Family time and going home

Friday 23rd September to Sunday 25th September: Family time and going home.

We spend our last day centred around family which was a good way to end our trip.

We spent a very enjoyable evening on Thursday with Anne and Heath and their children, Aubrey and Ewan.

On our way back from Ottawa to Carrying Place on Friday, we called in to see Christina and Wayne. We had a good journey apart from a delay caused by some road works. On the journey, Christopher and Denise overtook us but we were concentrating on the road so much we didn’t see them waving to us!

We had a great time with Christina and Wayne and spent a long time chatting over lunch. Christina showed us some photos she took of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Canada.

When we got to Christopher and Denise’s home, they showed us some photos of Olivia, their new granddaughter. She is very cute 🙂 Denise also showed me the progress she had made with her quilt. Since we had left, they had taken the boat out of the water and were preparing to pack up the pool for the winter.

John woke early on Saturday morning and realised the sunrise over the Bay of Quinte looked marvellous so he came and woke me up to see it. I’m glad he did. We both went back to sleep after I took a photograph!

Sunrise over the Bay of Quinte
Sunrise over the Bay of Quinte

I spent the morning re-packing the luggage so that we didn’t have to pay to put an extra case in the hold. John went to check over the hire car. In no time at all it was time to pack the Mini ready for driving to the airport.

Maureen with the luggage ready to pack into the Mini Cooper
Maureen with the luggage ready to pack into the Mini Cooper
Maureen and John with the Mini Cooper S -Countryman
Maureen and John with the Mini Cooper S -Countryman

We set off to Toronto International airport after lunch. We had to go on Highway 401 which was rather daunting as it becomes 6 lane each way near Toronto. It was also stressful that we had to try to find where to return the hire car. There were clear signs to the different terminals but not to the car rental drop-off point … we only saw the sign after we had turned onto the wrong road! We managed to work out where we were, come back and have another go. This time we got it right!

After that everything went smoothly and we had plenty of time to get a meal and read our books. The flight was uneventful and we were amused to see that although the sky had been clear over Canada, Ireland and Anglesey, it was cloudy and raining at Manchester when we arrived on Sunday morning!

We were really pleased to see Liz waiting for us when we walked out of the arrivals hall. Liz drove us back home and to the end of our holiday.

It felt cold and we weren’t quite sure what day of the week it was or the time of day, but we were glad to be home. We had been away for about 4 months and slept in 34 different beds!

On our trip we have travelled by:

  • Ship / boat: freighter, 3 different ferries, 3 boat trips
  • Train
  • Bus
  • Car – during the last 6 weeks we drove approx 6,000 km / 3750 miles with the hire car – about what we would normally drive in a year in the UK!
  • Plane

Our overriding impression of Canada is that it is BIG and beautiful, and friendly. We enjoyed seeing different parts of the country and watching the wildlife.

Most importantly, I am glad I was able to meet so many members of my family and enjoy their company.

Ottawa

Thursday 22nd September: Ottawa, Ontario.

We took a bus from the motel into Ottawa city centre. We had decided to go on a boat trip in the Ottawa River which left from the base of the Rideau Canal so we went there first.

As we were walking towards the Parliament building on our way to the Rideau canal, suddenly lots of traffic police pulled up on motorbikes and started to direct the traffic. We thought maybe there had been an accident but realised they were closing specific roads. We asked someone what was happening and were told it was because the Chinese premier was visiting Ottawa. Just then a cavalcade of motorbikes, big black cars and a black limousine swept passed. You couldn’t see anyone inside so we can’t really claim to have seen the Chinese premier – just his limo 😉 There were several peaceful demonstrations and the city seemed very busy.

We walked to the canal. The Rideau Canal is 202 km / 125.5 miles long and was completed in 1832. It was built for strategic purposes to allow steam ships to travel from Montreal and Ottawa to Kingston on Lake Ontario without going via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The construction was a military decision and supervised by Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers. The construction camp that grew up around the canal was originally called Bytown and grew into the city now known as Ottawa.

Rideau Canal with Alexandra Bridge in the distance
Rideau Canal with Alexandra Bridge in the distance
Rideau Canal: locks 1 - 8
Rideau Canal: locks 1 – 8
Rideau Canal: locks 1 - 8 (view from the river)
Rideau Canal: locks 1 – 8 (view from the river)

We walked down alongside the 8 locks that join the canal with the Ottawa river to catch the boat and found we had some time to spare so we walked back up passed the Chateau Laurier Hotel and into Major’s Hills Park. We think John’s (great) Uncle Billy worked on the copper roof of the hotel which is one of the classic Gothic style buildings in Ottawa.  The park behind the hotel gave good views of the Parliament buildings, including the round Library of Parliament. I noticed that part of the copper roof of the Parliament had recently been re-roofed as it was hadn’t turned green yet.

View of Parliament buildings, including the Library of Parliament, Ottawa from Major's Hills Park
View of Parliament buildings, including the Library of Parliament, Ottawa from Major’s Hills Park
View of the Library of Parliament, Ottawa from Major's Hills Park
View of the Library of Parliament, Ottawa from Major’s Hills Park

The park had some lovely flower beds and also a statue to Lieutenant-Colonel John By and information about the building of the Rideau Canal.

