Ferry to Province # 10

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June 23, 2022, Doyles, Newfoundland- I got up and out the door, at Fair Isle Motel, as quickly as possible-making time for a decent breakfast at The Herring Choker, in the village of Nyanza, about eight kilometers east of Whycocoming. The place specialize in natural fare, so I did nto feel the need to eat again, until dinner.

Arriving at the ferry gate, in North Sydney, I had to wait for another party, whose documents were apparently not in order. When it came my turn, I was through the gate in short order and ended up in the last parking slot on Level 3. My reserved seat, up on Level 9 of the ship, was a window seat on the ocean. The service on this vessel was excellent, with a little treat of soft-serve ice cream, in mid-afternoon, and a fine dinner of cod au gratin, salad and steamed vegetables about two hours later.

So, I watched the departure from Cape Breton Island and the arrival in Newfoundland.

Thus, around 6:30 p.m., Newfoundland Daylight Time. This time zone is 1/2 hour ahead of Atlantic Daylight Time, which is observed in the other three Atlantic provinces, on the eastern North Shore of Quebec and in its own mainland section, Labrador. Atlantic Daylight Time, in turn, is an hour ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. So, when it’s 5 p.m. in Boston and Buffalo, it’s 6 p.m. in Shediac and Sydney, as 6:30 p.m., in Port aux Basques and L’Anse aux Meadows.

Newfoundland & Labrador was the last Canadian province I had not visited-and it’s also the last to have become a part of Canada. In 1949, still beset by economic difficulties, the people of the then-British colony voted, albeit narrowly, to become a part of Canada. The first Provincial Premier was Joseph Roberts Smallwood, who led the province until 1972. It was he who spearheaded the vote to approve confederation with Canada. He was a champion of hydroelectric power and promoted pulp and paper milling as a means to expand the prosperity of the average person in the province. His policies, like most, had mixed results.

I am staying, this evening, in a lovely cottage, part of Codroy Cottage Country, overlooking the Grand Codroy River, which empties into the Atlantic, not far from here. The cottages are as modern, and tech-savvy, as any in either North America or Europe. I am pleased to see the level of comfort that the people of this valley seem to enjoy, though the owner of a store across the street from the cottages pleaded with me to buy something from his grocery. I needed a few things, and so obliged him in that way. The Devine family, who run Cottage Country, present a cordial, if reticent, demeanour. This is fine, as I’m only a guest here for one night. I must say, though, that this would be a fabulous venue for a week’s stay.

Thus has my five day initial visit to Newfoundland begun. So far, it’s lovely! (As for the photos, I found a venue where I could upload them, with no fuss, elsewhere. CC has good WiFi, but motels in Atlantic Canada tend to be limited, in their uploading capabilities.)

Cape Breton, High and Low

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June 22, 2022, Whycocomagh, NS-I had originally come here to this island of both intense and sublime beauty, to honour the First Nations people who keep the flame of dignity and well-being, for all creatures, alive and well. The person who I was hoping to meet, along those lines, had to work extra long hours and our meeting is deferred until next Wednesday. I did meet a young First Nations lady who works for Parks Canada, and who processed my admission to Cape Breton Highlands. I also encountered a road crew of Miqmak people, who were clearing what appeared to have been a serious rock slide, on the Cabot Trail.

Cape Breton is defined, topographically, by two features: The mountains of the Highland region and Bras D’Or Lake (Pronounced “Brah Dor”, though a local wag once had a restaurant he called The Old Brass Door, situated on the lake shore.), representing the forces of uplifting and nurturing. The lake, a salty offshoot of the Atlantic Ocean, extends virtually the length of eastern Cape Breton, from St. Peter’s, in the southeast, to Sydney Mines, in the northeast.

Here are a few views of Bras D’Or, from near Fair Isle Motel, where I am staying, and a viewpoint close to the Cabot Trail’s southern entrance

Bras D’Or Lake, near Watogomah First Nations Community, NS

Less than twenty minutes later, the view changed dramatically, as the clockwise route around the Cabot Trail beckoned.

View from Cabot Trail, near Nyanza, NS

The road ran out, briefly, just shy of Margaree, as the aforementioned crew had me turn around and use a short detour. Once back in the Margaree region, views of a healthy river and the Atlantic were abundant.

Here is a view of the Margaree River.

Margaree River, near its namesake town, Cape Breton Island

Next are some views of the coast, in western Cape Breton.

Margaree Harbour, NS
Margaree Harbour Beach
Beach at Cheticamp Island, NS

The three main communities of Cape Breton are the Miqmak First Nation, the Scots and the French-speaking Acadiens, distant cousins of Louisiana’s Cajuns-those who left Atlantic Canada, after the French and Indian War of 1756-63. The Acadien communities, such as Cheticamp, are very much thriving today.

Paroisse St. Pierre, Cheticamp

It was time to go up into Cape Breton Highlands, so after gassing up, in Cheticamp, I went to the Park Visitor Center, where the young lady I mentioned earlier greeted me warmly and sold me the admission pass. The mountains themselves were not long in providing a warm greeting of their own.

