Chapter 7 Halifax, Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and Roblin, Ontario




Halifax Highway 3 Queensland Beach Nova Scotia


Highway 3 Coastal towards Mahone Bay Nova Scotia


Lunenburg Nova Scotia


Lunenburg Driving To Annapolis Royal Nova Scotia


Annapolis Royal, Cornwallis,


Digby, Ferry, St John to Frederickton New Brunswick


Frederickton New Brunswick


Montreal to Kingston Ontario


Queen's University Kingston Ontario Cont’d To Roblin Ontario


Roblin Ontario Nature Scenes around Bill and Sue Van Wart's Farm in Roblin Ontario


Trips from Roblin Ontario


Prof  Jim Mason

Doug Rigsby

Leo & Lana Dale


Belleville Collegiate Reunion (BCI) 1




About Belleville Ontario


Picton and Prince Edward County


Oak Lake near Stirling Ontario


Oak Lake 2 Stirling and Drive to Campbellford Ontario Alan  James Pendergest




Friday 30 May, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia


Alan checked out at 6.30 am and we heard him go.  We even heard his 8.30 jet roaring overhead near the hotel.  We mentally wished him ‘bon voyage.’  Richard aroused me for BTs at 7.30 and I breakfasted by myself, orange juice, muffin and a coffee at 9.30 while Richard swam and sweated in the sauna.  We hit the road at 11.00 am, a very late start.  I paid Alan’s and my bill of $216.00, and I drove the first four hours. Our destination was nearby, famous tourist towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. We followed Freeway 2 to Freeway 103, and then followed the scenic, old, slow and sinuous Highway 3.


I dislike the boring scenery, hundred and ten kilometre speed and heavy traffic on freeways, such as Highway 2 and 103, though I appreciate the quicker travel times. As I drove the car, I reflected on a much earlier visit here, before Freeway 103 existed.  In 1954, my dad was sent by the Northern Electric Company to install gun control radar in naval ships in Halifax for two months in July and August. He rented us a small white frame cottage at Queensland Beach, on a tiny lake north twenty metres from Highway 3, and only two hundred metres from the sandy ocean beach on the Atlantic Ocean.  George and I had a wonderful time that summer.  It was my first travel experience and a satisfying one, which set the pace for future trips, such as one two years later for a family six-month sojourn in Northern Ireland when I was in grade four.


I exited Freeway 103 to visit the remembered location, Queensland Beach off Highway 3.  The tiny lake and sandy beach were unchanged but smaller than I remembered.  There were even white cottages for rent, although undoubtedly reconstructed in the last fifty years.  The creeping fog, which was moist and clammy, drifted slowly in white patches over beach and lake creating a ghostly view.  This scene was familiar, a daily occurrence here, and resurrected a nostalgia for the fun times of those distant days of my very early youth, swimming in the icy ocean, playing unknown to my mother on the train tracks, and watching chickens being killed and plucked nearby.  I was fascinated watching headless chickens run in circles and remember today how the cook retrieved eggs from the dead chicken’s interior. As I looked at Queensland Beach, I thought, “Now I know my dad must have commuted two hours daily on winding Highway 3 to Halifax, so we could enjoy that venue. What sacrifices our parents make for us that we our totally unaware of at the time.” 


Highway 3 dubbed the Lighthouse Route, winds along the coastline through small villages and is a delight to drive with its glimpses of a Maritime outport fishing life.  We exited onto a secondary road, Highway 309 that follows the shoreline of a small peninsula for sixty kilometres.  We stopped every few minutes for photographs of fishing wharfs, dories, nets, floats, lobster pots and weathered dark brown cedar singled fishing shacks.


Returning to Highway 3, Richard drove to Mahone Bay. “This is a tourists’ delight,” Richard exclaimed.  “All these cedar shingled two storey frame houses are incredible.  They’re elaborate, freshly painted, and architecturally designed with turrets, and round towers. They’d cost millions of dollars if built today.”  “And look, Richard,” I said.  “They’re all tourist traps or bed and breakfast places.”  Everywhere I looked carpenters and painters were employed fixing things up for the coming tourist season.


We drove eleven kilometres to Lunenburg, a town founded in the 1753 as a planned British colonial settlement, with some churches and buildings dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Protestant dissidents from France and Germany were encouraged to migrate there to bolster numbers.  Today, tourism, shipbuilding and fishing are the major industries. Some buildings were older and less spruced up than Mahone Bay, but the housing designs were even wilder, totally fascinating even to the untrained eye. Like Mahone Bay carpenters and painters were at work everywhere, preparing for tourist season. It was now 8.00 pm so we searched for accommodation.


In Lunenburg we stopped at the $75.00 Wheelhouse Motel on the outskirts of town, which boasted of the Fish and Brews Bar and Restaurant, which we chose for dinner.  The maritime theme of the authentic décor was overwhelming, glass and wooden floats, pots, blocks, ship’s wheels, and large photographs of the Bluenose II.  We loved the place.  My fresh haddock meal was excellent and Richard also liked his fishcakes. I ordered a local Halifax beer, Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale and liked its malt flavour.  Unfortunately, I was devastated by a two-hour allergy attack, coughing and blowing my nose. “Don’t be disheartened,” I counselled myself.  “Don’t think this is ruining your holiday, that you are on the way out, that it’s catastrophic. Problem solve!  Why not try anti-histamine tablets before your meals.  They might immunize you against the symptoms.” I felt happier with this idea.


