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.noun2.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!
Prince Edward Island has been the home of the M’ikmaq for millennia, perhaps since time began. A creation legend says that Glooscap, the creator, had finished painting the world and he dipped his brush in a mix of all the colours and created Epekwitk* (Something laying in the water) – his favourite island. He is said to have been a giant with great power and when he slept the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia was his bed and Prince Edward Island was his pillow.
The history of the Mi’kmaq in the Atlantic region, both pre-contact and after, is a fascinating and complex one. With my limited knowledge I wouldn’t even dare to summarize it but to say that it rich for discovery and fortunately there is a movement to encourage that discovery. The M’ikmaq Confederacy of PEI and Parks Canada have formed a partnership with a goal to actively involved the Island First Nation “in the management of the Prince Edward Island National Park and National Historic Sites; and the presentation of Mi’kmaq history and culture – at Parks Canada sites and beyond.” We had the good fortune to come across one of the presentations as we left the parking lot for the hiking trails at Greenwich (Puku’samkek) on our hike to the Dunes at the beginning of September.
Junior Peter-Paul, a Mi’kmaq Elder and Heritage Interpreter, and his colleague Michael Sark, a future knowledge carrier, are building a traditional wigwam in a carefully chosen location. The skills and techniques have been passed to them by Elder Todd Labrador, well-known and acknowledged master birch bark builder from Nova Scotia.
As with any home the location was carefully chosen, respecting traditional and practical logic: the entrance faces east and the rays of the morning sun; a mature white spruce and two mature red maples provide protection from the heat, wind and rain; and there is a view of the water.
This is the third wigwam that Peter-Paul has build; he built his first with his grandfather at the age of 13. For Sark it is his second. He, along with other young people, helped Elders Methilda Knockwood-Snache and Peter-Paul build one at the Port-La-Joye-Fort-Amherst National Historic Site in 2017. They were under the guidance of Labrador, who learned the craft from his father and grandfather.
The structure is given its integrity by seven rings of saplings (maple, cherry or birch) bound by spruce roots. The roots are harvested and dried for future use; they become supple again when soaked in water or steamed. As well as giving strength to the wigwam the rings are meant as a reminder to those livng there of the Sacred Teachings: Love, Respect, Courage, Truth, Humility, Wisdom, and Honesty.
Once it has been harvested the birch bark is dried for future use and has almost a leathery look. Warm water or steaming over a fire warms the sap that has been retained – even after several months – and renders it pliable and flexible to be cut and shaped.
Melissa, Peter-Paul’s daughter, is a well-known M’ikmaq artist, who has revived the art of quill work here on the Island. She uses birch bark in her work and made this Tweet during the birch bark harvest in 2019.
Though there was much that was fascinating about the encampment one thing that caught my eye were the wooden nails that are used throughout – including on the birch bark canoe. Peter-Paul mentioned that they were “fired” to harden the wood – unfortunately I didn’t ask for an explanation of the process and hoped to on our recent visit however Park Services closed just before the threat of Hurricane Teddy.
The birch bark canoe on display is the work of Todd Labrador, Junior Peter-Paul and others. In the spring of 2018 Labrador and a group of future knowledge carriers had harvested the birch bark in Kejimkujik National Park, along with the spruce roots, cedar needed and that summer constructed four canoes. In September that same year Labrador and Peter-Paul spent six weeks constructing the canoe in what was a year of canoe building across the Maritimes.
As well as historic photos from the Confederacy Archives Peter-Paul had articles of regalia on display. I’ve repeated the photo of his breastplate that was hanging above the entrance to the wigwam. Peter-Paul admitted that he had just put it there that day – he wasn’t sure if it was traditional but felt it gave the wigwam a decorative touch. The tunic with the beautiful bead work was a gift from the community in Nova Scotia. Notice that the tunic is hanging from a wooden nail!
With the closing of Park Services in mid-September the various artifacts have been removed but the wigwam and smoke pit remain in the clearing and I am assuming will do so through the winter. Hopefully come the spring Peter-Paul and Sark will be back to share more of the culture of their rich Mi’kmaq heritage.
As a side bar we have watched the Mi’kmaq Urban Indigenous Centre being built from our den window and I believe Peter-Paul and Sark will be crafting another wigwam for the cultural element of the new building.
The word for October 1st is: *Wigwam /ˈwiɡˌwäm/: [noun] A dome-shaped or conical hut or tent made by fastening mats, skins, or bark over a framework of poles (as used formerly by some North American Native peoples). Early 17th century: from Ojibwa wigwaum, Algonquian wikiwam ‘their house’. Míkmawísimk is one of the Algonquianlanguages.
*European sailors, traders, and settlers gave us the transliteration Abegweit with was then rather poetically translated “Cradled on the Waves”.
Well we didn’t do as much beaching or hiking as we said would – the best planned lays of mice and men etc. – the past few months. Not sure what happened but time and the summer just seemed to get away from us. Having said that one cloudy/sunny/cloudy/semi-sunny (hey it’s PEI we can get that combo in 5 minutes) day we decided to drive out to Greenwich National Park and hike the Dunes trail known for it’s floating boardwalk. It is floating in two senses of the word – it is suspended above the forest and marshlands floor but also floats on Bowley’s Pond rising and falling with the water levels.
The western tip of the peninsula that forms St Peter’s Bay Greenwich became a National Park in 1998 with a mandate to protect the natural and cultural resources of the region. The land had been farmed by Charles Sanderson as early as 1820; he passed it on to his sons. His grandson Cyril farmed it from 1939 (he was 14 at the time) until it was sold in 1979. The buildings gradually fell in to disrepair and were eventually torn down. The fields and wood lots have been gradually reclaimed by nature but outlines are still distinguishable.
Despite devastating budget cuts during the declining years of Snake Eye’s mandate in the early 20-teens Parks Canada has done an excellent job of maintaining facilities and posting information about the site and its environment.
Here are some of the flora and fauna that they identify on the information signs that pepper the route. Unfortunately it is not possible to put a caption on them on this page however a left click will take you to the slideshow that identifies a small selection of the bugs, the birds, the beasts, and the blossoms on the Dunes Trail.
Once again through the magic of iPhone and iMovie you can join Laurent and I for a few minutes on our hike to the Greenwhich Dunes. Surely, but far to slowly, I am finding out a few of the tricks of smoother video making but I still haven’t mastered the Hinterlands Who’s Whovoice over but I’m sure that will come.
Yesterday (September 26th) we headed out to Greenwich once again this time to hike the Tlaqatik Trail. Tlaqatik is a Mi’kmaq phrase meaning “At the Campsite” and archaeological research has revealed that the area has been a living place for the past 10,000 years. I’ll try and get a video of that jaunt up within the next week or so.
The word for September 27th is: Apple /ˈapəl/: [noun] 1. The round fruit of a tree of the rose family, which typically has thin red or green skin and crisp flesh. Many varieties have been developed as dessert or cooking fruit or for making cider. 2. An unrelated fruit that resembles an apple in some way. 3. the tree which bears apples. Formerly spelled æppel in Old English, it derives from the Proto-Germanic root ap(a)laz, which could also mean fruit in general. This is ultimately derived from Proto-Indo-European ab(e)l-, but the precise original meaning and the relationship between both words is uncertain. It is interesting that in the “Latin” languages French takes its word from the Latin pomum but Spanish uses the Latin derivative matianum while Italian take it from the Greek malum.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown