Sweet Dreams … In A Lighthouse!


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We woke up soon after dawn on a bright summer morning, quickly brewed a pot of coffee and headed up two flights of stairs in our P.J.s.  The new day greeted us with a gorgeous 360 degree view from our vantage point on the 4th floor of our lighthouse accommodation on Prince Edward Island.

Situated about 10 kilometres from the Island’s North Shore, our lighthouse was purchased by a private investor and relocated after being de-commissioned as a working lighthouse several years ago.  Replaced by electronic guidance systems and other navigational tools, many such lighthouses are no longer used as marine warning signals.

Instead of demolishing inoperative lighthouses, the PEI government sells them to private enterprise. The result is a twofold benefit:  –  the gently rolling landscape of  PEI is dotted with the graceful shape of lighthouses, adding to the Island’s appeal;  – and, lighthouse vacation accommodation helps to fill the Island’s growing tourist population in search of unique holiday experiences.

Lighthouse adventure, anyone?

Lighthouse in a field in PEI with wild lupines in the foreground copy

Brackley Beach Lighthouse, PEI

View from Lighthouse

Julie enjoys view from top floor of lighthouse


Cavendish, Prince Edward Island … A Fiction Writer’s Paradise


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Lucy Maud Montgomery is owed a debt of gratitude for helping the world discover a small corner on the north shore of a small island on the east coast of Canada.  Maud, as her friends called her, wrote the famous Anne of Green Gables collection in the early 1900s set in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

Julie and I, working our way through the “Anne” series of eight novels, were excited to visit firsthand the surroundings we had become familiar with. This land of lighthouses, gently rolling hills, meadows and streams, and quaint fishing villages speaks to the romantic in one’s soul.

We toured Green Gables, Anne’s home after she was taken in and adopted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.  It all seemed so real to us that we forgot Anne is a fictional character.  Avonlea, a nearby fictional village in Maud’s novels was actually built into a tourist attraction in 1999.  The chocolate shop in Avonlea (image below) is popular with “Anne” enthusiasts.

Those planning a trip to PEI are encouraged to take a couple of days to enjoy the Cavendish countryside.  But be careful, you will be taking the risk of becoming one of Anne of Green Gables millions of fans.

untitled-400Julie looking down on a stream at Green Gables

untitled-410“Anne” sweets shop in Avonlea, PEI

untitled-407Life size statue of Anne of Green Gables in Avonlea, PEI

untitled-440Beautiful Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Happy 150th Birthday Canada … 1867-2017


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In 1867 the “Province of Canada” previously referred to as Upper and Lower Canada was united with the British colonies New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Thus the Dominion of Canada was declared a nation on July 1st that same year.  Over the next one hundred plus years seven additional provinces and three territories entered Confederation, until eventually Canada expanded to become the second largest country in the world.

More than 40 tall ships from around the globe sailed to Canada to honour Canada’s 150th birthday this summer.  Julie and I arranged to be in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on July 1st and toured several ships anchored in harbour.  Images of the ship’s bell and gilt inlaid lettering belong to “Europa” from the Netherlands.  We were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t see the sails up since the ships were already in port when we arrived.

However, heading home a week later were indeed fortunate to see a regatta in the harbor at Bath, Ontario.  Ships in full sail displayed their pomp and circumstance to admiring crowds lining the shore.

Happy Birthday Canada, a wonderful celebration!

2017 platform in Charlottetown Harbour for Canada's 150th birthday copyCharlottetown PEI Harbour

Rich gold lettering on woodgrain on the ship Europa copy

Bell of ship Europa, from Amsterdam copy

Tall ships regatta, Bath OntarioCanadian ship in Bath, Ontario copy.jpg

Hopewell Rocks …. a.k.a. Flowerpot Rocks


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We planned our trip to the famous Bay of Fundy’s Hopewell Rocks with one specific goal in mind – to walk on the ocean floor during low tide and a few hours later at high tide to kayak around the same area.  However, Mother Nature had different plans for us.

