Burpee Bar is a 9-hectare (21.6 acre) island that represents a unique Saint John River island habitat with flora that is able to withstand annual ice scours and subsequent flooding.


Burpee Bar was the Nature Trust’s first island preserve along the Saint John River. Burpee Bar was formerly used for agricultural purposes such as pasturing cattle and is a traditional salmon fishing site. In 1999, Cedric and Linda Haines gifted their St. John River Island known as Burpee Bar to the Nature Trust of New Brunswick.  Seeking perpetual protection of the island that had belonged to the couple for 20 years and before that to Ms. Haines’ parents, they established the Nature Trust’s first entire Wolastoq (Saint John) River Island Preserve.



Burpee Bar is readily distinguishable from other nearby islands, since it has never been tilled or used to grow crops. The island is altered annually by ice scour and seasonally fluctuating water levels that are characteristic of the St. John River. Therefore, disturbance-driven species thrive in this habitat. The island also supports uncommon or rare plants such as Brunet’s milk vetch (Astragalusalpinus var. brunetianus), Rand’s goldenrod (Solidago simplex) and Huron tansy (Tanacetum bipinnatum) as well as several species of shorebirds and waterfowl.

Access and Activities

The island is located in the St. John River, 12 km upstream from Fredericton and 6 km downstream from the Mactaquac Dam, and to the south of Sugar Island. This island is part of a group of islands known as the Keswick Islands. It can only be accessed by boat.

Access from the south side of the river is difficult due to a lack of public property off of the old Trans-Canada Highway from where one could launch a boat. Access from the north side is gained by following Hwy 616 south from McKeens Corner. A high quality farm road provides good access to Sugar Island. This road is gated and at times locked. Consequently, permission is required from the landowner to travel the road. Sugar Island has been largely developed for agricultural purposes and the roads and bridges are well maintained. Parking is available directly abreast of Burpee Bar on the north side of the river. A short 175 m canoe paddle brings one to Burpee Bar.

*The property is undeveloped and there are a variety of hazards and risks associated with accessing this preserve. While this nature preserve is open for public access, visitors must assume responsibility for their own actions and safety and are to use the land at their own risk.