Flower beds at Major's Hills Park, Ottawa
Flower beds at Major’s Hills Park, Ottawa
Detail of flower beds at Major's Hills Park, Ottawa
Detail of flower beds at Major’s Hills Park, Ottawa
Detail of flower beds at Major's Hills Park, Ottawa
Detail of flower beds at Major’s Hills Park, Ottawa
Detail of flower beds at Major's Hills Park, Ottawa
Detail of flower beds at Major’s Hills Park, Ottawa
Black squirrel in Major's Hills Park, Ottawa
Black squirrel in Major’s Hills Park, Ottawa

The river cruise provided good views of:

Alexandra Bridge (built originally for the railway) and the statue of Samuel De Champlain (early cartographer and explorer of Canada);

Alexandra Bridge and the statue of Samuel De Champlain
Alexandra Bridge and the statue of Samuel De Champlain

Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court of Canada;

Gatineau, Quebec which is on the opposite side of the river to Ottawa city;

Gatineau, Quebec
Gatineau, Quebec
Gatineau, Quebec
Gatineau, Quebec
Stern-wheeler paddle boat at Gatineau, Quebec
Stern-wheeler paddle boat at Gatineau, Quebec

We also saw the Canadian Museum of History’s building which is designed to look like a canoe with paddles (it was closed because of the Chinese premier’s visit), various embassies and the Canadian PM’s official residence and went passed the Rideau falls. Apparently the Rideau falls gets its name from the French word for curtain which was used to describe the falls by early explorers.

After the boat trip we walked along the Rideau Canal and over Laurier Avenue Bridge (constructed with green steel arches) towards the Byward Market district where we had lunch. After lunch we went to have a look at Parliament Hill which was very busy so we went back to the motel.

In the evening, Christopher and Denise collected us from the motel and took us round to meet Anne and Heath and their family. We had a lovely time with them and enjoyed meeting the children.

Autumn colours

Saturday 17th September: Cape Breton, NS to Sussex, New Brunswick

We decided to drive back to Ontario via Maine hoping to see something of the fall colours.  We were a week or so early but got an idea how vibrant the colours are once the leaves start to turn.

Got up promptly to finish packing and tidy the cottage.  We managed to leave by 8:30am.  We took the road to Sydney and then around back to the Canso Causeway on a highway rather than going the more direct route that was on country roads – we had discovered that most country roads were in a poor state of repair so which resulted in slow and difficult driving.  The road took us round the southern side of Brad d’Or Lake so I was able to see how large and beautiful it is.

Once we had crossed to the Nova Scotia mainland we were on highways, often dual carriageways, that were in good repair. We crossed into New Brunswick at about 3pm.

We must have been climbing steadily in New Brunswick as we started to notice more trees that were turning yellow and red.  The overall colour is green but we could see how lovely this area will be in a few weeks time.

We stopped at a motel in Sussex about 5pm and ate at the 1950s style diner attached to the motel.

Sunday 18th September: Sussex, New Brunswick to Skowhegan, Maine

Wake up to the sound of rain.  This is the first rain we have had during the day since a day in Sparrow Lake – it had rained sometimes overnight before but been clear during the day.

Left the motel after a huge breakfast and tried to get back onto Highway 1.  Not as easy as you would think!  There was a junction to leave the highway westbound but not to join it and the signage was very vague.  We decided to get back on the east bound side which was straightforward and go back 2Km to the previous junction where we came off and got on again going west.  Easy!  We were on our way by 9:15am.

The rain continued to persist until lunchtime when it eased off. We crossed the border into Maine, USA, with no problem and pulled off at a way-side diner for some lunch. Maine seemed very rural and quiet with few houses or communities around, despite townships being marked on the map!

We got a bit lost in Bangor as our map wasn’t detailed enough to show how the roads go and the signs seemed to disappear.  We managed it but I don’t think it was the optimal route.

We stopped in Skowhegan at a motel next to the river at about 3:30pm (it felt later as the hour went back when we crossed from New Brunswick to Maine).

Monday 19th September: Skowhegan, Maine to Stowe, Vermont via New Hampshire

Awoke to heavy rain which eased off about 9am.  We had breakfast at the motel and set off about 9:15am following highway 2 westwards towards Vermont. We went through part of New Hampshire to get there and were travelling through a number of mountains ranges which were very scenic: including the edge of the Blue Mountains and the White Mountains.

At Framington there was a very large old cemetery with old monuments and grave stones, much bigger than any we have seen so far.  It must have been larger in the past than it appears to be on the map.  Many of the farmsteads looked old.  Some of those in Maine looked neglected, signs of former prosperous times.

We arrived in Stowe which is a pretty ski resort and were surprised how warm it was.  Our motel had a good view of the Mount Mansfield. In the evening we walked part of a recreational trail along the river. We saw some wild turkeys grazing in a field of maize.

Wild turkeys in maize
Wild turkeys in maize

Tuesday 20th September: Stowe, Vermont

It was another hot day. We followed the recreational trail into the town of Stowe.  It was very pretty and some of the trees were beginning to change colour.

Stow church
Stow church
Fall colours
Fall colours
Fall colours
Fall colours
Fall colours
Fall colours
Fall colours
Fall colours

We had lunch in the town before walking back to the motel.  In the evening we saw a lovely sunset from the motel.

Sunset at Stowe
Sunset at Stowe

Wednesday 21st September: Stowe, Vermont to Ottawa, Ontario.

