In Charlottetown for an Evening

I’m in Charlottetown again after a grand tour through Nova Scotia. Yesterday afternoon my uncle Oliver and cousin Andrew took me down to Victoria by the Sea where I discovered the best beach on the whole island! I was smitten with the long, shallow beach that would be great for skimboarding and running around on. 

There’s also a small arts community in the town of Victoria by the Sea and we spent some time checking out shops and the cool sights. They have a really rad chocolatier and I was tempted to load up on chocolate. Fortunately I was able to restrain myself. 

After my aunt dished up another tasty dinner we headed out to the small independent theatre downtown to catch a screening of The Year My Parents Went on Vacation. It’s a very good film and follows a young boy in Brazil in 1970 after his parents flee the military dictatorship’s regime. The boy is dropped off at his grandfather’s apartment, but the grandfather has passed away and an older neighbor takes him in. The world soccer cup is predominantly featured throughout the film but they also show you how repressive the regime in Brazil was at the time.

Today I’m going to begin the trek west and am hoping to make it to Fredericton tonight.

Louisbourg

I’m tempted to have ice cream for breakfast this morning. I’m on the Northumberland Ferry Line 9:30 sailing going from Nova Scotia to PEI. It’s a lot like a BC Ferry, but they have a Cows ice cream store on board. Some girl just walked by with a huge cone and now I’m thinking about getting one. Woah, some guy just had his newspaper blown across the room when a couple opened the door to the outside!

Yesterday morning started in Syndey, a small town on the northern end of Cape Breton Island. It’s a small fishing town that has branded itself with the Celidh fiddle, which you see pictures of everywhere, and they even erected a huge model fiddle on the cruise line terminal at the edge of the harbor. I wandered around for a bit, got some cool photos, had breakfast, and then departed for the Fortress of Louisbourg.

The fortress was originally built by the French in 1713, was conquored twice by the British, and finally destroyed by the British after they had secured Canada. A section of the fortress has painstakingly been recreated and shows off all the main buildings one would have found in the 18th century. As cool as they were, the historic buildings weren’t nearly as insteresting as the cast of characters, in full costume, who would put on performances throughout the day. There were a few military demonstrations where they’d fire off muskets and cannons after a formal parade through the main streets with traditional drummers. My most favorite though was the public punishment of a fisherman who’d been busted stealing a bottle of wine. These guys were great actors and the one playing the drunken fisherman gave an outstanding (and hilarious) performance. He was sentenced to spend two hours a day for three consecutive days chained to a post in the main square.

There were period restaurants and taverns in the townsite too so I had the “meal of the day” which was a 3 course meal prepared in the traditional fashion. It was quite good. I was seated at a table with an older couple from Maple Ridge so we had a really good talk about BC and Barkerville, which they recommended as a great place to visit. Barkerville’s got a similar setup with a fully restored town from the gold rush where you can learn all about gold mining and how it was done back in the day.

When they weren’t involved in a performance, the people in costume would wander the fort and explain what living in the fortress was like. Soldiers had one of the worst jobs around. They worked a full 24 hour shift, followed by 48 hours free, and had to wear five layers of the heaviest linen and wool clothes you could imagine! In the summer these guys would swelter in the heat and since no-one had figured out how to make drinking water safe by boiling it, they would drink 75% alcohol content rum. Summer days must’ve been terrible for those guys. They didn’t get paid very well either and I can see why unions eventually formed.

Once I left Louisbourg I was hit with a torrential downpour. I managed to drive for a couple of hours, but finally pulled over and spent the night. The weather’s cleared up today thankfully and I made it to the ferry without any problem. I haven’t driven in such a heavy rain in a very long time. The road was filling with water and I had it spraying up past the sides of the car since the road started to become one big puddle!

We’re just approaching PEI now and I can see some blue sky and sunshine! I’d thought about heading up to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia, but with all the rain and fog I wouldn’t have seen much. Besides, I can visity forests in the rain anytime in BC.

Halifax and beyond…

Halifax is a town full of old, cool looking buildings. It’s also loaded with funky pubs and bars. One could spend a fun, drunken week in that town and never hit the same place twice. 

I checked out some of the sights, like the waterfront, the clocktower, and wandered around the downtown taking in the architecture of a previous age. Finally I stumbled across the maritime museum and had a blast checking out their boat restorations, history of sailing, and the displays of shipwrecks. There was a room dedicated to the 1917 Halifax explosion that happened when a French vessel carrying a full cargo of munitions collided with another ship in the harbor. The explosion killed 2000 people and wiped out a large section of the city!

After the museum I made my way over to the Red Stag pub, which sits next door to the Alexander Keith’s Brewery and had a bite of lunch. Then I hit the road towards Cape Breton, which I intend to check out tomorrow, along with the Fortress of Louisberg. Saturday I’m planning to head back to Charlottetown and then Sunday I begin the trek back west.

Behind this Door, a Crowd of Drunken Maritimers

Just rolled into Halifax and I’m hungry like a bear so I found a pub called The Old Triangle in downtown Halifax where I’m currently eating and sampling some amber ale. Someone just texted me and told me to check out the Alexander Keith’s brewery. Didn’t recognize the number. Maybe Josh? 

This morning began with a trip into Lunenberg, which is a beautiful little seaside town. They’ve kept many of the old timey buildings in their waterfront downtown so I had a great time wandering around checking things out. I also stumbled upon the Norse Boat building where they have one of their 17.5 models on display. It looks like a great little boat! The idea is it’s a small sailing vessel that you can also row or throw an outboard on. It’d be perfect for splashing around the west coast. It’d be easy to toss on a trailer too so you wouldn’t have to pay moorage and you could drive it up to lakes and things. 

The one thing I missed in Lunenberg was the Bluenose II. Back when I was 7 years old my family showed up on the east coast for my uncle’s wedding and we went through Lunenberg. Somehow I became infatuated with the Bluenose, famous because in it’s time it was the fastest fishing ship in the world. You can see the Bluenose on the back of the Canadian dime if you’re curious. So I kinda wanted to check out the Bluenose II that was built in the 60’s after the original Bluenose was lost in Haiti in 1946.

A short drive from Lunenberg put me in Peggy’s Cove which is a huge tourist destination because of it’s picturesque lighthouse sitting on the granite outcrop at the entrance to Margaret’s Cove. It’s a pretty neat spot so I poked around a bit before heading towards Halifax, where I now find myself finishing my beer and thinking seriously about ordering another…

Yo ho ho, I’m in Yarmouth

Yesterday I left Prince Edward Island. Not as quickly as I’d planned since I was so captivated by the sights on the way out that I completely neglected any directional signs and ended up in Malpeque, a picturesque little town on the north end of the island. Got a couple of photos on the way though, so it’s all good!

Last night I slept in front of an abandoned storefront and this big dog in the neighboring house kept barking all the way though the night. I kept expecting the owner to come out and shut him up, but nothing ever happened. When I got up this morning an entire chorus of dogs began barking and when I pulled out, I realized I’d slept next door to a dog kennel!

After fleeing from all the barking I made my way into the Annapolis Valley where my uncle had recommended I check out Fort Anne, a reconstruction of the fort that guarded the Annapolis River from invasion by the French. The fort did change hands between the British and the French a few times, but ultimately it was the British who managed to hold Nova Scotia until the Treaty of Utrecht ended any French claim over Nova Scotia. 

It was a neat spot and with the good weather I was able to take some cool photos. I also got to learn more about Acadian history in the area. The Acadians were the first French settlers in the maritime regions but most of them were deported by the British in 1755. Their people have had quite a history and I’ve learned heaps about them while I’ve been in the maritimes. 

After the fort I had a delicious lunch at a local cafe in Annapolis Royal. I was downloading photos from my camera and the waitress was all impressed with my laptop which was kinda weird since I see macbooks everywhere these days. 

There was a quick stop at the tidal power station on the way out of town where I got to see all the cool things they’re doing with tidal electricity generation.  

The next adventure was down the Digby Neck, a peninsula that stretches down the Bay of Fundy before dipping into the ocean. There are 2 ferry rides you have to take to get right to the end, since the last section is split into a couple of islands. The drive was pretty neat, especially since I got to see the dramatic tide changes that the Bay of Fundy is famous for. On the way in there were a bunch of boats sitting in the mud flats in a small bay. On the way out a couple of hours later all the boats were floating in the water, which had filled the bay!

The last island on Digby’s Neck is Briar Island and I thought it was the most scenic! It’s small, but there’s a lighthouse on the one tip where you get epic views over the ocean as well as lush plant life on the shore. I saw a whale spout water into the air a couple of times while I hiked along the shoreline. Pretty cool!

Reluctantly, I made my way back up Digby’s Neck and towards Yarmouth, taking the #1 highway instead of the larger, faster, 101 highway. I’m glad I did because I got to travel though Claire, the large Acadian region between Digby and Yarmouth. The whole stretch is dotted with Acadian flags flying off houses, lobster traps painted with the Acadian flag, and a couple of the largest churches I’ve seen in the maritimes so far. 

When I pulled into Yarmouth, I wasn’t impressed. The main street featured nothing but greasy pizza joints and guys wheeling around in pimped-out cars blasting bad music. I coulda gone to Vernon for that experience! Fortunately I found the wharf nearby where I dined on atlantic salmon at a wonderful little  microbrew restaurant called Rudder’s. They also featured a tasty salad that had pears in it and was topped with pecans and a delicious raspberry vinaigrette. 

Tomrrow I head for Lunenberg, Halifax, and Peggy’s Cove.

New Look Coming

I’m monkeying around with the layout of this page, mostly so I can display recent photos from my flickr page in the sidebar. You’ll probably see this page get overhauled again soon since this cursed flickr widget doesn’t seem to want to work for me.

Yesterday was all about the beach and trails near Brackley. We hiked around the Farmlands trail and the Bubbling Spring trail, which were quite scenic and then headed down to Stanhope Beach for a swim in the ocean.

The real event yesterday was having my aunt Dorothy make a fantastic lobster supper for us! I haven’t eaten lobster since I was too young to remember and it was so very tasty! I’ve decided I prefer lobster over crab because it tastes better and it’s easier to eat. 

