A Prince of an Island

By cheri

imageThe Confederation Bridge–all eight miles of it–links New Brunswick and the Canadian mainland with Prince Edward Island. Here, on this small isle where approximately 135 thousand people live, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, along with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, were formed as the Dominion of Canada in 1867.

The sand and earth here are rich warm red clay color, accentuated by the lush green grass which rolls out like a fertile carpet to every body of water that cradles the island shores. Other than a pastoral drive through the tidy Amish country years ago, I have never seen such pride of ownership of houses large or small anywhere in all of my travels.

The economy is fed from the sea and the land. Mussels, oysters, lobsters, scallops and fresh fish can be found at the end of every dock and harbor. Corn, wheat, and new potatoes are the primary foods grown here although we saw cauliflower and wine grapes planted in orderly rows.

The Malpeque Harbor, home of the Malpeque Oyster which won Best in Show at the 1900 Paris World's Fair

The Malpeque Harbor, home of the Malpeque Oyster, which won Best in Show at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. The land serves up a variety of vegetables but the new potato is Queen of Prince Edward Island.

How one tends to one’s property, be it an apartment, cottage, or farm says a great deal about the person. It’s safe to say that the residents of PEI appreciate order and precision.

The Victoria Lighthouse on the Argyle Shore of PEI.

The Victoria Lighthouse on the Argyle Shore of PEI.

Winters in PEI are frigid. Last year, over 400 cm of snow fell. The wood stove and wood stack are an architectural feature of most homes here.

Winters in PEI are frigid. Last year, over 400 cm of snow fell. The wood stove and wood stack are an architectural feature of most homes here.

I imagine no one who lives here suffers from island fever.

Beaches are vacant, hugged by a warm shoulder of sand dunes and cooled by balmy gulf winds and refreshing waters.

A reddish beach on the Northwestern shore/

A reddish beach on the Northwestern shore.

A stroll down the beach by Crowbush Cove with only the seabirds as our companions could not have been more perfect.

Some lucky lobster will not be caught in this trap, washed up from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Some lucky lobster will not be caught in this trap, washed up from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

You may remember my literary gaffe in mislabeling the novel Anne of Green Gables.

Thanks to my friend Richard, I didn’t try to find the House of the Green Gables here on PEI!

Instead, we followed a line of tourists, many of them Japanese, in our search for the house described in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel.

According to the literature, every room in this reconstruction is exactly how LM Montgomery described it.

According to the literature, every room in this reconstruction is exactly how LM Montgomery described it.

While there, we just so happened to meet Anne Shirley, the orphan who, in 1908, came to live with a middle-aged brother and sister, Mathew and Marilla Cuthbert. They had hoped to adopt a boy to help with the farm work but instead found themselves keeping company with one of literature’s most beloved characters.

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I asked Anne why so many Japanese tourists made the pilgrimage to Cavendish to tour the house and visit New London, the birthplace of LM Montgomery.

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She did not know that answer. All she could bubble about was the Haunted Forest and Lover’s Lane. Her bubbling intensified to gushing, so much so that I headed to the gift shop to buy my own copy of Anne of Green Gables.

Hanako Muriako’s 1952 translation of the novel into Japanese shortly after the horrors of WWII became a hit with Japanese girls and young adult women, perhaps looking for an idyllic salve to heal the wounds of displacement and depression. These girls and women told their daughters and so on and so on, so the next generation of Japanese tourist is still coming to see the red-haired girl and house with green gables. If you are interested in more of the story of this translation, you can find it on the internet.

We said “So long” to Anne and headed out in search of one of my favorite images–hay coils.

Prince Edward Island’s hay coils were like dollops of wheat candy to the eye.

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We leave this pristine prince of an island tomorrow and head for the French Canadian coast of New Brunswick.

photo by Hizzoner, 2015.

photo by Hizzoner, 2015.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, My photography, Writing and Teaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to A Prince of an Island

  1. Great photos and description of PEI Cheri. I had never heard the story of the Japanese interest in Anne of Green Gables. Very interesting too to know it was translated into Japanese.

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you, AK. I had not heard the story either…not surprising since Anne of Green Gables was never on my reading list or taught (to my knowledge) in public school. I was gobbling up the Nancy Drew mystery series and sneaking my brother’s Hardy Boys mysteried, too.!

  2. shoreacres says:

    I love the pristine landscape and houses. It makes me want to spend a day cleaning house. Well, at least the windows could stand a good washing.

    I’ve never heard anyone use the term “hay coils.” Is that your own phrase, or is it common in California–or PEI? Very interesting.

    • Cheri says:

      When I arrive home, I am going to immediately hose down all spider webs on the side of my house, not to mention sweeping the corners of the doors. Window washing?

      I believe that Brighid told me they were called hay coils. I had always called them hay rounds. Isn’t that correct, Brighid?

  3. Brighid says:

    Love the descriptions, and the pictures… there is so much to see and breath in. I will wait to see what you say about the hay…comment above. Namaste…

    • Cheri says:

      I believe I wrote a post about the French Nova Scotian shore called Clare and included a photo of hay rounds. I’ve taken that post down, as well as all of them with Judge Blah as a reference. You are the person who used the term hay coil, correct?

  4. Richard says:

    Your beautifully polished descriptions and evocative pictures of an exquisite island entrance me so much I want to live there. I can imagine myself, after a hard day’s work, at sea or in the fields, sampling the coastlines’ rouged lips, lying amid green-cloaked landscapes, relishing fresh sea food or reading Anne of Green Gables by the flickering light of a warm, crackling fire, defence against the winter cold and snows. I just hope not too many people feel the same.

    The only reason I knew the book title was that my sister mentioned it so often as I was growing up, eight years her junior, after WWII.

    • Richard says:

      Please also tell Hizonner that I am fascinated by his composition of the hay rolls. He captures a prehistoric spirit in these modern “megaliths”.

    • Cheri says:

      Lovely description of the photos yourself, Richard. I especially like the image of rouged lips and the crackling fire. Yes. There will be many crackling fires in PEI this winter. The enormous (and I mean enormous, wood piles and stacks throughout PEI and New Brunswick attest to cold cold winters.

  5. wkkortas says:

    400 centimeters of snow? If my math is correct, that translates to 150-plus inches, which is an almost insane amount, especially when (as I assume it would be) whipped about by rather unfriendly Atlantic gales. I’m thinking September is a much better time to visit the Maritme Porvinces as opposed to mid-February.

    • Richard says:

      Mama mia ! I didn’t know you were a meteorologist, stout Kortas.

      Will you stare at the Pacific and tell us if El Niño is coming ?

    • Richard says:

      I see that, in January 1911, 390 inches of level snow fell in 24 hours in Tamarack, Ca.

      Mamma mia !

    • Cheri says:

      Your math is perfect. I did the same computation when I got back to my room. Note that the folks in the pro shop (where we heard this statistic) said it was the worst winter in 100 years. Didn’t you have that type of winter on the East Coast? We have acquaintances in Portland, ME (where we are now)
      Everything closes by October up there. I’d guess that September is the time to visit.

      • wkkortas says:

        Our winter was cold with a capital C, but not that kind of snow, although there are places in Upstate New York where 150 inches of snow is de rigueur–I know people who live just north of Syracuse in the middle of the lake effect snow belt, and they clear the snow of their vehicles in the mornings with brooms, if not shovels.

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