2014 Aug 8 – Day 50 – Wolfville, NS to Digby, NS

Friday was an overcast day, sadly, as our first two stops were Look Offs as they say here Down East.  We left Wolfville and followed Highway 1 west to Greenwich.  There we turned off and drove about 20 km north to the top of a hill above Blomidon Provincial Park.  From the viewpoint you can see the Minas Basin at the end of the Bay of Fundy, five counties and the valleys of six rivers.  On a clear day it would have been spectacular.  It was pretty impressive even on a hazy day. I took 12 photos spanning the view to stitch together when I get home.  That might give you an idea of the scope of the panorama.

IMG_5267  The Minas BasinIMG_5268 IMG_5269 IMG_5270

We tried to find the Greenwood Military Aviation museum which is located on the Canadian Forces Base at Greenwood, but the address we had led us to a secured gate with barricades, razor wire and a gate house.  The notice said the gate is open 7-8 am and 3-5 pm.  Well it really said 15:00-18:00 but I translated for you.   Since it wasn’t even two o’clock at this point we turned around and headed to Bridgetown.

From the Look Off above Valleyview Provincial Park north of Bridgetown you can see for 50 km over the fertile Annapolis Valley.  Again a lovely view that would have been fabulous on a brighter day.



Campsites at Valleyview Provincial Park.IMG_5302




The Annapolis Valley



We were hoping to see all three of the historic sites near Annapolis Royal but by the time we got to the first one, Port Royal, it was 4 pm.  We spent the hour until closing time before heading to Digby, 25 km down the road for the night.

Port Royal was a French fur trading post established in 1605.  A gentleman, Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, arrived in the New World with a fur trade monopoly from King Henry IV and cartographer and explorer Samuel de Champlain.  They established good relations with the local Mi’kmaq people who helped them learn the land and its trees, berry, roots, etc.  The Mi’kmaq traded their beaver, wolf, raccoon and other fur pelts for blankets, iron tools, etc.  The two nations established very good relations and were friends and allies for years.

The port was only used for 8 seasons.  The French would arrive in the spring, trade with the Mi’kmaq, gather up all the furs and sail for France in the fall.  In 1613, while the inhabitants were away, an English expedition from Virginia looted and burned the Habitation (they were starving down at Jamestown).  The French survived the winter before sailing back to France and the Habitation was never rebuilt.

Spurred by the efforts of Harriet Taber Richardson of the Historical Association of Annapolis Royal, the Canadian government rebuilt the Habitation in 1939-1940 based on detailed journal notes from an inhabitant and the drawings and engravings of de Champlain.  They used construction methods used in France at the time the Habitation was built, and hired retired shipbuilders to work on it since they were familiar with many of the tools and techniques.  This was the first major reconstruction undertaken by the federal government and was a milestone in the preservation movement.  Port Royal is considered the second most significant historical site in Canada after the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.


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Deer skin window panes.

IMG_5321 IMG_5322 IMG_5324 IMG_5325 IMG_5333 A wooden wood latheIMG_5334 IMG_5336 Sleeping quarters

for the fur traders.     IMG_5337 IMG_5349 The Sieur de Mons quarters.  His bedroom is above the ‘living room’

IMG_5352 IMG_5355  I loved the leather bucketIMG_5357  A grizzly hideIMG_5358 IMG_5345 IMG_5340 IMG_5330 IMG_5375 A nice farewell.

Another great story, another good day.

2014 Aug 7 – Day 49 – Truro, NS to Wolfville, NS

Today was a seafaring day.  All three of our stops were related to the ‘sea’.

John was wakened at 6 am by torrential rain, but by the time I woke at 8 it was done and only the heavy clouds were left.  I was a bit dismayed because we are now driving the north coast of Nova Scotia which is along the Bay of Fundy (and its inlets and bays) and home to the highest tides in the world.  The cliffs and shoreline are supposed to be very scenic and dramatic and I didn’t want the sky to be cloudy all day.

What saved us from getting to the tidal lookout we were to stop at as early as we would have – and while the skies were still grey – was a stop in Maitland at the home of ship builder/designer W.D. Lawrence.

This strip of Nova Scotia shore was strewn with ship building firms and the company owner’s houses.  It was referred to in the late 1800’s as Millionaires Row.  Mr. Lawrence’s house was three stories with about 18 rooms.  Three generations of his family lived in the house until 1969 when the grand-daughter gifted it to the Provincial Museum Society with all of its contents (about 80% of the original furnishings) so that it would always stay “Grandma’s house.”

