Sunday, August 24, 2014

Passamaquoddy Bay and Maine, Part Two: A Visit to Eastport, with a side visit to St. Andrews and a shout-out to Helen's Restaurant

Hi all,

I don't know where the days are going, but summer is swiftly fleeting here.  There is a grand rumour that it is about to be very hot this week and I am not complaining...

Thought you might be interested in our next stop en route home last week after our visit to Campobello Island.

As we headed up route 1 towards Calais, we came upon the sign for Eastport.   I asked Barry if he'd ever been.  He had not and I was sure I'd not been there for at least 30 years, so we turned right and headed out to the ocean.


We could not have been more charmed.

If you'd asked me prior to last Tuesday to describe Eastport, I would have said "fishing village".  As of Tuesday, I would say "vibrant artist community".  The streets are lined with funky artisan shops, antique shops, little restaurants.

How about that bench to the right?

I don't know about you, but it so wonderful to see a vibrant downtown!

There is a lovely walkway along to the wharf

Every shopkeeper that I chatted with was friendly and interested in why we were in Eastport.  My favourite shop was a little candy shop called Sweeties Downeast, which is run by the loveliest woman (and her two terriers) who moved to Eastport from Pennsylvania for the lifestyle.

Sweeties Downeast

Sweeties Downeast in Eastport. Hilary Nangle photo

I admit to buying a bag of popcorn and a bag of rock candy for my kids (they are 19 and 22 so I am sure they were not waiting for rock candy, but I was quite taken with it, because it looked like real polished rocks!)

After that we wandered over the Tides Institutes and Museum of Art.

Located in an old bank in the heart of downtown Eastport, it is a charming and friendly place.

The view from the window above the sign:

Sadly, they were just in the throes of dismantling a wonderful exhibit by Shoshanna White.  The images were haunting and would be a wonderful addition to any collection.

Upstairs, the gallery is a warm welcoming space and it is obvious that it is home to a vibrant community of artists and art lovers.

We also stopped into the Eastport Gallery, which was also home to some beautiful pieces.

The Eastport Gallery  74 Water Street

Now that we have discovered Eastport again, we will be back soon.  Apparently, early September is Eastport's Pirate Festival, when the town swells to 15,000 people.

I don't know who came up with the idea for this festival, but it looks like a rip-roaring good time!

any excuse to wear a puffy shirt, I say!

Where would I stay?

Well the Kilby House Bed and Breakfast looks charming:

Kilby House Inn B&B of Eastport Maine

As does the Commons Eastport if you are not a B&B person (put Barry in that category):

nice morning breakfast view

Eastport is about 1/2 an hour from Calais, 10 minutes Lubec and around 1 1/2 hours to Bangor Maine.

About 20 minutes further south from Eastport, you will find Machias Maine.

When I was a kid, at least once every August, my dad would put us all into the car and we would drive the 45 minutes down the coast to go to Helen's Restaurant in Machias.

the original location - that looks like the old car parked out front! ;-)
It was, my dad contended, the home of the best blueberry pie in the world.  This was a man who knew his blueberry pie, so that's saying something...

look at the pies! yum...

Helen's has moved, but the pies continue:

if you click on pies link above, you will see that the blueberry is all caps, an indication to me that Helen's recipe endures

We didn't get down to Helen's on this trip, we ran out of time, but I see a late September/early October road trip for pie in my future...

After leaving Eastport, we drove 1/2 an hour around Passamaquoddy Bay to St. Andrews and had a mid-afternoon lunch at Kingsbrae Gardens's cafe, probably my favourite spot to eat in New Brunswick when it comes to a view.  


We settled under our favourite apple tree and ordered some libations and a good meal:

New Brunswick's own Picaroons beer and the end of my sauvignon blanc..

Barry deep in thought after a morning spent with Presidents and artists...

Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me...

It was the perfect end to a leisurely day.

Doing both sides of Passamaquoddy Bay is certainly do-able in a day, especially if you are only an hour away, but I highly recommend making a weekend of it and really enjoying the pace.  Driving up both sides of the St. Croix River is a feast for the eyes as well, and not to be missed.

This is the area of my heart.  I grew up in the middle of this area - St. Stephen - and I firmly believe there is a little house waiting for me down there in my later years!

And if you are coming, let me know - would love to meet you for a piece of pie...

Have a wonderful Sunday and stay safe out there!


  1. What fun. And Barry looks quite artistically presidential.

  2. What a charming town. I do love it when the artists take over!

  3. Hi Wendy, lovely photos. My husband and I stayed a night in Eastport back in 1991 on a wonderful road trip down the Eastern Seaboard. I seem to remember that back then the main street was not so lively; glad to hear that business has improved. I do remember the lovely view over the water from our hotel room.

    We haven't been Down East for at least 7 years - we are long overdue for a trip to Cape Breton and Halifax. I will let you know if we are ever passing through Fredericton!

    1. Patricia - how neat! I am happy that it has changed - it certainly was not like that in the early 1970s, I can tell you!!! Well let me know when you are coming - I am trying to sell New Brunswick for visiting as well - everyone goes to PEI and NS, but the coastal towns and cities are amazing here as well!

  4. Hello Wendy,

    Eastport looks to be exactly the kind of place that we should love to visit. From the photographs it looks to be a lively town, filled with the artistic life which we very much enjoy. It sounds as if you had a wonderful time there. And, always, the sea has such an appeal. A perfect short trip for you and something which we could see ourselves doing often.

    It is interesting to see how some towns and cities manage to move with the times and keep alive whereas others just decline. This can be said of every country, we think, but it is strange how this should be.

    1. Jane and Lance - I could see you hosting a seasonal salon for artists and artist-wannabes all summer, full of good conversation and the odd libation!

  5. What a wonderful day out you've described - I feel I was almost there with you! It looks like such a pretty and peaceful village.

    1. Jay - it really was a great day and lovely little village!

  6. had me at Pirate Festival. Now I think I'll hum a few sea shanties while I swab the deck.

  7. Nice portrait of Barry in a reflective mood. This whole area sounds so charming. And pirates! Pirate jokes are a specialty of my MrBP and Uncle Tom. Don't even get them started. I'd love a night in that little town of Eastport!

    1. I didn't know pirate jokes could be a specialty, but somehow, I do picture Mr. BP as kind of a swarthy type deep down!

  8. What a nice visit! Thanks. All very enticing, especially the pie! Any wool shops in Eastport?

  9. What a lovely get away. Sign me up for pie - I prefer it to cake - and a Pirate Festival - OMG - how fun!!!!

  10. Oh, I guess you didn't know that Helen's Restaurant burned down just recently.
    Do you still have to pay the full price per person to get into Kingsbrae Gardens if you only want to go to the restaurant? That put us off.

    L - in Oak Bay


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