Today was my last day in PEI and it served up an absolutely perfect riding day. Warm, sunny and hardly any wind. Absolutely lovely.
I spent the morning having a nice visit with Ann and Ron and Tim. Talking with Ron about the local industries on PEI, I mentioned about seeing a canola field yesterday. He said it was probably actually a mustard field. Mustard is planted to ward off the wireworm that are one of the pests that attack potato plants. I was pleased that I could nod knowingly about this, having read about the wireworm in one of the potato coffins at the potato museum! I’m sure he is right that it is mustard and not canola because it didn’t make sense to me that the canola would only be in bloom at this point in the year, rather than ready to harvest.
After bumming lunch off them as well, Fury and I headed out to complete our circumnavigation of PEI. Having been distracted by the potato museum and bottle houses yesterday, we ran out of time to get out to Rice Point and Rocky Point. There wasn’t far to go to finish this little mission and I was glad I did.
It was at Rocky Point that I found the most cohesive story about the history of Prince Edward Island, as I walked the trail of the national historic site there. Scientific evidence has dated the Mi’kmaq history on PEI as far back as 13,000 years, and the oral tradition of the Mi’kmaq even farther than that. The first European settlements were the French, who arrived to make the most of the rich farmland and fish populations. These were the Acadians, eventually deported during the Seven Year’s War that I‘ve written about when visiting the other maritime provinces. As with the others, those who escaped deportation, eventually made their way back to the area, re-settling and re-building their communities. The following century brought Irish population and Scottish immigrants as well.
Rocky Point also has several lighthouses and I wondered why there were 3 of them lined up, with some set back from the coast. According to the signage, these are “range lights”, and were used by ships to align themselves within a channel and thereby navigate safely through them at night.
After walking the trail and soaking up the stunning views of the ocean and Charlottetown across the water, I went into the visitor centre. There I met Matilda, a Mi’kmaq elder, and Rita, a national parks representative. We had a great talk about the history of the area, the culture of the Mi’kmaq and my growing notions about life and people.
Eventually, I followed the road down a couple of hundred meters to the Mi’kmaq teepee that had been built on the site. Matilda had gone down earlier and I met her there again. She explained the structure of the birch bark teepee – one I had never seen before. She said it represents a mother’s skirt and protection. The 3 central poles that are strapped together with black spruce roots represent mind, body and soul. There are 13 other vertical poles to represent the 13 moons in the Mi’kmaq traditional beliefs, and 7 horizontal ones representing the Seven Sacred Teachings: wisdom, truth, humility, bravery, honesty, love and respect. It was very interesting to hear and makes one feel connected when inside. Such were the spiritual considerations in the construction. The more practical considerations included tapering the ends of the vertical poles so rain that fell through the hole at the top (necessary for smoke to escape from the central fire), would run down the pole to the edges of the teepee rather than down onto its occupants. Also, the birch bark was placed always with the inside out to better shed rain.
My afternoon flew away in this pleasant contemplation and I soon found it was time to get back on the road. My timing was poor as it was now late afternoon, which meant I was travelling west against the sun for the last hour and a half of my day. Even so, I marvelled as we crossed Confederation Bridge back and cheered at our accomplishment when our wheels hit the pavement in New Brunswick.
I suppose it can be said that our adventure is officially over, as tomorrow, Fury will be delivered to the Moncton shop to be packaged away in a crate for shipping. I am trying hard not to think about leaving her alone in a box and rather to think of it as her well-deserved rest for bringing me safely through 27, 184 kms!
I'm not sure how I feel about completing this goal. It has been so incredible and so important to accomplish this task and prove to Tracey that she was right to be proud of her baby sister. Rest in Peace, my beautiful sister and thank you for giving me the courage to live on for you.
Now what, my friends? I hope you will tolerate me for a day or two more as I continue to blog my last couple of days in Moncton and wrap up my journal with my newly-formed convictions on humanity, life and what it means to me to be Canadian.
The Canadian Potato Museum…….I know, right? Did you even know such a thing existed? Actually, it is a really interesting place. First of all, I didn’t know that potatoes were an amazing source of potassium, iron and vitamin C. And that a potato crop yields more product in a small space of land than any other crop grown. Or that potatoes originated in South America. They were not introduced to Europe until the 1500s and, like corn, were considered only fit for animal food. When famine was widespread in the 1700s was when potatoes got their spot in the limelight. Though even then, they were considered peasant food. Now, each person consumes something like 84 kgs of potatoes per year!
The displays at the potato museum were pretty engaging. For example, the samples showing the various diseases and blights that could affect potatoes – all displayed in little coffins. Someone has a sense of humour. Different exhibits showed different phases of potato planting and harvesting, including the equipment used over the years to do so. There was a section on the different varieties and what they were suitable for – like wine pairings with a meal, there are different potatoes suited for different things. Best of all, though, was the samples and recipe for potato fudge. Even I could probably make that fudge set! So, while I stopped there kind of for a lark, I left having learned a good many things and with a new respect for Canada’s superfood.
The potato museum also had a community museum and a display of antique machinery which was very neat to wander through and read about. It was an altogether worthwhile stop. As I was preparing to leave, I fell into conversation with a gentleman who was outside waiting for his friends. I had met him and his wife and friends on my way into the museum. We had a great talk about my trip and my bike and the general value of treating people like human beings and I enjoyed myself very much.
Getting back on the road, I headed for Abrams Village. We got rained on pretty good along the way to the potato museum, but the skies lightened up a bit and the rain stopped for this second leg of our adventure. The small south-western edge of PEI is Acadian country again. The Acadian flag flying in the yards and blue, white and red painted posts and mailboxes let me know I had arrived! It is a beautiful area, the sea framing the farmland and tidy yards. In general, Islanders seem to take pride in well-kept yards and farms. I enjoyed my ride around the cape very much and marvelled again at the loveliness of the red cliffs against the ocean and lead-grey skies. The lighthouse at Cap-Egmont was down a stretch of the dreaded red-dirt road, so I didn’t go out to take a picture. Fury has brought me through some terrible roads and all kinds of weather, but she really does not like those red dirt roads and so I don’t make her do it.
We stuck to pavement and were delighted to find “The Bottle Houses” along our route! I pulled in and paid the admission to wander through the bottle house gardens. It was way more spectacular than anything I was expecting. This Acadian guy, Edouard Arsenault, had seen them somewhere in Europe and decided he wanted to have a go. He built 3 good-sized buildings on the property and combined them with his love of gardening. The property is peaceful and pretty and I can only imagine what it is like to be inside these structures made of glass bottles at different times of the day, when the light changes with sunset and sunrise. It was truly a unique and delightful find today.
Being a bit behind schedule now, we made tracks for Victoria. I stopped for lunch at the Lobster Barn on the wharf and had a lobster roll and caesar salad. It was amazing. The lobster was fresh and sweet and the salad was a perfect side. Feeling restored, I headed over to Ron and Anne’s for the night. Ron is a cousin that I had not met before, so it was fun to meet him and his son Tim. Anne was working – teaching a driving course – so she was not home until later and we only had a brief visit. Still, it was nice to connect with people I have heard about but not met.
Tomorrow it will be time to say farewell to Prince Edward Island. Will try to be on the road in good time to visit the last couple of spots I wanted to see before heading back across the bridge to New Brunswick. I can’t believe how the time has flown!
Today’s mission was to get up and around the north and west shore of PEI. As rain was a possibility mid-afternoon, I headed out shortly after 8:00 a.m. It was a cool morning and fall is definitely in the air, with the odd tree showing gold or red leaves. Still, it was a bit milder than yesterday and I was prepared for it.
It took a bit of time to get off the main highway, but I took the first opportunity to do so and headed for the road that ran along the water wherever possible. These roads are practically deserted and a pleasure to cruise along with the farms and ocean and curves here and there. Today I saw the first canola crop I’ve seen on the island, as well as some dairy farms. I also rode by many little inlets with their mussel beds (now that I know what all the little buoys out in the water are). PEI is famous for its mussels and so they are cultivated quite avidly.
Fury and I also sailed along an area of peat bogs on our way north as well. This fascinated me all over again after learning about them in New Brunswick. Again, that feeling of riding along on top of something that is just floating on the water – which isn’t altogether incorrect. I find it interesting how the vegetation changes in these areas. Took a little detour to Tignish and enjoyed some quiet time reading about the fishing industry there and sitting on the rocks listening to the ocean.
I have seen lots of blue jays in my travels around PEI. Which makes sense, since it is the provincial bird. They are a different jay from the stellar jays we have in BC, and are pretty photo-elusive when you are on a motorcycle. I have seen ravens regularly as well, but the blue jays seem to be at least equal in number.