Mr. Lawrence designed and built the largest wooden full-rigged (three mast) sailing vessel ever made in Canada.  He named it after himself, the “W.D. Lawrence”.  It was 262′ long, 48′ wide, 29′ high and weighed 2459 tons.  On its maiden voyage it did a 2 1/2 year trip around the world.  Mr. Lawrence went on the trip and while the ship was being loaded and unloaded at various ports he went exploring in the area and brought back many interesting things.  He had been scoffed at while the ship was being built; people said it would never sail, it was too big and the construction would bankrupt him – but it was a very profitable vessel for his company.  It transported lumber, coal and guano (bird droppings) from Chile to Europe.  Once the ship left Nova Scotia it never returned there while Mr. Lawrence owned it.  He sold it about 8 years later to a Norwegian firm who removed the masts and sails and used it as a coal barge.  It sank in high seas a couple of years later.

IMG_5188 IMG_5193 IMG_5190 Note the long covered walkway to the ‘little house’ at the end.  This was the indoor access to the four seat divided outhouse.  Despite putting in central heating and electricity, there was never indoor plumbing installed in the house.IMG_5195

IMG_5196 IMG_5203  My favorite roomIMG_5204

All the pattern on the furniture was hand painted – even the wood grain.



A model of the W.D.Lawrence. 5/16″ to the foot.



We had a lovely lady named Elizabeth as our guide.  We were the only people in the house at the time and she loved to talk (almost as much as I do – hard to believe I know but true nonetheless) and tell stories so we were there for over two hours.  We had a great time.  And by the time we left at 2 o’clock the sky was blue and it was a top-down day the rest of the day. Thank you Elizabeth and Lawrence House.

Bruncoat Head is a small jut of land in the Copequid Bay at the end of the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy.  The highest tide every recorded in the world occurred here at 16 meters (50′).  Due to our lengthy visit at Lawrence House it was low tide by the time we got there and we had wandered the pathway to the stairs to the shore.  It was interesting to note that the last flight of stairs was hinged so it could move with the water.  There were lots of people wandering around on the flats.  We stay up on the rocks where our shoes did not get sucked in to the mud and we did not risk falling on the slippery shore.


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Note how high the cliff has been eroded by the tides.IMG_5229 IMG_5233


This island was once part of the mainland and had a lighthouse.IMG_5236

As I have mentioned before, when the British defeated the French in 1751 and the Acadian settlers (many of whom had fought with the French in battles against the British during the Seven Years War) refused to swear oath to the King they were expelled from the now-all-British Colony.  All their possessions and land were seized and they were rounded up and shipped back to France (even though most of them had been born in the colony and never set foot in France) or to the American States.  Over 1/2 of them died from disease or shipwreck.   It was a very tragic event in the history of Canada.

The American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about the event called “Evangeline,” a woman torn from her family and lover during the expulsion.  (How many of you remember it from English Lit?)

The popularity of this poem placed a great deal of focus on the story if the Acadia and this public interest was a prime motivator in the creation of Grand Prè National Park.  It is located on the lands that the Acadian farmers had dyked to create exceptional farmland from the salt marsh created by the area’s high tides and where most of the people were interred until they were shipped off.

At Grand Prè there is a statue of Evangeline that ‘ages’ as you walk around it clockwise.  And it does. The woman looks very youthful from one side and as you move around her face gains maturity.  We were unable to go through the Interpretive Center since it was 5 pm and they were closing up, but we wandered the lovely gardens for awhile before digging Stella (our GPS) out of the console and asking her to direct us to our hotel: Old Orchard Resort and Spa; located in the middle of who-knows-where just outside of Wolfville.

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2014 Aug 6 – Day 48 – Charlottetown, PEI to Truro, NS

We said a fond farewell to PEI this morning, crossed the bottom of New Brunswick and made our way to Truro, Nova Scotia.  Province number 8.

Right near the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border there is a Parks Canada Historical Site: Beausejour Fort/Fort Cumberland – the little fort with two names.  Beausejour was one of the first pentagonal five bastion forts built in North America – in 1751.  It was designed by a Frenchman as a defensible fort on lower ground.  The British laid siege and secured the fort in 1775, renaming it Fort Cumberland.  It successfully repelled an attack by American rebels in 1776.

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Huge earthworks all the way around.IMG_5143


They had artifacts from the 1750’s and early 1800’s in the Visitors Center and had some really interesting things.

