Right now I'm halfway through a two-week family trip to eastern Canada. We're finishing up in the Maritimes and heading into Quebec tomorrow. Here's my journaling on what we've seen so far (and I apologize for the length!):
Day 1: Kingston, ON
Shout out to A & A for being wonderfully hospitable hosts and tour guides at our starting point, lovely Kingston, Ontario :)
Day 2: Rivière-du-Loup, QC
This morning we drove east from Kingston into Quebec along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. This is a very pretty area, with lots of riverside villages. We stopped at a few:
Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse is a cute town with a general store, well-kept old houses, and a large waterfront park.
Kamouraska was probably our favourite town. With character houses, cafés, and art galleries overlooking the river, it seemed like an interesting yet relaxed place to live.
Notre-Dame-du-Portage is also very pretty; we checked out the waterfront church and rocky beach.
Day 3: Saint John, NB
We spent this crisp sunny morning driving through autumn-hued hills into New Brunswick.
Our first stop was at Grand Falls, a town built around a wide rocky gorge on the Saint John River. The falls aren't very big this time of year, but from the photos in the visitors' centre we could see that they do become pretty impressive in the spring.
We stopped for a picnic lunch at Hartland, a little town famed for having the world's longest covered bridge (391 m / 1282 ft). Built in 1901, it can only accommodate single-lane traffic, which is a little dicey because there is no traffic control. You've just got to make sure there's no one coming from the other side before heading in!
|soldiers' barracks in the Garrison District|
|self-supporting spiral staircase from the 1880s at the Legislature|
|Christ Church Cathedral|
Day 4: Bridgewater, NS
We left a foggy Saint John this morning to visit Rothesay, the next town over in a pretty deciduous river valley. We stopped to walk around the campus of Rothesay Netherwood School, a beautiful independent boarding school where my parents taught and lived in the late '80s.
Day 5: Dartmouth, NS
We left Bridgewater this morning to drive the scenic Lighthouse Route to Halifax along Nova Scotia's south shore. Our first stop was at Lunenberg, a port town that's home to the Bluenose II (absent today). We walked around the UNESCO World Heritage Site historic downtown, taking in the cute colourful facades of shops and eateries.
|Cleveland Beach Provincial Park|
At sunset we headed across the bridge to Dartmouth, where we'll be staying tonight.
Day 6: Baddeck, NS
Today we continued east along Nova Scotia's south shore, a very pretty region with beaches, little villages, and the nicest fall colours we've seen yet.
|Lochiel Lake Provincial Park|
|view from our room|
|scarecrow Alec and his wife Mabel|
|Silver Dart and HD-4|
|cross-section of what remains of the hull of HD-4|
Day 7: Louisbourg, NS
We headed out from Baddeck this morning onto the Cabot Trail, a coastal road that circumnavigates part of Cape Breton Island. We set out counter-clockwise around the loop, passing along rugged coastlines and through occasional small villages. The mixed deciduous/coniferous forests make for a patchwork backdrop at this time of year.
Day 8: Stellarton, NS
This morning we headed a little ways outside of town to visit the Fortress of Louisbourg, a fortified village on the shore. The Fortress was built by the French between 1720 and 1740 to defend against the British. It saw two battles, in 1745 and 1758, which the British won. The Fortress was designated a National Historic Site in the 1920s and 25% of the structures were painstakingly reconstructed in the 1960s and 70s to create the living museum that operates today.
We spent close to 4 hours walking around the site and poking around in the buildings that were open, historically furnished or housing displays. Owing to it being late in the season, we encountered just a handful of historic interpreters; their presence and commentary nonetheless really added to the visit.
Day 9: New London, PEI
This morning we were up early for a 75-minute Northumberland ferry ride from Caribou, Nova Scotia, to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island. Fun fact: travel to PEI via ferry or bridge is free; you pay on the way back to the mainland.
We drove through red clay countryside to Charlottetown, the "Birthplace of Confederation". Despite being the largest city on the Island, Charlottetown feels quite small-town. The harbourfront downtown is quaint, with colourful old buildings housing gift shops and restaurants.
|Charlottetown things: Sir John A. MacDonald and an Anne of Green Gables gift shop|
|Province House, mid reno|
|a replica of the Charlottetown Conference setting|
|Confederation Centre Art Gallery|
|LM Montgomery's original Anne of Green Gables manuscript on display at the art gallery|
|we also took a look inside St. Dunstan's Basilica in downtown Charlottetown -- beautiful stained glass|
|LM Montgomery's birth house, now a museum (we didn't go in)|
|potato field views from our hotel room|
Day 10: Bouctouche, NB
We headed out from New London this morning onto the North Cape Coastal Drive. We didn't do the full loop, but saw plenty of Acadian villages, potato harvests, red clay roads, lagoons, and beaches.
|very pretty foliage here|
|red roads and potato harvesting|
We drove through the countryside, stopped in Cocagne at the only open grocery store we'd seen all day (Thanksgiving), and pulled into Bouctouche mid-afternoon. Bouctouche is a small seaside town near Kouchibouguac National Park, where we're headed tomorrow. We happened upon lobster and poutine at Pirate de la Mer, a simple seafood restaurant near our hotel, for a memorable Thanksgiving dinner.
If you've made it this far and by chance are still interested, I'll post the rest of our trip when I get home next week!