Ministers Island, a mesmerizing locale near St. Andrews, spans 500 acres and is distinguished by its unique accessibility – visitors can reach the island by driving approximately 1 kilometer (1/2 mile) across the ocean floor during low tide.
Once on the island, visitors are whisked back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the opportunity to explore the summer estate of Sir William Van Horne, the pioneering president and mastermind behind the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Visitors can tour Sir William’s grand residence, his colossal barn, and his dual-purpose bathhouse and artist’s retreat, along with the charming carriage lanes that meander through forests and open fields.
There are numerous stories about how Van Horne came to own Ministers Island around 1890, but what is certain is that he started building his summer refuge in Passamaquoddy Bay around this time. With the wealth accrued from his leading role in the railway construction, Van Horne was able to create a lavish island getaway.
He named his splendid residence Covenhoven as a tribute to his father. Constructed from sandstone quarried from the shoreline, the house boasts around fifty rooms, including seventeen bedrooms, an expansive drawing room, servants’ quarters, a grand dining room, and a billiard room, where his intricately designed table still resides today.
Sir William’s round bathhouse, also built from beach stone, served as his sanctuary for drawing and painting. Over time, he became a proficient artist, and several of his artworks are now held by the Province of New Brunswick and exhibited at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa.
It’s conceivable that Parson Andrews, the loyalist Anglican minister for whom the island was named and who lived in the depicted stone house (circa 1790), experienced the same enchantment as Sir William did a century later.
Learn more about Ministers Island by looking at our other posts.
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