The Wishing Stones of St. Martins
Updated: Feb 21
My daughter and I are rock hounds, so during our visit to the Flower Pot Rocks of Hopewell Cape in New Brunswick, we were pretty much captivated by the geological wonder of what we were seeing.
But while we we being mesmerized by this world renowned phenomenon, my son-in-law was having a good chat with a bus driver who was there with a larger group of tourists.
After his chat, he returned to us very excited. He had a great lead. The day was nearing its end though so there was little time left. Just down the coast was another great site--the St. Martins sea caves.
Because the sun was starting to lower in the western sky, we had to hurry though.
The country roads through New Brunswick, especially in early October, are comprised of one stunning view after another, and we were taking the winding and hilly road in a fair clip, so the drive there was a blur of colour, something akin to driving through a looping kaleidoscope of yellows, reds, and greens all under the span of the bright Maritime sky.
When we got to St. Martins, the light was beginning to get low, but we were at the right time of day, and the great tides of the Bay of Fundy on the Atlantic Ocean were still out.
There was a vast stretch of beach completely covered with pebbles. Many of them were pink granite, while some were quartz, with the addition of infinite other varieties of rock, all beautifully rounded and glistening with the residual dampness of the ocean that had covered them only a few hours before.
Beyond the beach was a red sandstone cave so large that we could not help but feel small before the gaping darkness within. It is one of several, with more beyond, but the one right there on the side of the beach, was an immediate lure to those fascinated by its beckoning (or threatening) presence.
My son-in-law, armed with his camera, set out to cross the stream that runs along the left side of the beach in order to reach the far side and the cave beyond.
My daughter and I, however, were instantly hooked by what was beneath our feet.
There was a great variety of stones, but the darkening day was making the red stones dominate the setting, creating a magical place to pore over in search of agates and other unique finds.
I later learned that the pebbles that were ringed in a stone of another colour are called Wishing Stones. This type of stone has been created by geological pressure from about 250 million years ago. Different actions of nature could have resulted in such pretty little treasures. But eventually an ocean will deliver to your feet all sorts of beautiful things, if you only take the time to look.
There were indeed many Wishing Stones among the infinite numbers along the beach.
The legend is that if you find a Wishing Stone, you are to make a wish upon it, and then keep it until your wish comes true. Once your wish does come true, you are supposed to give your Wishing Stone to someone else, so that they can also make a wish upon the stone.
The charming village beside this fascinating beach was once known as Quako, referring to the hooded seals that lived nearby.
The tide rises to completely immerse the caves, along with the beautiful beaches of the area. It opens your imagination to what the seals see, and what their playground and hunting ground becomes when the water is high, and the sea caves are before them, and the pebbles are rising and falling as the water's force moves them along.
Of course, the magnificent beaches of New Brunswick have long captured the eye of explorers.
This particular stretch of shoreline became an important shipbuilding port.
It also attracted the attention of the Germans in World War II. One of their crew was given money and goods and sent ashore in 1942. The spy was dropped off just east of our beach and made his way there and then proceeded to make his way to Moncton, Saint John, Montreal and finally Ottawa. According to the history though, when he finally turned himself in after a few years, he was not prosecuted because he had not actually done any harm, and had simply been taking in the sights of Canada that he passed along the way.
As it turns out, we were lucky to be there when we were, because a year later, in September 2020, a large piece of rock fell from the cliff in the area where tourists could walk. The sea caves are now roped off, and people have been asked not to go there.
While tourists can visit the Flower Pot Rocks at Hopewell Cape, they do pay admission and the place is well monitored.
If the sea caves become available for the public to explore again, the next time it will likely be also with paid admission, so staff can be there to monitor and guide tourists who are sure to continue to want to see this beautiful place on the shore of the Bay of Fundy.