The map below shows the Bay of Fundy in Canada’s Maritimes between Nova Scotia to the south and New Brunswick to the north.  Hopewell Rocks is situated toward Fundy’s most eastern point.


Let’s take a look at Hopewell Rocks to appreciate why it draws upwards of 250,000 visitors annually.  The tidal range – the vertical difference between low tide and high tide – is the largest in the Bay of Fundy compared to anywhere else in the world.  Twice each day 160 tonnes of Atlantic Ocean seawater flow in and out of the Bay, sometimes raising the ocean’s elevation as high as 16 meters (50 feet).

As the tidal waters filter through cracks in the cliffs above the water, most of the cliff wall eventually erodes and crumbles, while other parts of the wall are left standing but separated from the main cliff wall, forming unusually-shaped tall rocks.  Advancing and retreating tides have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their top-heavy flowerpot shapes. In one of the images notice the sea salt on the ocean floor that remained after the tide receded.

Dear Mother Nature referred to earlier brought us heavy cloud, high winds, and a thunderstorm prediction as the day wore on.  We were sad to forego our kayaking adventure.

Deep caverns in cliff walls copy


Unusual rock formations at Hopewell Rocks copyErosion of cliff wall, Hopewell Rocks copy

A Touristy Tidbit …


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In 1980, after receiving a picture postcard of a house made from bottles, Edouard Arsenault developed an idea to build his own bottle house in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Just nicely retired at age 66, Edouard began collecting bottles and spent winters in his basement washing and removing labels from bottles friends dropped off to help his cause.

Twenty-five thousand bottles of varying shapes and colours were amassed for this project.  By the end of 1984 Edouard’s painstaking work was rewarded in the completion of three buildings – main house, chapel, and tavern.  One of the images below shows a closeup of an interior wall in which bottles were carefully cemented into place.

Unfortunately the harsh winters in the Canadian Maritimes destroyed the railway ties used in the original foundations, and in 1992, several years after Edouard’s death, reconstruction to restore the integrity of the structures began.

I’m glad we took an hour to visit The Bottle Houses …. thank you Edouard!


Exterior view Bottle House, PEI Canada copy

Bottle House, PEI, Canada

Chapel interior, Bottle Houses, PEI Canada copy

Interior of Chapel, Bottle Houses, PEI, Canada

Closeup interior wall built from bottles copy

Closeup of interior wall, Bottle Houses, PEI, Canada



Let’s Take A Ride ….


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On a recent trip to Montreal, Canada I came across what looked like a nearly-assembled ferris wheel at the Old Port Harbor.  The large wheel had a few seats at the top but none around the sides or bottom.  I snapped a few photos and went on my merry way.

Then on researching Montreal Ferris Wheel for this blog I learned that when completed the wheel won’t be a standard ferris wheel, but an Observation Wheel.  At 60 meters tall, this wheel offers panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River, the harbor, Old Montreal, and the Laurentian Mountains.

Named La Grande Roue de Montreal, this new attraction will have enclosed compartments instead of the standard open-air ferris wheel seats.  The compartments will be air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter.  Each glass-enclosed gondola can seat up to eight people and take passengers on a magical 15-minute, three-turn rotation.

For added enjoyment, one can purchase a glass of wine or other beverage from the bistro at the base of the wheel and take it onto the gondola.

Scheduled to be finished in late summer of 2017, this structure is among the tallest of its kind in North America.  Looking forward to my next trip to Montreal!!

Old Port Observation Wheel, Old Montreal Canada copy

Montreal’s Observation Wheel

Side view Montreal's Observation Wheel copy

Tourists pedal boating in Montreal harbour near Old Port Observation Wheel copy

Out With The Old … In With The New


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An old brick and mortar church steeple juxtaposed against modern glass buildings is a scene one would not expect to happenstance upon.  Little did I realize as I gazed at this architectural oxymoron that I was looking at North America’s largest healthcare facility. Or it will be when it is finished in 2021.

