St. Andrews, in the summer, is crowded with the kind of people who dress for dinner and describe their mansions as cottages

Summer PeopleThis is an absolutely delightful Maclean’s Magazine article written by a very talented Ian Sclanders. The year is 1952. It is summer in St. Andrews when Howard Pillow occupied “Kingsbrae” an estate located at what is now the entrance of Kingsbrae Garden. When Sir James & Lady Dunn occupied “Dayspring” before Lord & Lady Beaverbrook [formerly Lady Dunn] took up residence. And when Mr. & Mrs. Robert Struthers [seen here leaning in to a bit of news], escaped the brutal heat of Wall Street in New York to spend summers at Topside, now Kingsbrae Arms. What is remarkable about this article can best be expressed as plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Life was a rich affair among the summer crowd. As Sclanders noted, “the rates of the Algonquin are steep, up to twenty dollars a day.”

Here is the article, then, in it’s entirety. A treasured and well documented remnant of St. Andrews’ history.

THE SALTY SPELL OF ST. ANDREWS

By IAN SCLANDERS Published in MACLEAN’S, August, 1952

ST. ANDREWS, N.B., has only fourteen hundred year-round residents. But its liquor store is reputed to sell more imported champagne than any other liquor store east of Montreal, and it has a grocer who stocks caviar and pâté de foie gras, a druggist who sells perfume at seventy five dollars an ounce, and two china dealers who offer dinner sets priced as high as two thousand dollars. The reason is that St. Andrews is the most fashionable resort on Canada’s Atlantic coast.

In this unusual little town, on a peninsula that juts into blue Passamaquoddy Bay, one of the major industries is barbering the tall cedar hedges which surround the estates of the rich with evergreen elegance. There are miles and miles of these hedges. They block the view at every tum, so when E. P. Taylor, the financier, was selecting a piece of property for a seaside retreat he studied

the landscape from an airplane. As he circled over St. Andrews, on a sunny morning, typical “summer folks” were doing typical things.

Rt. Hon. C. D. Howe, in grey flannels and white shirt, was out on his broad lawn directing a team of gardeners. Senator Cairine Wilson, in a mud streaked cotton dress, was pruning rose bushes. At the Old Timers’ Club, H. D. Burns, chairman of the board of the Bank of Nova Scotia, and Lieutenant-Governor D. L. MacLaren of New Brunswick were playing a spirited game of cribbage.

Miss Olive Hosmer, whose father, the late Charles R. Hosmer, amassed one of this country’s fat fortunes, was out driving in her elderly Rolls Royce. Mrs. R. E. D. Redmond, a daughter of the late Lord Shaughnessy of the CPR, and Lady Davis, widow of Sir Mortimer Davis, were watching the bathers at the beach.

Noah Timmins, the mining magnate, and Sir James Dunn, the peppery old baronet who controls Algoma Steel and Canada Steamship Lines, were striding through elm-shaded lanes, while G. Blair Gordon (Dominion Textile) and Dr. Gavin Miller, noted Montreal surgeon, were shooting a round of golf. Howard W. Pillow (British American Banknote) and Harry W. Thorp (Murphy Paint) were swapping yams in the back room of Bobby Cockburn’s corner drugstore.

Scores of other upper-rung socialites were distorting themselves at St. Andrews. For St. Andrews, in the summer, is crowded with the kind of people who dress for dinner and describe their mansions as cottages. Year after year they turn up with their butlers, cooks, chauffeurs, limousines, rakish sport cars and yachts. They golf, swim, fish, sail and garden, and go to parties.

A musket ball discarded by Champlain clinched Canada’s claim to St. Andrews. Since then this New Brunswick haven has lured a Bonaparte, two Fathers of Confederation, a parcel of peers and more millionaires per mile than any town in the land

There are parties morning, afternoon and evening, but these are polite and decorous, for most members of the St. Andrews set have reached or passed middle age and were either born with money or have had money long enough to avoid nouveau riche high jinks. They don’t swill champagne. They sip it. Nobody at St. Andrews has ever plunged fully clad into a swimming pool in a gay mad moment, and there hasn’t been a first-rate scandal since a prominent matron, out joy riding with a waiter, was killed in an accident. That was years ago.

