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Monday, September 14, 2015

P.E.I. and Nova Scotia: part four

Our second Road Scholar group gathered on Sunday evening, August 30, at the Quality Inn in Summerside, P/E.I.  I told myself firmly to put my Grand Manan memories on a shelf so I could fully appreciate the week ahead. 
"Coastal Communities of P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton" is one of the programs coordinated by  Northshore Institute (Cindy and Peter Blanding). They have worked with Elderhostel/Road Scholar for more than 25 years. Our group leader was Susan Dalziel, a retired teacher who grew up on P.E.I., now in her 8th year as a group leader. She was very deft in keeping the 22 in our group on track. She provided excellent background information to the places we visited (and about the sights we saw as we traveled between those places).   Another important person on the tour was Dale Johnstone, the bus driver, who maneuvered the big coach into parking lots and down country roads. 
P.E.I. is roughly the size of Delaware so it doesn't take long to get from one end of the province to another. Summerside was our 'headquarters' for three nights. 
 No trip to P.E.I. would be complete without seeing Green Gables, the farmhouse immortalized by Lucy Maud Montgomery in the Anne of Green Gables books. It is a national historic site visited by 175,000 people a year, including thousands of Japanese. (Here is the reason why.)   The farm was owned by LMM's aunt and uncle. She visited but didn't live there.

Lucy Mongomery's typewriter

 We spent a day in Charlottetown, the provincial capital.  We sat on the steps of Province House (closed for renovation) as historian Boyde Beck provided a precis of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864. That conference resulted in the Dominion of Canada, federating the provinces. We toured Beaconsfield, built in 1877.for a local merchant and his family. It was later a residence for nursing students. Most of the features remained intact, a boon to historic preservationists.  (I was taken by the tile floors!) 

P.E.I. is the garden spot of Canada -- dairy, potatoes, and other crops.  We visited an organic farm.

The Joggins Fossil Cliffs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Taking souvenirs is strictly prohibited!   The car keys on this plant fossil provide an idea of the size.  We timed our visit a low tide. (Fundy's high tides cover the area where we walked.) 

 On Wednesday morning we loaded our suitcases onto the bus and headed for Nova Scotia and Cape Breton via the Confederation Bridge.  (Cape Breton is connected to Nova Scotia by a mile-long causeway.) Nova Scotia is primarily Scottish, settled by emigrants after the 1744 rebellion. Cape Breton is primarily Acadian, settled by the French, with later Scottish settlement.  Gaelic culture is alive and well! We visited the Gaelic College where we listened to fiddle music and saw step dancing -- as well as a demonstration of How to Wrap a Kilt (as modeled by one of our group).  [They make kilts to order--6,000 hand stitches, $750-$1200 depending on the weight of the fabric and hip measurement.]

I point to the Hamilton clan badge (my mother's maternal line).

Most of Cape Breton is a national park. The Cabot Trail is the main road along the coast. Gorgeous in the sunshine -- but I'm sure it would be beautiful even on a stormy day. 

 Hooked rugs are part of the Maritimes' folk art traditions.  We visited the museum in Cheticamp to see the Acadian version, called  "tapis hooke."  [The French word for "hook" is "crochet," but that would be confusing when referring to rug hooking,  hence the borrowed "hooke."] Their technique uses a very short hook, yarn, and burlap. I bought a small kit . . . just to try it out, mind you. :)

Two nights in Baddeck (ba-DECK) at the historic Telegraph House, built in 1861.

Alexander Graham Bell and his family moved to Baddeck in 1885 -- partly as a refuge from humid Washington, DC, and also to escape public demands so he could work on further experiments with electricity and aviation.  The house still belongs to the family so it is not open to the public but the National Heritage Site has a large museum.

I stopped at the Baddeck Public Library.  (Mabel Bell was among its founders.) Note the Gaelic collection!

 Saturday morning:  the Hector brought emigrants from Scotland to Nova Scotia i 1773. The ship has been replicated.

Saturday afternoon:  back to P.E.I. and a visit to the beach at PEI National Park.

At our farewell dinner:  a group photo, including our leader Susan (front, left) and driver Dale (far right).

Sunday morning:  we left Summerside at 6:55 Atlantic time. We crossed the border at Houlton, ME at noon, and got to Sturbridge, MA at 7 p.m. Eastern.  We waved to family and friends, former homes and haunts as we sped past.  No time to visit!  Monday: on the road at 7 a.m., across MA and NY --overnight at Westlake, OH (west of Cleveland). Tuesday: on the road at 7 -- pulled into our driveway at noon.   HOME! With many great memories of a wonderful, wonderful trip.


  1. So many wonderful things to read in this post. I am going to investigate Road Scholars one of these days. Will need to convince the hubby though.

  2. So glad you were able to visit my little corner of the world. Isn't it a wonderful place? The mile long Confederation Bridge connects PRI to Nova Scotia. The causeway that connects Cape Breton to the mainland is just a hop, skip, and a jump. I hope one day you'll return. Maybe we can meet!


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