By Wayne Litke
Last week, I asked if anyone knew what the Newfie expression “shagged out” means. For those of you who may not know, the term (according to friendly locals at Cord Roy) means non-operable, caput, finished, functionality reduced to nil, a total pile of junk, and ready for the scrap heap. That’s what happened to the transmission in our old truck leading to a new adventure in the heart of Quebec, but that’s another story I don’t have time for at this moment.
We had a great time during our short stay at Newfoundland. We only had time to travel up the west side of the island where the landscape varied from stunted trees and muskeg to tall stands of trees in beautiful coves to fishing villages on windswept capes where only grass and shrubs were able to take root and survive. While at Lark Harbour, we spotted a bright blue and white fishing boat in dry dock for the winter. It was tagged with the name “Sheppard Brothers” and I couldn’t help but wonder if the owners were relatives of Jamie who works at A&B Hardware at Maple Creek.
In last week’s column I failed to mention our travels to Nova Scotia, which were as memorable as anything encountered to date. Like the other maritime provinces, Nova Scotia is beautiful, and detouring down side roads led to beautiful lakes and parks we never expected to find. In fact we stayed in the largest campsite we have ever encountered at Dollar Lake Provincial Park. The massive rocks, terraced levels, moss and surrounding trees made the site extremely picturesque even though it did not have a view of a lake or the ocean.
Speaking of unusual finds, Angela discovered that Halifax-Dartmouth has a large lake (actually two) and a municipal park for camping. I cannot recall visiting any other major cities that actually have a significant green space for campers and recreational vehicles. Making a trip to the Halifax waterfront was instantly rewarding as we witnessed a 475-pound tuna being winched from a boat onto a pier. The massive fish was the first catch of an international tuna fishing competition that was being hosted in the city. I believe the winner landed a fish close to 600 pounds. I know I don’t have the biceps or stamina to battle such a beast for upwards of two hours in order to tire the creature and bring it to the boat side.
While at the harbor, we also toured naval vessels, found the deal of the century and saw firepower from the Northwest Rebellion. We walked aboard the CSS Acadia. The historic ship is the only surviving Canadian vessel to go through the first and second world wars and the massive Halifax explosion that killed approximately 2,000 people and injured 9,000 more. She is a little old now to say the least, but still very interesting to visit. We also made a brief walk-through of Sackville, a Second World War corvette that was commissioned to patrol Canadian waters and seek and destroy enemy submarines. Seeing depth charges (canister and hedgehog-style) on her decks, it was not hard to imagine being in pursuit of a German U-boat that was sinking supply vessels en route to England. Seeing Angela manning an anti-aircraft gun reminded me why it is better for women in general to serve in military support roles than active front-line fighting.
We left the harbor after seeing Theodore Too, a replica of the tugboat that appeared in a popular children’s television series several years ago and riding a water taxi across the bay to Dartmouth. The fee for the walk-on public taxi was a meager $2.50 per person. The ride takes about 10-15 minutes depending on the destination and featured dolphin sightings for our viewing pleasure. The ticket price also allows a person to return to Halifax without any additional cost, but that’s not all. The ticket can be use for multiple rides in one day, which makes it the deal of the century in my estimation.
Hiking up a hill at the Halifax waterfront took us to the Citadel, a British military fortress overlooking the harbor that required approximately 28 years to construct. It is an impressive stone structure with massive cannons that could blow enemy ships to smithereens or cut down an attacking army as soldiers climbed the hill. While touring a military museum housed in the facility, we came upon a .45-calibre rapid-fire gatling gun that was on display. The donated artifact has a unique connection to Saskatchewan since it was one of two such guns that were acquired for use in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885.
No trip to Nova Scotia is complete without a trip to Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg. While both locations are postcard material, the home of the Bluenose captures the heart of anyone who takes time to visit. To our surprise, the Bluenose II was in harbor and giving sailing tours and Angela was able to secure a couple of tickets. Sailing on the replica of Canada’s most famous ship and seeing it’s massive sails raised was an experience I will never forget.
We left the province singing a sad version of Farewell to Nova Scotia and headed for the Bay of Fundy and the world’s longest covered bridge at Hartland, New Brunswick. As children, we had learned about the massive Fundy tides (the largest in the world) and wanted to see it first hand. We were not disappointed as we explored massive rock formations on the ocean floor at low tide and then watched the water churn and boil at high tide. It is something everyone should experience.