Some vacationists find the place dull. A disappointed New Yorker complained to a desk clerk at the Algonquin—the posh but sedate CPR inn —that St. Andrews is “too damned refined.” But the majority of the summer folks prefer it like that. They frown on tourist traps that might draw a noisy element. When a dude ranch was opened by a promoter from Montreal—with beauteous Broadway cowgirls, Hollywood-style cowboys, and a floor show—they cold-shouldered it out of business in one season.

They’re so fond of St. Andrews, just the way it is, that they’re trying to keep it as changeless as possible in a changing world, a haven with the gracious manners and standards of yesteryear. They carefully preserve its scenery and traditions, shun modern architecture and fill their big houses with antiques.

In deference to their wishes the Algonquin, the pivot around which the social life revolves, hasn’t revised its menus noticeably for half a century. It still serves the elaborate kind of meals that have to be digested in an atmosphere of leisure. This hotel, which has two hundred and thirty rooms and two golf courses, didn’t discard the last of its Victorian brass bedsteads until 1951 because veteran guests had grown attached to them.

Under the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act, no drinks—not even beer—may be served in public places. Bars, cocktail lounges and beer parlors are illegal. The stately Algonquin has ignored this law and provincial authorities have ignored the Algonquin’s well-stocked mahogany bar—an old fashioned affair with a trapdoor leading to a wine cellar. There’s a rumor, which can’t be confirmed, that the Algonquin management told the N.B. Liquor Control Board once that if the hotel wasn’t allowed to serve drinks it would be closed down, with a loss to New Brunswick of a large and profitable slice of tourist business. Since then, according to the story, the Liquor Control Board has made no complaints. St. Andrews’ second hotel, the Commodore, decided that if the Algonquin could operate a bar the Commodore should be able to do the same thing. This worked for a while but, last year, the Commodore’s proprietor was arrested and fined five hundred dollars for being responsible for the illegal sale of liquor on premises. Residents of St. Andrews have an idea that the Commodore’s bar would have fared better had it been operated on the same lines as the Algonquin’s bar, which is so inconspicuous and quiet that you could hang around the hotel for a week with out knowing it was there. (Open to guests only. the bar is located below the lobby and reached by a stairway on the left-hand side of the lobby. Both the stairway and an outside entrance to the bar have no signs indicating where they lead.) St. Andrews, with its tide flats, wooden jetties, sardine boats, lobster traps, golden sand, red cliffs and green slopes, casts a spell over many people. Field Marshal Lord Alexander, when he was governor-general, liked it so much that he stretched a scheduled stay of a fortnight into a month. David Walker, Scottish soldier and author, had a holiday at St. Andrews when he was in Canada before World War II as an side to Governor-General Lord Tweedsmuir. Captured at Dunkirk, he dreamed of St. Andrews when he was in a German prison camp and bought a house there when he was freed. His last two novels, Geordie, and The Pillar, were written at St. Andrews. The Rev. Henry Phipps Ross, a United States clergyman with inherited wealth, and Mrs. Ross, were so in love with St. Andrews that they insisted on being buried there. They left three hundred thousand dollars for the establishment of a library and museum at St. Andrews and a like amount for the district hospital. The Waycott Trust, which maintains a public-health nurse, and the Harrington Trust, which pays for Christmas parcels for the poor, were also set up by bequests from summer folks. Even crusty tycoons regard the town with misty-eyed sentiment. Men like Sir James Dunn provided the funds with which the Old Timers’ Club was built at the head of the public wharf. They wanted aged natives to have a cozy spot to meet and talk and play cards. Now they’ve formed a habit of dropping in themselves to enjoy the companionship of retired mariners and shore men, with whom they are on first name terms. The summer folks have a genuine affection for the natives and often show it with surprising gestures. When John Cadman Norris, St. Andrews’ only Negro, was old and infirm an anonymous Montreal industrialist worried about the fact that “Cady’s” home lacked indoor plumbing. He hired a contractor to add an up-to-date bathroom to the bungalow. Cady. drove a team of truck horses on weekdays and pumped the organ in the Anglican church on Sundays. When he died in August 1948 the flags on the Algonquin and on the fancy estates were flown at half-mast and the Hon. Marguerite Shaughnessy wrote a touching tribute which was published in the St. Croix Courier, the district weekly newspaper. A dozen millionaires were among those at the funeral. So strong is the charm of St. Andrews that a lot of summer folks put roots down there and think of it as their adopted home town rather than as a resort. Some of them, like Mrs. Redmond, Miss Shaughnessy, Sir James and Lady Dunn, and David Walker now remain there all year. They take as much delight as the’ natives in the local legends and in the colorful characters of the past characters like Dr. John Calef, Robert Pagan, La Coote, the Rev. Samuel Andrews and Chris topher Scott. Calef and Pagan, like the other founders of St. Andrews were United Empire Loyalists. Exiled from the U. S. after the American Revolution they settled at Penobscot, expecting that Penobscot would remain under the British flag. When Penobscot turned out to be Maine they sawed their houses into sections, moved them to St. Andrews by schooner, and nailed them together again. The year was 1783. Calef, a medical pioneer, inoculated five hundred of his fellow citizens against smallpox soon afterward, and was pleased that only three of them died. St. Andrews was just getting on its feet when Maine raised an outcry about the boundary line. The Treaty of Paris stipulated that the border at this point should be the river where Champlain wintered on an island in 1604. It was generally supposed that this river had been the St. Croix, but Maine contended that it was actually the Magaguadavic, thirty miles to the east. This would have placed St. Andrews within the U. S. But La Coote, a renegade French nobleman who had married an Indian, knew that Champlain had been on Dochets Island, in the St. Croix. He led Robert Pagan-a member of the New Brunswick Assembly-there and the two of them dug up a musket ball, a metal spoon and a clay pitcher left by Champlain. This evidence kept St. Andrews in Canada.

