Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cape Breton to Prince Edward Island

Our last outing on Cape Breton Island was a visit to the Glace Bay area. We saw the site where Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic radio messages on Dec. 15, 1902. All that remains are concrete foundations of the wireless operating room, but an information center was built near the site.


We walked out to see the ruins and look out to sea.


Imagine our surprise when we spotted a huge iceberg way out in the ocean! It’s times like this I wish I had a giant 300x zoom lens!


Our next stop was the Miners’ Museum.


A video and many exhibits explain the process of mining for coal and the Cape Breton Island’s mining heritage. The museum is also the home of The Men of The Deeps, the singing group that we saw perform, as I mentioned in a previous blog post.

Mining was a dangerous process, and many men lost their lives in cave-ins and explosions. A long hall displays a memorial tiles for every person who died in the Cape Breton Island mines.


We opted not to take the mine tour, which requires that you somehow make it through an opening only 4’ 2” tall (difficult, even for me!) and walk a long distance in the mine – I got claustrophobic just thinking about that! We gained a great appreciation for the men who did this hard work for so many years.

On Tuesday we moved from Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, to Prince Edward Island. The drive began well, but before long we were in the middle of a big construction project.


By then Don was driving because I was tired driving about 70 miles on a narrow, winding road. Lucky me, I got to sit back and take pictures! Some of the views from the southwest side of Bras d’Or Lakes were breathtaking.


Besides several delays for construction, we encountered a one-lane bridge.


We arrived at Caribou, about 180 miles total, a little after 12:00 noon. Without a reservation, we didn’t know if we’d have to wait a long time to catch a ride. The agent said “No problem, just get in lane 8 behind the other campers.” (All RVs are “campers” in this part of the world.) The next ferry was scheduled to leave at 1:00 pm.


Before long, we saw the ferry coming in to dock.


It’s amazing how many vehicles the ferries can hold!


As the crew began to direct vehicles to drive onto the ferry, cars were loaded first, with motorcycles, trucks and campers later in the process. I was afraid we weren’t going to make it on, but we finally got the nod to move forward and our motorhome was the last camper on the ship. Hurray!

Nobody is allowed to stay in their vehicles during the sail, so we first went to the deck with entertainment. A man and his 9-year-old son (who’s been playing guitar for 10 years!) played and sang.


We saw another ferry making the trip in the opposite direction. It looked like a smaller boat.


After a snack and walking around outside to see the views, we saw the island of PEI come into view. This is one of 26 lighthouses, only 7 of which are open to the public. Perhaps we can get to a few of them.


Once again I took the wheel to drive to the west side of Charlottetown to our RV park. We have a site buried in the trees, but we’re not using our satellite dishes here, so it’s not a problem. It’s nice to have some shade, with a large outside area as our site is wedge-shaped.


Yesterday we toured a little of Charlottetown. We visited Victoria Park, named in honor of Queen Victoria in 1793.



The PEI Battery was moved to the site in 1805, to defend the town. Its six guns have never been used for defense, but the area has often been used for ceremonial occasions.


There’s a nice view of downtown across the North River.


After lunch in town, we walked to Victoria Row. This is a very old city, and it’s great to see most of the buildings have been preserved or restored.


Peake’s Wharf hosts musicians in the outside plaza, with restaurants and shops all around, and of course boats.





I asked Don if he wanted this boat that’s for sale (second from right).


He said no, he wanted this one!


A group of flag dancers was practicing.


We drove through the historic district. This is St. Dunstan’s Basilica, opened in 1919.


There are colorful row houses similar to those in Newfoundland, but with more subdued colors.


Today we drove north across the island to Cavendish to see a few of the Anne of Green Gables sites. First stop was the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of “Anne of Green Gables,” and other novels in the series.




The bedroom where Lucy was born.


Second stop: The Anne of Green Gables Museum is housed in the Campbell home built in 1872 by L.M. Montgomery’s aunt and uncle. The house and its surroundings served as the inspiration for the novels.



L.M. Montgomery was married in this parlor on July 5, 1911, in front of the fireplace.


From an upstairs window I saw a horse-drawn carriage beginning a tour, with the “Lake of Shining Waters” in the background.


When I finished looking through the house, I found Don relaxing on the swing outside so I joined him. Anyone who loves the Anne of Green Gables stories should visit here!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Fortress of Louisbourg and Another Farewell

The Fortress turned out to be a wonderful choice and we even returned for a second day. We highly recommend this to anyone planning to travel to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

We stayed at the Louisbourg Motorhome Park with lovely views of the harbour.




The Fortress is a reconstruction of about 1/5 of the original fortified town. The main building housed the Governor’s quarters, officers’ quarters and the chapel.


Various houses in the town belonged to married officers and their families.



There were shops and bakeries, etc. Everything needed for everyday life in the 1700’s was contained within the town.



Many ruins have been discovered, like this house foundation.


The grand gate led to the dock where hundreds of ships came to bring provisions and reinforcements. The harbour could hold up to 200 ships. But they crowded so close together that if one caught fire, several would burn.


Throughout the town, re-enactors roam, providing music and entertainment. There were fifes and drums.


A lady with hoops and petticoats under her dress.


Visiting children were given costumes and taught to march with (fake) rifles.


A thief was brought before the crowd to help decide his fate. This was called “public punishment” which was thought to be a deterrent to more crime.


Crafts typical of the day are actively practiced. There’s basket-weaving.


Knitting, using hand-made double-pointed needles and home-spun wool.




I think this is Bargello, a type of needlepoint embroidery.


Tatting, to make lace for adorning elegant ladies’ garments.


Typical living areas have period furniture and implements.




Building methods are demonstrated, as the workers were trained to recreate the buildings using ancient methods and primitive instruments. I don’t think I’d like to be the person who had to make all the logs square.


There are some animals like those that would have been here, mainly grown for wool, skins and food.


And some were entertaining as well as functional.


Most houses had vegetable gardens.


Part of the arsenal of cannons is in this yard.


Louisbourg fell to the British forces in July 1758. The problem was that the French fortified the harbour but not the rear walls of the fortress. The British had some inside information about this, so they attacked from the rear and caught the French unaware. And the rest is history…

We enjoyed great music at the fortress, as well. The Men of The Deeps is a male choral group made up of former miners. They have been together for 47 years, under the direction of one conductor (far right), who was never a miner so he doesn’t wear the uniform or the hard hat. Several members also play instruments. We really enjoyed the performance.


The Barra MacNeils are basically a family group of a sister and three brothers, with accompanying musicians, who sing a variety of music including a number of Gaelic pieces. They all play a variety of instruments including accordion, harp, fiddle, mandolin, bass guitar, bodhran, etc.


The sister (who started performing at the age of 10) and two brothers even did a Scottish Highland step dance.


They are great musicians and we loved seeing them perform.

This morning we had to bid farewell to our traveling companions Denny & Susie Orr. They feel the call to return to the U.S. and visit family. We didn’t quite make it to their 50th anniversary on the 29th, but we have been celebrating all month and we gave them a card a few days early.

At the last minute before they left, a neighbor in the campground told us about a place nearby to get frozen crab legs for $6/lb. Susie and I quickly went there and got 5 lbs to split between us, since neither Denny nor Don eat crab.


My half will make a couple of nice meals.


Travel safely, Friends! It’s been a great couple of months!