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Originally lived on by the Passamaquoddy Indians, briefly under French control, the English were granted settlement rights in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. Typical settlement followed for a couple hundred of years, with farming and fishing the main industries. In 1866 the government of New Brunswick voted in favor of joining the Confederation of British America, which eventually became the country of Canada.
In 1881 a group of Boston and New York businessmen incorporated as the Campobello Company bought a significant chunk of property on the island, and proceeded to build three luxury hotel resorts, as well as sell prime lots to wealthy visitors and island residents. The island's natural beauty was a strong drawing point for the wealthy residents of the Northeast, who would travel several days to get to the island and then spend the summer there, either in the resorts or their own "cottages".
In 1883, one of these families was the parents of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was one years old at the time. After spending the summer there, they loved it so much that they purchased a piece of property and had their own cottage built, spending many many summers there. It was a long and arduous trip in those days, and once they arrived, they usually didn't leave again until the end of summer. The area made such an impression upon FDR that he returned after marrying Eleanor, and bought the cottage property that was adjacent to his parent's property. This is the historic cottage that we are able to tour today. (Sara and James' cottage is no longer standing, but the boundries of the cottage can be seen as you walk from the Roosevelt cottage to their neighboring property, the Hubbard Cottage.
Our first stop was the Visitor center to retrieve maps and information. There is an extensive exhibit inside with the timeline of FDR's life and presidency, as well as a short introductory movie about his early years on the island. I learned in the movie that it was here on the island where he fell ill with the crippling infantile paralysis(polio) in 1921 at the age of 39. It must have been a terrible blow to someone as active and vigorous as he was.
Here at the Visitor Center you can also pick up tickets for "Tea with Eleanor". We were offered tickets, but having the dogs with us we declined...just an FYI for anyone else planning a visit here :-).
The Roosevelt Cottage...35 rooms is a cottage!
The front yard view; North Lubec Maine is across the Bay of Fundy.
The rooms are all furnished with original pieces of furnishings and decorations, even the rugs. Any wallpapers are reproductions of the original papers. This was a guest room.
One of several bathrooms. All bedrooms and bathrooms were on the second floor, and the living areas on the ground floor.
The classroom on the second floor; FDR was privately tutored before attending private Groton School for Boys at the age of 14. He then went on to earn his law degree at Columbia University Law School.
This was Louis Howe's room, FDR's campaign manager. he was not only the campaign manager for the presidential elections, he was also a very close friend and often stayed at the cottage with the family.
Teeny tiny stairs...but I thought the flower arrangement in the old window was so pretty.
The family dining room overlooked the front lawn. In nice weather they often ate outdoors in the screened porch.
Kitchen. FDR's mother Sara purchased this "modern" stove for them when they moved in.
I actually recognized a few of these implements from my grandmother's house when I was small!
Lastly, laundry was a days long affair...ugh, I hate the couple of hours it takes now, I can't imagine it back then!
After the inside tour, it was time to walk down to the dock for a waterside view...and retrieve our first geocache in Canada :-).
The view of the house from down at the dock
We then walked back up and strolled over to the Hubbard cottage next door, passing this ice house along the way.
Another beautiful cottage with a beautiful view.
Can you imagine this as your dining room? It took my breathe away! They hold teas and other functions here now and then.
The view from the beautiful covered porch. Even if it were raining you could sit outside and stay dry here.
We then headed back to the parking area, having spent a while here learning about the cottage days and FDR's life on the island. Next up was some lunch, and exploring the scenic beauty of the 2800 acres of Campobello International Park. As this is already pretty long, I'll save that for the next post!