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.