Samuel Andrews, an Anglican clergyman who had been persecuted in New England as a Tory, stole the royal coat of arms of Wallingford, Conn., because he didn’t want it in the hands of rebels. He had it with him when he arrived at St. Andrews in 1786 and it hangs there today, in All Saints’ Church. Andrews lived on an island which has ever since been called Minister’s Island, and which is joined to St. Andrews by a sandbar that is exposed only at low tide. Every Sunday, with his wife behind him on a pillion, he crossed the bar on horseback to hold services.

The Presbyterians had no church of their own and Andrews let them use his. Then, at a public dinner, a member of his flock who had imbibed too much Jamaica rum declared that the Presbyterians, being Scottish, were “too mean to build a church of their own.’’ Up sprang a furious Scot, Christopher Scott, from Greenock, sea captain and trader. He announced that the Presbyterians would have a church that would put that of the Anglicans to shame, a church just like that in Greenock—and he would pay for it himself. Greenock Presbyterian Church at St. Andrews, with the green oak of Greenock carved on its white façade, is now as quaint and attractive as any church in Canada.

St. Andrews flourished in the first half of last century. At one stage its population reached six thousand, which made it one of the important centres in British North America. It had sawmills, shipyards and Canada’s first paper mill. Its fine natural harbor was busy with sailing vessels and it exported fish and lumber to the West Indies and Britain. John Wilson, who owned ships and mills, had a manor house surrounded by a deer park, and several other dwellings were almost as impressive.

Like neighboring towns in both Maine and New Brunswick, St. Andrews refused to take part in the War of 1812, but the British constructed a series of wooden blockhouses there. Guns that shot twenty-pound balls were mounted on the walls, but none was ever fired and all the balls, much later, were lugged off as souvenirs by tourists. The main effect of the war of 1812 on St. Andrew-s was that the community for the next fifty years had a British garrison whose dashing young officers were much admired by the local girls.

Henry Goldsmith, a nephew of poet Oliver, and a poet of sorts himself, drifted into the town in its early days with his wife and six children. He had decided to abandon literature and start a sawmill. He rented a shack for his family and went off to raise money for his enterprise. This took so long that Mrs. Goldsmith and the kids had nothing to eat but wild berries and clams they dug on the sand flats. Then Mrs. Mehetible Calef, the doctor’s wife, took them in. She must have been pretty tired of Goldsmiths by the time Henry reappeared. He had been gone six months. Henry never did get his mill going and he finally packed up his brood and sailed for England.

Another oddity, whose real identity is still a mystery was Charles Joseph Briscoe. That, at least, was the name he used. He had no visible means of support but was seldom without funds. He rode through the streets of St. Andrews on a white horse, sitting in the saddle with royal dignity, and let it be known that royal blood flowed in his veins. When he died he left instructions that his private papers, which were in sealed envelopes, should be buried with him; then he wanted his grave opened in fifty years and the papers read by officials so that his identity would be revealed. There was great excitement the day the grave was opened, but the papers were so mildewed and faded nobody could decipher them. The only clue was an ivory miniature of King George IV. This prompted the theory that he was a son of George and Mrs. Fitzherbert, who were secretly married.

St. Andrews hoped to be the chief Atlantic port of British North America and by 1835 John Wilson was proposing a railway to Quebec. He even imported laborers from Ireland to build it but his scheme failed. Saint John and Halifax, picked as the eastern terminals of the transcontinental railway lines, became the ports. Although a branch line was later run into St. Andrews, the town by then had begun to wither and its population was declining.

In the 1860s a number of its large houses were for sale for a song. Two were bought by Sir Charles Tupper and Sir Leonard Tilley, both Fathers of Confederation, as summer places. Tupper and Tilley were the forerunners of the summer folks.

In 1888, when the future of St. Andrews looked bleak, Boston promoter named Cram organized the St. Andrews Land Company and a forgotten rhymester wrote:

Capitalists from Boston

Have said. “We’ll buy the town.”

And millionaires from Calais

Have planked their money down.

The St. Andrews Land Company, backed, as the verse suggests, by investors in Calais, Me., built The Inn, as the Algonquin was originally called. Then in 1890 two extraordinary met visited St. Andrews. One was William Cornelius Van Home (later Sir William.), the other Thomas George Shaughnessy (later Lord Shaughnessy) —the second and third presidents of the CPR. They relaxed in the cool salt breezes of St. Andrews, were enchanted by the scenery, and resolved to make the place their personal playground.

Van Home purchased Minister’s Island: Shaughnessy bought Fort Tipperary, the quarters of the British garrison. The CPR purchased The Inn, christened it the Algonquin Hotel and tacked two wings onto the building.

On his island Van Home spent a fortune creating the most flamboyant and luxurious seaside haven in Canada. The mansion there is so big-you could easily get lost in it. The Indian rug in the living room is so heavy that eight strong men are needed to lift it. The granite fireplaces in the main rooms are fifteen or twenty feet wide and at either side of these are ornately carved Italian pillars, covered with gold leaf. In the living room there’s a grand piano fitted with a player attachment—Van Home liked to sit and pump the pedals while he gazed through the windows at his gardens.

On all the walls there are huge pictures with gilt frames, at least half of them painted by Van Horne, one of the most enthusiastic and prolific amateur artists this country ever had. His studio is still there, just as it was when he was alive, with his paints and brushes in a massive oak chest—an Italian antique, which bears the date 1642.

Van Home had boundless energy and seldom slept more than two or three hours. One night when entertaining friends he announced he intended to stay up and paint the moon shining on Passamaquoddy Bay. Next morning when they came down for breakfast the picture, finished and framed, was hanging in the dining room. It’s still there, four feet by five.

Scooped out of solid rock on the island shore below a cliff is a swimming pool. A stone tower with a circular stairway rises to the top of the cliff.

When Van Home died in 1915 his daughter Adeline, a huge jolly woman, summered at St. Andrews until her own death after World War II. Minister’s Island will be inherited by a great granddaughter of Sir William when she comes of age. Meanwhile it is rented each year to Thomas Mathis, a former New Jersey senator, and his brother in-law Maja Berry, a former judge, both of Toms River, N.J. They ban the sightseers whom Adeline had always welcomed.

The Shaughnessy estate, far more modest than the Van Home, is now the home of the Hon. Marguerite Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy retained part of Fort Tipperary, but tore down the officers’ quarters and barracks and built an impressive residence.

As for the Algonquin, the hotel, which was the pride and joy of Van Home and Shaughnessy, operates only from June to September and has rarely shown a profit. The original structure was burned forty years ago and was replaced by a much more elaborate and fireproof building, to which there have since been additions.

The rates at the Algonquin are steep, up to twenty dollars a day. But, at the height of the season, it has to turn business away and, according to the manager, Pat Fitt, the guests stay longer than at any other hotel in Canada. The regulars who come year after year generally remain for six weeks or two months.

The hotel’s Sunday evening buffet suppers are a St. Andrews institution and draw most of the social set. The wives of the rich appear sparkling with diamonds and decked out in the more expensive creations of Dior, Fath and Schiaparelli.

Algonquin guests swim in Katy’s Cove, an arm of Passamaquoddy locked in by a dam. There, the notoriously cold water of Passamaquoddy is heated by the sun, and a string orchestra serenades the bathers.

