Monday, November 12, 2018
East Coast Cruising - Charlottetown, P.E.I.
September brought a cruise to the East Coast for Annette and I. We started in New York, visited two cities in Maine, then sailed over the International Boundary into Canada and visited several cities in the Maritime region. The cruise ended in Quebec City and we ended our holidays after spending time in Montreal.
Click on any picture to see all the pictures full size
Our port of call today is Charlottetown, Price Edward Island, or PEI as it is commonly called.
The agenda for today was a bus tour of Charlottetown itself, with the tour then moving into the countryside on the east coast of the island.
The highlights would be "Anne Of Green Gables" and "Cavendish Bay", augmented by the beauty of the rolling hills of PEI.
Charlottetown was incorporated in 1855 with a population of 6,500 under British rule but the history of European settlement goes back to 1720 when French personnel from Fortress Louisburg on Cape Breton Island were ferried to the island which at the time was know as St. John Island.
Occupation swung back and forth between French and British until the British eventually prevailed and Charlottetown became a British city.
Between September 1-8 1864 Charlottetown hosted what is now known as the Charlottetown Conference. Many of the meetings and negotiations held that week wold lead to Canadian Confederation and the birth of Canada as a country.
This information was part of the tour guide's information voice over but to be honest I had to look it up again to get my facts straight. :)
We toured the city of 36,500 seeing the main historical locations before the bus rolled out of town and onto our island coastline tour.
First stop - lunch ! And when you are in the Maritimes the lunch of choice is - lobster !
The Prince Edward Island Preserve Company makes all their own preserves and jams onsite, and they have a storefront where you can purchase small jars of an infinite variety of mouth watering condiments.
For us, something else was on the agenda. The company had a large banquet hall next to the main building. The sort of place where you could sit at plain tables and just get messy as you let out your inner meanness and grabbed a fresh, large lobster, ripping off it's claws and cracking open its stomach to rip out the meat with a small fork which you then dipped in melted butter and reveled in the taste of the warm smooth meat in your mouth.
Yeah, doesn't sound pretty, or even very nice, but to eat lobster you basically through away your daintiness and manners and your civilized nature and just start ripping and shredding your food like uncouth barbarians. But hey, at least we have those cool white plastic bibs with the lobster on them to show we still have our concerns about getting stains on our clothes. :)
Funny story, one of those "it's a small world" stories.
The tables held six chairs, we found a table with four chairs open and sat with a couple from the cruise ship whom we had not yet met. As usual; conversation turned to "where are you from" and the other couple stated they were from a small town outside of Toronto. We said we know lots of small towns in Ontario, what's the name? They say Guelph.
We say, one of our son in law comes from Guelph and he lives in Vancouver now. Conversation continues and they ask our son-in-laws name, we tell them, but they do not recognize the name. But they think they recognize his sister's name as it is not a common name. Possibly their sons' cousins might know them.
Jump forward a few hours and YES, Tom's sister knows the boy's cousins from high school! Ain't that a kick in the head.
We finished off lunch and had a walk around the large area garden on the property the owner maintains as an area of peace for anyone in need, regardless of whether it is a family situation, or a military vet, or a family with a special needs child. The owner goes out of his way to show that someone cares for you. Good stuff !
Back on the bus we cut overland through the island farmland and are treated to rolling hills reminiscent of undulation of the South Prairie regions. Hilltop scenery provided far ranging views over the green of the farm produce, underscored by the red dirt of the island.
Eventually we made our way to the pride and joy of PEI, the Anne of Green Gables Museum. Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote the novel Anne of Green Gables in 1908 while living in this building and it has become an international sensation to this day.
The site is now a Canadian Historic site with much money spent on the upkeep of the house and outbuildings, with a large visitor centre being constructed to help handle the hundreds of people who come here daily.
Oversea visitors have a special fondness for the book and are excited to visit this piece of original Canadiana they have only read about. The view a visit with an almost reverence like quality which for us Canadians is a bit hard to fathom but appreciate the quality of the moment on their "pilgrimage".
Here are a couple of pictures of the interior of the house, many more can be found on my Flickr site.
Surprisingly the house was fairly large and had many rooms, some with small dimensions but more rooms that I thought there would be.It would seem a large family would not feel cramped during the dreary days of winter.
We wandered through the house and the barn, and enjoyed the sunshine of the sloping front grass area as it reached down towards a creek 300 feet or so at the end of the property. All the while we were thinking - "could I live here, like this"? Probably not, us big city folks are too used to our current day luxury. But back then, this was a pretty darn nice house to live in ....
As a bonus part on the day, Ken and I found a geocache in the woods a few hundred feet away from the House, so we can now add the province of PEI to our list of regions where we have found caches.
If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you will see the red cliffs of Cavendish Bay in stark contrast to the ocean blue. In the distance is famed Cavendish Beach which we unfortunately did not have time to visit.
The red dirt is really just like sand and crumbles easily - each year the winter seas cause a fair amount of erosion of the island's coastline. The locals tell us the best year for them is a cold year as then the bay freezes over and the ice protects the shoreline from the winter storms. More than once the province has had to move highways inland from the coastline as erosion has come to close to the current roadway.
The Cavendish area of PEI is known for the beaches and the farm produce as the sandy soil makes an ideal environment to grow a wide variety of food.
The best known produce to the rest of Canada are the Cavendish potatoes, the other main crops are wheat, oats, barley, and oilseeds. And because I know you just asked yourself "that" question, I will tell you.
Oilseeds are any plant grown primarily for the oil content of the seed. Soyabeans, sun flowers, and canola are just some of the edible seeds grown. Other seeds like castor and flax are used for industrial purposes.
Back on the bus we had to get along and hurry back to Charlottetown as we were running behind schedule and we would be cutting it very close to sailing time. As it was we ended up being the last bus back and the ship had to wait a few minutes extra for us to get aboard. I swear if we were any slower getting up the ramp to the ship the gangway would have smacked us in the ass as we got on board. :)
Once back on the ship we had just enough time to clean up and change before we headed down to the main dining room where a 5 star meal awaited us. For this meal we needed to bring back our daintiness that we disposed of at the lobster lunch and once again be the suave world travelers that the occasion demanded. Yeah, as if... LOL
Tomorrow is a day at sea as we traverse the Gulf Of St. Lawrence and enter the St. Lawrence Seaway as it narrows into the St. Lawrence River all the while heading for our final port of call - Quebec City.
Quebec City, or as the locals say, Quebec, has the most old buildings that we would see on the trip, and definitely is the one city that provides a taste of Europe in it's architecture and heritage.
If you liked what you read drop me a line and let me know ...
The rest of the PEI pictures, including the PEI Preserve farm and the Anne of Green Gables Museum can be found here on my Flickr site