Home » 2004 Maritime Provinces Road Trip

Campobello Island, NB

Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 8:00am by Lolo
8 miles and 0.25 hours from our last stop


We left the U.S. behind and entered New Brunswick via the FDR International Bridge, which connects Lubec, Maine and Campobello Island. It’s always an exciting feeling to enter a new country, even if it is one as close and similar as Canada.

"Best Photo" of Roosevelt Cottage"Best Photo" of Roosevelt CottageWe were prepared for the border guards. We had our birth certificates (with the raised seal) and picture driver licenses at the ready, we had removed our sunglasses (as recommended in the guide books) so that the guards could gaze into our eyes and see that we weren’t lying about being terrorists, and we had instructed the kids to not make any bodily noises or do anything else stupid to get the border guard angry in any way. “This should be a breeze,” we thought.

Despite our best efforts at appearing like a delightful, non-terrorist family on vacation, the guard, for some reason, thought it necessary to thoroughly search the interior of our motorhome—much to Andrew and Tommy’s delight. I, however, felt a bit violated as he opened each and every cabinet, drawer, and closet. Much to the Tommy’s horror, he even lifted up the lid of our toilet seat and peered in. Perhaps next time Tommy will remember to flush.

It’s pretty interesting what stupid things go through your mind at times like this. First, I worried that the RV was too messy and that he’d think we were a bunch of slobs. Then I found myself looking around the RV trying to think up creative hiding places that he would miss. By this point, I probably had a guilty look on my face. It’s amazing that no matter how innocent you are, when someone in authority has complete control over a situation, it can be pretty unnerving.

Well, he finally decided that we really were just a delightful, yet somewhat sloppy, family on vacation and sent us on our way. Although I was relieved it was over, the kids thought the whole experience was great and started dreaming up all kinds of ways to make it even more entertaining the next time. I can’t wait.

After a picnic lunch near the lighthouse by the Welcome Center, we headed over to currency exchange at the Campobello Co-op to get some Canadian money. You get a better exchange rate by doing this then you would get by using U.S. dollar to make purchases along the way.

Now we were ready to visit the island’s main attraction—The Roosevelt Campobello International Park. We tend to like these types of historical stops—or at least I do and the remaining family members just humor me. I find it fascinating to experience the personal side of historical figures and to get a glimpse of what life was like in a different time and place.

My favorite part of the park was the tour of the Roosevelt summer “cottage.” With 34 rooms, it was hardly a cottage, but that’s the way the wealthy of that time liked to refer to their summer homes. However, unlike the pretentious summer cottages in Newport, this one really was quite cozy and livable. It has been kept exactly as the family left it.

Roosevelt loved this place so much that he spent every summer here from his boyhood in 1883 until he was stricken with polio in 1921. In fact, it was in this cottage that he first became ill. He spent the first 5 weeks of his illness here, almost totally immobile, before he was carried off the island on a stretcher and put onboard a train for New York. That was the last summer he spent here. He only returned for 3 more brief visits in the 1930s.

After our tour, we wandered the beautifully landscaped gardens around the house in search of the perfect photo of the cottage. Tom was the first to find it, but not without the help of a sign that read—“Best Photo Area.” Having no pride, we took the same picture that’s probably in the photo albums of every other tourist that has ever been here.

To get to our next stop, Deer Island, we had to take a small, privately-owned ferry, which we almost couldn’t find because it was so poorly signed out. As we drove down the steep dirt road to an even steeper loading ramp, Herb became quite concerned that the RV wouldn’t be able to drive onto the ferry without bottoming out. The tide was pretty low, making the angle even worse. The whole process was quite stressful. Herb inched the RV slowly onto the ferry while I practically lied on the ground next to it watching that we didn’t scrape. The only thing that hit was the tire of one bikes on the bike rack. I felt quite relieved once we were on until Herb reminded me that we had to go through the same process when we drove off onto Deer Island. Maybe we could just keep riding the ferry back and forth across Passamaquoddy Bay until the tide got higher.


Campobello Island is a small 10-mile long island off the coast of Maine at the mouth of the Passamaquoddy Bay. Although it is part of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, it is most easily reached via the FDR International Bridge from Lubec, Maine, the most eastern town in the U.S. To reach the island from mainland Canada, you must take a free ferry from L'Etete, New Brunswick to Deer Island and then another seasonal ferry from Deer Island to Campobello.

Campobello Island's main attraction is the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, which was Franklin Delano Roosevelt's summer home from 1883 until he was stricken with polio in 1921. The park is a joint memorial by the United States and Canada to the President who helped strengthen the close relationship between the two countries. Roosevelt called Campobello his "beloved island" and spent his boyhood and young adult summers here. Within the park you can visit his 34-room summer cottage, which has been kept exactly as the family left it, and explore the beautifully landscaped gardens around the home. Admission is free.

Other attractions on the island include the beautiful mile-long beach at Herring Cove Provincial Park and the East Quoddy Head Lighthouse at the northern tip of the island. This lighthouse, which is the most photographed lighthouse in eastern Canada, can only be reached at low tide by climbing down steel ladders and scrambling over slippery rocks. You can often see whales from the cliffs near the lighthouse.

caper camper on August 18, 2010

I know this is an older trip, maybe you don't read comments any more...but every time I go to Campobello, my vehicle is searched, the vehicle in front of me gets searched, everyone gets searched - even young, blond couples with tiny blond childern in their little car seats get searched. What is wrong at this location??? do a lot of drugs get dropped of at campobello? My husband is canadian, I am american, we go through Calais or Houlton several times a year (with our dog and camper) and never get stopped. and we're kind of old and gray. Campobello border is WEIRD. btw, love your site!

Lolo on August 28, 2010

Funny you should say that. We just crossed the border on I87 last week and whizzed through in under 5 minutes. The boys were ready for a full body search after our experience at Campobello. I think they were disappointed with how easy it was this time. Happy Travels!

EightiesPike on November 14, 2010

Ten years ago my family made the trip to see the cottage. The tour guide started talking and I had my video camera in hand. A minute into her talk she parted down the middle of the group. I was standing in the back. She came up to me and rudely asked me to turn off the camera. No signs at the time telling me the rules of taping the tour. I was dumbfounded. I will never return to say the least.

Campobello Island location map

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