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The Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy (or Fundy Bay; French: Baie de Fundy) is a bay between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the US state of Maine. It has an extremely high tidal range. The bay lies in the Fundy Basin, a rift valley. The name is likely a corruption of the French word Fendu, meaning "split".[1]



Alma, New Brunswick at high and low tide


The average tidal range worldwide is about one metre. In the Bay of Fundy it is 16 metres, because of tidal resonance in the funnel-shaped bay. The tides are semidiurnal, meaning they have two highs and two lows each day[2] with about six hours and 13 minutes between each high and low tide.[2]

Some tides are higher than others, depending on the position of the moon, the sun, and atmospheric conditions.[2] The highest water level ever recorded in the Bay of Fundy system occurred at the head of the Minas Basin on the night of October 4–5, 1869 during a tropical cyclone named the "Saxby Gale". The water level of 21.6 metres (71 feet) resulted from the combination of high winds, abnormally low atmospheric pressure, and a spring tide.

The tides that flow through the channel are very powerful. In one 12 hours tidal cycle, about 110,000,000,000 tons of water flows in and out of the bay, which is twice as much as the combined total flow of all the rivers of the world over the same period.[3] They are as powerful as 8,000 train engines or 25 million horses.[4] Electrical tidal power generation has been investigated, using tidal stream generators, but so far no commercial viable implementation has been developed.

In some rivers there is a tidal bore, where a wave front of the incoming tide "bores" its way up a river against its normal flow.[5] Tidal bores are found on the following:[5]

There are whirlpools, tidal rapids, and rip tides:[5]


Some of these areas exhibit exposed red bay muds. Sub-basins include:

  • Chignecto Bay in the upper northeast
  • The Minas Basin in the upper east. The Minas Channel connects the Minas Basin with the main body of the bay.[6] The channel is 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi) across and approximately 106.7 metres (350 ft) deep. Facing Cape Split at the entrance to the Minas Channel are the basalt cliffs of Cape d'Or.
  • Passamaquoddy Bay and Back Bay on the New Brunswick shore in the south.
  • Cobscook Bay on the Maine shore
  • The Annapolis Basin on the Nova Scotia shore.


The bay is home to several islands, the largest of which is Grand Manan at the boundary with the Gulf of Maine. Other important islands on the north side of the bay include Campobello Island, Moose Island, and Deer Island in the Passamaquoddy Bay area. Brier Island and Long Island can be found on the south side of the bay while Isle Haute is in the upper bay off Cape Chignecto. Smaller islands and islets also exist in Passamaquoddy Bay, Back Bay, and Annapolis Basin. The Five Islands, in the Minas Basin, are particularly scenic.


New Brunswick rivers which drain into the bay include the Big Salmon, Magaguadavic, Memramcook, Petitcodiac, Quiddy, Saint John, St. Croix, Shepody, Tantramar River, and Upper Salmon rivers.

Nova Scotia rivers include the Annapolis, Avon, Cornwallis, Debert, Farrells, Salmon, Shubenacadie, and Kennetcook rivers.

Human geography & historyEdit


The Mi'kmaq, fished in the Bay of Fundy and lived in communities around the bay for centuries before the first Europeans arrived. According to Mi'kmaq legend, the tide was greated when Glooscap wanted to take a bath.[7]

The first European settlement was French, founded at Île-Saint-Croix, and then Port Royal, founded by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons and Samuel de Champlain in 1605. Champlain named it Baie Française (French Bay).

The village was the first permanent European settlement north of the Spanish St. Augustine, Florida, and predated by two years the first permanent British settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. About 75 years later, Acadians spread out along the bay, founding Grand-Pré, Beaubassin, Cobequid, and Pisiguit.[8]

There was much military action and many attacks on the settlements around the bay, first as the French and British fought for control of the area, leading to the Expulsion of the Acadians, and later by Americans during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.[9]

In the 1800s the bay was the site of much shipping, and shipbuilders flourished, including James Moran of St. Martins, New Brunswick, Joseph Salter, of Moncton, and William D. Lawrence of Maitland, Nova Scotia. Fundy ports produced the fastest ship in the world, Marco Polo; the largest wooden ship ever built in Canada, William D. Lawrence; and the first female sea captain in the western world, Molly Kool. The mystery ship Mary Celeste was also built there.


