Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Prince Edward Island - and a little of Nova Scotia

The amazing Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to PEI is the longest in the world (being 12.9 kilometres in length) and was opened in 1997.  Driving across it seems to take forever but eventually, of course, it ends and leads us onto the most delightful island imaginable. Prince Edward Island at various times was under the French, the Scottish and the English (the American colonial English), but the Island seems to us to have a very Scottish flavour about it although the earlier Acadian settlers (of French and native Mi'kmaq origin) also gives it a most appealing feeling.

The landscape is just so pretty – quite hilly and in between farmlands there are many forests. The nearby sea and the coastal roads nearby are just breathtaking. I can imagine it picture perfect in the snow with scenes that would go well on Christmas cards.

On our first afternoon there, our B&B hostess at New Glasgow suggested a local ceilidh was to be held that night just 10 minutes up the road in Stanley Bridge, but said that although it would start at 7.30, we should be there by 7 o’clock as it was very popular. She was right but we got good seats and then enjoyed several hours of wonderful Scottish/Irish/Acadian fiddle, guitar and keyboard  music by two sisters and their brother (the Ross family). As usual, the audience were asked where they had come from. I think we two Aussies just won the longest distance travellers award beating a couple from Finland. Half way through was an interval and we were invited down into the basement of the hall where the local Women’s Institute offered bowls of strawberries and icecream for $3. How could we refuse?

The concert was a wonderful start to our time on Prince Edward Island – and next day we decided to drive along the northern coast to the far eastern tip where there is a lighthouse and the obligatory gift shop and cafĂ© where we had lunch. On the way back we stopped at a railway museum but Peter’s verdict – disappointing. We also had a day visiting the capital – pretty Charlottetown with a small but interesting city centre right by the harbour.

Of course we had to visit Green Gables. The series of books about Anne of Green Gables are loved worldwide, and the island attracts many tourists with ‘Anne’ themed attractions including TWO musicals in Charlottestown continually playing to devotees of the books AND a recreated version of the village of Avonlea. We just visited the house on which the books were based and it was actually the farmhouse of relatives of the author, LM Montgomery when she was growing up. 
Anne's Room
Her precise descriptions of the house, the immediate surroundings (the Haunted Wood and Lovers' Lane) fit perfectly, although the wider agricultural district has largely disappeared due to development. However a golf course now surrounds the few acres around the house so all seems still quite rural and exactly as the author described it in 1908 when the first book was published.

Prince Edward Island really is picture perfect and the descriptions of the countryside in the LM Montgomery books of early last century still ring true today. Just a very, very beautiful island – and we are not surprised it is much loved by its people.

We had absolutely gorgeous weather for our stay and it was only when we were leaving that the weather turned to rain and fogginess. We left via a ferry at the other end of the island and arrived an hour or so after sailing, in Nova Scotia.

This really did seem a little part of Scotland with buildings and landscape very similar to what we have seen in the lowlands of Scotland. We had several WW1 graves to photograph here (in Pictou) and although we found one reasonably easy, the other was not in St. James’ churchyard where it was listed to be. We eventually found the Pictou County Genealogy & Heritage Society in the town and had a lovely time there chatting with the volunteers who investigated and found out that there was another newer St. James’ cemetery just outside of town. Following their directions we easily found the right cemetery and soon photographed the sad but interesting headstone of AB Colin W Forward.

After an overnight stop we travelled to North Sydney to board a very large ferry for the 15 hour trip to Newfoundland. We embarked at 4.30pm for a scheduled 5.30pm departure, but due to hurricane winds in the Atlantic Ocean near Newfoundland, we didn’t leave port until 11.30pm. We had a lovely (but comfortable enough) six hour wait. 

As a result Peter has decided 'The Atlantic Vision' must be operated by ViaRail trains!

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