in and got a contact number. If we had been staying a while longer we could have got access but we had a booking at our next stop.

So I guess he plays ice hockey


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