PEI & Cape Breton Island
Sep 27, 2017
|On to Prince Edward Island, the smallest of our provinces. As a matter of fact, one person I spoke with said they shouldn't even be a province. The total population is 140,000 and it only has an area of 5,600 sq kms.(2162 sq. miles) That being said, we loved PEI. It is slow-paced, laid-back and very uncrowded. The perfect weather we had when we were there may have influenced our experience. We got there by crossing the Confederation Bridge - an engineering masterpiece. It is 13 Kms long over the Northumberland Strait. It was built in segments and was curved to withstand the winds that can blow there which can sometimes cause them to close the bridge. Return toll was $42 so you wouldn't want to be doing it every day.
PEI is very picturesque. Very green and nearly all agriculture based. The green with the red soil makes for some pretty countryside. The soil is red because of the high iron-oxide(rust) content. Potato fields are everywhere. It seems Cavendish Farms owns a lot of them as their sign is on just about every farm. There are huge beautiful houses on the farms so I think the potato farmers, just like our orchardists in Kelowna, are doing pretty well. They also grow a lot of "sweet" corn. Bought some to try but nowhere near as sweet as Kelowna or Taber corn. Of course, fishing and shellfish farming is also big. We had a feed of mussels and clams one night and lobster another night. Lobster is a lot of work for little reward just like crab but I think crab is so much better.
Played two games of golf in PEI. First one was at Green Gables GC. One of the holes goes by the back of the Anne of Green Gables cottage. We went to the cottage afterwards. This was actually Lucy Maud Montgomery's grandparent's house. She lived with her parents not far away but spent a lot of her time at her grandparent's. She used this house as the setting for her books. The house has been recreated to be as close to what it was like during that time. Played golf with folks from Halifax that have a cottage out here. It seems there are a lot of people from Halifax that come here for a weekend. We were told where to go to buy cheap seafood but alas we were leaving the next day. We did have a feed of mussels after the game complements of the golf course to all golfers. (See pic)
Went in to Charlottetown specifically to see Province House and the birthplace of confederation but it was closed as it was under renovation. I can't believe they chose to do this in the year of Canada's 150th. They had a so-called display next door but all it was, was a long table and chairs. Walked around the downtown and it was quiet, even with a cruise ship in port. What I liked were the statues of people who were involved in confederation around the downtown and their stories. The picture shows a sculpture of two representatives, one from NS and one from PEI, who had the same name. Would have liked to have spent more time in PEI but time was running very short and we wanted to go to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
Cape Breton is a part of Nova Scotia but it wasn't always that way. After some Treaty was signed by both the French and the English, Cape Breton went to the French and the rest of 'Acadia' went to the British. The French built a fort called Fort Louisbourg and a huge town developed around it primarily because it had an excellent and safe harbour. The English built their fort in Halifax again because it had an excellent harbour and could be well protected. The English later invaded Ft Louisbourg and defeated them. Then they gave it back to the French. There is a National Historic site at Ft Louisbourg as they have rebuilt a quarter of the fort and town. What was most interesting were the years of research that went into the restoration. First, the historians, then the archeologists, then the artisans, the tradesmen and so forth. The restoration was suggested during Deifenbaker's time as PM. The fishing industry was kaput and the coal mines were closing down so there was a lot of unemployment. This was supposed to put people back to work. But the money given wasn't enough. It wasn't till Pierre Trudeau came along that it was finished with a 30 million dollar grant.
Cape Breton is where the Cabot Trail is located but we were getting tired of traveling and opted to play another game of golf instead. Played on a lovely course just outside Sydney with fabulous views of the Bras d'Or Lake which is really a huge inland salt water sea. Just as well, as there were three cruise ships in town so it would have been very busy on the highway with tour busses. Stayed in a town called Baddeck on the lake at the Silver Dart Inn. Thought this was a funny name but it made sense later when we went to the Alexander Graham Bell museum. Bell, as everyone knows, invented the telephone but he was involved with the invention of much more. He made the first plane to fly in Canada called the Silver Dart. He invented the hydrofoil boat, the seaplane, some machine for identifying deafness, the graphaphone and a few other things I can't remember. He was born in the U.K., was a US citizen but lived and worked over half his life in Canada in Baddeck..
Our last two days are in Halifax. Our hotel overlooks the harbour but we can't see any of it as a huge cruise ship is berthed right in front of us, blocking our view. When they say these ships are floating hotels, they weren't kidding. Yesterday was a hot, hot day and very humid. Today, rain and not so hot. This is the first rain we have had since we left NFL so I guess we can't complain. Went to the citadel which was the fort built by the English to defend against the French. There have been three forts built here with the current one finished in 1856. It was also used to defend the harbour against possible invasion from the American armies during the war of 1812 and again served a very important role during the two world wars as a naval base. At the end of the war, a Belgium supply ship and a French munitions ship collided which set off the largest explosion in the world until the atomic bomb. The soldiers in the fort were not hurt because of the protection of the fort and were quickly able to get help to those who needed it. Huge loss of life and damage to the city was done by the explosion.
So, tomorrow, we are on our way home. We did some reflections on our journey over a beer or two on a rainy afternoon. Here are some of our thoughts.
One word to describe our experiences - historical. Also old. This part of our country is very, very old and has so much history. Way more than what we have in western Canada.
Biggest surprise - to me was NFL, loved it but wouldn't want to live there. The other one to both of us, was the huge role the French played in the settlement and development of Canada. Just as big as the English.
The place we want to go back to - PEI but for a month or two.
The biggest disappointment - was the local food, even the seafood, and St Andrews By The Sea voted number one town/city in Canada to visit. It has nothing on Kelowna. There is no place like home.
What we are looking forward to going home – sleeping in our own bed.
Till our next trip – Au revoir.