Campobello Island, situated in the Bay of Fundy and across the international border from Lubec, Maine, is home to the Roosevelt Cottage. The island is part of a unique international park managed by both the Canadian and American governments.
Originally inhabited by the Passamaquoddy First Nation, Campobello Island was first encountered by Europeans when French explorers Sieur de Monts and Samuel de Champlain visited the region in 1604. They claimed the island, naming it Port aux Coquilles (Port of Shells) for France. In 1713, it fell under British control, and in 1770, Captain William Owen renamed it Campobello. Following the American Revolution, several Loyalist families settled on the island, which became part of the new colony of New Brunswick in 1784.
During the War of 1812, the British Navy captured several islands off the coast of Maine. In the 1817 peace negotiations, these islands were returned to the United States, which relinquished all claims to the islands in the Bay of Fundy, including Campobello. The island’s residents relied on fishing and smuggling for their livelihood until the late 19th century when it became a popular vacation destination.
The expansion of railways in the US and Canada allowed city dwellers to easily reach scenic and peaceful seaside retreats. Campobello Island became a favorite summer destination for wealthy families. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, vacationed with his family on Campobello and enjoyed sailing in the ocean.
Among those who built summer homes on Campobello was the Roosevelt family. James Roosevelt and his wife Sara Delano summered in a cottage on island.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt who served as 32nd President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, vacationed with his family on Campobello. Here he pursued his favourite sport of sailing on the ocean.
It was at the Roosevelt summer home on Campobello that President Roosevelt, then 39 years of age, was stricken with polio. He rarely returned to Campobello but his wife Eleanor loved the peace and tranquility of the island. She stayed often at the Roosevelt cottage with her children.
After President Roosevelt died Eleanor continued to visit Campobello even though the Roosevelt cottage which was in fact a large rambling summer home had been sold. To learn more history about the Roosevelts on Campobello, click here.
In 1963 the Roosevelt home was donated to the US and Canadian governments. The cottage and its grounds were incorporated into Roosevelt Campobello International Park, a 2,800 acre international park which is managed by both Canada and the US. It is the only international park of its type on the continent. It’s open the last Saturday in May and remains open for twenty weeks. The Park grounds and Natural Area are open year round.
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