Imagine setting off for a new land to discover and settle for your king back in the Old World. What’s out there, who’s out there and what’s needed to survive? Learn about the 1604 to 1605 colony that became the first French colony in North America at the border of Maine and Canada’s New Brunswick. Here’s a list of things to do at Saint Croix in Maine with kids.
Things to Do at Saint Croix in Maine with Kids
- Visitor Center—Walk through the visitor center and learn about the French colonization in the area.
- Ranger Program— Attend a program from a bilingual Ranger.
- Hike–Walk the interpretive trail to see Saint Croix Island.
- Bird watching—Pay attention and listen for several different types of birds.
Learn some History at Saint Croix
The French charted and settled this portion of North America along the Atlantic Coast and the Saint Lawrence River. Pierre Dugua arrived in North America in 1599, before Samuel Champlain.
During 1604-1605, Pierre Dugua’s French Expedition established the first French settlement in North America. The first winter proved hard with icing conditions that cut off fresh water and wild game. Of the original settlers, 36 of the 79 men died.
When spring came, the expedition moved the mainland along the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy at Port Royal. Later the French colony abandoned this settlement too.
What to do with Kids at Saint Croix
The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about a National Park Service site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the Park Rangers present them after completing their booklet.
After walking the self-guided trail looking at the bronze statues commemorating the expedition, we arrive at an overlook to see Saint Croix Island. After heading back to the visitor center, the Park Ranger gives us a thorough history of the area. Then takes a moment to look over the kids’ Junior Ranger booklets before reciting the Junior Ranger Oath and handing the kids cool patches.
Visit the Canadian Side of Saint Croix
Saint Croix Island is part of an international piece park, a park that’s shared by two countries. Visit the Canadian Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, in Bayside, New Brunswick.
Part of the Capital of l’Acadie, a plan envisioned by Samuel De Champlain, the Canadian park also celebrates the first attempt at year-round colonization by the French in June 1604.
This area is open from June 1 until October 15 and includes a trail and interpretive signs. Free though not staffed.
Where’s Saint Croix International Historic Site
Located at 84 Saint Croix Drive, Calais, Maine.Open year-round during daylight hours and Free.
Find two separate facilities commemorating Saint Croix, a Canadian park and an American park.
Visiting the island of Saint Croix is prohibited from either side. And the Parks Canada site is not staffed so we stopped at the National Park Service site instead.
Other National Park Service sites in Maine
During your visit to Maine, explore other National Park Service sites.
Roosevelt Campobello International Park–Franklin D. Roosevelt spent his summers on this island as a child. Open from sunrise to sunset during the summer. No admission fee but visitors must clear Canadian Customs and take a ferry.
Acadia National Park—The oldest National Park on the East Coast boasts lots of old carriage roads, perfect for summertime bike rides. See Thunder Hole or chase waves at Sand Beach. Continue the tradition and sample pop-overs at Jordan Pond.
Other Parks Canada Sites
During our road trip through the Canadian Maritimes, we explored the following.
Saint John–Explore the capital of New Brunswick with the family for the Reversing Falls and foodie finds.
The Bay of Fundy—Walk on the ocean floor where kids can see the highest tides in the world in nearby New Brunswick.
Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place–Learn all about the Anne of Green Gables series at the location that inspired the series on Prince Edward Island.
Charlottetown—A visit to Prince Edward Island offers lots of family fun, like lighthouses and clamming.
Cape Breton National Park–On the east shore of Nova Scotia, explore the rugged landscape.
Quebec City–A UNESCO World Heritage Site
L’Ile d’Orleans–A foodie day trip in Quebec
I recommend the following guides for more information for your trip.
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