The largest population centre on the bay is the New Brunswick city of Saint John. Saint John is the port city of the Bay of Fundy. The port is Canada's third largest port by tonnage with a cargo base that includes dry and liquid bulk, break bulk, containers, and cruise.[10] Saint John is the oldest incorporated city in Canada. During the reign of George III, the municipality was created by royal charter in 1785 by a union between the former towns on each side of the harbour, Parrtown and Carleton.[11]

The New Brunswick towns of St. Andrews, Blacks Harbour, St. Martins and Sackville as well as the Nova Scotia towns of Amherst, Parrsboro, Truro, Windsor, Wolfville, Annapolis Royal, and Digby are also on the bay.

Ports and shippingEdit

The port of Saint John gives access to the pulp and paper industry and the Irving oil refinery. Hantsport, Nova Scotia, on the Avon River is also home to a pulp and paper mill and is the shipment point for raw gypsum exports to the United States. The ports of Bayside, Charlotte County, (near St. Andrews) and Eastport, Maine, are important local ports.

A result of shipping traffic has been the potential for increased collisions between ships and the North Atlantic right whale. In 2003, the Canadian Coast Guard adjusted shipping lanes crossing prime whale feeding areas at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy to lessen the risk of collision. The bay is also traversed by several passenger and automobile ferry services:

Parks and protected areasEdit

The bay is an aspiring member of the Global Geoparks Network,[12] a UNESCO initiative to promote and conserve the planet's geological heritage.

Portions of the Bay of Fundy, Shepody Bay and Minas Basin, form one of six Canadian sites in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and are classified as a Hemispheric site.[13] It is administered by the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the Canadian Wildlife Service, and is managed in conjunction with Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

A number of parks preserve and interpret the Bay of Fundy's coastal ecosystem. They include Fundy National Park in New Brunswick and Cape Chignecto Provincial Park and Five Islands Provincial Park and Blomidon Provincial Park in Nova Scotia. The Canadian Wildlife Service maintains a number of National Wildlife Areas in the Bay of Fundy including a proposed designation of Isle Haute in the middle of the Bay. The Fundy Trail extends from the Fundy Trail Parkway at Big Salmon River to Fundy National Park.

The Bay of Fundy is also home to another interesting geologic feature, the Hopewell Rocks formation, where the "flower-pot rocks" are located on one kilometre-long portion of shore along Shepody Bay.[14] These rocks are shaped by the tides, the strength of the rocks, and the presence of the joints in the rocks. The rock in the cliffs, from which the stacks are being cut, are arkosic sandstone and coarse, poorly sorted conglomerates. The tides that are eroding the cliffs are between 10.7 metres (35 ft) and 14.7 metres (48 ft) high on average.[15]



  1. ^ Garrett, Chris; Koslow, Tony; Singh, Rabindra (March 25, 2015) [July 8, 2010]. "Fundy, Bay of and Gulf of Maine". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada.
  2. ^ a b c "The Bay of Fundy is a 160 billion tonne wonder. Here's why". Tourism New Brunswick. Government of New Brunswick. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Why are the Bay of Fundy Hides so High?". Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Geology". 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c "The tidal bore". Bay of Fundy. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  6. ^ Brookes, I (2015). "Minas Basin". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Mi'kmaq Heritage". Bay of Fundy. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  8. ^ Faragher, John Mack (2005). A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland. W.W Norton & Company. pp. 110–112. ISBN 978-0-393-05135-3.
  9. ^ Smith, Joshua (2011). Battle for the Bay: The Naval War of 1812. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions. pp. passim. ISBN 978-0-86492-644-9.
  10. ^ "Port Saint John reports 2016 tonnage". Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  11. ^ "Saint John". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "UNESCO Global Geoparks – Cliffs of Fundy Aspiring Global Geopark – Tidal Landscapes on an Ancient Shoreline". Cliffs of Fundy aspiring Geopark. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Description". Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. Retrieved February 18, 2008.
  14. ^ Trenhaile, A.S.; Pepper, D.A.; Trenhaile, R.W.; Dalimonte, M. (4 December 1998). "Stacks and Notches at Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick, Canada". Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 23 (11): 975–988. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(1998110)23:11<975::AID-ESP916>3.0.CO;2-K.
  15. ^ Trenhaile, A.S. 1998, pp. 975-988

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit