Only in Canada: A canoe race on ice

In the port of Quebec, with giant grain silos as a backdrop, the racers lined up at the starting line.

As they pushed out toward the Saint Lawrence River, the solid ice started to break apart. The rowers switched to a one-legged push, their spiked shoes finding traction against the clumps of ice.

Eventually they found clear water, and started rowing toward the opposite side of the river.

I couldn’t figure out why this was considered a canoe race instead of a rowing race until I saw that the coxswain in the stern was steering with a paddle instead of a rudder.

The race consisted of a couple of laps back and forth across the Saint Lawrence. The returning first seemed to be those that found a path of clear water, or a longer path of solid ice on the opposite shore.

Despite the cold, everyone was smiling as they crossed the finish line.

Quebec’s Winter Carnaval Parade

Huge points for creativity in Quebec’s Winter Carnaval Parade.

The grand finale is, of course, an appearance by bonhomme himself.

The library of my dreams

I now know why the defences around Quebec City were so strong.

It wasn’t to protect the citizens, it was to protect this, the library of my dreams. Somewhere in a fantasy land, I’ve always thought it would be wonderful to work in a study filled with books, a big desk, and comfortable chairs. Little did I know, such a place actually exists. It’s the only English library in Quebec City, housed inside the Morrin Centre. This is exactly how I envisioned my study, with the bonus of a spiral staircase and a second floor!

We were wandering through Quebec, saw a sign advertising tea in a library, and decided to join. We weren’t expecting this. We could easily have spent the remainder of our weekend here.

A pond in Kouchibouguac National Park

I spent the entire trip trying to remember how to pronounce Kouchibouguac. In talking to people throughout our trip, the conversation would always turn to where we were planning to head next.  We knew we were finishing near Moncton and wanted one last hike which would be exploring Kouchibouguac National Park. By the time we arrived, I could say our destination and people would generally recognize what I was trying to say.

I didn’t take many photos, but the reflection of the clouds in this river caught my eye.

Creatures of dusk on Panmure Island

We wanted to find a place for one last sunset on PEI, but we were on the wrong coast. I glanced at my GPS and took a guess that the bay to the north of Panure Island might give us a bit of a view.  We were not disappointed.

A sandy shoal, only knee-deep in water, extended for miles. We waded into the shallow water and were surprised by the creatures that were coming out of hiding for the evening.

Watching the crabs lock claws and battle each other provided much of the entertainment.  Watching crab versus lobster battles were even more amusing. The mechanical abilities are so mismatched that it was comical.

East Point Lighthouse, PEI

At the far eastern tip of Prince Edward Island lies the aptly named East Point Lighthouse. Local lore tells the tale of a British Captain who was charged for running his ship aground nearby. He managed to prove that the charts were wrong as they showed the lighthouse on the point instead of inland where it had actually been built.

Instead of changing the charts, they somehow managed to pick up and move the lighthouse closer to where it was shown on the charts. A pretty impressive feat, but also a testament to the construction.

It’s one of the few lighthouses that you can explore the inside of, and climb to the top.

I thought the tiny bulb inside a plastic housing looked sad atop what used to be a mighty mechanical rotating lens. Heavy steel parts are set casually aside, too big to remove through the access hatch.

A wild blueberry farm

We were driving through Eastern Prince Edward Island when we saw scarecrows off in the distance.  To our untrained eyes, it looked like they were defending empty overgrown fields.

Curious, we decided to turn down a side road, as one does on a meandering road trip through PEI.

Imagine our delight when we discovered that the fields were full of wild blueberries. We held off gorging ourselves in the field and bought a couple of quarts when we reached the next town.

The downside was explained to us later. The reason why the fields look like wild grasslands is that it’s impossible to plant wild blueberries. Only the larger farmed blueberries will grow from seeds. Instead of sowing seeds, farmers search out an area where blueberries are already growing wild in the forest, and chop down all the trees to allow the blueberries to take over more territory. I’ll think of that next time I see “organic wild blueberries” for sale in the grocery store.

A little further down the road, we saw how the harvesting is done.

This big tractor attachment hoovers them up, filters out a lot of the leaves and twigs, and somehow magically fills flats full of berries.


Prince Edward Island National Park

There are a whole series of boardwalks leading out to the beach. It was a beautiful walk.

I couldn’t resist a panorama from the top of a sand dune.

Rusty diesel

I’m impressed that this is still pumping.  I guess not much has changed in the gas dispensing technology besides adding frustratingly slow pay at the pump interfaces.

Little discoveries near Confederation Bridge

On our drive to Prince Edward Island, we stopped at the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre which is the last exit before the Confederation Bridge.

The are a couple of nice walking trails out toward an old lighthouse, and the centre itself serves as a discovery centre, tourist information centre, and a rest stop.  The food is by far the best I’ve ever had at a rest stop.  I had the tail end of the brunch buffet, and even the scrapings were delicious.

Walking back from the lighthouse along the beach, we discovered this little hermit crab who was clearly ambitious if he was planning on upgrading from his current shell to the shell we found him in.