(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)
Well . . . here I am back again after being in an Internet vacuum for the past few days.
We got off the ferry from Newfoundland on Wednesday and made our way up the Northumberland Strait and stayed a night in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Pictou managed to get the Man’s Scottish blood boiling as the town is the “Birthplace of New Scotland.”
In 1773, the first boatload of Scottish Highlanders – 33 families and 25 unmarried men – arrived on the sailing ship, Hector. The families had been promised free passage and free supplies and shelter upon arrival in Canada by a group in Scotland that wanted to see Canada opened up.
When the families arrived at the ship they found a rather aged and well used 24 metre (80 foot) boat. 200 family members were loaded below decks where they had to partition off bunks with old canvas. There were no windows, the only light coming from seal oil lamps and small deck grates. Right from the start conditions were not good.
The Captain wrote in his log how concerned he was for the passengers. He mentions how some of the passengers were so excited upon reaching Ireland, they thought they had already arrived at the new colony. The ship set off in July and didn’t reach Newfoundland until the beginning of September. A gale blew up and the ship was blown out to sea and it took a further two weeks to arrive at the same spot.
Food was deplorable, mouldy and rancid. The ship arrived in mid September – eighteen children had died on board as a result of smallpox and dysentery. The settlers found that no provisions had actually been supplied and there were no shelters so they had to spend their first winter in great hardship. They were a hardy bunch and their success encouraged other Scots to emigrate also, eventually populating the coastline and PEI.
Tomorrow we are going to see where the Man’s family arrived in 1829 in New Brunswick.
In the 1970’s, the town of Pictou realized they needed to revive their decaying waterfront and started a rebuilding program. The centerpiece of the plan was to build a full size replica of the Hector.
Around it they built new wharves, boardwalks and traditional buildings. Still lots of the original buildings around for the Man and Lady to drool over. We had a great time there.
The next day we continued west. I had a wonderful day when I spotted a sheep farm and convinced the Man to stop. It was a great experience for all of us! The Man was thrilled when he opened the car door and three border collies came leaping towards the car. Two tried to crawl in the car but I baaaed that I wouldn’t be driving with two stinky dogs. The Lady was excited to go through the wool store onsite and I had an emotional time when I met a 4th cousin, 10 times removed. The Man took a picture of her and her new daughter.
Later that afternoon we crossed the Confederation Bridge into Prince Edward Island. The bridge is amazing. Over 8 miles (13 kilometres) long and 600 feet (180 metres) high, it took 15 minutes to cross the Northumberland Strait. Our alternative access would have been a 1½ hour ferry trip but we see enough ferries in our lives so we took the driving route. The bridge is free to get onto the island and $40 to get off.
Well . . . I must say that our first impression of PEI wasn’t good. When you first get off the bridge there is large area called the Gateway Village which, among other things, has the tourist information centre. The village was packed with tourists, RV’s, trailers and every type of Anne of Green Gables knickknacks for sale – very crowded and commercial – yuck. The Man and Lady were quite put off with it all but then the Man managed to find an obscure little road which took us to a mussel plant that had fifty years of mussel stink oozing from it and it picked the Man’s spirit right up. No wonder he likes dogs, he’s just like one!
We took a scenic route along the coast and the Man managed to find a motel with three dogs and two cats (one white with three legs and one black with one eye) affectionately known by the neighbours as Cyclops and Tripod.
PEI is an interesting island historically with a strong French (Acadian), Scotch and Irish presence. Originally mainly settled by the Acadians, they were soon removed by the British. In order to encourage development in the late 1700’s the British government divided the island into seventy, 20,000 acre lots and put them up for lottery. Naturally, it seems, they were won by governmental friends who acquired them for speculation purposes. They did nothing with the land until the policy was reviewed and absentee landlords were dissolved. The land was then made available to the local settlers.
It is very pretty farmland with lovely fields of potatoes, corn and grains running down to the sea. The soil is an unusual red colour – quite stunning. The beaches on the north and west coast are white sand, the beaches on the south and east coast are red sand. You can drive from one end to the other (quickly) in four hours. The highest point of the island is 600 feet (180 metres) and no moose!
We found, that while pretty, it just didn’t knock us out. We explored the east end of the island but it seemed like a long drive with little return. We decided we didn’t want to fight the crowds at all the tourist spots and since heavy rains were forecasted, we would head back to New Brunswick.
This morning we once more drove the Confederation Bridge and then went to search out the birthplace of one of our Sechelt friends in the very small community of Springhill Junction. We’re not too sure how successful we were yet. We also popped into Springhill and visited Anne Murray’s birthplace and watched a Anne Murray Day parade through town.
Tomorrow we will head up the east coast of New Brunswick to the New Mills area. We’re not sure what is left of McMillan information but it should be an interesting time.
So, after tomorrow we really will be turning our noses west though from the sounds of the weather reports we are best to stay here in rainy 73º F (23º C) weather!