CAMPOBELLO. Campobello, the remote Canadian island in New Brunswick off the Maine coast, was a second home to Franklin D. Roosevelt* during the first part of his life, a place where he spent leisurely summers with his parents and, after marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt, many summer vacations with his own young family. It eventually came to occupy a special place in ER’s heart.
Campobello also was indelibly associated with FDR as the place where he came down with polio in 1921. FDR’s crippling illness, which so tested and tempered his character, became a turning point for ER, forcing her to develop latent strengths as she ministered to his needs. Admiring his courage, she nurtured his stubborn determination not to become an invalid as she did her best to provide nursing care.
FDR first introduced the island’s charms to ER during their courtship, when she visited briefly in the summer of 1903 and went for a longer stay in August 1904—all under the watchful gaze of Sara Delano Roosevelt,* her future mother-in-law.
For the first four summers after her marriage in 1905, ER’s visits to Campobello meant living under the same roof with her mother-in-law, who took complete charge of family affairs. Then, in 1909 a neighbor, Mrs. Hartman Kuhn, who had grown fond of the young couple, left a will stating that Sara could buy her thirty-four-room cottage for $5,000, if she would give it to FDR and ER. The house, now the centerpiece of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, was the answer to ER’s prayers for a home of her own, and she quickly and joyously rearranged all the furniture in every room.
FDR returned to Campobello only three times after the polio attack, but ER went there much more often. She returned to Campobello four summers later in 1925, having taught herself to drive the old family