It was time to head from Montréal to our last Canadian Province on this JWalking2 expedition, Nova Scotia. We were somewhat excited. Right from the planning stages, Jon insisted that we finished our Canadian experience as far east as possible so it had to be Nova Scotia. Little did we realise that we are, in fact, we are now closer to London than the west coast of Canada.
Trump versus Clinton
Having followed the relentless TV coverage and a couple of the TV debates, we decided to follow the presidential election results as they rolled in. Jon did some clever stuff, casting a You Tube channel onto the TV, and we were set. They had some very whizzy graphics but it all comes at you in the American way, fast and loads of it. Considering the logistic nightmare of four time zones, states choosing their own polling opening hours and different methods of voting (electronic, postal, early voting, manual or any combination of these), it is unbelievable that results are listed so quickly. In fact, that is not true. The results are not “actual” they are projected but sufficiently accurately to claim wins for certain states. As the evening went on it was remarkably similar to the Brexit results that we had watched sitting in our Airbnb in Washington DC. All the pollsters and Exit polls had indicated a tight race but ultimately a win for Clinton. There was the initial few surprise results with the presentations quoting battleground states that would swing things towards Clinton. As we all now know, this just didn’t happen. Fearing recounts I stuck with it until about 1am but Jon managed 3 am when a winner still hadn’t been declared. The rest is history, a President-elect who has never held public office and with a string of law suits both from and against him to be resolved before inauguration.
Luckily for us we could be casual observers in what felt like a very very long TV drama but it is somewhat more serious for our Canadian hosts and American neighbours.
On the Road Again
An early start followed by a ten minute walk to the Metro station, before braving the commuter rush to central Montréal to catch the aptly named 747 bus to Trudeau airport. A midday flight to Halifax in cosy Air Canada Jazz aircraft went like clockwork. It was quite cloudy and windy but as we descended through the clouds the landscape, for want of a better word, was bleak. Not bleak bad just bleak in the wilderness sense and after so many city stops it was a refreshing sight.
We jumped on the next bus for the picturesque traffic free 45 minute ride to the city. Only C$3.50 each (about £2).
Remembrance Day – Canada Style
We were greeted at our lovely self-contained studio by Jean and Carl. They were busy in the garden doing the never ending leaf raking that seems to be a warm up for residents before the more serious snow clearing to follow in a few weeks time.
Our rooms are on the ground floor where you can see the lamp through the window on the left. The 1st and 2nd floors are for Jean, Carl and their two grown up children. We discovered that they originally owned the purple house that you can see set back in the right of the picture and all the land behind. They decided to build this larger house and have now sold the purple one. It is very private and in a perfect location to get the ferry across to Halifax. So you can get the lie of the land – here is a map to help.
Jean and Carl had warned us before we arrived that it was a public holiday for Remembrance Day. Shame on us in the UK for not honouring the actual day with a public holiday. Don’t get me started on this again! At the risk of sounding scarily like my father or the recent President-elect about countries being great, why is it that Australia, Canada and New Zealand have public holidays for the Queen’s birthday and things such as Remembrance Day and the UK doesn’t? Shouldn’t we be more proud than any other Commonwealth country of her reign and didn’t we spend longer in each theatre of war and lose more armed forces and civilians? Maybe I am missing something.
Our hosts had kindly brought a few essential provisions for us as every store was closed and I mean everything. They had also recommended a pub near the ferry terminal called the Celtic Corner. Not having eaten all day apart from a free packet of pretzels on our Jazzy aircraft, we headed straight to the pub but managed to catch a glimpse of the harbour on the way and the Alderney Ferry Terminal which connects Dartmouth to Halifax.
The Celtic Corner
The pub was full to bursting. The England v Scotland world cup qualifier was just about to start and there was a real mix of people in kilts, England shirts and even a few Irish supporters just winding each side up. The was also a couple of tables of men in uniform. Obviously on their way home from the parade and having “one for the road”. It was one of these men, in RAF uniform, who had a very important question for Jon. He wanted to know if Jon had ever presented Top Gear. Well, it was a windy day and we were both tired from travelling but Jeremy Clarkson? Really? It made us laugh but with hindsight we might have got a drink and a better spot to watch the footie if we had played along and described some sort of epic driving adventure across the continent. A few days with a hire car didn’t seem to quite cut the mustard!
It seemed so strange to leave the French community of Montréal only a few hours earlier and now we were deep in the heart of Irish and Scottish community descended from settlers to this beautiful but harsh maritime area. The fish pie and steak and Guiness pie accompanied beautifully the three goals that England managed to head past the Scottish goalie, Craig Gordon. Add in the welcoming chats with the staff and customers and we feel another visit may be on the cards at some stage.
After only one evening, we can tell we are going to really enjoy our stay here. You will be relieved to hear that I have only seen two plaques so far but never fear there are plenty more to see. My excuse is that it was dark on the way home. One was outside a Quaker house from around 1785 and the other one was by the ferry terminal saying that 353 immigrants arrived in Dartmouth from Europe on the sailing boat Alderney in 1750. There was a bit of a hooha with the French colony of Arcadia when they arrived but I will let Jon explain that in the next blog. Why use 500 words when he can do it in 50? Anyway it will give me more time wandering in a field to read more plaques!
11.11 – 12.11.2016