Category Archives: Atlantic Canada

Our Newfoundland Visit – Days 3 and 4

Days 3 and 4 of our Newfoundland trip were amazing!

As luck would have it my husband’s cousin and his wife offered to spend the day taking us to the places we wanted to see.

They saved us renting a car and we got to see so many things we wouldn’t have known of otherwise!

Our first stop after leaving St. John’s was Witless Bay. We stopped at a lovely spot called the Irish Loop Coffee House. It reminded me of my grandmother so much! While we were there we met a lady who pointed out a baby beluga whale. Apparently (and you can google it for the full story) the whale strayed from it’s mother and came into the harbour a few weeks ago. It adopted a Zodiac boat as a surrogate mother. When the boat left it’s mooring the baby left, when it returned so did the baby. We watched as it rubbed itself along the boat.  The Department of Fisheries was monitoring the situation and the baby was healthy and eating. It was a bit of an emotional scene to watch.

Our next stop was Ferryland. Settled in 1621 Ferryland was established as a fishing station in the late 16th century. It is home to the 17th century Colony of Avalon. Archeological digs have been happening at the site for years and we were fortunate enough to be able to talk to a few of the student archeologists!

From there we headed to Mistaken Point. This location is home to some of the oldest fossils on earth and is the only place where you can see 565 million year old sea floors that show the diversity of life during that period. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that you could only see the site by guided tour which had already left by the time we arrived. We did get to visit the Interpretive Centre which showed a DVD and a few exhibits. There were a few casts in the Centre which were incredible. I can only imagine how amazing the actual site is.

Next up was Cape Race.  If you know anything about Titanic, you know this is where her distress signal was received and information on her sinking was passed to the world.

Our last stop for the day was to cliffs overlooking Topsail Beach for sunset. So beautiful!

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After a long day we were all pretty wiped. When they dropped us off they offered again to pick us up the next day so we could see Cape Spear and Petty Habour. Boy am I glad we said yes!

First stop on our last day was Cape Spear, the eastern most point of North America.

Our last spot for this trip was the beautiful Petty Harbour, where the 1977 movie ‘Orca’ was filmed. Here we talked to fishermen who answered all our questions and just embodied what I see as true Newfoundlanders.

After leaving Petty Harbour we stopped for a wonderful lunch at Keith’s Diner and then off to the airport to say good bye.

We had an amazing trip and crammed as much as we could into 4 days. We easily could have added another 2 days. Big thank you to our buddy Dave and my husbands cousin Roger and his wife Michelle for helping us make this trip as great as it was. I can’t wait to return!

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Till we meet again Newfoundland!

Our Newfoundland Visit – Days 1 and 2

My husband and I like to plan a few trips over the summer months. Most are day or short one night trips but we always make sure to do one big trip. This year we decided to visit St. John’s, Newfoundland – a place neither of us had been before.

We talked to lots of folks while we were planning and the Murray Premises Hotel came highly recommended. As fate would have it, I found a Groupon for the hotel that saved us quite a bit of money.  We flew Porter with carry on only, as we did last year, and again it was fine. We upgraded our seats for the trip home, totally worth it.

Murray Premises was originally built in 1846 as a collection of mercantile buildings related to the fishing industry and sits right on the waterfront. In May of 2001 it became a hotel and has grown several times since then.

Being that we arrived in St. John’s at suppertime our first stop had to be the George St area!

The next day was all about site seeing.

Whale watching with Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours.

And finally Signal Hill and Quidi Vidi.

And of course we finished the night off on George St. listening to fabulous Newfoundland entertainment!

Next up, days 3 and 4. We fit in everything we could to this trip!

My DNA Journey – The Paternal Side

Before getting too into my mother’s story, it’s only right that I talk about my father’s a bit.  It too provided some interesting discoveries and honestly some of the information I found on the internet was heartbreaking.

Growing up I always knew we were of Acadian descent. The beauty of being Acadian is that your history is so well documented. My DNA results made it easy for me to build my family tree on that side. So far I have been able to trace my roots to a direct ancestor who was born in 1570 at Pouilly-en-Auxois, Cote-d’Or, Burgandy France.

For those who may not know who the Nova Scotia Acadians were, they were French settlers primarily from Aunis, Saintonge and Poitou in France.  They first arrived in Nova Scotia around 1603, with the first permanent settlement being established in 1632. My first ancestors arrived around 1644. Two of their children were baptized at Port Royal.