Besides the Algonquin and the Commodore, St. Andrews has smaller places like Forest Lodge, a spacious homestead converted into an inn.

The vacation trade is the town’s economic mainstay. The rich employ more than a hundred hedge trimmers, gardener» and handymen, keep the Algonquin humming, and spend so freely that the sales volume of the merchants doubles in July and August. And thousands of tourists who aren’t rich flock to St. Andrew’s to have a look at the celebrities and peep through the cedar hedges at the mansions. Most of the notables discourage them with icy stares and no-trespassing signs, but Senator Cairine Wilson likes to see the visitors have fun. She leaves the gates of Clibrig open. Her estate has two miles of drives, which wind through rows of tall trees past gardens, orchards and duck ponds.

The shops of St. Andrews aren’t striking from the outside but, in a way, they are a tourist attraction too. O’Neill’s grocery store, which dates from 1823 and is called the Modem Food Market, is a case in point. It displays delicacies from all parts of the world—Dutch meats, French truffles, Russian caviar, green turtle soup from the West Indies flavored with Spanish wine, orange-blossom honey from Florida, ravioli from Italy, cheeses from half a dozen countries, and everything imaginable of mix to eat with drinks.

A few doors away at Cockburn’s drugstore there are shelves of costly and exotic perfumes—not the kind usually stocked for a community of fourteen hundred.

Fraser Keay, the mayor of St. Andrews, and Jack Stickney both have china stores with plates priced up to fifty-five dollars apiece and dinner sets priced up to two thousand dollars. Stickney’s shop was started by a relative who wore, on special occasions, a silver suit. For extra-special occasions, he had a gold suit. Among the summer folks of his day was Charles Bonaparte, great-grandnephew of Napoleon, and they vied with each other in sartorial splendor.

Another St. Andrews store keeps scores of farmwomen in funds. It’s the Charlotte County Cottage Craft, an organization run by Kent and Bill Ross. They took it over in 1945 from Miss Grace Helen Mowat, who launched it thirty-five years ago with capital of ten dollars. She revived weaving and other handicrafts among farm wives, supplying them with designs and raw materials and paying them for their finished work. Today it is a thriving enterprise.

Grace Mowat, who has had two books published, is one of St. Andrews’ three authors, the others being David Walker and Guy Murchie. St. Andrews also has more than its share of scientists for it’s the site of the chief fisheries biological station on the Canadian Atlantic coast, with a permanent staff of twenty-five biologists.

Another of the little town’s claims to fame is that it is the biggest lobster shipping centre in North America. Conley’s Lobsters Ltd., founded more than a half a century ago by Edward Conley, who is now in his eighties, buys about six million pounds of live lobsters a year and expresses them as far away as the Pacific coast. Most of the hotels, restaurants and nightclubs in Canada and the U.S. serve Conley lobsters.

In the summer in St. Andrews the natives are too busy catering to vacationists to enjoy the weather or the scenery, but in winter, when the Algonquin and all but a handful of the mansions are shuttered and empty, they relax, and groups like the St. Andrews Music, Art and Drama Club come to life. This club won the award for the best costumes in the 1952 National Drama Festival.

The natives prefer the winter. “Summer folks,” one of them explains, “are wonderful people. They’re “u” bread and butter. But the kind we get here can pay for service and want a lot of it —and giving service can tire you out.”

The late Jack Ross, a barber, used to close the season a bit early—unofficially, of course. By mid-August he’d start sitting outside on the steps of his shop, trying to look as though he didn’t know the difference between clippers and a mowing machine. If a stranger asked him when the barber would be in he’d shrug unhappily.

“I couldn’t say.” he’d reply. “That fellow’s so darned unreliable you can’t depend on him at all.”

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What’s the Occasion?

IMG_1495These items are just a few of the baked goods that grace our 24-hour coffee bar. That’s what we call an endless special occasion. But certainly there are times of our lives, be they birthdays, anniversaries or just being with lifelong friends and beloved family. Let us know and we’ll cook up something special, wrap it up and have it IMG_1539waiting just for you and yours.

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Be Well

Yoga on Bay of FundyGot wellness?

Yes, we do. It’s all around us in an ocean resort playground designed to make you feel good. Invigorated. Relaxed. Well.

