October 28th, 2020
The Quoddy Loop: Passport for a 3-Nation Adventure
The Quoddy Loop provides a unique opportunity to visit and enjoy the scenic coastal and island communities of Down East Maine, the home of the Passamaquoddy Nation and the West Fundy Isles of New Brunswick.
Adventures abound: nature walks, whale watching cruises, lighthouse and history tours, galleries with paintings, jewelry, pottery and sculpture by fine local artists as well as chance to enjoy a leisurely pace and refresh oneself.
Each of three communities has its own rich history. It is believed that ancestors of current Passamaquoddy tribal members lived on the Quoddy Loop more than 12,000 years ago. Ancient art depicting their history and culture is found in 3,000-year-old petroglyphs carved in rocks at a shorefront site in Machiasport. Pierre Dugua, Samuel Champlain and a group of 77 French explorers, established the first European settlement north of St Augustine, Florida on St. Croix Island, just of the present day Calais, Maine in 1604. The few settler survivors of the horrible winter of 1604 -1605 were saved and helped to relocate to Nova Scotia by members of the Passamaquoddy Nation. During the Revolutionary War the Passamaquoddy tribe joined forces with Americans in their fight for independence. Today the Passamaquoddy Nation is physically located on two reservations in Down East, Maine. One reservation is located in Indian Township near Princeton; while the other reservation is located at Pleasant Point on Passamaquoddy Bay a short distance from Eastport.
Washington County is the eastern most county in the United States. Machias which was settled in 1763, serves as the shire town for this region. The name Machias is derived from the Native American word, Mechises which means “bad little falls” or “a bad run of water.” Machias, Lubec, Eastport and Calais are the four largest communities in the county.
Campobello Island, Deer Island and Grand Manan Island are the three Fundy Isles of New Brunswick that lie closest to their American neighbors.
Captain William Owen who came from an affluent Welsh family received a royal grant in 1767 for what was then called Outer Island. Three years later, he and a group of 38 indentured servants that he had signed up arrived to settle Outer Island, which by then, he’d renamed Campobello Island.
The Owens family continued to rule the island as their private fiefdom for the next 110 years. Transportation between neighboring ports have been achieved through the years by ferry connections. Although the distance across the Narrows between Lubec and Campobello Island is but a stone’s throw, it was not until August 1962 that the two were connected by the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge. Ferry services continue to link Lubec, Eastport, Deer Island, Grand Manan, Campobello Island and St. Andrews.
A seafaring lifestyle is the strong thread that ties the past to the present. Many celebrations, festivals and occupations are dependent on the seas around them.
The Quoddy Loop has a number of light houses providing visibility for the mariners plying the local waters but two lights are especially well known as attractions for visitors—West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec and East Quoddy Head Harbour Light Station on Campobello Island. In addition to the pristine views provided from these two lights they both have wonderful nature walks to enjoy.
Captain Butch extends a special invitation to visitors to the region, to join him for a fun-packed experience on the Eastport Windjammer’s 47-foot lobster boat. Guests will have the opportunity to see spectacular wildlife: eagles, porpoises, seals, minke, and finback whales. On-board educational experiences will include lobster trap pulling, demonstrations, and a touch tank for viewing crabs, lobsters and sea urchins and other sea life. Captain
Harris also offers two-hour sunset sails. For more information and reservation call (207) 853-2500 or
Great nature hikes marked by refreshing ocean breezes and unspoiled natural beauty are available across the entire Quoddy Loop from Fort O’Brien State Park in Machiasport, where one can enjoy a spectacular view of Machias Bay where the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was successfully fought by a small band of American patriots to the St. Croix Island National Park site near Calais that commemorates the ill-fated first North American settlement north of St. Augustine, Florida.
Fun activities do not need to be damped by a stormy day. A number of wonderful galleries can be found throughout the area. Several unique museums including Raye’s Old Stone Mustard Mill Museum in Eastport, which offer daily tours at 10:30 a.m., are open to visitors. This iconic mill has been inthe Raye family for well over a century. This year the Rayes have opened a new retail outlet for their gourmet mustards and other Maine products at 54 Water Street, downtown Eastport.
The Summer of 2019 marks the 55th anniversary of the Roosevelt International Park, which lies just across the Roosevelt International Bridge that links Lubec, Maine to Campobello Island, This should be a must stop on all visitors’ lists of activities to do. The summer home of President Roosevelt is the centerpiece of the world’s only international park and serves as a unique memorial to the close relationship between the people of Canada and the United States as well as the special place that FDR hadwith his beloved island. The Roosevelt cottage is open from Victoria Day (the Saturday prior to Memorial Day) through Canadian Thanksgiving Day (corresponding with Columbus Day in the U.S.) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ADT). The park’s visitor center remains open through October 31 to accommodate fall visitors.
Check out our events calendar for the many festivals held in the region.
Great dining and accommodations from B&Bs, inns, motels and campgrounds make the Down East Quoddy Loop your 2019 destination.
Be sure and bring your passport, as both Canadian and U.S. Customs require them.
— Text: Jim Harnedy. Jim joined the Activities Guide of Maine team as Sr. Editor in 1992, and has been closely involved with the magazine’s evolution through the years. His 10th book: Forgotten Tales of Down East Maine was just released by The History Press.