We continued to travel north until we reached the North Point Lightstation. While I have seen several windmills across the island as well, the North Point Lightstation has many of them, generating power for the island. The lighthouse is a functioning one as well and the point is a beautiful, wind-whipped shore. You will have lots of red coastline to see in pictures today because I couldn’t decide which ones I liked best! While wandering the Black Marsh Nature Trail, I saw a tiny little blue bird sitting on the side of the red cliff – cutest thing ever. It looked like a wee blue jay - I saw it as clear as day, but my phone doesn’t take zoom photos very well. The crickets were chirping away in the long grasses of the shore and there were tons of cormorants coasting along in the water. Cormorants seem to be the dominant sea bird in the east, where it is seagulls in the west. There were some story boards set up at the beginning of the trail and one of the stories was about a German u-boat that was on a mission to rescue some German naval officer PoWs that were to escape a prisoner camp near Fredricton. The sub disappeared in the waters of the North Cape and after 3 days of no contact, the was determined to have been lost. The boat and its crew of 47 have never been found.
As I travelled through Norway on my way to Skinners Pond, it struck me as funny that I could say I travelled to Norway and Toronto in the last couple of days. Didn’t know there were communities on PEI with those names.
Skinners Pond was, for a time, home to Stompin’ Tom Connors, and there is a sizeable centre in Skinners Pond in his honour, with an exhibit, an old school house which he attended, and the house he lived in. There is also a large performance hall and a food vendor there. While I knew he was a famous Canadian musician, I didn’t know about his story until I heard it as part of the show in Charlottetown that I attended. He was one of the artists featured in Tara MacLean’s Atlantic Blues production. Though I had planned to visit Skinners Pond and check out the centre, the presentation at her show heightened my curiosity. Tom’s is a story of overcoming adversity in just about every form. He was born to an unwed mother in the late 30s, and knew little besides poverty and hunger until he was put in an orphanage at the age of 8. Eventually, he was adopted by a farm family and spent the next few years running away periodically, until he left for good at the age of 14. He hitchhiked all over Canada, worked at whatever jobs he could find and wrote songs, played guitar and sang whenever he got a chance, always on the move. He wrote about the people and places he had been and worked and was fiercely proud of Canada.
Stompin’ Tom Connors got his name for his habit of stomping his cowboy boot on the stage to keep time and it became his signature when he made it big. Despite having many records go #1 on the charts, and gold records beyond number, he never performed outside of Canada. He boycotted the Junos and returned all of his Junos in protest against them being awarded to Canadian artists who had left the country. He was quoted as saying "Losing our talent to the benefit of the United States or any other country doesn't do a damn thing for this country or anybody in it." He advocated for support of the Canadian music industry to help up and coming artists to keep them working in this country’s music community. Stompin’ Tom also created the label A-C-T to help Canadian artists get recognized and recorded. All-in-all, it was an educational and inspiring story. It was also validating for me, since I set out on this adventure on purpose to explore and learn about my own country. I have found much to be proud of.
Not far out of Skinners Pond, I stopped at the little harbour town of Miminegash. It is clearly a working harbour and I rode around it before stopping for lunch. The smell of burgers from the gas station restaurant was too much for me and breakfast had been a long time before. They didn’t disappoint, serving a good, homemade burger.
By the time I headed out again, it was spitting rain a bit, so I threw on my waterproof pants just in case it decided to get serious. The rain did pick up a bit as I travelled south (on Hwy 14 east…..sheesh), but it still wasn’t too bad. It had been windy most of the day, so that was nothing new, and we finished our loop down to West Point. The lighthouse at West Point is actually an Inn and museum and sits next to a provincial park. At least I think it was “next to”, because I didn’t have to pass the park gate to enter. I didn’t intend to pay a park fee for a day just for the privilege of taking a picture of the lighthouse. At that point, the rain and wind were steady and it wasn’t walking-about- on-the beach weather. I’m hoping reasonable weather will hang in there for another few days as we bring our adventure to a close.
The rain and wind pursued us for another half and hour or so, but we rode out of it eventually and made it back to warmth, stopping only to grab a couple of yogurts for tomorrow morning. I was in hot bath by 5:00 p.m. and have most of my stuff gathered up and ready to load in the morning. Fury and I have almost circumnavigated the province. Considering how small PEI is, that may not seem like such a big deal, but how often do you get to use the word “circumnavigated”?!
Another harbinger of fall, the geese have flown over honking away in flocks. So until tomorrow, my friends, ride safe and may the wind be ever at your back.
Got up in good time today and saw the kids off to school. I took advantage of Pam’s washer and dryer to clean up all my clothes, knowing I still have a few days in PEI. Then I asked if she knew of a good place to go for lunch. Pam knew of a new restaurant called The Wheelhouse in Georgetown. With the community of Georgetown reputed to be a picturesque little place, I thought this sounded like a grand place to go for lunch.
Georgetown has a beautiful town park, and apparently one of the Fathers of Confederation, A.A. MacDonald, was from Georgetown. For a small place, they work hard to keep their community alive, boasting a huge venue for plays and concerts, the aforementioned gorgeous park, and several tourist shops and restaurants. A nice waterfront boardwalk completes the picture. The Wheelhouse has a patio right on the water and one look at their menu told me a choice for lunch was not going to be easy! In the end, Pam and I both settled on the fish and chips because we had heard it was outstanding. We heard correctly – wow. The fish was so fresh and the tartar sauce, made in-house, was so good. The french fries are made from their home-grown potatoes and were to die for. Considering I’m kind of fussy about french fries, that’s saying something! I would go back in a heartbeat to try the crab mac and cheese or the lobster melt. Since I had someone to help me, I also ordered the sticky date pudding, which came with some kind of blueberry sauce around it and whipped cream. Sooooo good.
After lunch, we went our separate ways and I wandered down the east coast of PEI, seeking the little side roads and oddly enough…….finding lighthouses. There were some amazing ones and I met some amazing people along the way as well. At the Cape Bear Lighthouse, I found a reference to Marconi again. Remember Marconi? We met him at Signal Hill in Newfoundland – the first guy to send a trans-Atlantic wireless signal. This lighthouse at PEI was one of the sites that he had a signal station set up. I paid the $5.00 to climb the lighthouse and was rewarded on each level with pictures and stories from the area about the lighthouse keepers, shipwrecks and all kinds of stuff. Finally, I climbed to the top and was delighted to find I was standing right beside the operating light! THAT was pretty cool. Looking out over the ocean and watching the light revolve and send out its signal was a pretty neat experience.
I continued down the coast and along the south coast, with at least an idea of what direction I was travelling in this time. I zig-zagged my way across the western part of the island, past stunning ocean views, by crops of ripened corn and potatoes, fields of golden bales, lit by the sun. I only hit a dirt road once and had to turn around and go back and did not regret the detour.
Tomorrow, I discover the west coast of the island. It is easy to see how one could get seduced by Prince Edward Island’s beauty and peace. The west end of the island is next and I fully expect it to be as charming as what I have already seen, with a few surprises thrown in for effect!
Today was a quiet day of sleeping in and going touring. Pam had prepared an amazing breakfast, after which the she and the boys and I went for a driving tour to Souris and Basin Head Provincial Park. There’s a beautiful beach at Basin Head and we kicked off our shoes and rambled the beach in the sun. On the way back, we grabbed a coffee at Robin’s Donuts and toodled our way back.
Along the road, we found the sign we were looking for to get some new potatoes for supper and grabbed a bag of those. Seeing a yard sale along the road a bit further on, we pulled over to check for irresistible treasures, much to Jayden’s dismay. We didn’t find any, so we carried on back to Pam and Rob’s. This was such exhausting work, I had to have a nap! 😊
Sitting at the kitchen table having a look at tomorrow’s adventuring possibilities and enjoying the smell of a roast chicken in the oven for supper. Roast chicken, garden beans and new potatoes. Life is tough.
Today was the opposite of yesterday – I had a clear destination for the end of it, but no plans for the in-between. The nice thing about wandering the roads of PEI for someone as directionally-challenged as I am, is that you are never far from where you began or where you are going. This challenge is compounded by the fact that the highway signs don’t always indicate the direction you are going – you might be travelling north on a road that says Hwy “something” south.
I got up in good time and then spent an hour researching how I’m going to get home and then spent another hour and a half getting some work done. Then it was time to load up my gear and check out of the motel. The lovely lady at the front desk asked if I had come from BC on my bike and we had a wee chat about it. Then Fury and I headed out for new roads.
