As a twelve-year old in India I remember being enthralled by Anne of Green Gables, one of the books in our school library. I could never have dreamed that I’d be in Prince Edward Island, Canada, standing as I am today on the lawn of the Anne of Green Gables Museum. The house belonged to the Cavendish family—and still does—and it is where Lucy Maud Montgomery spent many happy hours, eventually using it as the setting for some of her stories about spirited red-haired Anne Shirley and her adoring beau Gilbert Blythe.
Entering the house on the heels of a group of excited Japanese tourists (the Anne series enjoys enormous popularity in their country), I feel as though I’m in a time-warp. In the old-fashioned pantry, pots and pans are neatly stacked on shelves, cucumbers wait to be sliced on a kitchen chopping block, and a vase of flowers is bathed in the sunshine streaming through the window of Anne’s bedroom. All that remains is for Anne herself to burst in through the door!
Which she does...at the musical “Anne and Gilbert” which we attend later that evening at The Guild Theatre and where their romance unfolds to the delight of the audience.
Prince Edward Island, accessed from New Brunswick by the impressive eight-mile long Confederation Bridge, is one of the most memorable stops on my tour of the Maritimes. For one thing it is the proud cradle of Confederation, and for another, I am charmed by its laid back tranquility, soft green fields, and trim houses set along winding roads.
Some things, however, are unexpected. I’d always imagined PEI’s shoreline to be dominated by rugged cliffs, so Cavendish Beach which is just one of several of the Island’s wide sandy beaches, comes as a pleasant surprise. On this warm summer afternoon, kids are building sandcastles, and visitors are enjoying a splash at the water’s edge. Its a scene that could have been in the Bahamas rather than in Atlantic Canada
Aside from the visit to PEI, the trip through the Maritimes with Senior Discovery Tours, offers many moments of ‘discovery’ for our group. Some of these are jaw-dropping, others mystifying—and sometime both! We drive by Nova Scotia’s inlets with fishing boats moored in waters clear as glass, and stop by Peggy’s Cove. The iconic lighthouse from a distance looks as though it is swarming with ants...tiny figures crawling across the massive rock it stands upon.
The Cabot Trail winds along a rugged coast and some of its bridges are narrow enough to warrant some nail-biting.
At the Annapolis Valley’s Acadian museum I am dismayed to read of the unfair deportation of this peaceful community by the British; The Alexander Bell Museum, not only covers this remarkable man’s many inventions (besides the telephone) but also displays memorabilia of the tender romance between him and his profoundly deaf wife, Mabel Hubbard Bell.
I’d read a great deal about New Brunswick’s Hopewell Rocks but nothing beats actually watching what happens. During our initial visit, the tide is out, and for the first time in my life, I actually walk on the wet, sandy ocean floor while marveling at the “flower-pot” rocks towering above my head. Then several hours later when we return, the sea has surged in by over sixty feet (the height of a three storey building) leaving only the very tips of the rocks visible. The water has flooded in at a mind-boggling rate of six feet per hour. Whoa! I overhear a tour-guide with a group of Brits say that the velocity of the inrush, causes the earth to tilt momentarily! Oh yeah?
At Magnetic Hill, our driver puts the engine into neutral gear, lifts his feet into the air, and allows our bus to drive itself uphill. Gasps of incredulity and much clicking of cameras! So yes...this is an optical illusion and the car is in actual fact moving downhill, but even so, it’s a cool little quirk that ostensibly bucks the laws of gravity.
No visit to the Maritimes would be complete without enjoying a feast of lobster, and at Shediac, New Brunswick, which prides itself on being the lobster capital of the world, my lobster is almost too large for my plate.
It’s not the only meal that is memorable on this trip for there are many, but one in particular vies for top billing: the dinner-theatre evening at The Beggar’s Banquet in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. Here, wearing period gowns and frilly caps, we tuck into generous buffet offerings, listen to to-tapping music and comical ballads while trying to dodge a bawdy, hideous wench who determinedly drags her victims onto the dance floor.
My camera captures some great images...but my memories hold much, much more!
PHOTOS: by Margaret Deefholts
1. Author at Peggy’s Cove
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