Start after a restful night’s sleep. Breakfast and healthy choices abound. Toasted almond granola. Yoghurt. Soft fruit custards. Fresh cut fruit salad. Dried fruits and seeds. Whole grain bread. You can skip the shirred egg with aged cheddar, but we don’t think you should. You’ve earned it. And maybe enjoy a home baked croissant or two during your stay. Hey, you’re going to burn it off anyway. Perfect combination. Deliciously wholesome with earned indulgences. Works every time.

Water Lily PondAfter breakfast, bring your mat to the garden or down to the sea. Yoga, Pilates and meditation travel well. They go with you wherever you go. Even dumbbells travel well. No, that is not a comment on you or your travel companion. Just a workout suggestion. Find your bliss in one of the many fine and private places all around the inn and gardens and town. Secret: there’s Centennial Park with a water lily pond and a hand built arching Japanese bridge right by the battlement blockhouse. War is for hotheads. This peaceful place will take the combat out of your life while fostering fitness.

Biking in a KiltFeeling ambitious and needing more action? How about getting your kilt on and going for a curated ride with a cross training master. If it’s water you want, sea kayaking puts you right at the shore with a duck-eye view of the scenery once you push off. Ocean floorOr perhaps you might top off your daily step quotient on the ocean floor.

Still looking for ways to recharge and rejuvenate in our resort by-the-Sea. Try some of these:Bay of Fundy

Garden FairyWhatever you do, don’t cut yourself short on time. Saint Andrews has a wealth of wellness that dates far back to days gone by. And for days as new as tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Hatchet and A Dream

DomeWe got an email recently asking if we do weddings for two. It just so happens that we’ve done several around the property. In shady garden spots on a hot summer day. Under our playful Brunelleschi dome in the sunken garden; and high up on a third floor balcony belonging to our honeymoon suite, The Pinnacle. Were it not for a hatchet and a dream, this romantic wedding site might not exist.

More than 20 years ago when we acquired the property, we wondered what we mightHistory 1 make of the third floor. Up to that point, the attic had been outfitted with cedar closets and a darkroom used by the second owner in the 1940’s—long since abandoned. Oh yes, and then there was the squirrel that had gnawed the insulation off the knob and tube wiring strung across the rafters, which accounted for the sparks coming off a second floor radiators—but that’s another story.

We thought the third floor might make a spectacular beamed space with the best views in the house. So we asked each contractor bidding on the job if we could get rid of some of the larger beams that were in the way. One suggested we could, but might want to be very near the front door to get out of a collapsing house quickly. We hired this guy.

FieldOnce that was out of the way, we asked our new contractor to grab a hatchet and follow us up to the third floor. We picked our way across the exposed joists to the northern-most gable and pointed. “Whack a hole right here.” He looked a bit quizzical figuring this might be another practical joke, but when we insisted, he chopped a hole in the roof large enough for us to peer out into the distance. There before us was a dream view we’ll never forget. An open field, soon to become Kingsbrae Garden, spread out in every direction. Ministers Island and a bright shining sea lay beyond. It was breathtaking.

Honeymoon SuiteIn that moment, we conceived of The Pinnacle Suite, designing it like no other rooms in the house. It’s a magnificent garret rimmed by massive beams of foot wide girth, two fireplaces, one in the living room, another in the bedroom plus a granite wet bar. The draped canopy bed is layered in soft creams, bronze and gold. The bathroom sports a six-foot whirlpool tub built for two. And there’s a large flat screen TV for those who tire of looking at the view [though we doubt they ever do].

Breathtaking ViewsFor the past 20 years, guests who have been married here return for their anniversaries year after year. We like to think we’ve been good stewards of this fine old 1897 property. And we welcome our 2018 wedding parties, be they 2 or 20 or more, to share the results of what came from a hatchet and a dream.

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Highfalutin History

Archive MapFerryRecall the days when ferries and steamships plied the waters–some directly from Boston and Portland; when well-appointed Canadian Pacific Railroad Pullman cars came from Ottawa and Montreal—their passengers seeking the beauty of a peninsula surrounded by mountainous island ranges in the Atlantic Ocean. The area was thought to be so magnificent that it was compared to the Bay of Naples.

St. Andrews, the crown jewel of this resort location, boasted many things. By 1871 the Canadian press was proclaiming that the town was becoming the “Watering Place of the Dominion.” A turn of the century poster proclaimed:

The entire absence of mosquitoes and malaria, the general air of restfulness, together with the curative properties of the balsam-laden atmosphere, have made St. Andrews long and extensively known as an Elysium.