IMG_5100  Powder hornsIMG_5104 An 1850 tea caddy


Ships in bottles made by POW interred at Amherst Detention Center in 1915IMG_5113 IMG_5118



A Mi’kmaq style canoe made out of porcupine quills.

We only stopped two more times today.  First was in a little Nova Scotia town called Springhill.  A coal mine was opened there in 1876 and permanently closed in, I think, 1958 although the plaque commemorates deaths to 1969.  The memorial listed those killed in three major mine accidents, 1891: 125 men, 1956: 39 men, and 1958: 75 men.  Behind the main memorial were five markers listing all of the  those killed in single or multiple accidents from 1876 to 1969.  There were only half a dozen years in all that time that had no deaths.  It was a very sad reminder of the dangers they worked in.  This mine prompted the very first Trade Union in Canada, Sept 1, 1879.

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Our second stop was a fluke.  We were motoring along and in a break in the trees I saw a huge barrel-shaped island sitting off shore out in the bay.  The tide was out so it was pretty eye catching.  John turned around so we could take a photo of it and then we found a road down to the Five Islands Lighthouse Park where you could see all of the five islands in this huge open bay (the fifth is a slim needle right at the end).  Too bad it was an overcast day it would have been an even nicer view in the sun.

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We had to stop briefly just outside to Truro to put Poppy’s top up because the clouds decided to unload some rain the last few miles.  We have pre-planned the next nine days that will take us around the west end of Nova Scotia and over to Halifax.  Lots to see and do.

2014 Aug 4 & 5 – Days 46 & 47 – Summerside, PEI to Charlottetown, PEI

We have been blessed with some fine weather here in PEI.  Even if it is overcast, it is warm and often the haze burns off.   The last two days have been very sunny and warm.  Average summer temperature here is 23-24 Celsius.  The last two days have been 26-28.  They are beginning to need rain for the crops.

PEI is comprised of farmland (acres and acres of it), woodlots, harbours and beaches or shore cliffs.  It is 244 km (139 miles)  from tip to tip and from 6 km (4 miles) to 64 km (40 miles) wide.  The population of the ENTIRE island is 145,866 people.  The two largest centers are Charlottetown (the Capital) at 32,500 and Summerside (55 km to the northwest) at 15,600.  Land costs $10,000 per acre and the average house costs $150,000.  There are 8 paid fire department personnel on the whole island.  Everyone knows about everyone very quickly.  They have hundreds of roads that often turn from pavement to gravel and back to pavement in a couple of kilometers.  Every place that has a collection of 5-8 houses – no grocery, post office or gas station – has a name.  It is like being in Scotland, only they have distinct villages every 2 or 3 miles.

We took a horse-drawn carriage ride in Charlottetown yesterday to pass some time until the power came on again and we could check into our hotel (power outages are common, especially in winter).  Lucas, the carriage driver, pointed out the building that housed the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court and then said, “But it’s pretty quiet there.  We don’t have much crime on the island.”

We  have very much enjoyed our time here.  We spent 8 nights and days touring around. We have put over 1000 km on Poppy and have driven the coast of the entire province, plus quite a few of the inland roads.

Yesterday we left Summerside, drove the remainder of Green Gables Shore and returned to Charlottetown.  We drove up to Rustico, where we had left our drive the day before and toured the Farmer’s Bank Museum.  What a great story that was!  And lucky you…. I am going to tell it!

A priest named Father Belcourt came to Rustico in 1859 and stayed 10 years.  He was very disturbed by the poverty, illiteracy and alchoholism of the Acadian farmers and fishermen of the area.  He was also very concerned that French was slowly being lost in the schools because most of the teachers were English speaking.


In his 10 years in Rustico he started a model school that taught Acadian’s to be teachers and by the time he left 70% of the schools had French-speaking teachers.  He started an “Adult Study Group” which helped adult literacy; but you were not allowed to attend if you had been drinking – a forerunner of an AA meeting.  He began a school band that became sought after for local and further-out community parades and celebrations.  He became a correspondent of a member of Emperor Napoleon III’s court and recieved the emperor’s patronage for community projects; one of which was a library that grew to 1,000 volumes.  And he began the Farmer’s Bank.

There were only two banks on PEI at the time so there was no opposition in the Provincial Legislature to start another bank.  And even though Queen Victoria’s advisors were astonished at the small scale of the to-be-bank in Rustico,  they were impressed with how well the Act was put together and Royal assent was given April 7, 1864.

