In 1783, St. Martins, initially called “Quaco”, was founded by the King’s Orange Rangers, a group of loyalist soldiers from Orange and Duchess Counties, New York, following their assignment to garrison duty in Nova Scotia as the American Revolution of 1776 concluded. The term Quaco is rooted in the Akan language, derived from the Mikmaq word “Goolwagagek”, signifying ‘haunt of the hooded seal’. While the area to the village’s west retains the name West Quaco, Samuel de Champlain, in 1604, gave the rising landmass the title of “Cardinal’s Cap”. Later, Governor General Carlton would rename the village St. Martins in the 1786 Acts of the General Assembly of His Majesty’s Province of New Brunswick, recognizing St. Martin of Tours, the Patron Saint of Soldiers.
A colourful fleet of fishing boats wait in the Bay for the high tide to rise and fill the empty harbour with water so that they can unload their catch.
Walkers and hikers consult the tidal charts to find the best time to walk the ocean floor out to sea caves, caverns and arches in the Village of St. Martins. The tide rises, soon erasing their footsteps, filling the caves and caverns with water.
The tide races and rages around the scenic Quaco Head Lighthouse, creating treacherous beauty that through history, sank great sailing ships. The tide fills and recedes each day from vast salt marshes, creating an incubator of life that sustains the entire Bay of Fundy ecosystem.
The picturesque Village of St. Martins serves as the entrance to the Fundy Trail, the final untouched expanse of wilderness coastline in North America. A network of walking paths and leisurely roads meander along the shoreline, offering visitors the chance to explore waterfalls, hidden beaches, and scenic picnic spots. From various vantage points, one can enjoy awe-inspiring views of the Bay, with Nova Scotia visible in the distance.
The Village of St. Martins held a prominent position in the shipbuilding industry, ranking as the second-largest producer of wooden sailing vessels in New Brunswick and the third-largest in the Maritimes. The Quaco Museum and Archive showcases the fascinating history of St. Martins’ shipbuilding heritage through engaging exhibits. Today, tourism has emerged as the primary industry in the area.
Under the stewardship of shipbuilders like James Moran, St. Martins emerged as one of the earliest shipbuilding centers in the Bay of Fundy, credited with over 500 ships’ production.
Lydia and Daniel Vaughan, among the grant holders of 1796, made their home in St. Martins. Their son, David, embarked on the village’s first shipbuilding venture. During David’s absence, Rachel, his wife, mobilized the local men to source and cut timber, even initiating the construction of a ship. Despite a weather-induced halt of six months, Rachel’s tenacity and industrious spirit inspired David to persist with shipbuilding as a livelihood upon his return.
In 1803, a 78-ton schooner was launched by David, a tribute to his wife’s unwavering support, and he fittingly christened it “Rachel”.
Post the 1870s, the shipbuilding industry experienced a decline, leading to the rise of lumbering and fishing as primary occupations. However, these too eventually receded, making way for a burgeoning tourism industry. The village of St. Martins was officially recognized as an incorporated entity in 1967.
Points of interest include twin covered bridges, the only place in the world where two covered bridges and a lighthouse can be photographed at the same time, sea caves and a crescent-shaped beach.
St. Martins also forms the start of the Fundy Trail, a 16 kilometre auto route along the rugged Fundy coast ending at Big Salmon River, a former lumbering centre. Take a walk on the suspension bridge.
Before embarking on his journey towards St. Martins and subsequently to Saint John, Moncton, Montreal, and finally Ottawa, Langbein concealed his naval uniform and radio in the beach sand. Though he remained under the radar for over two years, Langbein refrained from any spy activities, seeing himself more as a sightseer than a spy. By December 1944, he found himself penniless and turned himself in to the Canadian authorities. His trial ended in acquittal as he had not performed any acts of aggression against Canada.
In the meantime, U-213, the submarine that had transported Langbein, was involved in Wolfpack missions, engaging in combat against convoys in the North Atlantic and along the North American coastline. Despite sustaining damage on two separate occasions, the submarine managed to evade capture. However, in July 1942, it met its demise off the Azores coast when it was attacked by three Royal Navy war sloops, leading to the loss of the entire crew.
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