Royal Visit 1927Overstated? Perhaps. But notwithstanding, ladies and gents, many with titles like Lord and Lady and Viscount, were flocking to this resort…some to pursue the dream of building country “cottages”. IMG_7577 IMG_7573These homes, impressive though their scale, were designed to give relief to “overburdened” grandees from the rigours of running their more elaborate urban mansions.   Cottages ranged in style from whimsical to baronial, all with several master bedrooms and guest rooms, each with fireplaces and adequate space for staff to wash and iron and cook and serve them all.

Pre-season plans were feats of organization. The privileged had custom clothes stitched up by seamstresses and wondered who would come to St. Andrews this year. Housemaids and servants brought down the high steamer trunks, wardrobe cases and hat boxes with round mesh forms from the attics in grand homes across Montreal and Boston and New York and Philadelphia. These they filled with outfits and jewelry, linens and towels and even fine silver and copper cooking utensils. And then on the appointed day, it was off to St. Andrews for the season. The town was just beginning to stir from the last remnants of winter. The lilacs were in bloom. And it was time for the town locals to go down to the train station to watch the swells disembark with their domestic retinues in tow.

Foyer ChandelierCountry houses set in motion a swirl of house parties. There was good food, fine wine and bright talk of politics, industry, and the arts—as well as the urgent gossip of whether Ellin would marry Irving Berlin (she did); or if Marguerite had danced with H.R.H. The Prince of Wales (ditto). And while there were pretensions—it’s reported that one society dame complained she wasn’t able to throw a late season dinner party because all but nine of her servants had returned to Montreal—the true lure of St. Andrews was the healthful salt air setting amidst the natural beauty of the surrounding islands and sea. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt often picnicked at the shore of their nearby Campobello Island cottage in the company of their friends and the curious seagulls to escape the rigours of public life and the heat of the city.

Z TopsideSince it was built in 1897 Kingsbrae Arms has been a part of this history, lore, and romance. Writers, poets, musicians and artists have been frequent guests in these public rooms and gardens.

archive photoOver the years, change has come. Most recently, a renaissance has been sweeping the town giving new life to gardens and golf courses, galleries and harbour. Many of the country houses of the past have been rescued from neglect and restored. In this re-vitalized setting Kingsbrae Arms is something of a dream—a splendid country house once again receiving guests in a more egalitarian atmosphere of warmth, friendly hospitality, and conviviality. And as always the tug of dazzling natural beauty, the promise of a restful visit, brings guests back again and again.

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What’s for Supper?

LionSomething new this season. We invite you to join us for supper on the day you arrive. We look forward to each and everyone who visits us and we’re letting them know that that we now offer light suppers with wine. They’re perfect for arrival days.  After a long journey we can offer a friendly welcome, of course. And then a comfortable spot at the inn or in the garden where you can unwind and prepare for your maritime adventures ahead. AperitifBegin with one of our own inventions…perhaps this chia aperitif.

We offer three light supper options.

 

Smoked SalmonSmoked Salmon Platter for Two–Includes two 75g portions of fine cold smoked Atlantic salmon, house crostini, capers, chopped onion and egg, cream cheese, lemon, seasonal fruits and salad picked from our garden.
IMG_0994Charcuterie Board for Two–A savory supper of smoked ham, hard salamis & rustic pate along with whole grain mustard, cured garnishes, crusty bread and garden greens.
CheesesFive Cheese Tastings for Two–Sample five generous slices of cheese accompanied by gourmet crisps, dried fruit medley, savory jams, grapes and our homegrown micro green garnish.

Light Supper and Wine for Two
Including a bottle from our Wine List
$75.00
Or a bottle from the Proprietor’s Collection
$115.00
Or buy a rare imported bottle of fine Cabernet and supper’s on us.
$300.00

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Tea and Madeleines

Baked goodsWhen’s tea time? Around Kingsbrae Arms it’s anytime…as long as you’re spelling it “tea”, not “tee”. And that includes coffee and all sorts of baked goods as well. We decided not to limit your moment of pleasure to a set time, so our refreshment station is ready to satisfy your needs 24 hours a day. Well, certain needs anyway. Mid-morning slump? Your cuppa Joe is waiting. Mid-afternoon or late night jolt. Choose your weapon with or without indulgence. IMG_0986Our daily bakes provide a wealth of options. Toasted coconut almond macaroons. Oatmeal raisin & chocolate macadamia nut cookies. Orange cranberry biscotti. Pepper Parmesan crostini. Then we have muffins. Rhubarb ginger. Honey crisp apple cinnamon. Strawberry coconut. Banana walnut. And wait for it. Cheddar bacon corn. [We’re working on the ice cream version.]Daily Muffins We’re thinking up new flavour combinations all the time. Let us know your favourite. And if you’re feeling particularly nostalgic, pick a fine and private place somewhere nearby to experience a deluge of memories with one of our almond Madeleines. Here’s a Proustian refresher of that famous Madeleine dipped in tea.

