Crossing the Strait by Iceboat – a true account.

Well the past few days where the typical spring is sprung tease that happens every year followed by today’s major dump of snow. And despite it being an annual event it still catches us dumb Canucks by surprise. As often happens when there is weather like this the Confederation Bridge was closed for a period of time and the Mainland was cut off from the Island. This was followed by the usual bemoaning about deliveries, appointments etc etc. You have to wonder how we would have managed in the old days.

By old days I mean prior to the beginning of the first reliable winter ferry service in 1917 when the HMS Prince Edward Island ran between Port Borden and Cape Tormentine. Before then there were only the famous, or perhaps infamous, ice boats. Over at Sailstrait archivist and Island historian Harry Holman features an account of what sounds like a harrowing journey as recorded by an Anglican clergyman on March 8, 1883.

Sailstrait

Almost all visitor accounts of travel to Prince Edward Island in the 19th century included mention of the winter isolation and the iceboat service which was a unique experience.  However most travellers came or went in the summer so their accounts were second- hand. What is rarer are those who actually experienced the icy passage. While there were a number of dangerous and prolonged crossings in the more than 80 years that the system operated most were routine although still cold and exciting. On a good day some crossings were made in under four hours from shore to shore.

Iceboat Service from P.E.I. to Mainland. Haszard & Moore postcard. Author’s collection

One of the most interesting and detailed is that of Father Edward Osborne, an Anglican brother of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist which had a monastery in Boston.  Osborne came to the Island in a mission in…

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Sunset for Two

Our friends Meriç and Oktay came for dinner last evening – well actually they brought dinner but that’s another story. As always we ate well, drank sufficiently (don’t get me started on the pleasures (?) of non-alcoholic wine), laughed a great deal and enjoyed their company.

After a stroll on the beach just before sunset we headed back to the cottage and a cup of tea. The mosquitos had discovered our presence and were sending on dinner invitations to their friends so we sat inside. But through the deck doors I spied two birds conversing at the top of one of the evergreens that edge the property. Meriç captured the duo and the glorious sunset that is pretty much typical of sunsets here.

The word for July 18th is:
Glorious /ˈɡlôrēəs/: [adjective]
1.1 Having, worthy of, or bringing fame or admiration.
1.2 Having a striking beauty or splendour that evokes feelings of delighted admiration.
Middle English: from Old French glorieus, from Latin gloriosus, from gloria ‘glory’.
The second definition definitely applies to Island sunsets.

Are We There Yet?

I’m sure that friends and acquaintances are getting rather tired of us harping on about our pending departure for French River. More than one eye-roll has indicated the general feeling mirrors Lady Macbeth’s command to: stand not upon the order of your going, but go!

It is funny – both haha and odd – that where once we would pack our bags and in some excitement head to the airport to journey around the world we are just as excite these days about a 65 minute car ride from home. Is it the pandemic that has elicited this reaction? Or is it perhaps weariness, after many years, of long distance travel? Whatever the reason we’ll be on our way tomorrow to one of our favourite spots on the Island: French River and Yankee Hill.

The village of French River – two more kilometres and you’re in Yankee Hill.
Photo: uncredited

So what are we going to do up there for two weeks? Well Sunday we head over to the Indian River Festival for a concert and then dinner with friends at Sou’West, a favourite in the area. Another evening we’re going to the Watermark Theatre over in North Rustico for The Gin Game. While we there at the cottage we’ll be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary with a BBQ with our friends Pico and Don. And our Lori, Cathleen, and Nora have promised to come up and explore the Yankee Hill Cemetery and have lunch at O’Neil’s, another favourite. A trip down to Holman’s Ice Cream Parlor in Summerside is mandatory for whatever ice cream treat they’ve whipped up that day. And I’m pretty sure there are hamburgers with our names on them at Backwoods Burger over in Tyne Valley. Plans are afoot to explore a bit Up-West and make a trip over to Lennox Island First Nation and possibly a bit further up the western end of the Island which we have yet to explore.

Other than that there is the sandy beach that stretches from the mouth of the French River to the Gulf. (A left click here will take you to a short video) Only the locals use it during the week and even on weekends 10 or 12 people is a crowd. And should it rain well I picked up two books to read. The Temptation of Forgivenes, the latest Donna Leon mystery – her 27th – will give me a chance to get reacquainted with Commisario Guido Brunetti, one of my favourite detectives. New London, the Lost Dream recounts the history of the Quaker settlement that was established in 1773 on the very spot we are staying at. It is a largely unknown bit of Island history.

And then there is the possibility of just sitting on the deck at the cottage sipping an iced tea (yes I’m still on the wagon) and watching the changing backdrop of an Island sky behind the New London Rear Lighthouse.

The New London Rear Lighthouse from Yankee Hill.
Photo: W. Bruce Stewart.

The threat of Hurricane Elsa seems to have passed us by – some wind, driving rain, thunder and lightening – and as I write this it looks like it’s clearing. The forecast for the next little while suggests a typical Island summer – sun, the odd rain shower, hotish days and cool nights.

Okay! Okay! We aren’t standing on any order and we’re going! We’re going!

The word for July 9th is:
Vacation /vāˈkāSH(ə)n,vəˈkāSH(ə)n/: [1. noun 2. verb]
1.1 An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.
1.2 The action of leaving something one previously occupied.
2.1 To take a vacation.
2.2 To leave something one previously occupied.
Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin vacatio(n- ), from vacare ‘be unoccupied’.

More Hiking on PEI

Now I’m sure our friend Nora, and probably Cathleen, Nora and Lynn, will laugh at what Laurent and I call “hiking” but it sounds more athletic than “walking”. Nora is a hiker par excellence having done the Camino de Santiago and a hike around the Island’s 700 km perimeter as a member of the group mapping out The Island Walk. However hike or walk these little jaunts give us a chance to explore our Province, take in the sea air, and the beauty of where we have chosen to live.

Back in early September we had done the Greenwich Dunes Trail; one of the three routes marked out and maintained by Parks Canada at Greenwich National Park. I wrote about that hike in an earlier post.

It was a warm, off-and-on sunny Saturday a few weeks later and we decided to head out to Greenwich and tackle the second trail: Tlaqatik. It traces a path through some of the Sanderson farm land but also that of previous settlements of the Mi’kmaq peoples and early European settlers. The French colony of Havre St Pierre (St Peter’s Harbour) was the commercial centre of the Island from its founding as a cod fishery in 1720 until the Deportation in 1758. The third trail small trail at Greenwich explores the area where the village once stood.

The Tlaqatik Trail begins at the junction of the Dunes Trail and goes through the fields overlooking St Peter’s Bay to the shores of the Bay itself. It loops around through a small patch of woods to the back of the Greenwich Dunes and returns to the junction by another forested path. To be honest it’s an easy hike but one that both of us enjoyed.

I decided to end the video with a panorama shot of St. Peter’s Bay taken from a belvedere on Highway 2. I had mistakenly thought that the Bay had been named after the guardian of the pearly gates. However it turns out it takes its name from the original principal shareholder of the trade expedition to the North Shore of what was then called l’Isle Saint Jean: Louis-Hyacinthe de Castel, Comte de Saint-Pierre.

The word for October 24th is:
Hike /hīk/: [1. noun 2. verb]
1.1 A long walk, especially in the country or wilderness.
1.2 A sharp increase, especially in price.
1.3 American football: a snap.
2.1 To take a long walk, especial in the country or wilderness.
2.2 To pull or lift up (clothing).
2.3 To increasing something sharply (price).
2.4 To snap a football.
From English dialectal hyke (“to walk vigorously”), probably a Northern form of hitch, from Middle English hytchen, hichen, icchen (“to move, jerk, stir”). Cognate with Scots hyke (“to move with a jerk”), dialectal German hicken (“to hobble, walk with a limp”), Danish hinke (“to hop”).
Notice it says “a long walk” – well I consider 4.5 km a long walk, so I guess we did a hike!

Island Goodies

This monring, as always, on our mid-day walk Nicky and I passed by SPUD 102.2 the radio station next to us. One of the employees was out on the front lawn with a station display. Nicky got his expected pat and I got a bag of potatoes!

I mean what could be more Island than a bag of potatoes? Well how about a bag of Island goodys!

Not a russet in sight but I was more than pleased with gifts from Receiver Coffee, the Preserve Company, Dairy Isle (ADL), The Great Canadian Soap Company, Honibe, and Cows. All great Island products.

When the Island was opened to visitors from the Atlantic Bubble (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland) the gang at SPUD welcomed everyone at the Bridge and Ferry Dock with a selection of Island products. And they’ve decided that as winter approaches it was a good idea to remind Islanders of what we have available to us right here at home.

Nora was a bit disappointed that there were no doggie biscuits but Papa and GrosPa were pleased with their haul and the reminder to support our local producers.

Laurent tells me that he is planning to post the Potato Chocolate Cake recipe if I am planning to make it!

Another word for October 16th is:
Local /ˈlōk(ə)l/: [1. noun 2. adjective]
1. An inhabitant of a particular area or neighbourhood.
2. Belonging or relating to a particular area or neighbourhood, typically exclusively so.
Late Middle English: from late Latin localis, from Latin locus ‘place’.
Now more than every it is important that we support local when ever we can, where ever we might live.



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