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— Jerry and I went on a 10-day trip to eastern Canada in September. It was the first Colette trip we’d taken without faithful Patsy from Arvest as our guide, since there were so few of us - only five from northwest Arkansas. We had to rise early to make our morning flight. We sure don’t want to fly into the Boston airport again, not if we’re flying into Canada. We had to change buildings, going out of security in one building and back into security at the other airport. These old people don’t do too well if there are many variations. I never did travel too well anyhow. I got lost more than once just driving up to Independence, Missouri, for our sister’s reunion a week earlier.

But driving into Halifax and seeing the night lights of the 1,200,000-people capital city of Nova Scotia, then eating the best clam chowder at our hotel made the trip worthwhile. The chowder was nothing like anything I’d ever tasted.Two large shrimp lay on top of steamed mussels and small shrimp with scallops in a creamy sauce. Ummm! We never ate fish when I was growing up.

One nice thing about this trip was the leisurely way it began. We stayed at the Westin Hotel two days and went sightseeing along Halifax Harbor. We visited Peggy’s Cove. We saw lots of harbors, bays and coves, all leading into the Atlantic Ocean, but didn’t see much of the Atlantic itself. There were 48 of us on the tour bus - a big group when we loaded and unloaded.

We learned every province has its own official flag and tartan (from which they make kilts).

I also found out some famous people were from here, including one of my favorites, Ann Murray. Hank Snow, James Brolin and Barbara Striesand are also from this island.

In Arkansas we talk of tornadoes. In Halifax they talk of the great explosion when two ships collided, the worst disaster in Canadian history when 2,000 were killed and 9,000 wounded. We had a local guide who led us through a beautiful public garden and later the Titanic gravesite. Halifax helped in the rescue of theTitanic disaster, and as the dead were pulled from the water they numbered them. This number was put on each tombstone.

Canada has great appreciation for the USA, our history going back before WWI. After 9/11, when U.S. planes coming from foreign countries weren’t allowed to fly back into the states, gracious people of Halifax took complete strangers into their homes for days.

On our tour we took a dinner cruise down Halifax Harbor. Reminded me of the Branson Showboat, minus the entertainment. I loved all the water. After all, that’s what I hoped to find on the Atlantic coastline. Our driver sat at our table and Jerry filled this native Canadian, with Northern Ireland roots, in on Arkansas and Putman history as we ate a scrumptious buffet dinner.

Another enjoyable part of the journey was our drive over the eight-mile Confederation bridge into Prince Edward Island ( we took the ferry on the way out, another interesting venture). I’ve read all of the Anne of Green Gables books but hadn’t remembered this was the home of the author, Lucy Maude Montgomery. The island was filled with Anne mementos. We toured the home where Maude (as she liked to be called) lived with her grandparents, who raised her. While there we visited a potato farm and learned that, like Ireland, potatoes were a main staple of its people.

We visited a fort in New Brunswick just as snappy red-coated soldiers (English) were having a re-enactment with Blue Coats (French). Reminded us of Pea Ridge Military Park. After visiting a Soapery, where soap was made, we went on a Lobster Cruise.Nowthat’swhatIwent north for, the lobster. It was a fun trip as we broke open and ate lobster over the water. I had looked forward to eating lots of seafood on this trip.

Another interest was the Hopewell rocks on the Bay of Fundy. Jerry walked down the 100 steps (yes, Jerry!) to the ocean floor (the tide was out) where we viewed exciting rock formations caused by powerful tides.

Marie Putman, former Gravette resident, is a longtime freelance columnist for The Rogers Hometown News.

Opinion, Pages 7 on 11/18/2009

Print Headline: A Canadian Adventure

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