But let’s get back to the steeple. Like many churches in Montreal Canada, Saint Sauveur has suffered from declining attendance in recent decades. Built in 1852, its Gothic facade and tin steeple were a testament to the architectural fashion of the era, and to the prominent position the church once held within the community. Empty and abandoned, the church was slated for demolition against protestors who wished to preserve the old building.

Land was needed for a new large hospital, and the land the church stood upon was chosen as the construction site. Incorporating the church’s beautiful facade and steeple into the new hospital was meant to appease those who protested the project.

CHUM (Centre Hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal) occupies two full blocks in downtown Montreal.  With more than 3 million square feet, this facility combines teaching, research, and healthcare.  CHUM supports 772 single patient rooms designed to accommodate family members.

Entrance to old churchwith modern office towers built around it, Montreal Canada copy

CHUM Healthcare Facility, Montreal

Front part of old church remains while modern office buildings are built around it, Montreal, Canada copy

Confederation Bridge … The World’s Longest


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In 1873 a tiny island off the east coast of Canada became Canada’s newest province. At the time Prince Edward Island was promised a continuous link to New Brunswick, its nearest province neighbour some 13 km (8 miles) distant.

For more than 100 years ferry service and other water transportation carried Islanders across Northumberland Strait. However, harsh winters and stormy seas often made boat crossings dangerous and sometimes impossible. Ice would trap vessels, disrupting service for days.

Discussion of building a bridge, and the necessary funding for its construction began in Parliament in the 1960s. But cost estimates for this enormous project skyrocketed to such a price that the enterprise was put on hold for a few decades. Then in the late 1980s the “bridge” idea re-emerged.

In 1993 a private entity began construction of the bridge, taking four years to complete. Its official opening on May 31, 1997 deemed Canada’s Confederation Bridge the world’s longest bridge, an engineering feat, to be sure!

Julie at Confederation Bridge

Julie, my traveling companion at Confederation Bridge

Confederation Bridge spans Northumberland Strait, Canada

Confederation Bridge spans Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, Canada

Victoria Park’s Boathouse … An Unusual Twist


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Named after England’s Queen Victoria, Kitchener Ontario Canada’s namesake park sprawls over some 59 acres in the downtown core.  Victoria Park has seen many changes over its more than a century history.

A man-made lake on the edge of the Park has a much different purpose today than in the past.  In the summers of the 1950s and ’60s, one could pay a nominal fee to rent a canoe and paddle around the small lake.  A rental of more than 1/2 hour would be wasteful because there are not many places to paddle on a little bitty lake. Canoes were stored in an old frame building after hours and off season.

In the winter the lake became a wonderful outdoor skating rink.  Children of all ages would skate and twirl on the ice, music blaring from outdoor speakers.  People could go into the old boat storage building to warm fingers and toes, and re-lace loosened skates.

The nostalgic days of skating and canoeing on Victoria Park Lake are long past.  The canoes are gone and there is no ice rink anymore.  But … one piece of history remains … the old boat house.

Today The Boathouse, with its same creaky old floorboards is a live music venue for blues bands.  The former canoe platform now serves diners lakeside.

Victoria Park Lake copy

Victoria Park Lake

Gravensteen Castle … Saved From Demolition


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In the 12th century a castle was built in Flanders, west Belgium in the city now known as Ghent. Gravensteen Castle (Castle of the Counts, Flemish translation), initially served as the seat of government for the Counts of Flanders.

The Counts abandoned their castle after a few hundred years and Gravensteen was turned over for use as a courthouse, a prison, and even a factory. Structures were built up against its walls and stones from the castle walls were used in their construction. The Castle itself fell into disrepair and it was scheduled for demolition by the end of the 19th century.

Fortunately for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who now visit annually, Gravensteen was saved from demolition by a major renovation project  The main floor is now a museum with some of the torture devices that were applied on prisoners.

But my favourite area of the Castle is the roof, where one can see the beautiful skyline of Ghent, with its medieval flavor.

Gravensteen Castle, Ghent Belgium

Skyline of beautiful Ghent, Belgium