Monday, 19 August 2013


I am in PEI; that's Prince Edward Island for those of you not withing the Canadian cognoscenti; Green Gables, home of red haired Anne; birthplace of our Canadian Confederation, covered in the rich red mud that so produces such a perfect potato as to make PEI synonmous, and the McCain family both famous and wealthy.

PEI, with its gentle winds and sweeping landscape, is so different from its coastal counter, New Brunswick. Driving across the bucolic island is rather like driving through Devon in the south of England, that rural home of Dumnonian Celts famous even back into Roman antiquity for its farmlands and hills. PEI, though not of that age, is rooted in English tradition with a countryside that rolls along squared into farm after farm, neatly separated by hedgerows of small conifers; short, stubby trees suitable for nothing other than wind breaks.

The drive yesterday through the moose infested backroads of New Brunswick was uneventful to say the least. It was an easy day of driving, so necessary after the night before. The roads were unhurried, the speed limits lowered by the rural nature of the drive. The sea was ever on my left, sometimes there to see and others hidden but those same short, stubby conifers populating its neighbour island and the surrounding maritime regions. It's stick logging here, mostly for paper mills, along with the ubiquitous yet decimated commercial fishery. If you want to buy an old fishing boat, this is the place.

To leave New Brunswick for PEI, one has two choices; the old ferry run from Caribou, Nova Scotia over to Woods Island, PEI or over the relatively new Confederation Bridge. I say relatively new because this massive bridge over the Northumberland Strait, the 8 mile gap of water that separates PEI from the mainland, was under construction, halfway completed, when we came here in 1995.

The 8 mile long curved, two lane bridge replaced the old ferry service, the ferry we had taken when we made our trip over. The dock for the ferry on both sides provided terrific view of the construction and when we came here many of the cement pylons were already in place. Confederation Bridge, a project delivered and funded by the Canadian government, is the longest bridge in the world over ice-covered waters, for the strait has a tendency to freeze clear across in the worst of winters and freeze out a far distance from shore in even the mildest of Maritime winters. It is one of Canada’s top engineering achievements of the 20th century. and I have now driven over it.

Today I get to explore, visiting place I remember and some that are new. I am staying an extra night here just to give me time, needed time, to visit, to rest, and, oh, yes, to get my truck serviced. It's all good.

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