“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me.”Madeliennes

We can’t guarantee seven volumes worth of memories, but whatever your experience, we hope it’s extraordinary during your stay with us.

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Just Now in the Garden

IMG_0979Magnolias aren’t known to thrive this far north, but this one didn’t get the memo. We’re thrilled to see her blossom every spring. After a rain or a light wind, the lawn underneath is carpeted with petals. For a while it was touch and go. We thought we’d lost her a few times after a harsh winter.

IMG_0982At the same time the crabapples are now flowering profusely in deep vermilion and the parade of spring colours continues all around. The whites of the Bradford pears, the pale pinks of the Arctic willows, the magentas of the lucky magnolia and the scarlet of the Japanese maple that once again survived the attention of our marauding deer population. IMG_0321 (2)As if not to be outdone, our feathery neighbour pays the occasional visit dressed in finery that challenges nature’s usual restraints while dazzling the eye hungry for change in this wintry clime.

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The Colors of Spring

SpringWe’ve been plotting and potting and preparing and planting throughout the last several weeks, eager to get the dark browns and greys out of our visual colour palette all the while searching for signs of life. In that way, the green house is the most promising place to be during the cruelest months…especially when the skies open up with torrential April showers. That’s when the green house roof plays a keyboard of percussive sounds all the while protecting plant and animal kingdom from the ravages of high winds and possibly hail. Now in this safe space there is evidence of somethings to eat and somethings to see. At this moment, the window box plantings are basking in warmth and light, and all manner of lettuces and herbs and greens and micro greens are developing their unique flavours each day… reassuring signs that spring can shove winter offstage every time.

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So You Want To Be An Innkeeper

Spring GardenHere is a rare career opportunity. Are you the right candidate?

Position:
Assistant Innkeeper
Seasonal:
Mid-June until late-September, 2017
Compensation:
Weekly salary pegged to experience & qualifications
Room and Partial Board
Earned Income Gratuities

This is a job for a highly motivated professional considering a career as an owner/operator of a fine intimate country inn serving a discriminating clientele. Growth & learning opportunities will include practicing the fine art of guest services, earned income development, marketing strategies, bar and light kitchen duties. Preference will be given to candidates who are either mature in years or temperament. The position is intended for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who wants to learn about being an owner, not an earner.

Parlor at Kingsbrae ArmsCandidate must be self-paced and willing to work to client demand. Work routines are responsive to the demands of guest needs on weekdays after business hours and all day weekends. Personable & gracious guest relations during these on-call hours include but are not limited to welcome & accueil, check-ins, guest room prep, development of welcome & farewell gift bags, concierge planning, preparing and serving breakfast. Candidate will have an opportunity to propose & develop streams of earned income for the inn incorporating such services as wine sales, bartending, light meal preparation for late arrivals and others. A pleasant demeanour through periods of calm and chaos is a must.

The right individual must be capable of performing a variety of duties at the front desk, in housekeeping & kitchen—multi-tasking with the ability to prioritize & complete each challenge with excellence; shouldering responsibility for the smooth operation of a charming inn; and adding value to the stays of each and every guest.

Late Arrival MealThis position requires a thorough knowledge and practice of wine service, bar tending, light meal prep, inventory control, maintenance of public areas, and all guest needs from check-in to checkout.

The successful candidate will possess a keen sense of detail, order, reliability, responsibility, and initiative. Superior appearance, grooming and manners are expected; excellent spoken and written English—bi-lingual French preferred. Competent computer skills, a laptop, and local cell phone are all job requirements as important as a suitable wardrobe. Your own vehicle is desirable since there is no public transportation in the area.

Please send CV, photo and cover letter detailing why this position is right for you to:

Pamela Rigby, Innkeeper & Reservation Manager
reservations@kingsbrae.com

Kingsbrae Foyer

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