Local families, at an average of  $10 each, set aside $4,000 to start the bank.  They gave loans to farmers and fishermen as low as $5 with 7-8% interest, due at the end of the term.  This type of loan was of no interest to the banks – they considered the people to be too high a risk, the amount was too small and they charged 18 -20% interest as set out by the bank’s head offices in Montreal or Toronto – but they were immensely valuable to the locals as it helped pay for seed or necessary items between harvests. They printed their own currency (one-sided bills in denominations of $1, $2, or $5.  No coins).  The currency was accepted province-wide. This little bank started in 1864 and operated for 30 years and it was the forerunner of credit unions in North America!

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The priest asked his parishioners who attended church by wagon or ice sled to bring a red island sandstone block with them to services.  In that way, by December, they acquired the blocks needed to build the bank.  The building housed the Catholic Institute and had two waiting rooms, one for men and one for women –  and a room for the bank.

By the time he left after 10 years the Acadians in Rustico had learned to read, learned new techniques for farming, sobered up, had children in school and ran a sucessful a bank  (which never had more than $10,000 on the books).  They were better off in all areas of their lives.  Now… isn’t that a cool story???




Locally made woven  baby bed.


There were two other buildings beside the bank (which I can’t believe that neither of us photographed).  One was Doucet house, probably the oldest building in PEI, built in 1764; home to Mr. & Mrs. Doucet and their nine children. This house was lived in until 1987 when the owners wanted to make a bigger house and the Friends of Farmer’s Bank brought it to the site and spent 5 years restoring it.  All of the darker wood in the floors and walls is original to 1764

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The other was St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church that was built in 1838 and is still used today.

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After that we drove along the coast through PEI National Park, past a 3 km long beach and inland to Charlottetown. We arrived in town at 1:30 just as all the power went out.   We couldn’t check into the hotel so we wandered around town, took a 1/2 hour horse-drawn carriage ride and (when the power was on again) went to Founder’s Hall, an audio-visual presentation of Canada’s Confederation from the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, to the creation of Nunavat in 1999, our third territory.

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We spent until mid-afternoon relaxing in our room and I read my travel books and made notes of the places we may want to see in Nova Scotia.  John then makes our hotel reservations a few days out at a time.

We left our room about 2 and toured the two remaining buildings we wanted to see, Government House (the home of the PEI Lieutenant Governor) and Beaconsfield, a Victorian-era house (1877) that had running hot water, electric lights and central heating.

IMG_5037  BeaconsfieldIMG_5056 (2) IMG_5057 (2)                                                   The double drawing roomIMG_5067 (2).

This is a Victorian lady’s pastime.  At night when they combed their hair they would keep the hairs in the brush (and sometimes cut a lock from a guest as a keepsake) and the hair would be woven and fashioned into wreaths like this.


IMG_5050 (2)  Government HouseIMG_5041 IMG_5044  We wandered around Charlottetown for awhile then headed back to the hotel so I could slave away on my blog.

IMG_5011  Downtown StreetIMG_5023


City Hall which also used to house the police and fire departmentsIMG_5035



This house was built as an engagement present but the woman said no.IMG_5090





St Paul’s Anglican ChurchIMG_5093




Zion Presbyterian Church

And that concludes our visit to Prince Edward Island.


2014 Aug 3 – Day 45 – Summerside, PEI (Driving the Green Gables Shore)

We attended church this morning at the beautiful Summerside Presbyterian Church before venturing out on our travels.


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Since we are in Prince Edward Island I think it is mandatory to go to at least some of the Green Gables attractions.  Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in New London, PEI and wrote the famous novel, Anne of Green Gables in 1908 while living in Cavendish.  It has been translated into over 30 languages and is a beloved story all over the world.


All of the L.M. Montgomery sites are along the east shore around the town of Cavendish.  Entrepreneurs have built a popular attraction called “Avonlea-The Village of Anne of Green Gables”  – the fictitious town where Anne – and you can spend the whole day making sand castles, going to ‘school,’ riding the horse-drawn wagon, having a tea party  and immersing yourself in all things Anne.

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We can still walk on stilts.  See John above  behind the sand castle. IMG_4889 IMG_4898

IMG_4900 This was a Presbyterian Church that L.M. Montgomery attended and was purchased and brought to Avonlea for preservation IMG_4902 IMG_4904IMG_4906

By 1920 her aunt and uncle, on whose house Green Gables was fashioned, were renting out spare bedrooms to overnight guests who wanted to see “where Anne lived.”  In 1937 Parks Canada purchased the land and the house and it was incorporated into the Prince Edward Island National Park.

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My daddy used to keep geraniums on the windowsill too.