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The Acadian people got along well and lived quite harmoniously with the local Mi’kmaq populations. The Acadians were skilled farmers, fishermen, and dike builders. They lived in relative peace for the times until 1755 when what has become known as the ‘Expulsion of the Acadians’ started. In a nutshell for several years, the British by any and all means possible, forcibly and inhumanely removed the Acadian people from their families, lands and homes in Nova Scotia. If you ever have the opportunity to read testimony or archive stories from this event you should. It is utterly devastating to read what these people endured and should serve to remind us that we cannot allow those sort of atrocities on our watch.

The Acadians in many cases were separated from family and ended up scattered throughout other coastal areas of the US and Canada. Some were helped by the Mi’kmaq and were able to safely hide in Nova Scotia. In 1763 the war ended and the survivors began to return, reunite with family and start life over. My people went to Cape Breton where many of them still live today.

Acadians are a very proud people and driving across the Maritimes you will see their flag and symbols proudly displayed. This is my fathers paternal history.

His maternal history turned out to be quite a surprise. His mother’s people were generally from the Sheet Harbour, NS and Murray River, PEI areas. For some reason that I don’t know they had always assumed she was solely of German descent.  She was not, her family was as much Scottish as it was German. With names like William Wallace Spears and Robert Bruce Spears in the tree it was pretty obvious her father’s family were Scottish.  They arrived in Nova Scotia in the mid to late 1700’s. Her mother’s family were German and they too settled in Sheet Harbour as well as Lunenburg in the mid-late 1700’s. When I told my aunt this, she had no idea. Like the rest of us she only ever heard details for the Acadian side of our family story.

So as it turns out my brothers and I are a whole lot more Scottish than we ever could have guessed. With my mother’s both maternal and paternal ethnicity being Scottish and my father being at least 1/4 Scottish, there is a lot to work with.  Trust me, I plan to.

As I was going through my DNA matches I was able to actually identify relatives that my mother and father have in common. Thankfully they are several generations removed but none the less it is interesting and something I plan to look into more.

I read somewhere that if you go back six generations we will all find that we have a relative in common somewhere, so far that has been true. In a small province like Nova Scotia where immigration was so heavily encouraged by the powers that be of that time period I don’t think it would be much of a surprise to find that many of us have relatives in common. For those families, like mine, who have been here for hundreds of years it is not uncommon to also find Mi’kmaq ancestors. We are all connected in some way.

Nova Scotia is a wonderful melting pot of different cultures and I hope we continue to be for years and years to come.

Next up, I delve into the journey that is DNA testing and adoption.

 

 

Summer 2018 – Road Trips

Where we had a trip to Ottawa already planned and are saving for a big trip to celebrate my retirement in 2019, we decided that we would stick to Nova Scotia for the rest of our vacation.  Nova Scotia is beautiful in the summer.  With so many places to explore you can do a different road trip every weekend.

Peggy’s Cove is always a must visit.

As is Mahone Bay.

Drives to the Valley for us are mainly to get fresh produce, you can’t get better strawberries anywhere, but the views are pretty nice too.   Oh and I discovered the many Vinyard’s so well, now there are more reasons to go!

Lunenburg is busy this time of year but definitely worth a visit.

We visited Truro’s Victoria Park for the first, but definitely not the last, time this summer.  Absolutely loved it and could not believe we hadn’t know about it until quite recently.

We also visited Nova Scotia’s longest beach, Martinique for the first time.  It was a very foggy day but still easy to see how nice it was.  Lots of surfers and body boarders.

Finally, we grabbed our granddaughter and headed to Halls Harbour on the Bay of Fundy.  The Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world.  Walking on the ocean floor and then a few hours later watching it fill in is always amazing.

That’s it for day trips.  I hope you enjoyed my little Nova Scotia tour.  Our next few weeks are super busy so we probably won’t get any more in until mid-September.  By then the weather should be starting to change and the colours of fall will slowly arrive.

Next up though, our fantastic trip to Ottawa!

Fall 2017 into Winter 2018

Been a while since I have posted, but that doesn’t mean our adventures stopped.

No Nova Scotia fall is complete without a trip to the Annapolis Valley. From apple and pumpkin picking to the simple beauty of the fall colours, it is so worth it.