I knew that I wanted to stop in North Rustico harbour for coffee at the Fishead Company Store, which was recommended to me by cousin Ron. Despite the short ride, I was ready for a latte and so I stopped and met owners (and sisters) Cheryl and Tracy. Nicest people on earth – listened to my story with patience and empathy and I felt like I had made new friends. They cemented their place in my heart by having “pioneer” cookies that did not have raisins (raisins don’t belong in anything). Between the cookie and the coffee, I was ready to conquer the world! They also took a picture of me outside their shop, which I think is the best picture that someone has taken of me this trip, so I poached it from their Facebook page for my blog. 😊 There was also a lighthouse at North Rustico harbour and I took a photograph of it while I was there, before carrying on down the road.
I wanted to follow the Gulf Shore Parkway and ride out to East Point on my way to Cardigan, which was my eventual destination. My unfailing sense of direction meant I turned right when I should have turned left and I ended up at Charlottetown. Having none of that, I turned around and backtracked, stubbornly insisting on the shore road and refusing to use my gps. I did find the shore road and it was a beautiful ride. My perseverance was rewarded with another picturesque lighthouse at Covehead Harbour! So another picture was taken. Beautiful, deep, red sand led to the lighthouse and a beach beyond. As I continued along the coast, there were huge dunes covered in long shore grasses, punctuated with dazzling ocean views of whitecaps whipped up by the wind.
For windy it was – a strong wind dogged us all day, but it was worth putting up with for the scenes we laid eyes and wheels on. After that, I managed to follow my intended route, following the shore wherever possible. The thing about riding along by the ocean is that you get to the end of the day and realize you have taken a million pictures of the ocean that are all very similar. But, like the soaring mountains of the west, the stark beauty of the north and the heartbreaking prairie sunsets, it never gets old. When you see it again, it’s like you’ve never seen it before and you have to soak it up all over again.
I only made one more detour down a short road to Naufrage because it said "Shipwreck Cove". It shouldn't have been surprising to see a lighthouse there! Another picture, because by now, clearly I am collecting Island lighthouses.
Eventually, I made it out to East Point, if a couple of hours behind schedule. Guess what I found there??? Another lighthouse! Shocking, I know. 😊 So, of course, another picture. Though the road between Saint Peter’s Bay and East Point was largely deserted, there were actually quite a few people there. I met Wendy and George from Alberta and we had a visit. I thought it was funny to meet a Wendy just after having met a Tracy. I said “Wow, all I need now is to meet a Don and I’ll have met my family today”. As I was suiting up, another couple came over and asked where I was from. I told them from BC and they said “we are too!” From Coquitlam, even. We also had a good visit and I asked their names. They were Michelle and …….wait for it……DON! I couldn’t believe it. Hilarious.
By this point in the day, I needed to get back on the road to Cardigan where Pam and Rob were expecting me. Pam is the daughter of one of my mom’s best friends and I haven’t seen Pam since we were children. And so I arrived at Pam and Rob’s house and met their two sons Jayden and Mason. Rob had made a delicious seafood chowder and I got to play catch with the boys after supper. Rob built a fire in their pit and we did our best to sit around it but the mosquitos soon chased us back indoors. Pam and I looked at trip photos and she patiently listened to my stories before we decided it was time for bed. They have set me up cozily in their RV, so I’m a pretty spoiled brat. Better get to sleep so we can adventure some more tomorrow.
Sometimes it’s hard to begin at the beginning when the end was so spectacular. Yet today in its entirety was remarkable, one way or another.
I left the Banbridge Inn around 10:00 a.m. with a direction in mind and some must-dos along the way but no clear end destination. Instead of mapping the day, I just wandered down roads in the general direction of the Anne of Green Gables sights I wanted to see. It is startling how different Prince Edward Island is from the other maritime provinces. The marriage of agriculture with the sea is unique in the Canadian landscape and therefore quite fascinating. Crops of corn and potatoes and fields of bales, set against the ocean in the distance and criss-crossed with the red dirt roads make every vista a delight.
Though I took a photo of Fury against a red road lined with trees, I didn’t actually ride down the road. I learned that lesson the very first day when I got off the ferry. Took a wrong turn, as is my habit and went down a paved road that ended in the red dirt. I looked at it for a minute, thinking that it looked like pretty soft red dirt, but gave it a try anyway. “Nope”, Fury said, “get me outta here!” It is not hard-packed in most areas, but soft and almost immediately her front wheel began to wobble something fierce so we got turned around and headed back from whence we came. Definitely roads for dirt bikes, not street bikes.