We drove up the pass towards Mount Mansfield and through Smugglers Notch.  The road at the highest part of the pass was quite narrow and wound its way through the rocks.  It reminded us of “the steeps” up to Blackshawhead. We stopped at a car park at the top.  Apparently the area has a number of caves which were used by smugglers when trade between USA and Canada was banned.  The area also has successfully re-introduced Peregrine Falcons.  We had seen hawks several times but weren’t sure what they were.  I later saw one sitting on a telephone wire.

Just before we crossed the border into Canada, we passed a sign saying we were at 45 degrees latitude and halfway between the North Pole and the Equator.

We arrived in Ottawa about 4pm.

Cape Breton Island

Saturday 10th to 17th September: Cape Breton Island

Saturday 10th September: Travelling to Cape Breton Island

We set off from Halifax, NS to Cape Breton Island where we hired a cottage on Lake Bras d’Or. We had a good journey and once on the Island, took the route that followed the lake shore to the cottage. It was delightful.  Bras d’Or Lake is a large inland lake that covers most of the southern part of the island.  It is not land-locked but as a couple of large sea inlets so the water is brackish – about 20% saline as the freshwater entering the lake from rivers is constantly diluting the salt.  It attracts bald eagles and we saw an eagle and a kingfisher as we drove along the lake.

We drove to North Sydney for supplies before going to the cottage which is between Ironville and Boisdale. When we had unpacked our things we went to explore the lakeshore by the cottage.

Evening sunlight at Bras d'Or beach
Evening sunlight at Bras d’Or beach
Bras d'Or beach sunset
Bras d’Or beach sunset

Sunday 11th September: Exploring the local roads

I didn’t feel too good, so we had a relaxing morning.  After lunch drove to North Sydney to do some more shopping.  On our way home we decided to explore the area, so we turned into the road that followed the lake shore towards the sea.  Part of the road goes over a Bailey bridge, so we stopped to have a look.  We saw other Bailey bridges in used on the island later in the week.

Bailey bridge
Bailey bridge
Bailey bridge
Bailey bridge

At the end of the lake, there is a channel to the sea which we followed so that we could see the Atlantic ocean.

We decided to follow a different route back and somehow ended up back at North Sydney!

Monday 12th September: Alexander Graham Bell

We visited the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell and his family, just outside Baddeck on Lake Bras d’Or.  To get there we had to drove over a mountain range which gave us excellent views of St Anne’s Bay on the way there and Lake Bras d’Or on the way home.

View over St Anne's Bay
View over St Anne’s Bay
View of part of Lake Bras d'Or
View of part of Lake Bras d’Or

There was a very interesting exhibition spanning all the different inventions and his areas of interest.  I hadn’t realised that he was a teacher of the deaf and that his father had developed a system called “visible speech” that taught deaf people to speak correctly.  Once of Alexander Graham Bell’s inventions was a device to measure hearing loss.  I guess this background explains his experiments that lead to the development of the telephone.  He also refined Eddison’s phonograph to develop the gramophone.  In Canada he is also known for his interest in flight and was one of a group of people who developed the “Silver Dart” that which is recognised as the first aeroplane flight in Canada.

View of Lake Bras d'Or from the Bell Museum in Baddeck
View of Lake Bras d’Or from the Bell Museum in Baddeck

Tuesday 13th September: Glace Bay and Atlantic coast

We decided to go to Glace Bay to see where Marconi sent the first transatlantic wireless message in 1902.  The visitor’s centre was closed but the information boards described the buildings and equipment that had been on the site before it was moved to Port Morien, about 10 Km to the south-east. The site is on the edge of the coast, so has a nice view overlooking the bay.

Site of Marconi's first transatlantic wireless communication, Glace Bay
Site of Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless communication, Glace Bay
Glace Bay
Glace Bay

We decided to go to Louisbourg following the road marked “the Marconi Trail” along the coast.  This took us through the township of Donkin where we pulled off the road to have our picnic lunch.  Our spot looked out over a small bay and we realised that there were lots of seals in the bay.  John counted 9 at one point.  We enjoyed watching them.

Seals
Seals
Seals
Seals

After that we carried on, stopping briefly at the beach at Mira.  The road was in poor repair which meant it driving was quite tiring and slow.  Luckily there were few cars on the road so we weren’t hassled by other drivers.

Wednesday 14th September: Cabot Trail

We set off early to drive around the Cabot Trail which covers the northern part of the island.  Most of the trail is along the coast with plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and sea kayaking. The views were stunning, especially where the road wound up the mountain clinging to the cliffs.  It was difficult to take photographs of the views.

Cabot Trail
Cabot Trail
Cabot's Trail
Cabot’s Trail

We stopped several times and had our picnic at Cabot’s Landing, the place in the north of the island where in 1497 John Cabot’s ships are alleged to have first sighted.  It was very quiet with a lovely view and a nice sandy beach.

Cabot's Landing
Cabot’s Landing
Cabot's Landing
Cabot’s Landing
Cabot's Landing
Cabot’s Landing

It was also the spot where the Atlantic cable first joined Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland in 1856, until the link was superceded in 1867 by the North Sydney – Placentia line.

It was a tiring drive, especially as there were lots of road works and some rough patches of road, but it was worth it to see the area.  If we went again, we would book somewhere to stay at 3 different places around the trail so that we could explore it properly – it was too far to do properly from a single point.  It was at least an hours drive from the cottage to get onto the trail.

Thursday 15th September: Sydney

We drove along to the public beach on the lake but realised that there were too many potholes to drive down, so we parked the car and walked onto the beach.  It was very windy – there were white caps on the lake, so we decided to picnic in the car.

