Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Maritime Canada

After a long drive from Maine and a frustratingly thorough customs inspection (I guess it was the beard?), I arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I unwittingly planned my arrival in Halifax for Canada Day; their version of 4th of July, but on the 1st of July. It was a fortunate accident and the city was full of fun and activities. I wandered around the festivities with some fellow travelers I met at the hostel.

Mounties un-mounted for a Canada Day parade
21 gun salute from the historic 78th Highlanders Regiment, protecting the Halifax Citadel since 1749
Happy Canada Day! Fireworks were cancelled due to fog. The Canadians apologized profusely.  
I had time to cruise around solo so I checked out the Halifax Maritime Museum. It was very well done and quite enlightening. I learned about the tragic harbor explosion of a WWI munitions ship in 1917. Until the atom bombs were dropped it was the largest detonation in history: a 1,000 pound chunk of the ship's anchor was found two miles from the waterfront! Downtown Halifax was devastated. I also learned quite a bit about the Titanic disaster - the initial rescue and salvage operations were based in Halifax.

A bannister from the Great Staircase onboard Titanic, recovered in the flotsam of the wreck.
A vivid and poignant reminder of the human tragedy that was the Titanic disaster. 
Departing Halifax I headed north to Cape Breton Island. Cape Breton is world famous for its scenic highlands and coastal drive. I camped and hiked for a few days to take it all in. Clearly owning to some geographical reminiscence of Scotland, many Scottish immigrants settled on Cape Breton and have formed an enclave of traditional Celtic culture, music, food, and single malt whiskey.

White Point, Cape Breton Island

The famous Skyline Trail of Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton scenic driving
This is for you Adam Miller
75 minutes by ferry from Nova Scotia will get you to Prince Edward Island, a laid back rural farming and fishing community and what you would get if you threw Iowa, New England, hockey, and maple syrup into a blender. It was great to relax and read beside the beach and then hop into my truck and drive the backroads, blasting country music while enjoying the sun and pastoral scenery.

Great beachside camping. Thanks Canada! 
1 part New England, 1 part Iowa, add hockey and stir. Drizzle with maple syrup to serve. 
I don't normally photograph my food. A meal of renowned PEI mussels and potatoes.
Charlottetown on PEI has the distinction of being the "Birthplace of Confederation," where Canadian unification and eventually independence was first discussed by the political leaders of 1864, similar to what Philadelphia means to America. I toured some great museums, finding them both informative and a bit humorous. It seems that a significant causative factor in Canadian federation was the threat of the US Army heading north into British North America after our civil war as a payback of sorts for British aid of the Southern Confederacy. It cast Americans in a slightly sinister light, but I'll freely admit that I would have preferred to drive to Alaska without going through another country...

SAT refresher time. Independence Hall : United States :: Province House : Canada
Speaking of America, I'm off to Maine to check out Baxter State Park and take a shot at climbing Mt. Katadhin.

My accommodations on PEI - the Charlottetown Backpackers Inn. 

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