Monday, September 28, 2015

The moon and the tides and Minister's Island

The stellar experience of yesterday was the moon, which I watched turn from the usual silver disk to this over the course of an hour. Full disclosure: this is not my photograph. I took it from a collection on the internet and rotated it to show what I saw here in Saint Andrews by the Sea, Nova Scotia.  It was so beautiful sitting in a deck chair beside a tree in the dark watching the celestial show.                                                                                                                                                                                       Because of the super moon they're experiencing the highest tides in 20 years here on the Bay of Fundy. We haven't seen a high tide yet but yesterday we took advantage of the low tide to drive along a tidal roadway and visit Minister's Island.
This is the road to Minister's Island, which is accessible only for about four hours twice a day when the tide goes out far enough to expose the gravel bar that allows vehicles across. The 500 acre island gets its name from Loyalist Reverend Samuel Andrews, who built his stone house there in 1790.

But its fame now results from the 12,000 square foot summer "cottage" built by railroad baron William Cornelius Van Horne about a hundred years later. He built a self sufficient farm complete with a windmill, water system, bath house, tidal swimming pool, stables, and servants and this chateau-like barn. That's the inside of the barn on the right where people are looking at ribbons won by his prize Dutch belted cattle. 

The property is now now a park and opens to visitors with guided tours in the summer.  We checked online to find out when it was open--as its hours are completely determined by the tide table and headed down in the car. When we got across the bar to the gate we discovered that we had only 1 hour and 15 minutes before we had to be off the island. So not wanting to sleep in the car we did a whirlwind tour. I think the building here was residence to the farm manager.
This photo is an elevation done by the architects who designed the cottage. It was built of sandstone quarried on the island. Check out the views through the French doors in the reflection.
We were able to tour through most of the house, full of original furniture including Van Horne's billiard table. ( I love the hanging lamp.)

Here's one of the 17 bedrooms.

Not all were elegant though; this is clearly a servant's bedroom. At the top of the house was a warren of tiny rooms like this.

Here's the dining room set for dinner at Van Horne's original dining table.

And a little ways away, the kitchen where the meals were prepared on this gigantic stove.

 The house clearly reveals the "Upstairs, Downstairs" life of Edwardian times.

This carriage was in the stable and I guess the horses would be harnessed up to take the family across the bar to town.

A final view of Covenhaven and the windmill and gas engine that powered the water system.

We headed back across the bar in plenty of time, not wanting to spend the night on the island--even though there are 17 bedrooms there!

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