The first of my stops today was the birthplace of Lucy Maude Montgomery. For those who may not know, she is the author of the Anne of Green Gables books, among many other literary successes. This was too much for Tracey’s writer soul and she was stuck to me like white on rice all day. The house is a modest affair and very homey feeling. It has displays of Lucy’s early writings and, of course, the room she was born in. I wandered the house and yard for a while before leaving some ashes there for Tracey and continuing on.
Sadly, Lucy’s mother died of tuberculosis at 23 years old. Lucy was less than 2 years old. Lucy’s father felt he could not raise an infant and work as well and Lucy’s grandparents agreed to raise her. The site of the Anne of Green Gables Museum is actually the home where Lucy was raised with her grandparents. She loved it dearly and the displays throughout clearly demonstrate it was inspirational for her. In one of her journals, she stated that if not for her time on Prince Edward Island, the Anne books would never have been written. It is also clear from learning about her life that the Anne books were very autobiographical. It was a very emotional visit and Tracey’s ashes were left here as well, in the flower garden in the yard.
Lucy was educated at the college in Prince Edward Island and later earned a degree at Dalhousie. She spent time as a teacher, a Sunday school teacher and an author. She returned to her childhood home to be with her grandmother after her grandfather’s death. At 34, Lucy was married in the parlour at the house to the Reverend Ewan MacDonald. They spent their married life in Ontario, where their children were born and raised. Over the course of her career, Lucy received many accolades and awards for her work, not the least of which was the Order of the British Empire from George V. She is clearly the celebrity and figures largely all over the north shore’s tourist sites. What I did not know is that several volumes of her journals have been published - probably an interesting read. Might have to check out the library for them (being anti-stuff and all).
After leaving the museum, I decided to turn left instead of right at the intersection and followed the ribbon of highway until I found the Ship to Shore restaurant. Having had nothing much for breakfast, it was well after noon now and I was starving. They have a lovely patio and the server was a cheerful lass that made the experience very pleasant. I chatted with some folks that retired to PEI a few years ago and it was a very agreeable encounter! The lobster roll was amazing! It was accompanied by a salad with a homemade lemon-basil dressing that was also to die for. This should have been enough, but I had to order dessert too and so rolled out of there wondering if I was going to have to adjust the suspension on Fury before heading out again.
Continuing to ride harem-scarem over the roads, I was delighted by many more pretty rural sights. Fortunately for me, summer traffic has gone and I dawdled along comfortably. Arriving again at one of the main roads, I was lamenting the lack of viewpoints for some of these splendid scenes and suddenly, there was one! I’m sure there are a bazillion pictures of this exact spot, with the fishing boats on the water, the colourful buildings on the short against the backdrop of farmlands. Here I met Dean, Terry, Lori and Sharon from Calgary. I offered to take a photo with all four of them in it and they returned the favour for me. We had a fun chat and confirmed once again that there are good folk everywhere.
Deciding over lunch that I was going to go to the Cavendish Cemetery where Lucy’s grave is, I booked in at the Anne Shirley Motel & Cottages. I found the cemetery and grave without difficulty and right across the street, there was the motel! It is a lovely little place and very reasonable compared to some of the others around. It has a kitchenette as well, so if one was staying for awhile, it would be great. Since I was right there, I checked in and unloaded Fury. Plugged my phone in to charge and laid down to examine the inside of my eyelids for a bit. For the record, after 45 minutes of their contemplation.....they are lovely! 😊
When I woke, I still wasn’t hungry for supper, but could see the lowering sun outside. I checked the Cavendish map that the front desk had given me and discovered I was only half a kilometer from a seaside road that made a convenient little loop through North Rustico and back to the motel. Fury was happy to go for a run after her rest and de-gearing.
I was rewarded with the most beautiful sights I have seen yet. The setting sun along the ocean, with the red cliffs and the surf rolling in made for exquisite scenes. It is peaceful and enchanting and inspiring all together in one heart-stopping moment. And so ends a perfect day.
What with one thing and another, I got a late start this morning, but finally made it downtown for my walkabout. I started out at The Receiver for breakfast. I had the Beef and Egg on Toast – a slice of thick rye toast, covered in braised beef with carmelized onions and topped with an egg. Accompanied by a latte. It was delicious, and after my rough start this morning, it was instrumental in restoring my good humour.
