Our recent wedding (4 years ago, give or take) was followed by an epic Canadian road trip of over 5,000 kilometres.
From our starting point near Niagara Falls, we went to a dockside bar in Montreal. Then drove on, to the ramparts of Quebec City, before heading to New Brunswick and St. Andrews. We fell in love with this place and one day, if we win the lottery, we’re going back. For good. We went a lot further. Onwards, into Nova Scotia, Breton Island and the world famous Cabot Trail. But those parts of our journey, as well as the equally interesting return trip, are stories for another time.
St. Andrews is a small, isolated community, buried deep in the forests of New Brunswick at the end of a very long and very windy single lane road. It is accessible by sea, due to its location on the Bay of Fundy, which makes it a perfect fishing town and tourist destination for the adventurous. That’s us, by the way.
As well as a small farmer’s market, there are seasonal art galleries and antique stores. The usual tourist things. There are also enough hardware and grocery stores to get you through the harsh winters – be under no illusions, this is not a location for the faint of heart. New Brunswick has an average snowfall in excess of 90 inches (nearly 8 feet) per year. Eight. Feet.
The warmer seasons are amazing. The new life of Spring, as all that snow magically melts. The manageable Summers, with hiking and fishing but without sunstroke. The most fantastically beautiful Falls, when those thousands of acres of forests change the colour of the whole world.
And then, there are the locals. A hardy bunch. Being perched (pun intended) on the Atlantic coast, this is historically a fishing community. It is rightly said that the sea is a harsh mistress. Loss of life and hardship helps explain why this remains a deeply religious community, with more churches per capita than any other location I know. In, I may add, a far greater number of varieties than you may expect. Whatever your flavour, this place respects diversity. And faith.
Locals have a wicked sense of humour, but are without malice. If they like you, they mock you. So gently, you may not notice them doing it. They’re sounding you out. If you don’t notice, they go back to their day. You’re just another tourist, a necessary evil. But if you do notice, and you take it in good humour, and you choose to gently mock them back… it’s a dance. If they like your dancing, you may be offered a hand. Perhaps, even a drink. A quick one at the Red Herring? Sure. Let the fun begin.
Bay Of Fundy
Being on the Bay of Fundy, the tides are unlike any you have ever seen. Claiming the highest tides in the world, Fundy Bay is not the place to fall asleep on the beach in a deckchair. The bay is home to a huge variety of fish and other marine animals, including seal and whale. Also airborne. We saw Eagles. Actual Eagles. We even went out on a whale watching trip, sadly without seeing more than a distant fin.
On an older converted trawler we ventured across the choppy waves, in the company of like-minded adventurers and a party of school children on a class outing. They had pirate swords and eye patches (the children, that is), and all had a fantastic time despite the overcast weather. The antics of those children more than made up for the absence of whales. It was a wonderful day.
We were buzzed by a catamaran of high-speed tourists behind glass that could not possibly enjoy the sounds of the sea over those howling engines. Faster than us, dashing about at immense volume all over the ocean, I later learned (in the Red Herring) that they also did not see whales that day. Bonus. OK, colour me petty.
I Love You
Trawling (pun again intended) through my photographs of that honeymoon brought back some great memories of twelve days on the road with my best friend and new bride, and inspired this article.
We averaged 6 hours per day cooped up in the car, just driving. Often more. I figure if we can survive that kind of environment, we should be good for the next couple of decades at least.
And so it is proving. I love you, my wife. I’m looking forward to spending the next however long we have, driving along together as we discover what is over the next hill.
Let’s see where the road of life will take us. Life is good.
Onwards. Always onwards.