We love day trips. Fall is just such a pretty time of year.

Lots of festivals in the province that time of year!

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December saw my husband and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. His job prevents us from doing much to celebrate at that time of year so we are planning a special Mexican vacation at a better time in 2018.

Christmas gave us a ‘weather bomb’. Crazy windy! Lot of roofs, including our, damaged and trees down.

That storm began what was one of the windiest weeks I can remember. Lots of damage.

January brought our first snow. And while I am not a Winter person even I have to admit it is pretty.

January also saw my sister-in-law take her first real vacation in almost 29 years. She owned her own business in Cape Breton and after 29 years, closed it down Christmas Eve. Farewell to the Beaver Cove Takeout!

Now it’s time to start planning Lisa and Stephen’s 25th Wedding Anniversary Excellent Adventure! I can’t wait!

Summer Vacation

Summer vacation.  That time of year when we get out and about to do stuff.  Like a lot of people we tend to do stuff we are comfortable with, new places same activities.  I was determined not to do that this year.  We aren’t the kind of people who plan in advance for summer vacation.  Kind of wait and see what mood we are in.  All I knew was that this year I wanted to do something different.

Our first week we had family visiting from Cape Breton.  We took them to Halifax to see the new sea bridge and the big Canada 150 sign.

Our first road trip saw us head to Charlottetown, PEI.  We have been to PEI so many times.  First as a young couple camping with friends and then with our children for family holiday’s.  We had never actually taken an adult vacation in PEI.  There is so much more to the island that camping, cabins, and theme parks!  A few of the highlights included Borden, Charlottetown, Brackley Beach, Green Gables and Cavendish.  Can’t wait to return!

Our next stop was Moncton, New Brunswick.  We go to Moncton at least once a year.  This time we decided to do a Casino Eat, Stay and Play Package.  We aren’t people who have an expectation that we will ever get more than what we paid for but when we arrived at the hotel we found out that we had a surprise upgrade!  It was awesome!  It really was nice to feel special.  We also visited Magnetic Hill, always fun to do the car going up the hill without you controlling it!

Lastly for this trip we visited Pictou, NS.  We have driven by Pictou so many times, but have never really visited.  It was so worth it.  We visited the Hector and stayed at Pictou Lodge.  We also visited Caribou Provincial Park.  Being of Acadian descent I am not all that knowledgeable about how the Scots and Irish arrived in my home province.  We all know our descendants came in search of a better life in the new world but each group had their own experiences.  To see the story of the Hector for me was very moving.

The next week we visited Lunenburg and the Mahone Bay area.

We also visited the Bloomidon Look-off and did a hike up to Cape Split, 12.54km!  It was amazing!

We stayed at the Old Orchard Inn that night and then visited Burntcoat Head on the Bay of Fundy, where the highest tides in the world occur.

Now we are on the look out for something fun to do in the fall and something special for winter 2018.  This December will mark our 25th wedding anniversary.  Generally we don’t do anything celebrate our anniversary.  It is too close to Christmas to waste money on and hubby is a post office worker so I don’t see much of him from mid-November to the end of December.

Our 2018 winter vacation will be booked with 25th celebrations in mind.  Hopefully we will find something and somewhere special to celebrate!  The search is on!

Spring Turns to Summer

Been a few months since I last posted.  Not really much going on to post about, but that is about to change..Summer is here!

One thing about being from the Atlantic Coast, there is nothing better then when Spring arrives and the transition to summer begins!

Everything coming to life and awakening after a long Winters sleep is what makes getting through Winter worth it.  These are a few pictures from around our home as Spring sprung.

The scenery all around us is second to none.

My hubby managed to get a lobster dinner in for his birthday.

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He also was able to visit his family home in Beaver Cove, Cape Breton.

Me, I visited the city and made lots and lot of wine!

We got things summer ready around home, I visited Sobeys Big Red Chair and most importantly, we celebrated Canada 150 with the rest of Canada.

My 21 year old son bought himself a 31 year old car, which much to my surprise turned out pretty good.

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Halifax had visitors from the US Navy here for Canada Day and we had a visit from the largest container ship to ever to come!

We are just a few short weeks away from starting our Canada 150 vacation adventures and escaping this cubicle jungle.  I can’t wait! Cubicle