Charlottetown is a picturesque city with all of its interesting architecture and its claim to fame is being the birthplace of Confederation. There are statues of key players around the city - John A. MacDonald and John Hamilton Grays are two of the ones that I found. But that story comes later, if I am to tell the day in its proper order.
Overall, I'm not finding the people in Charlottetown quite as friendly as other Maritime communities. The retail people and hotel staff have been amazing and friendly, but the walking-down-the-street-and-smile thing doesn't seem as common. I thoroughly enjoyed my day here - just noticed it "feels" different.
I wandered down Victoria Row – a pedestrian street with a run of shops with everything from wool sweaters to the standard tourist fare. Eventually, I found St. Dunstan’s Basilica, which is a very prominent building in Charlottetown. The cathedral and chapel are stunning. While I marvel at the beauty, I also cringe at the excess. I have great difficulty reconciling the excessive grandeur of these cathedrals with the poverty of the majority of its parishioners, and it jades my appreciation. Having said that, it is impossible not to stand in awe of the monumental feat of constructing this beautiful cathedral in an age of very basic technology.
Following the street towards the water, I made it down to the wharf, which is predictably touristy – lots of little shops with local art and tourist stuff. Some really beautiful things, and funny ones too. I have to say the t-shirts in one of the shops tested my “anti-stuff” resolve with their funny sayings. Especially the one that said “Be careful when you follow the masses. Sometimes the “M” is silent…” But I stood firm and did not add to my luggage.
I was also very tempted by the early-1900 style cotton nighties in the Anne of Green Gables store, which has everything Anne, of course. I wanted to get one for Bronwyn and myself, but we agreed that it was a waste, really since neither of us really like long nighties for sleeping anyway. I did not restrain myself so well in the Anne of Green Gables chocolate shop, but I figured that was ok because it was consumable. 😊 As one might imagine, Anne of Green Gables has been rather over-commercialized in PEI, and so there is a lot of kitschy merchandise that did not tempt me at all. Still, I am looking forward to visiting the AoGG sites around the island as I travel. Beginning with the stage show Anne & Gilbert this evening.
Wandering around Charlottetown’s waterfront led me to the Irish settler’s memorial, honouring those who settled here from the various counties of Ireland. It has a beautiful spot on the waterfront and I found Derry on the wheel of counties. After that, I wandered through the grounds of the military armoury. The PEI regimental museum is there as well, but the tours were all guided and I didn’t want to spend an hour going through it so I carried on with my walk. Heading back towards Province House, I found a beautiful memorial fountain the the park, built to honour islanders who have served the community through the armed forces, peace keeping, firefighting and policing.
On to the story of confederation. In the late 1800s, the Maritime provinces discussed uniting. Prince Edward Island was not enthusiastic about this, so the leaders of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia hoped to get them in on the game by hosting a conference in Charlottetown. News of the Charlottetown Conference (as it is now known), got to representatives of the Province of Canada, who hoped to convince the Maritime provinces to create a single union of the British colonies in North America. Confederation with the Province of Canada had also long been discussed in the maritimes, so they were invited as “observers” to the conference. The rest is history, of course, with the Charlottetown Conference resulting in an agreement to pursue confederation of Canada West, Canada East and the Maritimes. While, Prince Edward Island did not immediately join the union until 7 years later, they are still included as being among the fathers of confederation for their role in hosting the Charlottetown Conference.
Province House, where the Charlottetown Conference was held, is still the seat of legislature in Prince Edward Island. It is under construction this summer for repairs and maintenance and so I wasn’t able to go in and wander around. To alleviate this disappointment, the neighbouring Confederation Centre for the Arts has created a replica of the meeting room and has a great, short video presentation on the event.
I also learned that Prince Edward Island was the first Canadian province to implement prohibition in 1901. So every Monday, onlookers would watch as confiscated liquor was poured down the manholes. In front of a warehouse that was used to store liquor for re-export! While the province chose to force its own population to be dry, it was happy to take the revenue for liquor being exported elsewhere. According to the story board, the warehouse regularly held enough liquor to get the whole island hammered. Can you imagine the security required for that?!