Beach near cottage  on Lake Bras d'Or
Beach near cottage on Lake Bras d’Or

In the afternoon we drove to Sydney to have a look around, do some shopping and check the internet.  A cruise ship was in so we heard quite a few British accents which was quite a change.

Friday 16th September: Picnic on the beach

It was sunnier than it had been on Thursday so we walked along the old railway track from the cottage to the public beach with our picnic.  We explored the sand spit and John skimmed stones before we had our lunch.

Pebble on the beach
Pebble on the beach
Beach near cottage on Lake Bras d'Or
Beach near cottage on Lake Bras d’Or
Beach near cottage on Lake Bras d'Or
Beach near cottage on Lake Bras d’Or
Beach near cottage on Lake Bras d'Or
Beach near cottage on Lake Bras d’Or

We walked back and I did the packing while John sorted out and washed the car.  Chores done, we drove to Sydney to do some shopping and check the internet at Tim Horton’s.

Halifax, NS

Thursday 8th September: Halifax: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

We took a bus from the hotel into the centre of Halifax to look for HMCS Sackville and were surprised not to see her at the quayside.  We asked at the tourist information office and were told she would be back at the dock on Friday.

We had a stroll around the harbour looking at the ships.

Tug dwarfed by container ship
Tug dwarfed by container ship
Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, in Halifax harbour
Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, in Halifax harbour
Seaking helicopter flying over Halifax harbour
Seaking helicopter flying over Halifax harbour

We decided to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic instead.  This was a very interesting museum as it covered several interesting topics.

Part of the small crafts exhibition
Part of the small crafts exhibition

I was interested in the display about the Battle of the Atlantic and the Atlantic convoys during the Second World War as my great-uncle John was on convoy duty and certain came to Halifax at least once.  I hadn’t appreciated how many ships made up a convoy – there could be up to 100 ships.  Apparently Halifax was a good harbour for the ships to assemble at as it is deep, is ice-free in winter and is sheltered.

Some of these featured turned into a disadvantage in 1917 when two ships collided in Halifax harbour:  one was a munitions ship.  It caught fire and exploded causing the largest man-made explosion before Hiroshima.  It killed four times as many people as the San Francisco earthquake: 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 more were injured. The city around the quayside was reduced to ruins.

After lunch we looked at the collection of small boats on display at the museum and went on board the 200 foot steamship CSS Acadia.

Exhibit in the small boat shed of the museum
Exhibit in the small boat shed of the museum

CSS Acadia was built in Newcastle as was the first vessel specifically designed and built to survey Canada’s northern waters.  The display included some of the tools the hydrographers used.

CSS Acadia
CSS Acadia
CSS Acadia
CSS Acadia

Friday 9th September: Halifax: HMCS Sackville and Museum of Immigration

When we arrived in Halifax in the morning, HMCS Sackville was in the dock so we went on board and were able to have a good look around.  HMCS Sackville is the last surviving war-time corvette, although 123 corvettes were built in Canada as convoy escort vessels (and many more were built in the UK and USA).

HMCS Sackville
HMCS Sackville

The Flower class corvette was made famous by the book (and film) “The Cruel Sea” by Nicholas Monserrat. At the start of the second world war there was a shortage of warships capable of escorting the Atlantic convoys from North America to the UK. The Flower class corvette was the smallest warship capable of year round escort duty and because it was designed to be built in civilian shipyards it could be quickly built in large numbers in the UK, Canada and the USA. It was originally designed and built at Smith’s dockyard on the River Tees at Middlesborough and was based on an enlarged whale catcher design.

HMCS Sackville
HMCS Sackville

They were not particularly fast (max about 16 knots) and had a reputation for rolling and pitching in heavy seas. They were armed with a 4 inch gun, a 2-pounder single “pom-pom”, two 20 mm Oerlikons, depth charges and a Hedgehog A/S mortar.

HMCS Sackville
HMCS Sackville

They were the most common escort vessel during the first half of the war and continued to be used throughout the war but were gradually replaced by larger, faster and more heavily armed frigates.

HMCS Sackville
HMCS Sackville

John was particularly interested in the engine room and we were allowed to go right inside and walk around the cylinders that made up the triple expansion four cylinder steam engine (2750 HP). We also saw the boiler.  HMCS Sackville originally had two boilers but one was damaged in 1944, so she was taken out of active service and used as a training vessel (which is how she has survived).

HMCS Sackville's engine room
HMCS Sackville’s engine room
HMCS Sackville
HMCS Sackville

The visit made me realise how uncomfortable and cramped life on board must have been.

After lunch, I went into the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 while John had a look around the quayside.  In the Family History Centre, I found the passenger records for my Grandparents, aunts and uncles when they emigrated from the UK.

Quebec and New Brunswick

Saturday 3rd to Sunday 5th September: Family time

We met up with Betty and Ron’s family at their home in Warkworth.  I really enjoyed meeting my cousins again and also meeting some of the younger generation.  David and Jean came too as they hadn’t seen alot of the family for a long time.  Christine and Kelly decide that this was a good occasion to commemorate Ron and Betty’s 60th wedding anniversary.  Together they had created a book of photographs through the years and cards full of memories.  It was a lovely idea and I am glad that we were there to share the day.

Some of us stayed overnight and we all had breakfast together at Warkworth Golf Club.  John and I slept in a bedroom in the basement.  It was lovely to be cool at night.  I am surprised more Canadians don’t sleep downstairs during the summer – maybe I’m still not acclimatised to the heat!