After we left all-things-Anne we drove along the coast road in PEI National Park to check out some more of the beaches and shoreline.

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IMG_4947Then it was an easy drive to Kensington where we had dinner at the Island Stone Pub, which used to be the train station, and on to Summerside for our last night.  We return to Charlottetown for two more nights before we leave PEI.  We will finish the drive along the Green Gables Shore on our way to Ch-town and see the things there that we want to see before, hopefully, having a down-day to plan our next province, Nova Scotia.

2014 Aug 2 – Day 44 – Summerside, PEI (Driving the North Cape Coast)

Today was basically a scenic day.  We toured no museums, forts, or houses.  We didn’t take any long walks.  We drove counter-clockwise around the west part of PEI – which, like the east, is connected to the middle with a narrow strip of land.  There is a highway that goes right up the middle from Summerside to North Cape but we rarely take the straight road.  We left our hotel at 11 this morning and returned to town at 6 pm.

The North Cape Coastal Drive was not as interesting as the East Coast.  It was mostly woodlands, farm land, and distant water.  Part of the lack of scenic-ness was probably due to the overcast sky that we experienced all day. We made brief stops all the way around.  First stop was to take a quick photo of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. IMG_4796IMG_4798 Mussel traps, I think. Next stop was at Green Park Provincial Park to see see the shipbuilding museum, but it was closed and they were setting up for some kind of big festival so we didn’t linger.

We stopped at the Jacques Cartier Provincial Park to see the monument erected in 1934 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his discovery of PEI in 1534. IMG_4799 IMG_4805


Fourth stop was to photograph the purple lawns we kept passing.  There was a ditch beside the road filled with whatever invasive plant was taking over the lawns in this area and I hopped out to take a pic and see what it was.  It is thyme! Pretty but I bet the homeowners are not pleased. IMG_4807 IMG_4812

IMG_4810 Fifth stop was our longest: at North Cape.  The Canadian Wind Energy Institute is located here to do research on wind energy.  They provide data from their wind turbines to many companies and countries.  North Cape allows 300 degrees of access to wind and has rapidly changing weather, severe wind gusts, and icy temperatures so it is an excellent place to procure lots of information for study and technological advancement in the field of wind energy.  We did not tour the interpretive center, but did take a short walk around the point. North Cape is also where the Northumberland Strait between Nova Scotia/New Brunswick and PEI and the St. Lawrence River meet.  The longest natural rock reef in North America is located here and at low tide you can walk out on the rocks for a kilometer.  There were so many shipwrecks caused by the reef that the early pioneer community fabricated their own makeshift warning light (no information was provided on what that was) and a permanent lighthouse at the Cape was a major item on PEI’s ‘wish list’ to join Confederation (like the CNR railway line). IMG_4814 IMG_4816 IMG_4817 A blade for a wind turbine is 45 meters long.IMG_4822  North Cape shore.     You can just see a bit of the rock reef in out in the water.IMG_4827  Inukshuks galore.IMG_4829 IMG_4834Sixth stop was at a tiny sheltered harbour that had 21 boats tied up and hundreds of lobster traps. IMG_4835 IMG_4836 IMG_4840 Seventh stop was West Point Provincial Park to be….well, at the furthest west point, of course. IMG_4855 IMG_4859

Eighth and last stop was to take a shot of the spill well at Glenwood Pond, on the West Point Watershed.  I think this would qualify as a waterfall on flat PEI. IMG_4860 And that, ladies and gentlemen sums up our day.

2014 Aug 1 – Day 43 – Charlottetown, PEI to Summerside, PEI

Have you ever had to work on Plan B rather than Plan A?  Or perhaps even Plan C?  That is how today went: a constant change of plan. Fortunately none of our plans are set is stone so they are easy to change.

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The re-scheduling began not long after we left Charlottetown.  We were going to do a 45 mile scenic drive that was highlighted in one of my Daddy’s travel books, but we missed a southward turn, drove too far westward to want to go back for such a short drive, and decided to continue on to see a garden in Burlington that had replicas of English castles and buildings set among English country gardens.

We found the place but it was closed and for sale.  Plan C – follow the current road all the way to the east cast to Parks Corner and see the Anne of Green Gables Museum.  Parks Corner is further down the coast from all the other Green Gables attractions around Cavendish so I thought this would work well for later if we didn’t have to come this far east when we were doing the Anne thing.

We pulled into a viewpoint overlooking the picturesque village of French River.  Totally a typical Maritime image!  And on such a nice sunny day it was a lovely view.


