We were having our first meal in Nova Scotia, after leaving the ferry from Port aux Basque, NL, and had checked into our comfy B&B in North Sydney.
“A place nearby has good fish’n’chips,” said our hostess, “and you can walk easily there since you won’t have your rental car until tomorrow.” Perfect.
“Drinks?” asked the attractive young waitress.
“I’d like milk,” requested John.
“One per cent or two per cent is what we have,” she said.
“No three per cent?” responded John with an audible sigh.
Quick as a wink, she had the solution: “I can mix them together!”
The following day we visited Louisbourg Fortress, reconstructed back to the French city of 1745. Despite its being mid-September, a few players dressed in period costume still stood guard, welcomed us into their places of business and roamed the streets.
“It’s a bit windy today,” one of us said to a couple of ladies walking by, their long dresses and shawls being blown around them.
“It’s a great day for drying the laundry,” responded one, pointing to a clothes line behind one of the stone houses.
Our route took us on a wonderfully scenic route encircling Bras d’Or Lakes and passing through Big Pond, home of the late great Canadian singer, Rita McNeil. Our waitress had time to tell us of the shock through the employees of the Tea House at her unexpected demise during surgery. Speaking of “shock”, John and I had been there with other friends on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I’m sorry to be so distracted,” that waitress had said at the time, “but we’ve just heard the most dreadful news on the radio.” So much changed that sad day…
On a lighter note, as we continued looping Cape Breton Island, we closed in on Cheticamp a couple of days later. Here, a sign caught our eyes.
“Tourist Traps” it read, advertising an array of lobster traps for sale.
Back on the eastern side of the island at Baddeck a day later, we visited the museum exhibiting the history and amazing array of inventions and interests of Alexander Graham Bell whose stately home, now a museum, overlooks Bras d’Or Lakes.
We asked one of the Park’s attendants how to pronounce its name: “Beinn Bhreagh”.
After telling us, she explained, “The Gaelic alphabet has only 18 letters, thus many letters have to be added to provide a variety of sounds. My name is Jocelyn,” she added, “but Gaelic has no ‘J’ so my grandmother called me ‘Chocelyn’.”
Then came her clincher: “Don’t try to pronounce Gaelic words – or you’ll hurt yourself!”
Amazingly, in his studies of speech, inventor Bell trained a dog to say: “How are you, Gramma?” We heard the recording and the words were certainly recognizable. Grandma’s response was not recorded!
At the Citadel in Halifax where the help, like those in Louisbourg, are dressed in uniform to suit their jobs and the history of that fort. Thus, 78th Highlanders Regiment are part of the scene.
“If the wind blows any harder,” commented Joan with a wicked grin as a gentleman led a tour group past us, “we’ll find out for sure what Scottish men wear under their kilts!” Sadly for us gals, the wind, our constant companion throughout the Maritimes, remained gentle that afternoon.
We loved meeting Acadians, and were constantly amazed that, with a glance, they knew whether to speak English or French. Switching back and forth between two conversations, they never muddled their languages. And friendly smiles were always part of either one.