About one half of the buildings within the original town plat are more than 100 years old – some more than 200! Walk back in time and look for the distinctive beige plaques placed by the Saint Andrews Civic Trust on historically significant homes (privately owned – please respect) and commercial buildings throughout the town. Each plaque contains a brief history of the building and often provides some colour around the original residents and their role in the town.
Below is a quick guide to a 30-minute walking tour starting on Water Street and extending up King Street. If you have more time to spend, follow the steps of Charles Morris Jr., the Deputy Surveyor, who in 1784 laid out the Town of Saint Andrews in what we now see as its regular and uniform plan. This was done with six parallel streets running lengthwise and thirteen streets cutting them at right angles. This created sixty blocks of perfectly square form lying between Water Street on the front, if navigating from the waterfront, and Prince of Wales street in the rear. The left and right edges of this uniform plan were between Harriet Street on the north west and Patrick street on the south and east. Download or print the Guide to Historic St. Andrews walking tour map and wear your favourite walking shoes! Stay safe – where no sidewalks are provided, walkers should always travel facing vehicular traffic.
- Check out historic Water Street – an integral part of our community’s heart and identity. Winner of the Great Street Award from Great Places in Canada 2016, it houses well-frequented restaurants, shops, galleries and excursion jump-off opportunities. Wide, accessible sidewalks look into the windows of all downtown shops and will tempt you to stop in to each and every one! This five-block area is the place to get town services, enjoy food and art, visit with locals and your fellow travellers, sit beside (or go out on) the water, and appreciate both the ambiance and activity of a present-day town in an 1800s setting.
- As you head up King Street, the first stop on your right at Queen Street is Sheriff Andrews House. Elisha Andrews, High Sheriff of Charlotte County and son of the Loyalist, Reverend Samuel Andrews, built this lovely home in 1820 to reflect his position within the community. The interior layout tells of the “upstairs/downstairs” world of separate quarters for servants in the attic. Admission is by donation.
- On your left at Montague Street, the Ross Memorial Museum is housed in a red brick Georgian mansion built in 1824, one of St. Andrews’ many historic and architecturally-significant buildings. Once the residence of Loyalist Harris Hatch , the Museum is now furnished with the stunning furniture and decorative arts collection of Henry Phipps Ross and Sarah Juliette Ross. Admission is by donation.
- Walk one block more to Parr Street and then right to Frederick Street to see the stunning Charlotte County Court House, built in 1840. This Classical-Revival was in session until the last case was heard by the Court of Queen’s Bench in 2016, making it the oldest serving courthouse in Canada at over 170 years. It was declared a National Historic Site in 1983. Still the home to the St. Andrews Civic Trust and Charlotte County Archives, tours are offered throughout the summer in conjunction with the Charlotte County Gaol (jail) right next door.
- For the final leg of your journey, walk back to King Street and to its end at Prince of Wales Street to find one of the town’s premiere attractions. In addition to having an award-winning garden and restaurant, Kingsbrae Garden features an extensive collection of sculptures, an art gallery and art studio. Like the garden changing in various blooms, the artwork also rotates keeping the visitor experience fresh throughout the season. Kingsbrae is also home to various animals including alpacas, goats, peacocks, rabbits, and more. Whether you are a lover of nature, horticulture, culinary or art, Kingsbrae has something to offer the whole family. Admission is required for the garden, but not the restaurant. Be sure to also stop for a gaze at Kingsbrae Arms, built in 1897 and extensively remodelled in 1995 to its current use as a hotel, becoming the first 5 Star Hotel in Canada.
When it’s time for a rest after your walking tour, be sure to return to Water Street for a refreshing beverage or snack!