The Anne of Green Gables Museum is located in the farm house of the author’s aunt and uncle.  Lucy Maude Montgomery spent many happy visits there.  She called the place “Silver Birch” and used it as a setting for her “Pat of Silver Birch” story.  The farm is still in the Campbell family.

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This is “The Lake of Shining Waters” in her books.


We continued around the point and headed south to Kensington via a little loop road detour to see the gorgeous black and white St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church at Indian River.

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Poppy rested in the shade.


I wanted to check out the Kensington Water Gardens that had flower beds amid ponds, fountains, streams and waterfalls and a Tudor Mansion that had a sound-and-light show and a medieval street you could walk down.  The Tudor Mansion is now a haunted house and the water gardens have been covered with a kiddie amusement park.  We are now on Plan D.


We are spending the next three nights in Summerside, which is only 26 km from Charlottetown if you take the main road straight up. There were three things I had on my list to see here.  Since we had gotten into town so much earlier than expected we decided to start checking them off.

The first one we found was the International Fox Museum.  From the early 1900’s until the mid-1940’s there were many silver fox breeding farms on PEI.  The sale of these rare and valuable pelts helped the Island weather the Depression much better than many other places.

A silver fox is a genetic anomaly in a regular red fox.  Because of the rarity of finding them in the wild they were much sought after by the rich and famous for furs in the early part of the 20th century, especially among European and British royalty.  It was a fascinating story of selective breeding and competition.  By the 1940’s there were over 3900 fox farms on the island with over 99,000 foxes living on the farms.  There were even fox shows, like dog show, where the foxes were beautifully groomed and graded for quality by the judges.  A pair of breeding silver foxes would sell for $5000 each in 1910.  And a top quality pelt would fetch $25,000.  But a change in fashion and a saturation in the market closed the industry in the early 40’s.  I had never heard of this business before.  What an interesting tale.

IMG_4730 IMG_4737  1920’s silver fox peltsIMG_4739

When we were in Charlottetown I saw a card advertising a display for the 150 years of the Summerside Fire Department.  It was located on the upper story of the old Armory Building; which just happened to be upstairs in the Fox Museum!  The Fire Station is next door so after we were done looking at the displays we wandered over and John spent a happy 3/4 of an hour chatting to one of the firemen and checking out their new and antique equipment.

IMG_4746 This was a fire sprinkler.  We had never seen one like it before.IMG_4748  Some of the photos from the 150 years of Summerside Fire Department.IMG_4749 IMG_4760IMG_4759 IMG_4761 IMG_4762

The last thing in on my list was the Wyatt Heritage House.  Built in 1897 it was lived in by J. Edward Wyatt’s family and his two spinster daughters until they died, the eldest was 102 at the time. She gifted the house and it’s contents to the city.  It took two years to get it set up for a museum and they are still cataloging things stored in the attic.  We had a nice Acadian girl guide us through the house and tell us all the stories.  J. Edward Wyatt was a prominent Conservative MLA and was Speaker of the House in PEI in the early 1900’s.  He made his fortune in mortgages and loans.  Some of the treasures in the house were collateral from failed loans.

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It was a good day, albeit one that took a lot of twists and turns.  But…that is what makes our type of travel fun.

2014 Jul 30 & 31 – Days 41 & 42 – Charlottetown, PEI (Driving the Points East Coast)

Prince Edward Island is shaped like a crescent and the two ends are connected to the middle by narrow strips of land.  It is divided (for the tourists) into four regions: Points East Coastal Drive, the top half of the middle called Green Gables Shore, the bottom half of the middle called The Red Sands Coast, and the west, called the North Cape. We used Charlottetown as a starting point for the Points East Drive which we divided into two days doing the south on Wednesday and the north on Thursday.

On the way out of town we stopped to tour Ardgowan, the home of W.H. Pope, one of the Fathers of Confederation but discovered it was no longer open to the public and was being used by Parks Canada for their offices.  Bummer.  It is a pretty neat looking house.


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We drove through an area called Belfast that was the original settlement of 800 Scottish immigrants brought to PEI by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk on three of his ships in 1803.  He had purchased land for them and he financially supported them until they got settled.  In the town of Belfast was St. John’s Presbyterian Church, built in 1824.

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Under a big shady tree there was a WWI Memorial with the names of church members who had died.  There were 13 names engraved on the marker.  All of the major Canadian offensives of the war had taken at least one of the men.  2 died at Amiens, 1 at Somme, 1 at Vimy Ridge and 3 at Passchendale.