Finally I sat down with my uncle and plotted my route through Nova Scotia. There’s a tonne of things to see there and I think I’m going to spend the better part of this week in that province. I may skip Montreal on my way back since I can easily fly there for a few days when I want to visit. Perhaps next summer? My plan is to circumnavigate the island and catch all the sights along the way. Hopefully this rain that showed up doesn’t stay for long!

I’ll head off after lunch and probably (hopefully) be back online tomorrow.

Greenwich

Greenwich Park was amazing! My cousin Andrew used to work for Parks Canada and he said that Greenwich is the crown jewel of the PEI parks and all the parks people are quite proud of it. Now that I’ve been there I can see why. There’s a short hike through the marsh behind a series of sand dunes that sit on the north shore of the island. Once you’re over the dunes you wind up on a beautiful beach that extends as far as you can see. 

We splashed around in the water a little bit and then headed back to the interpretive centre, a huge building containing all sorts of cool exhibits. There’s a series of mussel leases in the bay near the centre and I got to learn all about mussel harvesting. I’m thankful I didn’t choose mussel farming as a career. It’s pretty grimy and harvesting can take place in the winter which looks like even less fun.

Late in the afternoon, after getting back and taking the dog for a swim, we tramped into the Gahan House for some microbrew beer and food. Gahan House is the only place on the island that brews beer and I’ve been surprised to find that no-one else serves microbrews on PEI. Your choices are generally limited to Molson, Labatts, Moosehead, and Alexander Keiths. At any rate, the Gahan House was awesome! Great food and their Sir John A’s Honey Wheat ale was exceptionally tasty. We inquired about taking some home, since they sell it in bottles and “growlers” (64 fl oz jugs) but they recommended it be kept refrigerated until you drink it, which would’ve been tricky on my way back to BC. They don’t use any preservatives, hence the need for refrigeration.

Last night we toured around a bit more while we picked up a new dryer for the apartment. Once the dryer was in place we had a couple beers and chilled out until it was time to pass out. 

Monday I’ll be continuing my journey through the maritimes when I head to Nova Scotia. My uncle’s going to sit down with me today and point me at the sights in Nova Scotia. I’m looking forward to seeing that province!

Honky Tonk Woman

When we went to “the Dunes” yesterday, I had it in my mind that we were going to see some sand dunes or something. Turns out there’s a funky place called the Dunes where my Aunt was shopping for a necklace for her bother’s girlfriend. The guy who runs the place goes to Bali every year to pick up all these wild items which he then resells at his store. He’s also got a large garden in the back. I grabbed a few photos but my camera battery died halfway though. 

After that I wandered through Founders Hall with my cousins. It walks you through Canada’s formation from Confederation with a series of multimedia exhibits. I learned heaps and it really helped crystallize the chain of events that put Canada together. It even went though each province’s creation including Nunavut. 

In the evening we all piled into a cool pub called Rum Runners for dinner and then Bronwen and I went to check out the showing of The British Invasion – America Strikes Back. It was a great show! What they do is present a history of music through (roughly) the early 60’s to the early 80’s with a focus on the bands coming out of Britain and the US. I thought the caricatures they played of people like Mick Jagger and Ozzy Ozbourne where bang on and you could see the cast making a little bit of fun of these people as they played them. One guy who I thought did a particularly good job was Terry Hatty, who was famous as one of the vocalists for the Guess Who. He’s older, but full of energy and his portrayal of Keith Richards was fantastic!

Today we’re heading out to Greenwich Provincial Park at the north side of the island.

Wind Energy from North Cove

Yesterday my uncle Oliver, cousin Andrew, and myself headed up to North Cove to check out the Wind Energy Institute of Canada where they have a research station for wind power. They’ve managed to supply PEI with 10% of it’s power through wind energy already and hopefully they’ll be able to bring more online over the coming years. The exhibit there also talked of using the wind power to extract hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuel cells. 

There was an interpretive trail heading out along the ocean cliffs that was quite nice and I managed to get a few photos onto Flickr this morning. The interesting thing is the cliffs are eroding away quickly and the farms that used to be on the edge of the water are no longer there!

Today I’m going to be doing some more wandering around town and we’re heading out to some sort of sand dune place soon. It’s a beautiful day so expect more photos tonight or tomorrow.

Mellow Days

Yesterday didn’t have the same level of excitement as Tuesday, which was good! I took a wander around the downtown where they’ve kept many of the historic buildings. It’s a beautiful place and I got a few photos on my flickr account. The weather was a little dreary so I didn’t take many shots, but I like the ones I got. 

I also wandered through the Province House, which is where the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 occurred to start the road towards Canada’s Confederation. It’s also the provincial legislature and it was neat to learn about that process.

In the evening we all headed to my Aunt’s parents place for dinner and I managed to stuff myself to the breaking point. Naturally I took down a large slice of coconut cream pie.

Today I’m heading out with my uncle Oliver and cousin Andrew to check out a windmill research station on the west coast of the island. The drive is supposed to be beautiful and I’m going to grab some photos, especially of the large green lawns that are a standard feature throughout the island.