Sunday 5th September: To Quebec

We set off after saying a sad “goodbye” to the family and headed back to highway 401.  We were very glad to be going east which was busy enough (up to UK standard of congestion), as the westbound lane was very busy with folk returning home in their RVs or in cars pulling trailers with bikes, jet skis, boats etc as they packed up their cabins at the end of the summer season.

We got round Montreal without too much difficulty and found a hotel in Drummondville, QC, for the night.

Monday 6th September: Labour Day; Quebec
Drummondville, QC to Rimouski, QC

As it was the Labour Day bank holiday (which marks the end of the summer season in Canada), we expected the roads to be busy so we set off promptly from Drummondville and headed up towards Quebec City on highway 20.  The traffic was not too bad, there was more congestion on the southbound lanes, and few lorries on the road.

At one point we saw two hand-gliders soaring above some trees.

We passed Quebec City on the southern side of the St Lawrence River and then followed the river up to Rivier du Loup.  This is near where the M/V Isolda picked up her first pilot for the St Lawrence seaway.

We parked at a picnic area at Rivier du Loup that overlooked the St Lawrence.  The river is so wide and tidal that we could easily have been at the seaside!

St Lawrence at Rivier du Loup, Quebec
St Lawrence at Rivier du Loup, Quebec

In the 1960s an artist decided that an outcrop of rock looked like the profile of a “red Indian” so painted one on the rock, complete with headdress. Over the years, different artists have renewed the painting.

20th century rock painting at Rivier du Loup, Quebec
20th century rock painting at Rivier du Loup, Quebec

We didn’t stop long as there weren’t any cafes for lunch so we set off keeping to a minor road following the river.  We found a diner about 2pm and had some sandwiches for lunch.

We followed the river shoreline through quiet rural areas where combine harvesters were at work until Rimouski where we checked into a motel.

Rimouski cathedral
Rimouski cathedral

Rimouski cathedral is typical of the churches we saw in Quebec – elegant wooden buildings with tall spires.

We walked downtown for dinner and saw the sun set over the St Lawrence.

Lights reflecting in the St Lawrence at Rimouski
Lights reflecting in the St Lawrence at Rimouski
Sunset over the St Lawrence at Rimouski, Quebec
Sunset over the St Lawrence at Rimouski, Quebec

Tuesday 6th September: Quebec to New Brunswick: Rimouski, QC to Miramichi, NB via Campbellton

We followed the St Lawrence estuary from Rimouski to Mont Joli on a minor road.  The way took us passed lots of holiday cottages and cabins overlooking the estuary.  We also saw more combine harvesters at work.

From Mont Joli we turned inland towards Campbellton to cross the Gaspe Peninsula.  The road climbed through countryside that reminded us of continental Europe and parts of Scotland.  It was very pretty.

Many of the placed we passed had churches with elegant tall thin spires that were metal coated and gleamed in the sunlight.  We wondered if this was a particularly Quebec style as we hadn’t noticed churches like this before.

After the town of Amqui the road followed the River Malapedia.  It was lovely and there were very few cars on the road in either direction.  At one place there was a view point so we stopped and inspected a covered wooden bridge over the river.

Covered bridge on Gaspe Peninsula
Covered bridge on Gaspe Peninsula
Inside of covered bridge on Gaspe Peninsula
Inside of covered bridge on Gaspe Peninsula

We stopped for a picnic lunch at Pointe-a-la-Croix before we crossed over the sea inlet to Campbellton.  We took a scenic route around Campbellton trying to find Highway 11 south and then it was another lovely drive down into New Brunswick and a stop overnight in the Newcastle district of Miramichi.

Miramichi - old building
Miramichi – old building
Rail and road bridge at Miramichi
Rail and road bridge at Miramichi
Miramichi - water feature in playground
Miramichi – water feature in playground

Wednesday 7th September: New Brunswick to Nova Scotia: Miramichi, NB to Halifax, NS

We continued our journey to Nova Scotia next day following the main route south.  However, we turned off before Moncton to follow the coast road towards Cap Pele.  We decided to follow the Acadia route round the coast so that we could see the Confederation Bridge which links New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  The bridge is 8 miles long and is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water.  The company John’s cousin, Christopher, worked for advised on corrosion protection for the bridge.  The other family connection is that the wind testing was done at UWO at the wind tunnel lab where Uncle David worked.  The bridge uses a multi-span concrete box girder structure, more detail about the design can be found here:  http://www.confederationbridge.com/about/confederation-bridge/design.html

Confederation Bridge
Confederation Bridge
Confederation Bridge
Confederation Bridge

We both thought it was a very elegant design.  I hope my photos do it justice.

The bridge detour took us down some country roads which were very pretty and gave occasional views of the lovely coastline – shame about the state of the roads!

We crossed into Nova Scotia near Amherst and stopped at the tourist information centre for a picnic lunch.  After that it was main roads until we arrived at the hotel in Halifax.

Carrying Place & Prince Edward County

Sunday 28th August to Saturday 3rd September: Carrying Place and Prince Edward County

Sunday 28th August: Carrying Place (near Trenton).

We arrived at Carrying Place where John’s cousins, Christopher and Denise live.  We remembered the house from when Auntie Mary lived there but it is almost like a new house with all the changes Christopher and Denise have made.  The living room windows now have a lovely view of the Bay of Quinte as the garden stretches down to the water.  We went for a swim (in the pool) before supper which was a nice way to cool down.

Monday 29th August: Murray Canal

After doing some finance and catching up on email, John and I went for a walk with Denise to see the neighbourhood and the Murray Canal.

John and Maureen outside Christopher and Denise's house.
John and Maureen outside Christopher and Denise’s house.

The Murray Canal links the Bay of Quinte with Lake Ontario at Presqu’ile Bay. It doesn’t have any locks and is relatively short (about 5 miles) but it is a big short cut for boats that would otherwise have to go all the way around Prince Edward County.

Murray Canal
Murray Canal

I think it was hotter than I realised as I ended the day with a migraine and had to take to my bed :-(.

Tuesday 30th August: Prince Edward County

Christopher and Denise took us on a drive around Prince Edward County which is an isthmus jutting out into Lake Ontario.  It was settled comparatively early.  Many loyalists who left America after the War of Independence in the 1780s settled in the county.  The route they took is remembered as the “Loyalist Parkway”.  Prince Edward County is good farming land and the area still has a very rural feel about it and we passed a lot of fields, apple orchards and vineyards (wineries).  The townships retain many old wooden and brick buildings from the 1800s onwards which make them very attractive to visit.  We also saw many old farmstead and barns as we drove passed.  The area is a popular tourist attraction, particularly the beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park, as it is relatively close to Toronto.

Our drive took to us to Wellington, Picton and Lake on the Mountain where we had lunch. On the way home we called in at the Waupous winery and Sandbanks.

North Beach?
North Beach?

carryingplace-05

carryingplace-06-cormorant

carryingplace-07

carryingplace-08-waupous

Wednesday 31st August: Canoeing

John and I went for a short canoe trip from the end of the garden.  We paddled towards the Murray Canal and then turned back, passed Christopher and Denise’s house towards Dead Man’s Bay and then back again.  We saw two swan families, an egret and a heron.

Intrepid canoeists!
Intrepid canoeists!

In the afternoon, Christopher and John went to the National Air Force Museum of Canada at Trenton while Denise and I visited a number of quilting and fabric shops.  We all enjoyed our day in different ways!

Thursday 1st September: Boat trip and family

We went out on the lake on Chris’s pontoon boat which was really nice.  We went as far as Trenton.

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Then in the afternoon we went to Toronto to visit Matt and Christina.  Friday will be Christina’s last day at work as her baby is due in 2 weeks.  They have a nice 1930s semi-detached house in downtown Toronto.  The house has a small front yard which they can park a car on and a slightly larger back yard.  They have extended their cellar down-wards to make a basement which will have a shower room, WC, laundry room and family room.  Douglas, you would be interested in the details of the structural engineering.  Their bathroom has the original 1930s roll-top bath.  We had a very enjoyable evening with them.

Friday 2nd September: Presqu’ile Provincial Park

We all went back to the Air Museum to see the plaques the family have donated in memory of Uncle Adam and Auntie Mary.  The museum has a restored Halifax bomber which was interesting to see as Uncle Adam flew in them during the war.  The museum also has a DC3 and a Boeing 707 among it’s exhibits.

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After that we went to Presqu’ile Provincial Park and visited the old lighthouse there.

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Saturday 3rd September: Johnston family gathering

Before we left, Christopher took us both out for a ride in his Mercedes 1980s convertible which we both enjoyed.

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carryingplace-18-car

Holleford, near Kingston

Sunday 21st August to Sunday 28th August: At Christina and Wayne’s

On Sunday we left Sparrow Lake to go to stay with Christina and Wayne near Kingston.

We successfully navigated the short cut from the cottages to the main highway north.  We had a good journey through the Halliburton Highlands and everything was going well until Barham, about 20 minutes from Hartington.  Unfortunately the main road takes a right angled left turn and I went straight on …. Neither of us realised we had missed the turn for some time – we were enjoying the view and the nice quiet road …. I guess we were more tired than we thought.  We turned around and got back to the junction OK and set off again, uneventfully, to meet Christina in Hartington.  We followed Christina back to her smallholding in Holleford.

Christina and Wayne have hens, cows, cats, a horse named Pepper and a German Shepherd called “Anese”.

Anese, the German Shepherd
Anese, the German Shepherd
Pepper
Pepper
Hens
Hens

They grow most of their own vegetables and have apple and pear trees.  Unfortunately they have had a very dry summer and even with carting in water from the local lake for the vegetables, the yield has suffered.

The cow's field
The cow’s field
Christina's cows
Christina’s cows

The cows are being fed on hay as the meadow is too dry.

It is very quiet and peaceful and the views from the house are lovely.  There are hummingbirds flying among the flowers and blue jays in the trees.

Hummingbird
Hummingbird
Humming bird on the washing line
Humming bird on the washing line
Blue jay
Blue jay
Wren? in the garden
Wren? in the garden
Wren? in the garden
Wren? in the garden

The weather is cooler here which we are glad about and there was quite a wind during the night which cooled things down a bit.

Christina's garden
Christina’s garden
Christina's garden
Christina’s garden

Monday 22nd August: Kohlrabi, tomatoes and Sydenham

We had a leisurely breakfast, catching up with family news and exchanging stories.  This sets the pattern for the week!

