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Prince Edward Isle and Nova Scotia


I have written a short account of my wonderful trip to Canada in September 1998. I traveled with my mom, dad and my mom's sister via Holiday Tours. It was my first trip out of the United States.

Those first few days in Canada  were quite adventurous getting used to the different currency, food, and the pace of life. They are very polite people and do not seem to be in as much of a hurry as we Americans always seem to be.  Even crossing streets was an amazing adventure.  Pedestrians, tourist or native,  standing on a curb waiting to cross a street, would be motioned across by drivers. Even being in the street even if you were not in a crosswalk area, drivers stopped for pedestrians. Try that in New York.

The food was very good. We ate a lot of fresh fish such as lobster and haddock.  I managed after about a day or so to get the hang of the money pretty well.

Here is an account of my trip beginning with out departure from Bar Harbor, Maine.

After two days of long bus rides and a brief stop at Bar Harbor, we arrived at the New Brunswick Information Center (photo below) in the Canadian border town of St. Stephen around 4:00pm EST. We moved our watches ahead one hour to APT and exchanged our US dollars for Canadian currency. The rate that day was $1.62.

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We then headed to St. John to see the Reversing Falls. The Reversing Falls is a natural phenomenon that occurs twice each day. The strong tides from the Bay Fundy rise faster than the river can empty. The tide water attempts to push the river water back upstream causing the falls to appear to be reversing themselves up stream. We hit the time perfect as the tide was coming in. An added treat was watching a sea lion swimming up stream.

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The next morning we had a long ride to Prince Edward Island that included going over the Confederation Bridge. This 9 mile bridge was finished last year to replace a two hour ferry ride between New Brunswick and PEI. PEI is a beautiful Island. It is almost as sea level. The islanders are very friendly and take great pride in their country. As in New Brunswick, you see very little trash and the yards are kept neat and trim. We had a delicious lobster dinner that night. Prince Edward Island is most renowned for the children’s author L. M. Montgomery. Her Anne Of Green Gables series is based on the island and a small farm house she visited.

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We took a beautiful drive along the coast of PEI National Park and a stop at Brackley Beach to take some pictures. The rocks and soil have a red tint to them. We then drove on to the Green Gables Home for a tour of the house and grounds.

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The next day we had a short ride to Wood Island where we took a 50 minute ferry ride over to Nova Scotia. This was my first trip across a large body of water. I stood on the observation deck for the entire trip, which is where I shot the picture of the lighthouse as we pulled away from Wood Island. Other than being very windy, it was quite an experience especially as we pulled into port at Nova Scotia.

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We stayed two nights in the beautiful town of Port Hawkesbury on the edge of Cape Breton Island. Again, the islanders were very friendly. Pedestrians have the right of way. Drivers will stop in the middle of the road to allow you to cross the street. The first day we had a local tour guide take our bus through Cabot Trail on the Island. The Scots influence is very strong here. We stopped at several shops that featured Tartans and other Scottish items. The men wear either their own plaid or the plaid for Nova Scotia. I purchased a scarf of the Thomson plaid for my mother -in-law.

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I cannot really express the beauty of Cabot Trail. It winds its way through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We had rain off and on most of the day and by the end of the day had seen a total of six different rainbows. The mountains and valleys of Cape Breton are unlike anything I have ever seen in the United States. Our guide told us that many people who have also been to Scotland said this area reminds them of the Scottish Countryside.

We ended the day at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. The site of the museum is close to the home that Bell had on the island. His descendents still use the home seasonally. The museum features exhibits of his inventions and a large replica of an airship. On the bus the tour guide played a sample of the type of music they listen to on the Island. The Rankins are the most popular group. I purchased their album uprooted. Their music is a mixture of Irish and Scottish. I also purchased two CD’s of bagpipe music, which is my husband’s favorite.

After another long bus ride we arrived at the town of Halifax. The town of Halifax has worked very hard to restore the waterfront.  You can enter an enclosed walkway on the Main street of downtown Halifax and walk all the way down to the waterfront indoors.   About halfway down there is a series of shops, restaurants, food courts, etc. that one can stop along the way and enjoy.  One note about Halifax I will warn you about.   Everyday at Twelve Noon on the dot the canon at the Citadel, which is located on the hill above the waterfront if fired. I was told this by our tour escort, but forgot.   As my parents and I were walking toward the entrance to the enclosed walkway, the canon was fired. If I have ever come close to having a heart attack from fright, that was it. Fortunately I did not have to go back to the room to change my pants.

We had an afternoon bus tour of the town by a local tourist guide which included a church built in a single day by 2000 men and the hilltop fortress The Citadel which I mentioned. For dinner that night we ate at the restaurant at Peggy’s Cove. This is truly one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

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This is also the site where Swiss Air 111 crashed. We could see the rescue ships about six miles off shore. The Red Cross trucks were there and tents set up at various locations within the town. Despite this presence, I still felt the beauty of the place. The winds are so strong on the rocks it is very dangerous to walk. Also, the waves breaking on the rocks can take an innocent person out to sea in seconds. I walked around and took pictures of the coast and the lighthouse, and the huge rocks. As the sun set over the horizon, the sight was truly breath taking.

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The next day we drove to Lunenburg, the home of the famous racing schooner Bluenose II. Along the way we made a quick picture stop at Mahone Bay. This small town has three magnificent churches all in a row. The Fisheries Museum where the Bluenose II resides is one of the best Maritime Museums I have toured. It is a working museum that features fish tanks, displays and demonstrations.

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The highlight of my Canadian adventure was topped off the following day when we boarded the Scotia Prince for the 11 hour cruise back to Portland Maine. I was now going to cruise the Atlantic. We found a choice seat in the lounge by the port windows. Entertainment is provided all day in the lounge. Movies, bingo, etc are offered in addition to a casino for gambling. We ate lunch and dinner aboard the boat and I am proud to announce I did not get seasick. The floor show after dinner was a delight.

Upon arrival in Portland, Maine customs came on the bus to check each one of our passports.  We drove on to our hotel for the night, glad to be back on American soil, but really having enjoyed the hospitality and beauty of Canada.

Other trips: Mackinac Island/Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Quebec , New Hampshire 

Updated Saturday, April 26, 2003



Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Barbara Fritchman Thompson. All Rights Reserved.