For the love of Grindstone

 When I wrote about the new Shorebird Discovery Centre at Mary’s Point and the view of Grindstone Island you can see from the new trail there it reminded me that I hadn’t featured Grindstone Island on the blog yet. The Friends of Grindstone Island is a  group of volunteers that was first started by Kelly-Sue O’Connor in 2015.  I have the great pleasure of introducing Melanie Shaw as our guest this week. She is the current Lead Steward of The Friends of Grindstone Island. With Melanie’s involvement with the Island and her attachment to the area I knew she could do a better feature on it than I could. The first photo is by my husband Mark looking at Grindstone Island from up the hill behind Broadleaf Farm, It gives you an idea of it from far away of where it sits out there in the Bay of Fundy across from the Harvey banks. The rest of the photos are from Melanie from some of her visits to the Island. Read on to hear more about this magical place and how you can be involved in helping to preserve it. There is a special treat at the bottom of the post to enjoy at your leisure. 




“As a small child, I had a fascination with Grindstone Island. Growing up in Hillsborough, we would head to Fundy for family vacations and I would often find myself staring at the island, completely mesmerised. I knew one day I would get there.

In 2015, I was on Facebook and came across a page called “Friends of Grindstone Island”. I was so excited to see that I wasn’t alone in my passion for the island. I learned that the island, and its resident populations of migratory birds, were protected through a conservation easement held by the Nature Trust of New Brunswick and monitored by a group of volunteer stewards who worked with the Nature Trust, called the “Friends of Grindstone Island”.

I was given the opportunity to join the stewardship group on a monitoring trip to the island in 2016. I couldn’t believe I was finally going to get there. We left from Harvey dam on zodiac boats with the Tri-County Ground Search and Rescue. The waters around the island are known to be quite rough, so we were happy to be in the zodiacs. When we first arrived onto the island, I was hit with the quiet, untouched peacefulness.

We worked hard that weekend, completing a botanical inventory, cleaning up garbage and marine debris, and surveying the birds who were still present after the breeding season. I’ve been involved in the group ever since.

I am now fortunate enough to be the lead Steward of the Friends of Grindstone Island and coordinated a recent monitoring trip to the island at the end of August 2018.

The Friends of Grindstone Island work throughout the year to spread awareness about the easement, the migratory birds populations, and the natural history of the island. We set up information booths at events in the Greater Moncton Area, such as the Sportsmen show and the Dieppe Market to talk to people about the conservation of the island and the work the Nature Trust does. We also sell tickets for trips to the island, with permission, where all money goes to the Nature Trust.

If you have ever had the thought to get involved with a conservation group, it is a great opportunity to become closer to our natural spaces. We welcome everyone to join the Friends of Grindstone Island and get involved!” Here is the link to the group where you can see more photos and information about being involved.


This is from



A majority of Grindstone Island is the preserve of the Anglican Church, Parish of Sackville, which is managed by the Nature Trust through a conservation easement. It covers slightly more than 20 hectares (48 acres), and is located at the entrance to Shepody Bay. Approximately 1.6 hectares (3.8 acres) of land surrounding the local lighthouse (South-west corner of the Island) is owned by the Government of Canada, as well as a second small lot on the island’s south-east side.


Grindstone Island was first mapped by a French explorer in 1686. In 1768, sandstone mining and extraction began and produced both grindstones and building stones, hence giving the fitting name to the property. Resource extraction from the island continued until the early 1900s with much of it shipped out to New England, although some was used for buildings in Fredericton. Some evidence of the stone extraction remains on the island to date in the form of the geology and old machinery.

The island was part of a Crown Grant to Saint Anne’s Anglican Church, Parish of Sackville in 1823. In 1859 and 1911, two parcels were sold to the Government of Canada for the building of a lighthouse on the island. The remainder of the island remains in the ownership of the Parish. In 2010 the Nature Trust obtained a conservation easement on this section of the island belonging to the Parish to manage and protect the land.

Further history of the island may be found in the book Grindstone Island: the Sentinel of Shepody by H. M. Petchey. The history of the lighthouse by Kraig Anderson and Kelly Anne Loughery may be found here.


As the only New Brunswick island in the upper Bay of Fundy, Grindstone Island is host to several species of breeding colonial birds and waterfowl.  It is characterized by hardwood forest growing on two parallel east-west ridges, with mature red spruce forest in between these ridges. The edges of Grindstone Island are dominated by sandstone cliffs, except on the northern side where a cove is located.

Grindstone Island has been designated as an Ecologically Significant Area (ESA) mainly due to its importance as nesting and/or feeding grounds for a variety of bird species, including peregrine falcons, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, greater black-backed gulls, and herring gulls. Black ducks and common eiders use the surrounding intertidal areas for foraging and breeding on the Island. Eiders also nest along the fringe of Mud Cove, and hens can be driven off the nests by tourists.


Access to the island is only by boat or helicopter. As the currents of the Bay of Fundy are very strong and can be dangerous, only experienced boaters should travel in this area. Visits to the island are only permitted with written permission from the Nature Trust, and then may only be made outside the bird nesting season. Please contact the Nature Trust for more information.

*No visiting is allowed between May 15 and August 15 due to the bird breeding season. For more information, please review Environment Canada’s guidelines to avoid disturbance to seabird and waterbird colonies in Canada.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the Island Melanie!  I hope to be able to join the group in visiting the Island some day! It truly is a magical place!

There are so many other stories to tell about this Island- stories of shipwrecks and island keeper adventures that we will save for another day!

Here is the special treat filmed by Eric Goggin during his visit to the Island last summer. You’ll love his other drone videos on You Tube!


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