Tucked at the water’s edge, St. Andrews by-the-Sea is a centuries-old village nestled on the banks of a bay full of charm. This picture-book town offers visitors an unhurried stroll through streets barely touched by time—a chance to enjoy nature’s beauty along the shores of Canada’s oldest resort town.
Time rolls by slowly in this quaint seaside town on the coast of Passamaquoddy Bay in New Brunswick, Canada. Worries fall away with deep breaths of the clean, crisp salt air, and the leisurely pace slows as greetings are exchanged and locals kindly offer bits of maritime lore and legend. A cheery presence prevails throughout St. Andrews by-the-Sea. Founded in 1783, the small town teems with history, as many of the original buildings are still intact—some transported by barge from Maine following the Revolutionary War.
The charm of the waterfront holds endless possibilities for exploration. The shop windows and artfully painted signs confirm that this is a colony of artists and craftspeople. Located in a heritage building, Boutique La Baleine/The Whale Store offers maritime books and music, as well as handmade gifts for all ages. The Crocker Hill Store, once the village’s registry of deeds office, is now the home and shop of Steven and Gail Smith. The couple’s meticulous garden beckons passersby inside. The beauty of Steven’s artwork and the abundance of garden-themed wares await discovery just beyond the doorway.
Fluttering sails at the end of the dock capture the eye. A jaunt down to the end of the Public Wharf reveals the Jolly Breeze—a touring ship that sails twice daily. Climb aboard to delight in the company of frolicking porpoises and seals, and to enjoy invigorating breezes while viewing the stunning landscape from the sea. Cries of glee quickly turn to hushed awe as whales are spotted and carefully followed at a distance—it is a great gift to catch a glimpse of these majestic giants sharing the waves. As the sun sets and the sails are turned toward shore, steaming cups of homemade soup are handed to the passengers, the hefty mugs providing welcome warmth to cold fingers as the light slowly fades beyond the water’s edge.
A short stroll up and away from the main street leads to the Kingsbrae Arms. Built as a summer “cottage” for a Nova Scotia family in 1897, this historical home-turned-inn proves that luxury remains of the utmost importance. The interiors of the Relais & Chateaux property have retained the comforting scale of a private home, with book-lined walls and deep sofas in the library and a grand piano waiting to be played in the living room. Fine antiques and family heirlooms add a personal touch to the décor. Bedrooms are tucked away throughout the inn—many fitted with marble baths and fireplaces to chase away the chill of nighttime sea air.
Stateliness on a grand scale can be found at the nearby Fairmont Algonquin. Referred to as a “castle by the sea,” this impressive Tudor-style hotel was built in 1894. When walking across the wide expanse of green lawn with its lush, landscaped hedges and flowering borders, it is easy to imagine well-to-do families arriving to summer at this dignified resort. The hotel has maintained its grandeur with a wide, welcoming drive encircling the lawn and a deep veranda on which to while away the afternoon with tea and conversation.
Tranquility is tangible in St. Andrews by-the- Sea, and the days here are filled with carefree hours, long waterside walks, and ambling afternoon constitutionals. Vacationers linger—wishing to stay a bit longer, and reluctant to break the reverie of an exceptional visit to this cherished seaside village.
Photography Kate Sears