Wayne had pulled up some Kohlrabi which we helped top and tail ready for Christina to peel, chop and freeze.  The leaves and peelings were given to the cows.  Wayne picked a pail of tomatoes which he chopped and started to boil down for pasta sauce.  It will take several days to boil off the water to make the concentrate.

In the afternoon, Christina took us to Sydenham Library so that we could use the WiFi to check email etc.  Sydenham has a lot of old wooden clad buildings and the main street looks much the same as it did in the 1930s.  We went into …., reputed to be Canada’s oldest general store.  It is still run by the original family.  Wayne remembers when it was a real general store selling hardware and animal feed etc.  Today it more specialises in selling very nice gifts, toys and sweets.

Old barn at Syndenham
Old barn at Syndenham

Tuesday 23rd August:  Holleford crater and Kingston

On our way into Kingston for lunch and food shopping, Christina and Wayne show us the Holleford Crater.  The ridge their smallholding is situated on is formed of debris thrown up by a meteor which crashed into the earth eons of years ago.  The meteor estimated to have been 90 meters in diameter and formed a crater that is estimated to have been 244 meters wide and 2.5Km wide. The crater was revealed in 1955 by aerial photography.

Holleford Crater
Holleford Crater
Holleford Crater
Holleford Crater

In Kingston we had lunch at an old railway building.

Train in Kingston
Train in Kingston

Wednesday 24th August:  Desert Lake

Christina and Wayne took us to meet some friends, Donna and Wayne, who took us on a boat trip around Desert Lake.

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Christina and Wayne

Their house is right on the lake.  We saw a pileated woodpecker flying among the trees near the house.  From the boat, we saw a several turkey vultures soaring above the trees and also a loon in one of the bays around the lake.

Loon
Loon
Eagle's nest
Eagle’s nest

It was a lovely trip, the lake is about 5 miles long and it meanders into several bays.

When we got back to Donna and Wayne’s dock, Donna and I had a swim in the lake while the others chatted over a beer.  It was very refreshing.  The houses and cabins are on quite large lots, so each place is quite private.

Thursday 25th August:  Bottling and Sydenham

The tomato paste with has been simmering away in a large pan for several days has now reduced enough for Christina to add herbs and spices to it so that it can be bottled for pasta sauce.  It smelt good!

John and I went into Sydenham to the public library to check our email.

Friday 26th August:  Fort Henry

We went to Kingston and had a lovely meal at the bistro at Fort Henry.  We had a table overlooking over the harbour.  We saw the ferry going out to Wolfe Island as well as kayakers, wind surfers and motor cruisers.

We read in the newspaper that a UK specialist in “deliverology” was advising the Canadian government.  Apparently “deliverology” involves making sure governments deliver on their promises.

On the way home, we stopped to look at the sunset at Knowlton Lake.

Knowlton Lake at sunset
Knowlton Lake at sunset
Knowlton Lake at sunset
Knowlton Lake at sunset

Saturday 27th August:  Frontenac Park

We went to Frontenac Provincial Park. John, Christina and I did the Doe Lake trail (3km) while Wayne decided to go fishing.  On the trail, we saw an old mica mine, beaver lakes and tree stumps beavers have chewed, toads in the grass and frogs in the lakes.

Dead tree branches
Dead tree branches
Lake view
Lake view
Frog among the lilly pads
Frog among the lilly pads
Tranquil lake in Frontenac Park
Tranquil lake in Frontenac Park
Spot the toad
Spot the toad
Beaver dammed lake
Beaver dammed lake
Beaver dammed lake - dead trees
Beaver dammed lake – dead trees

When we met up with Wayne we found that his fishing rod broke so he went for a walk instead.

On our way out of the park, we saw a white tailed deer by the road.

White tailed deer among the trees
White tailed deer among the trees
White tailed deer among the trees
White tailed deer among the trees

Sunday 28th August: Warkworth and Carrying Place

We said “goodbye” to Christina and Wayne after a substantial breakfast at a diner in Verona. Wayne seemed to know all the other diners.  We have spent a lot of time this week swapping family stories with Christina and Wayne.

We called in to see my Auntie Betty and Uncle Ron in Warkworth on our way to stay with John’s cousins, Christopher and Denise, in Carrying Place (near Trenton).  It was lovely to see them again and catch up with family news.  We will be going back to their house later on to go to a big family get-together.

Sparrow Lake, Ontario cabin country

Monday 15th August to Saturday 20th August: Sparrow Lake cottage resort

Monday 15th August: Canoeing and swimming

We went canoeing with Kath, Brad, Evan and Sam, Sue and Claire. We took two canoes across the lake to see a couple of the small islands, including “bird poop island” which was white with guano and smelt!  We also paddled around a boat that had run aground on the rocks in a very shallow part of the lake. It has been propped up, presumably to prevent further damage to her propellers.

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Tuesday 16th August: Rain; Cinema

Heavy rain and wind all day, so we all decided to go to the cinema in Orillia: the older boys and men went to see the new Bourne film; Claire and Evan saw “Pete’s Dragon” with Jean and I. Brad stayed at home with Sam and had a quiet afternoon.

Wednesday 17th August: Algonquin

The marooned boat has gone, not sure how, maybe swept away with the rain and wind yesterday?

Today we drove up to the Algonquin Provincial Park with Kath and Brad, Evan and Sam. The route took us passed Oxtongue Lake and “White Birches” resort.  We stayed in a cabin there with Martin and Douglas in 1998. David and Jean and Kath had a neighbouring cabin.  We recognised the route to the falls that we all canoed to then.  I have a photo of Douglas holding a large bull frog.