Here is Grande Faillante:

Grande Faillante, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Next is La Bloc.

La Bloc, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Sorry to have to do this, but the photos will have to stop here, so that I may get this out. Something is blocking my uploading of photos, regardless of which platform I use (whether Chrome or Firefox). I had to fight to get these last two photos posted. Wanting to keep this series going, so, for now, let words suffice. When I get this issue resolved, photos will be posted of the rest of Cabot Trail.

From La Bloc, the Cabot Trail goes on to the glorious greens of French Mountain and MacKenzie River Valley. The view of Pleasant Bay, from the top of the switchbacks to its north, is nothing short of breathtaking. Green Cove, between Pleasant Bay and Ingonish, allows for clambering and being as one with a smoothed mass of boulders, jutting out into the sea. There were many doing just that, including a mother and daughter who sat in meditation, as the rest of us took in the clifftop view of the Atlantic. The scene would repeat itself at MacKinnon’s Cove and at North Beach, in Ingonish.

By the time I reached Tartans and Treasures, in Dingwall, it would have been easy to identify with the “cranky” Scottish owner (“Patrick was a saint, but I ain’t”)-but the scenery is too soothing, so I got a second wind and kept on, past St. Ann’s and the “north” junction with Highway 105, which took me back to Bayside, which was full with golfers and day fishermen, as well as tired waitresses-who nonetheless took my order-the last one of the evening. The chowder was again superb. Getting back to Fair Isle, I got laundry done and am now ready for a good night’s rest.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Newfoundland.

Unrecognized Truth; Unparalleled Beauty

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June 21, 2022, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia- As I was finishing up a full and sumptuous breakfast, at Comfort Inn, Fredericton, I got a message to go to the Legislative Assembly House, in the New Brunswick capital’s centre. Not knowing why the message was insistent, I went there after checking out of the motel. I had heard that today was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as Solstice.

There was a modest, but growing crowd, in front of the Assembly House. A leader of the Maliseet Nation, Allan Polchies, gave a direct, though open-hearted invitation to the Premier of New Brunswick to re-instate the terms “unceded and unsurrendered” into Truth and Reconciliation documents, especially those dealing with the revelations of abuse and neglect at Boarding Schools and Day Schools for First Nations children, across the Dominion of Canada (as well as in the United States), over the past 150 years. My take: No matter what the relationship between people, there is always room for improvement. This is especially true of ties between people of different cultural and ethnic groups. No one can truthfully say: “I’ve done enough already. Put it to rest!”

I took in a bit of the scene around Fredericton, underscoring what Chief Polchies was stressing in his talk. The land, the water, and all forms of life are more sacred to a good many First Nations people than they are to those who have a transactional view of this life. I am a mutt, so to speak, and can’t boast physical lineage that leaves me with more than 1/64 First Nations blood. Quantum, though, does not have anything to do with genetic memory, and my bent has always gravitated towards forests, nature, even flowing water.

Here is a view of the St. John River, flowing through Fredericton.

Below, are some scenes from Wilmot Park, west of the Town Plat.

Rail bridge, across St. John River, Fredericton

Next on the itinerary was Shediac, a town on the east coast of New Brunswick, from whence my paternal grandfather’s Acadian forebears moved to Lynn, MA, when that city first became industrialized, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Here a few Shediac scenes. The town is a vibrant summer getaway, for both urban New Brunswickers and people from Montreal and Quebec City.

Pascal Poirier was a Shediac native, who was Canada’s longest-serving Senator, putting in 48 years, 6 months and 17 days. He was a scholar of Acadian history, putting to rest many myths about his native ethnic group.

Entry to Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac, NB
Exercise incline, Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac
An image, creating an image, Shediac Centre
Shediac Harbour, on Northumberland Strait

As I sat on a lone park bench, watching the gulls and a small amount of marine activity, it occurred to me that the sea will not be far from my awareness, for the next eight days. With that, I got a couple of dozen gluten-free cookies, from Culinanny Bakery, in Shediac’s Centre-Ville Mall, to hopefully give to friends in Cape Breton, and headed off to that storied island.

I had a couple of small surprises, along the way. The Cobequid Valley, of western Nova Scotia, has a toll road, operated by the Provincial Transportation Authority. It’s the only non-bridge toll that I’ve seen in Canada, thus far. A young man walked out of a donut shop, barefoot. I have not seen “no shoes” get service in a food shop, until today.

A far more pleasant surprise awaited in the small village of Whycocomagh, one of the first communities one encounters on Cape Breton, approaching from the west. Bayside Restaurant offers some of the most delectable seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Essentially, generous portions of fish and assorted shellfish, milk and onions-no potatoes. The other ingredients are Chef Charlene’s secret. My lodging for tonight and tomorrow night is equally superb: Fair Isle Motel, with a large kitchenette as well as firm, chiropractor-approved mattresses. The hosts are a wonderful family of seven.

Tomorrow, I will experience the Cabot Trail-at least the automotive part, and hopefully meet up with some local Baha’is.