Headed back to the hotel about 3:00 p.m. to beat the work traffic out. Traffic here is really kind of nuts. While Maritimers, in general, are not over-fussed about their signal lights, in most other areas, they travel on the annoyingly slow side. I have learned to assume nothing about the other guy until I see them actually do it (for example, turning and changing lanes). In Charlottetown, they all seem to like to drive as fast as they can, and then make split second decisions, suddenly hitting their brakes and turning, or pulling out in front of you like they have suddenly realized they are in the car going somewhere. So, I am giving myself a very healthy space cushion.
Got my laundry done (the site laundromat for guests is a big plus for the Banbridge Inn), and then went to the Anne and Gilbert musical. The show was really fun. At the intermission, a girl approached and asked if I was the woman on the ferry with the motorcycle. I said yes and realized these were the two girls that were riding a 2-seater bicycle all over the place – way crazier than me! 😊 They are from Australia (Bridget and Olivia, I think – I have trouble remembering names unless I write them down right away!). They have spent a good deal of time cycling around Canada. We had a good chat and I hope to hear more from them as they finish their travels here. While returning to my seat, a gentleman approached me and asked if my name was Cindy. I said no and asked if I had a twin. He said when he saw me come in with my helmet in my hand, he would have sworn I was this friend from ages ago that he knew. And so I met Wayne and Joanne from Moncton. We had a quick chit chat too, but had to return to our seats for the show to resume.
So ends another successful day. Time for bed and re-pack tomorrow before continuing my adventure. Thanks for riding along!
Over the course of this trip, 900 people have been following this blog, at least intermittently, if not regularly. I need to say again what an impact this interest and support has had on my trip. I have never felt it was particularly brave or amazing (there are so many people in the world doing things that require much more courage), but everyone I meet keeps telling me it is brave and amazing and every time I hear it, I am rejuvenated for what comes next.
Today, I boarded the ferry from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island – the last of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada to explore. Fury’s wheels hit the pavement of Prince Edward Island and I thought, “I made it!” And then cried. CRIED! It caught me completely by surprise that it would feel so personally intense. I intend to see the whole island, but if I do nothing else, I have achieved my goal of getting into every province and territory. Aside from exploring it, the last necessary thing is that the spot for Tracey’s ashes must find me. But I have earned her faith in my resilience to complete this adventure and feel the pride she would have had in it.
I got up in decent time this morning and was at the Snowflake Manor breakfast table at the appointed 8:30 a.m. for breakfast (bike already loaded and ready). Had a visit with the other travellers and met Claire and Zane in addition to those I met the night before. Zane came out to see what I was riding and we had a short conversation about the personal impact of travelling solo and about his writings of memoirs and the changes that has brought to his perspectives. There is no doubt that this trip has given me a deep sense of self. The realization that all that you need is within yourself brings with it the ability to relinquish the need to control what goes on around you and accept others more easily.
After breakfast, I headed over to the RCMP detachment in Enfield, Nova Scotia. They did indeed have my purse, which had been found and turned in to them completely intact (money and everything). The woman at reception told me they have had several wallets turned in this summer – all intact – which restores her faith in humanity (mine too!).
It was another beautiful day for riding and Fury and I cheerfully headed for the Pictou ferry to Prince Edward Island! Upon arrival at the terminal, I encountered some folks from Kingston that I had met before on my travels! I remembered their faces, but not that they were from Kingston. Such fun to see them again. I also met Fred in the ferry lineup and his wife Ronna came to chat with me on the ferry. They used to ride, but have given up the bike and now travel by convertible! A sweet trade-off. 😊
The next meeting of the day was Judy and Sue. These remarkable ladies, having done a lot of international travel, decided to do their own country – the USA. They have seen all of theirs and most of ours – 120,000 miles and 3 motorhomes later! I talked with Judy for quite some time on the ferry, hearing stories of their travels.
I rode through a beautiful landscape of crops and red roads to Charlottetown and checked into the Banbridge Inn. This is a lovely motel and a great find. The front desk staff was very friendly and helpful. She suggested the show that was going on called Atlantic Blue, which was a tribute to east coast songwriters and performers. I got one of the last remaining tickets and went. The seat was a good one and the show was so great. The show was a combination of movie, telling the story of each artist, and Tara MacLean’s performance of a chosen song from each artist. Tara has an incredibly powerful voice and did a stunning job. The band playing with her were next-level talent and the whole evening was moving and educational and inspirational. This is the second year the show has run and if they do it again next year, I highly recommend attending!
For now, though, I had best get myself to bed. It will be an exploring day tomorrow, so will need my energy! Thanks for joining me.