Once in the Algonquin Park, we stopped at Hardwood Lookout trail.  Evan led the way, spotting the way markers on the trees.  It was a pretty walk through the trees to a lookout point where we were glad to find a couple of benches.


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SparrowLake-02-Algonquin

We returned to the car and drove to the Portage Store car park as we knew there would be toilets and picnic tables which made it a good place to have lunch. Over lunch we watched various groups of canoers coming and going, either on hire boats from the Portage Store or their own craft.

After lunch we drove to Peck Lake so that we could do the trail around the lake.  This was a little easier for Evan as it was mainly on a level.  There were lovely views from different points around the lake.

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We came across a couple of trees that had been attacked by the Pileated Woodpecker which are much bigger than UK woodpeckers (15 inches in length) and drill very large, deep holes.  You could put your hand into the holes.

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On the way home we stopped at Algonquin Outfitters and looked at the canoes for sale.  We didn’t follow Kath and Brad’s car home as we needed to go shopping in Huntsville, so we got lost trying to following the back road short cut we had taken in the morning.  In the end we went back to the highway and came the longer way (but probably quicker!).

We also had another torrential thunderstorm, luckily

Thursday 18th August:  Canoeing

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SparrowLake-13-mist

We spend part of the morning helping Evan and Claire fish from the dock.  Evan has a toy fishing rod with a weight and float and a fish on the end.  He can let the line spool out and then reel it in.

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SparrowLake-06-fishing

Most of us went across the lake for lunch at a road house.  John and I took a double kayak.  The floatilla also included two Canadian canoes, a single kayak and a paddleboard.  We pulled them up on the beach while we had lunch at tables overlooking the lake.

The rest of the family paddled straight back to the cottages, but John and I explored a bit more of the lake.  It was very peaceful and we found the kayak easy to paddle.

Friday 19th August: Georgian Bay; Fish and chips

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To celebrate David’s 75th Birthday, Jean organised a family trip from Parry Sound to Henry’s Fish and Chip restaurant on Frying Pan Island in Georgian Bay.

 

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As an extra treat, David, the 5 older boys and Steve, Pat and John flew across to Henry’s by float plane.  Each plane could only take 3 passengers.

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SparrowLake-18a-Henrys

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The boat trip took 2 hours to get to Henry’s.  To get out of the harbour area, we had to go through a swing bridge.

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In some places the navigable channel was very narrow.

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Apparently, the area has 30,000 islands.  It reminded me of the Thousand Island section of the St Lawrence seaway.

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Many of the islands have cabins and holiday cottages on them.  The only way to get any equipment or material for building to the islands is via a barge.  We saw one taking a septic tank, gravel and topsoil to an island.

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SparrowLake-15a-Henrys

As we came back to Parry Sound, we saw a freight train crossing the railway viaduct above the harbour.

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SparrowLake-26-Henrys

On the way back the cottage, David took us to see the Big Chute marine railway which is designed to take boats between lakes on the Severn-Trent waterway.  Boats sailed into a large railway frame and were secured by straps to stop them tipping over.  The frame then hoisted them up or down the incline as it was pulled bu steel cables along the railway lines.  The system was designed so that water from the two lakes did not mix to prevent predatory fish spreading, such as the sea lamprey which had decimated fish stocks in the Lake Ontario system.

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Saturday 20th August:

After breakfast. John and I took out a double kayak and paddled around into another bay of the lake.  This part is a nature reserve and had had a beaver lodge which flooded the river inlet.  There water was covered with white water lilies and the occasional blue flower.  Ahead of us on the water were lots of waterboatmen that would scatter in all directions as we approached.  On the lake we were able to paddle really close to a cormorant.  It was very peaceful.

By the time we got back, everyone was heading out to the swimming pool, so I joined them while John looked after the cottage.

Today is Kath’s birthday, so she went out for lunch with Sue, Sharon and Jean, leaving the rest of us to look after Evan and Sam (principle duty: playing trains).

We packed and helped sort out things in the cottage.

In the evening we all had a go letting off lemonade bottle rockets … they were very effective !  More details later …

Banff gondola and Bow Falls

Thursday 11th August: Banff gondola and Bow Falls

We had planned to go to Lake Louise, but couldn’t get a seat on the Greyhound bus back to Banff in the afternoon (annoying as we had been to the office twice on Wednesday to book our tickets only to find the office closed!).

Instead we decided to go on the Banff gondola which gave us superb views of the mountains around Banff and of the Bow River valley.  The gondola took us up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, 2281m (7486ft) above sea level, where we could see six mountain ranges.

View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
View of mountains from Sulphur Mountain, Banff
Bow River valley
Bow River valley with Banff Springs Hotel in the left hand corner of the photograph

We also saw some chipmunks and two marmots, also some Canadian Gray jays.

Chipmunk on Sulphur Mountain
Chipmunk on Sulphur Mountain
Chipmunk on Sulphur Mountain
Chipmunk on Sulphur Mountain
Marmot on Sulphur Mountain
Marmot on Sulphur Mountain
Marmot on Sulphur Mountain
Marmot on Sulphur Mountain
Gray Jay
Gray Jay

After a late lunch we walked to Bow Falls, just outside Banff, not far from the Banff Springs Hotel.

View of mountains from Banff
View of mountains from Banff
Bow River Falls, Banff
Bow River Falls, Banff