Roosevelt Campobello International Park
Interesting: a New Brunswick (Canada) island that can be reached by land only from the USA that is home to a joint US-Canadian international park in memory of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
A Canadian island with an Italian-sounding name on which an American president spent his summers? These little mysteries are not at all as difficult to solve as one might suppose.
If you have your passport, you can visit Campobello Island and Roosevelt Campobello International Park in a day-trip by car from Bar Harbor ME, a 105-mile (169-km), 2.5-hour drive (one-way) trip; or, even easier, stay in Lubec, Maine, just over the border from the island—or stay on the island itself.
Bring Your Passport!
Crossing from Lubec to Campobello Island, Canadian Immigration officers will request your passport or passport card to enter Canada and—even more important for US citizens— you will need your passport to re-enter the USA. More...
You're on Atlantic Time!
After crossing the border into the Canadian province of New Brunswick, you'll be on Atlantic Time, one hour ahead of Eastern Time, so when it's 12:00 noon in Maine it's 1:00 pm in New Brunswick.
All the Way Down East
The coastal highway, US 1, winds east and north from Mount Desert Island, Maine (map). You might want to wander south along ME 186 for views of the scenic Schoodic Peninsula. If not, head ever northeastward to Lubec.
Where to Stay & Dine
Campobello has a few inns and motels, small restaurants, and one fine-dining restaurant.
Although some of the historic summer cottages in Roosevelt Campobello International Park are set up as lodging, they are used only for groups. Individual travelers cannot stay in the park's properties.
Most atmospheric and historic of the inns open to individual travelers is the 9-room Owen House in Welshpool. Use this handy Hotel Map with Prices to find the lodgings you want on or off the island:
Among the few small restaurants on Campobello Island, The Fireside stands out as by far the best, a fine-dining establishment in the historic building where Franklin D Roosevelt conceived and broadcast some of his fireside chats. More...
A Bit of History
In 1767 the island, part of Nova Scotia, was granted by Governor William Campbell to Captain William Owen, who added two 'o's to Campbell's surname for exotic flavor and thus named the island in his benefactor's honor.
The province of New Brunswick was not formed until 1784, when large numbers of United Empire Loyalists fled New England to live in King George III's still-loyal dominions to the north. Campobello Island is now part of New Brunswick.
Besides the international bridge between Campobello Island and Lubec, in summer there are car ferries connecting Campobello with Deer Island, New Brunswick, from which you can take other ferries to Eastport, Maine, or the New Brunswick mainland at L'Etete in order to reach the delightful resort town of St Andrews by-the-Sea. More...
The Roosevelt Campobello International Park is the only park of its kind in the world: located in Canada but reached by road only from the USA, it is adminstered by both nations in honor of its most famous former residents, President Franklin D Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Visitor Centre.
How to Visit the Park
The Roosevelt Cottage is now part of Roosevelt Campobello International Park, a joint American-Canadian effort. The cottage is open from mid-May (the Saturday prior to Memorial Day) through mid-October (including US Columbus/Indigenous Peoples' Day/Canadian Thanksgiving) from 9am to 5pm Eastern Time (10am to 6pm Atlantic Time).
There is no charge for admission.
The cottage and Visitor Centre close in winter, but the grounds and park remain open all year, from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.
Guides at the Visitor Centre point out the path to the Roosevelt Cottage, show you movies about the island, and map out the various walks and drives in the 2,600-acre (1,052-hectare) nature preserve.
Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's father, James, bought some land on the island in 1883, at a time when lots of important city people were building large "summer cottages" at Bar Harbor, Passamaquoddy Bay, and other northern coastal locations. Young Franklin—to solve that last little mystery—came here as a child, long before he was President of the United States, and spent many a teenaged summer rowing, paddling, and sailing on the waters, and hiking through the woods.
In 1920 FDR ran for the vice-presidency—and lost. Taking on a banking job instead, he looked forward to a relaxing summer at Campobello in 1921. On the way to the island he stopped at a Boy Scout camp in Bear Mountain, New York and, unbeknownst to him, contracted the poliomyelitis virus.
On August 10th the first signs of illness showed, and two weeks later the doctors diagnosed the crippling disease. When he left the island in September, he had no way of knowing that the few more times he would see the summer cottage and his Campobello friends would be brief weekend visits—as President of the United States.
The Roosevelt Cottage
The day-to-day lives of the great and powerful are fascinating to explore in detail, and a visit to the Roosevelt house on Campobello Island gives one a peek at the early years of this courageous man who went on to become governor of New York and President of the United States after having been crippled by polio.
It is no less intriguing to see how a well-to-do family spent its summers at the turn of the century, with long and leisurely days filled by sports, games, and family fun. Servants saw to the chores, and even they must have enjoyed getting away from the city to such a beautiful spot.
Tea with Eleanor
Near the Roosevelt Cottage are several other large summer cottages once owned by friends or relatives of the Roosevelts. Some of these may be visited. The best way to visit is to have Tea with Eleanor: park staff serve you tea and cookies while relating the history of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, her times, trials, and triumphs.
The park boasts a system of nine hiking trails from the easy Duck Island View (just a few minutes to a scenic overlook) and Lower Duck Pond (1.8km/1.1mile) to the more difficult Fox Farm (1.8 km/1.1 miles) to the longer and most challenging Raccoon Beach to Liberty Point (3.9 km/2.4 miles).
Views are spectacular, of course. A trail map is available for free at the Visitor Centre.
Carriage Road Drives
As at Acadia National Park, Roosevelt Campobello International Park has gravel carriage roads built in the 19th century to make prime points of interest accessible to horse-drawn carriages. Three carriage road drives are now open to horseless carriages (cars, but not large vehicles such as campers or buses): Cranberry Point (8.7 km/5.4 miles), Liberty Point (13 km/8 miles), and Fox Hill Drive (3.5 km/2.1 miles).
A map of the carriage road network is available for free at the Visitor Centre.