Ministers Island is a captivating destination situated just off the coast near St. Andrews. This 500-acre island is unique in that it is only accessible by driving approximately 1 kilometer (1/2 mile) across the seafloor during low tide.
Upon arriving, visitors are transported to the late 19th and early 20th centuries as they explore the summer estate of Sir William Van Horne, the first president of, and the driving force behind, the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Sir William’s expansive house, his enormous barn, and his bathhouse/artist’s retreat can be visited, as can the picturesque carriage lanes that wind through woods and fields.
While various stories exist about how Van Horne obtained Ministers Island, he became the owner around 1890 and began building his summer haven in Passamaquoddy Bay. As the driving force behind the construction of the railway, Van Horne had the resources to create an extravagant island retreat.
He named his magnificent home Covenhoven, in honor of his father. The house was built with walls made from sandstone cut from the shore, featuring approximately fifty rooms, including seventeen bedrooms, a grand drawing room, servants’ quarters, a large dining room, and a billiard room where his ornate table still stands today.
The circular bathhouse, also constructed from quarried beach stone, served as a space for Sir William to indulge in his hobbies of drawing and painting. Over time, he became a skilled painter, with several of his works held by the Province of New Brunswick and displayed at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa.
Perhaps the loyalist Anglican minister, Parson Andrews, whose old stone house shown here (c. 1790) and for whom the island was named, felt the same magic that Sir William felt one hundred years later.
Learn more about Ministers Island by looking at our other posts.
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