It’s impossible for my husband John and I to board the ferry from Caribou, NS to Wood Point, PEI without remembering back to 2001 when we met with my cousins from Brisbane, a completely unexpected delight. Neither of us knew the other was even in the Maritimes, but after we found each other, we laughed all our way across Northumberland Strait. Seeing each other again in that small, pretty province was an unfulfilled hope, but there is still great hilarity whenever we see these cousins in Brisbane.
Finding our way into the Info Centre at Wood Point this time was a bit of a challenge, as it was “Flea Market Day” in the south-eastern end of this brilliant red and green island. Seeking assistance in finding our accommodation for the next few days, we wound our way between shoppers, sellers and their stalls and finally got inside the information centre.
“Welcome!” the young man greeted us enthusiastically. We responded, and he then explained why he was so happy to see us. “You can see how many people are out there; I’ve been here since 9 a.m. and now it is afternoon; you are my first customers!” He gave us suggestions and we set off to find home in a cottage at Tea Hill not far from Charlottetown.
“You’ll like it and the price is right,” the owner assured the four of us. Right on. Since we stayed three nights while driving in different directions, we became familiar with the sights along the road. Most communities have a sign saying “Welcome to _” but one we passed each day read: “Stratford. Imagine that!”
Anne’s land beckoned. When touring the Maritimes in 1964, two years after leaving Australia, I had never read Anne of Green Gables or any other of Lucy Maud Montgomery books. But some ladies I had met were going so I tagged along. After viewing “Green Gables” and wondering about the significance of the “east room”, I bought the book and started reading it that afternoon. I have been a fan ever since, as is bestest buddy Joan who arranged for us to go for a ride with “Matthew” while Prince pulled the carriage beside “the lake of shining waters”. We’d had rain, making the red soil soft and muddy so our horse had to struggle to keep his heavy cargo of five people moving. Soon he had to drop some of his own load!
“He does that every trip,” Matthew grinned at us. “It’s his way of entertaining the tourists.”
Following our visits to the museum, Green Gables and its trails through the woods, and L.M. Montgomery’s birthplace, we drove to view the red sandstone cliffs of Cavendish Beach. Earlier we had seen a motel called Marco Polo.
“What’s that doing there?” I exclaimed. “He’s a long way from home.” It was time to eat humble pie as we read a sign telling of the wreck of the sailing ship, Marco Polo, and learned that some of its remnants can still be found several hundred metres offshore.
From there we went to the sandy beach which abuts eroding red cliffs. Fishing huts once adorned the spot where the two features join, I learned in an autobiography of LM’s. We chatted with a relocated British gentleman, now living in Florida. Hearing we were from B.C., he told us how much he’d enjoyed a year of teaching at UBC, then stated: “You people are smart. You shove your government onto an island, and then go ahead and do as you please!”