Tuesday, June 21, 2016

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Was A “Reverse Snowbird”

Today we know Snowbirds as being mostly elderly retired people who venture south with their RVs to escape the harsh winters of the north. And it is a “migration” of the thousands.  But a long time before RVs were around and the term “Snowbird” was invented, there was a trend for the wealthy to migrate into the opposite direction. Summers in the south have always been scorching hot and with no automatic air condition kicking in to cool the houses, people had to suffer through the hot season. But a group of rich businessmen knew how to avoid the problem of being fried in their homes and offices. They started to travel north into cooler regions. And when a group of developers and investors discovered Campobello Island with a climate cooled by the frigid waters of the Bay of Fundy they decided to make it a summer resort for the wealthy.
Panel 1 300
1-Tyn-Y-Coed 1-Tyn-Y-Maes
1-Owen Hotel 004 1-Friar's Bay Historical
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They built hotels, and sold building lots. And then they advertised in major newspapers in the US and Canada. And people came by the hundreds. And quite a few of them stayed for the entire summer. They became
“Reverse Snowbirds”. Among them were James and Sara Roosevelt.
James RooseveltFranklin_Delano_Roosevelt_with_his_mother_Sara,_1887
James Roosevelt                      Sara Roosevelt w. Son Franklin
After some time being hotel guests they bought a cottage in a prime location. It had a view across the Passamaquoddy Bay and only a mile away they were looking at the fishing town of Eastport,Maine.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor continued to “snowbird” to Campobello after his father had passed away in 1900.
DSC_0254                         Roosevelt Cottage built 1895 w. addition from 1915

They moved to a much bigger “cottage” with 34 rooms and Campobello became their “beloved island”.
The Roosevelt’s presence led to something much more. After Pres. Roosevelt passed away at Warm Springs, GA in 1945, Eleanor sold their summer residence.
In 1952 she even tore down the original Roosevelt cottage Sara and James used during their first years on the island. She simply refused to pay taxes for a house which wasn’t in use anymore. The large 34-room summer residence was sold to the Hammer Bros. from New York. The Hammers removed all furniture from the building, but never made a decision about what to do with the house. After they unsuccessfully tried to sell the building again they decided to donate it to the public. They even returned all furniture and memorabilia to the cottage. The federal governments of Canada and the US were contacted and it was decided to make it an International Park in Memoriam of a great President of the United States. In 1964 the new park was opened to the public. In order to ease access to the island both countries financed the F.D.R. International Bridge from Lubec,ME to Campobello Island. (see our header) Finally, the opening of the park brought another U.S. President to the Island. Together with his Canadian Counterpart Prime Minister Lester B Pearson, arrived U.S. President Lyndon B Johnson. 3 years later, on July 13 1967, the Roosevelt Park Visitor Centre was opened under the presence of
Queen Mother Elizabeth. From there on the Roosevelt Campobello International Park has been visited by millions of people from the whole world.


  1. What an interesting post. To think that we've been so close many times and never visited this interesting island is very regretful to me and I think our traveling days that far away are probably over.
    Thank you very much for this article.
    Elaine on Vancouver Island

    1. Thanks Elaine. We feel very fortunate to live on this island. Sorry you missed it.

  2. Great place to visit along with Eastport and Lubec.We love the area and have visited several times.

  3. Snowbirds, sunbirds ... it's all a similar search. We're all looking for something that isn't where we're at.


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