St. Andrews, New Brunswick
Just a short drive
across the ocean floor on the bar at low tide will take you to the summer
residence of that visionary railway builder Sir William Van Horne.
Many stories exist about how title to Ministers
Island was attained, but in any event around the year 1890 Van Horne became
owner and proceeded to construct a summer getaway in Passamaquoddy Bay. Having
been the driving force in the construction of the railway from sea to sea, Van
Horne's pockets were bulging and what better place to splurge than on his
He named his grand house Covenhoven
after his father. It was a huge home with walls constructed from sandstone cut
from the shore. It contained some fifty rooms, seventeen of which were
bedrooms, and a grand drawing room as large as many of today's homes. Of
course, there were servants' quarters and a huge dining room as well as a
billiard room where his ornate six by twelve table still stands today.
constructed from the quarried beach stone is the circular bathhouse where Sir
William would spend hours enjoying his hobby of drawing and painting. Indeed he
became quite an accomplished painter and several of his works are-on display at
the National Art Gallery in Ottawa and the N.B. Heritage collection in
From the Van Horne era, and still
standing on the island, is the gigantic livestock barn which was home for his
thoroughbred horses and prized herd of Dutch belted cattle. Among other things
it housed a huge hay loft and a creamery where white-coated workers prepared
the milk and butter for consumption. There were also heated greenhouses where
such things as mushrooms, exotic plants, peach trees and grape vines were
grown. Even when Sir William was off his island living in Montreal, fresh milk,
butter, fruits and vegetables would be sent by rail from the end of the bar to
be enjoyed by him the next morning.
The windmill, by
the big house, with the help of kerosenefired engines, provided running water
to the residence from a huge underground storage tank. On a remote island at
the turn of the century the Van Hornes enjoyed many of the conveniences we have
today. In fact they were almost self-sufficient.
Perhaps the loyalist Anglican minister, Parson Andrews whose
old stone house (c 1790) still stands and for whom the island was named, felt
the same magic that Sir William felt one hundred years later. Now another
hundred years has passed and the mystique remains.
Ministers Island is operated for the Province by the Ministers Island Advisory
Guided tours of the property, for
visitors with their own transportation, will include: a drive across the ocean
floor to reach the historic island; a visit to Covenhoven, the former summer
cottage of Sir William Van Horne; the bathhouse with its tidal swimming pool;
the livestock barn and the spectacular view from Sheas Hill. The tour will last
approximately two hours.
Ministers Island is located in
Chamcook, N.B. near the historic seaside resort town of St. Andrews. The Island
is one of the many attractions found along the Fundy Coastal Drive.
Season:June to mid-October.
Ministers Island is a protected
Provincial Historic Site. Due to the danger of tides over the access bar road,
the following rules must be enforced to ensure the safety of your visit to the
- 1. All tour participants shall remain with the
- 2. Visitors are asked to refrain from smoking
while on the island.
- 3. Out of a concern for the island's wildlife
and for the comfort of other visitors, household pets are not permitted on the
- 4. There are no picnic facilities or food
services on the island. No alcoholic beverages permitted.
- 5. Please respect the natural flora and fauna
of this unique island. Removal of any plants or disturbing any wildlife is
- 6 . All members of the public must leave the
island at the conclusion of the guided tour. Camping or extended stays are
NOTE: Fees collected this
season will be used by The Ministers Island Advisory Committee towards the
operation and further improvements to the beautification of the Island for the
enjoyment of all of our friends and visitors.
Telephone (506) 529-5081