Monday, September 28, 2015

Back-roading in New Brunswick

For the past couple of days we've been driving the back roads of rural New Brunswick. It's really beautiful. The leaves are just beginning to turn and the roads are essentially empty. It seems that after Labour Day there's not much happening.  Here are a few photos to give you an idea of this lovely area. No commentary needed.

This last photo was taken inside a gas station convenience store. They were selling produce from local farms.

The moon and the tides and Minister's Island

The stellar experience of yesterday was the moon, which I watched turn from the usual silver disk to this over the course of an hour. Full disclosure: this is not my photograph. I took it from a collection on the internet and rotated it to show what I saw here in Saint Andrews by the Sea, Nova Scotia.  It was so beautiful sitting in a deck chair beside a tree in the dark watching the celestial show.                                                                                                                                                                                       Because of the super moon they're experiencing the highest tides in 20 years here on the Bay of Fundy. We haven't seen a high tide yet but yesterday we took advantage of the low tide to drive along a tidal roadway and visit Minister's Island.
This is the road to Minister's Island, which is accessible only for about four hours twice a day when the tide goes out far enough to expose the gravel bar that allows vehicles across. The 500 acre island gets its name from Loyalist Reverend Samuel Andrews, who built his stone house there in 1790.

But its fame now results from the 12,000 square foot summer "cottage" built by railroad baron William Cornelius Van Horne about a hundred years later. He built a self sufficient farm complete with a windmill, water system, bath house, tidal swimming pool, stables, and servants and this chateau-like barn. That's the inside of the barn on the right where people are looking at ribbons won by his prize Dutch belted cattle. 

The property is now now a park and opens to visitors with guided tours in the summer.  We checked online to find out when it was open--as its hours are completely determined by the tide table and headed down in the car. When we got across the bar to the gate we discovered that we had only 1 hour and 15 minutes before we had to be off the island. So not wanting to sleep in the car we did a whirlwind tour. I think the building here was residence to the farm manager.
This photo is an elevation done by the architects who designed the cottage. It was built of sandstone quarried on the island. Check out the views through the French doors in the reflection.
We were able to tour through most of the house, full of original furniture including Van Horne's billiard table. ( I love the hanging lamp.)

Here's one of the 17 bedrooms.

Not all were elegant though; this is clearly a servant's bedroom. At the top of the house was a warren of tiny rooms like this.

Here's the dining room set for dinner at Van Horne's original dining table.

And a little ways away, the kitchen where the meals were prepared on this gigantic stove.

 The house clearly reveals the "Upstairs, Downstairs" life of Edwardian times.

This carriage was in the stable and I guess the horses would be harnessed up to take the family across the bar to town.

A final view of Covenhaven and the windmill and gas engine that powered the water system.

We headed back across the bar in plenty of time, not wanting to spend the night on the island--even though there are 17 bedrooms there!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Three very different places

Last night we ate dinner in sophisticated Charlottetown, this morning we wandered around a little village that was lost in time (Victoria by the Sea on PEI) and this afternoon we explored the sea worn rocks at Hopewell Cape in New Brunswick. The more different spots you could not imagine.

Here are some photos to show you what I mean.

Morning sun on the sandstone building blocks of most of Charlottetown's old buildings...

A sophisticate steakhouse and oyster bar in an old brick building...

Two well-known eating establishments in downtown Charlottetown.

We just enjoyed authentic Napoli pizza and Italian wine at Piatto.

Now for something completely different....  Victoria by the Sea, a small village bypassed by the highway that has kept its old time feeling.

The view across the harobut. This is quintessential PEI.

Just about every house has a huge woodpile for heating in the winter.

Looking across the water past old houses to the red cliffs.

Next we are in New Brunswick at the world famous Hopewell Rocks, also known as the flowerpot rocks that have been carved by wind and sea into amazingly tall creations. Here you can go down a big staircase to the beach when the tide is out and walk along the ocean floor 20 to 30 feet below the water level at high tide.

We are posing in front of an arch that is pretty well inundated at high tide

The water flows very fast out of this bay leaving it almost completely mud flats every day. The river that flows into this part of the bay is known as the Chocolate River because when the tide goes out the reddish-brown river banks glisten like melted chocolate.

We have three days in New Brunswick before we take the bus into the province of Quebec. I'll keep you posted about what we discover.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Going back in time to PEI

After a four hour drive (including 13 km on the Confederation Bridge) we arrived in Summerside, PEI,  to spend the afternoon with our friend Michael who grew up here and just happened to be visiting his mother the same time as we took this trip. Michael took us on a whirlwind tour of his childhood and his family's history, going back many generations. We learned that Michael's parents are of Acadian heritage and he has hundreds of cousins still living here. What an excellent way to get the feeling of this special rural island!

Art, crafts, churches and graveyards, woollen mills, fisherman's docks and seafood lunch were highlights of the afternoon.

Some of the churches were open so we could just go in and admire the lovely interiors. The door latch here is from a very old church.

Every church has its graveyard and they each have different feelings. 

The most evocative one was right at the shore's edge. This is an Acadian Catholic church and Michael's relatives are buried here.

We headed to Murphy's dock for lunch at an unimposing little restaurant that served fabulous fish and chips. 

Just beside it was a row of faded wooden fisherman's sheds that caught my eye. They look like they've been here for at least 100 years.

Then it was off to the woollen mill where Michael wanted to buy a blanket. MacAusland's has been around for a while, wouldn't you say? This machine looks like something from the Industrial revolution. The mill started in 1870 and they've been creating yarn and woolen blankets since the 1930s. 

Here's a sample of their undyed yarn, and Michel and Harry with the new woven wool blanket.

The funny thing is that my cousin Jacques from Saturna Island sends wool from their sheep to this mill to be woven into blankets for sale. Small country--even if it is 5,000 miles across.  There's a definite connect from PEI to Vancouver Island. It's like they're the bookends of the country. But in Prince Edward Island it feels like we're living in a long-ago time.