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Two sides of the church yard was taken up by cemetery.  We decided to wander a bit.  The markers were in beautiful condition even though many of them were from the early 1800’s.  John chanced upon a family marker for the MacLaren’s and discovered that John T. McLaren died in 1890 at the age of 26 in Armstrong, BC!

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When we got back to the truck to leave I noticed that the white pickup parked beside Poppy also had BC plates. There was another couple wandering the graveyard while we were out there so I went to find one of them.  I asked the lady if the truck was hers and if so where in BC was she from.  She and her husband lived in Langely, but had lived many years in Kelowna.  They retired last year, sold their house, bought a 35′ fifth-wheel trailer and spent 6 months at a time travelling around.  We had a great chat!

Our next stop was Prim Point on a spit jutting out near the bottom of the coast.  We were making a turn to the lighthouse at the Chowder House restaurant and a lady came rushing across the parking lot waving her arms.  We stopped to see what the problem was and she said, “I have an SSR too.  I stop everyone I see that has one.  Mine is purple, it is parked right over there.  I am from Newfoundland.”  Time spent extolling the wonders of SSRs followed.

We also stopped at Cape Bear Lighthouse, not because we wanted to see another lighthouse, but because there was a Marconi Museum there and we wanted to check it out.  Turns out it was a small museum mostly dedicated to the SS Titanic.  The Marconi Telegraph Station at Cape Bear was the first to receive the distress signal.  A nice young man gave us the tour and took us to the top of the light, which was moved 500′ back from the shore by horse and capstan in 1949 and will be moved again this fall because the cliff has eroded right up to the lighthouse again.  PEI loses 200 feet of coastline very year to the waves. John told him they will have to make the bridge longer soon.

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That’s the coast of Nova Scotia on the horizon.



Today we did the north coast.  We drove right across from Charlottetown to Caridgan where we had ended up yesterday.  We started around the spit at Cardigan and I kept checking my map thinking we should be coming to a town soon.   We followed the Points East Coastal Route Starfish markers, went through a wooded area and came out at Caridgan again!  Neither of know how that happened.



We got sorted however and made a couple of beach stops on our way up.  First was at Sally’s beach which had a long stretch of red sand.  I had read in one of my books that between Souris and Bothwell there were white sand beaches so we pulled in at Red Point to see if it might have white sand.  And it did.  Gorgeous fine white sand.  At the stairs up the bank you can see the two layers, white on bottom, red on top.

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Standing in Northumberland Strait between PEI and Nova Scotia.IMG_4593 IMG_4595

The little town of Elmira has a railway musuem.  Elmira was once the end of the line on the Canadian National Railway’s system on PEI which connected almost every town on the island.  It ceased operation in Dec. 1, 1989.

CNR had 25,000 miles of rail/steamship system when it was all done. They even had ferries that went between Nova Scotia and PEI that had rail lines in them and the trains just drove on the ferry.IMG_4599

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When the four provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia created the Confederation of Canada in 1867, PEI had opted out.  It was a wealthy area with lots of agriculture and had established markets in Europe for its fish, lobster, mussels and oysters. In 1871 PEI decided to build a railway system linking four of the major centers of the island for a cost of $4,000,000.  By 1872 they had added several other stops on the line, costs were over budget and they couldn’t get refinancing of their loan.  So….they asked Ottawa if the offer to join Canada was still available.  If so PEI would enter Confederation but first they needed money to finish their railway.  They received a grant of $3,250,000 and joined Canada in 1874.

The East Point Lighthouse is, naturally, at the easternmost point of PEI so it was necessary to take the extra 3 km or so and go down there.


We were on our way back to Charlottetown and I asked John to make a detour to the eastern part of Prince Edward Island National Park at Greenwich to see the rare parabolic sand dunes.  A parabolic dune is one that travels and leaves a path of little hills as it moves inland.  The dune at Greenwich is one of very few in North America.  We ended up on a 1.5 km walk that culminated at the very long floating boardwalk across a freshwater marsh, up a steep sand dune and down the other side to an absolutely gorgeous beach.  And, of course, 1.5 km back again.  But the clouds that had covered the sky all day, drifted off as we walked and by the time we got to the marsh we had beautiful blue sky.  It was after 5 o’clock and the light was lovely.  This semi-unplanned detour was the highlight of our two days on the Points East Coastal Drive.










Lichen growing on the sand.IMG_4630



Marram Grass that anchors the dune

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2014 Jul 29 – Day 40 – Moncton, NB to Charlottetown, PEI

We entered our seventh province today (for those of you who think I am counting wrong; I am not counting BC since we started there – we will only be visiting 9 provinces on our trip).

Since we will be returning to Moncton to do the south and west before we begin our journey homeward, we did not do any of the things on the to-do list in Moncton.  Instead we took the quiet coastal road to Cape Jourimain and drove the beautiful Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island.

1  Look closely and you can see the bridge along the horizon.        IMG_4414 IMG_4417The bridge was built by private contractors between 1994-1997.  It is a toll bridge, but you only pay one way – as you leave the island – $45 per passenger car.  I would be very interested to know how long it will take them to pay off the $1 billion cost.  This was a mammoth project: 12.9 km (8 3/4 miles) long with a steep hill in it to allow ships to pass underneath and an intentional curve to keep drivers alert.  It is the longest bridge over ice-covered water in the world.

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Some lost ducklings




We kept to the southern coast road along a thin peninsula to Rocky Point to see the Port-la-Joye – Fort Amherst National Historic Site.  Unfortunately the Interpretive Center was closed but the placards told the story of the French, then English forts that had been built on the site. There was only the land moat and hillocks left to indicate where the British Fort Amherst was built after the French Port-la-Joye was destroyed.

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We loved the small bit of PEI we have seen so far.  It really does have very red dirt, which is obviously very fertile as the crops we saw looked very lush.  PEI is known for potatoes and we saw many acres of them, but we also saw wheat, barley, beans, alfalfa and other crops. The highest point on the island is 152 meters (499′) above sea level so it is very flat.



The coast water is red from the soil.

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IMG_4451We rounded the peninsula and made our way to Charlottetown and found Province House  where the first steps to Canada’s Confederation were made at the Charlottetown Conference held in this very building Sept 1, 1864 – 150 years ago this year.  Pretty cool!  The 27 Members of Parliament in PEI still sit in the same chamber on the same chairs!

They had a really good short film about the Charlottetown Conference, which was actually to be a meeting of the Maritime Provinces to discuss a Maritime Union.  When the leaders in Upper and Lower (British and French) Canada learned of the Conference they invited themselves and brought up the idea of a Confederation of them all in order to protect the lifestyle, customs and laws of our country from annexation by the rapidly expanding USA.  Three years later four Provinces signed the British North American Act to create the Confederation of Canada.  Other provinces joined over the years and “We became a nation from sea to sea to sea.”

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2014 Jul 28 – Day 39 – Miramichi, NB to Moncton, NB

Today we woke to damp driveways, puddles and overcast skies.  But…it didn’t rain until we were almost at our destination, so not too bad.

Before we left Miramichi we wanted to go to the National Historic Site at Beaubears Island.  This island and the nearby mainland bay were the refuge of 2000 Acadians deported from Quebec.  They were promised support from the British but it did not arrive and the food and supplies that were sent by the French Admiral who suggested the area would be a safe haven were stolen and sold for profit by unscrupulous French captains.  Consequently many of the people, including all of the children died the first winter.

IMG_4259 IMG_4260But eventually, with the help of the local Mic-Mac, they learned to fend for themselves and the area became a thriving shipbuilding center.  I expected another of Parks Canada’s fabulous Interpretative centers with placards beside archaeological digs or artifacts on the island.  What we found was a small, but interesting center and a 1 1/2 km long pine forest island with a trail down the middle of it – accompanied by hordes of hungry mosquitoes.   So….this blog is not full of boring prose; instead it is mainly a photo-journey through the pine forest.


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3  Thanks JohnIMG_4286 IMG_4291 (2) IMG_4292 (2) IMG_4276IMG_4294 (2) IMG_4298 (2) IMG_4306 (2) IMG_4311 (2) IMG_4322 IMG_4324 IMG_4334 IMG_4340 IMG_4342 IMG_4345 IMG_4350 IMG_4315 (2)After we went back to the mainland we hit the road for Moncton via the small coast roads as is our preferred route.  John spotted a lovely crane beside a river (New Brunswick is teeming with rivers! We are constantly going over bridges) so we pulled over for a photo shoot.

IMG_4387Our only other stop today was at the Bouctouche Dune.  This is one of the few remaining sand dunes on the North American east coast.  It is 12 miles long and a narrow stretch of land with hundreds of lobster traps between it and the mainland. The dune changes shape every time there is a storm and it is a protected area.  Unfortunately, that is when the rain began and we were not able to walk the boardwalk very far.


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