On the way out we chatted with a family from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The dad told us, “We saw a TV programme on the tall ships of the world.  My wife has signed on to crew on the Pictou Castle, three months for $66,000.00, which sails the world.  It’s here in dry dock now after an eighteen month around the world sail.  She will assist preparing the vessel now by painting, will be trained in the sailing skills she’ll need, and then will join the ship at the Vanuatu and sail for Rarotonga near Hawaii.”  “Wow, what an exciting holiday,” I said.


Richard left to investigate the town as fog shrouded the Inn, while I typed, feeling weary, but pleased to be describing my experiences. He returned disillusioned saying, “This thirty year old man picked me up at the bar and wouldn’t let go. Other people at the bar knew him, swore at him and gave him the finger.  I felt uncomfortable and unwelcome in that bar. He’d grown up here in Blue Rock, and had never left and hated the place.  He followed me out of the bar and wanted to go with me to the car and come back to the room. I only shook him when the opera house emptied and there was a crowd of patrons.”  I laughed, “He probably wanted sex with you Richard or wanted to rob you or both.”


Saturday 31 May 2003 Digby


Richard and I got up at 8.00 am, and, by 9.00 we were exploring the historic buildings of Lunenburg for the next two hours.  I was amazed at the wealth generated by the fisheries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to support the construction of such an array of large two and three story buildings, throughout the town.  We trailed behind a pretty young girl, driving a horse and carriage.  Richard photographed the horses while we visited a magnificent old school building overlooking the town from a high hill.  After a quick Subway breakfast, I drove for six hours taking Highway 3 to Bridgewater, then South on a secondary road 331 to West Havre and Cherry Hill, and along the coast until we intersected Highway 103, which we followed to Highway 8 and the pulp and paper town of Liverpool.  Highway 8, one hundred and thirteen kilometres in length, bisects Nova Scotia on a north-south axis across the centre.  The road runs through gently hilly, woodland terrain, with an occasional lake.  It’s a boring drive.


We arrived on Highway 8 at Annapolis Royal about 2.00 pm.  The French founded the town, named Port-Royal in 1605, and it became the well-fortified capital of the French colony of Arcadia. This colony was seized in 1713 by the British and given its present name. Until 1749 it was the British capital of Nova Scotia. We viewed an impressive showcase of eighteenth and nineteenth century historic colonial buildings and chatted with two German young men who had begun cycling from Halifax to Vancouver. 


Looking at them, I was reminded of my eight-week cycle trip in 1974 through Ireland, Norway and Sweden. I travelled with Steven Malone, a former year 12 student of mine from Wawa, Ontario, peddling up to eighty kilometres daily and stopping in youth hostels.  I particularly enjoyed staying with Steven’s Irish relatives in farmhouses along the route that boasted of peat stoves and no toilets or running water.  I thought, “Bicycles are ideal for getting around cities and can be packed onto buses, trains and planes.” We used trains to break up our trip, particularly the task of peddling up the lofty Norwegian mountains from the coastal city and fiord of Bergen.  Of course, we coasted down the mountains.


Richard located an upmarket ‘Newman’s Restaurant,’ where I enjoyed Scallop Linguini.  I have taken an anti-histamine tablet before the meal and was greatly relieved to suffer only a minor allergy reaction for fifteen minutes. “That solution of premedication seems to help me a great deal,” I thought and felt happy.


The restaurant venue boasted of two nearly three-metre genuine ivory elephant tusks. The waitress explained,  “The owner is an American, and his grandfather bought a tailor shop in Boston, the purchase of which included the tusks.  They’ve been a family heirloom ever since.”  We talked to another waitress, a young, attractive Inuit girl.  “I was born in Labrador, then adopted here,” she told us.  “My foster parents exposed me to lots of books about Eskimos, but I don’t really identify with them.  I’ve recently discovered my mother’s name and learned I have six siblings.  I’ve written her and would like to visit her, though it’s scary for me.” I asked her about the history of the town.  “I wasn’t a good student,” she said.  “I hated school and paid no attention in class.  I don’t know a thing about the background here.”


Leaving Annapolis Royal we followed Highway 1 to Cornwallis and Digby. We drove through Cornwallis, taking photographs.  I was amazed at my reality for this naval training base with the reality I saw tonight, a sleepy deserted collection of empty white two storeys H shaped dormitories, and an unkempt parade square along side a quiet country roadway.  There wasn’t even a fence and we had free access to drive around. Then, as a first year officer cadet in that summer of 1967, the base was a place of incessant stress, scrubbing, waxing and polishing floors, ironing uniforms, spit polishing boots and brass, early morning running, double time marching, saluting, inspections, punishments, classes, and weekly exams.  I seldom got off the base, had no transport and a social life limited to drinking with other cadets. The object of the training seemed to be creating a pressure cooker situation to weed out those unsuitable to be naval officers through limited sleep, a hectic schedule and unrelenting humiliations from those in charge. Cadets did quit or were dismissed and sent home but I survived along with three other Queen’s University friends Martin Perry, Chris Rogers and Jim Rose.


Jim has spent thirty years as a high school teacher in Kingston and has three of his four children in university.   I spoke with Jim by phone of his memories of that summer.  “I remember those women’s knickers tacked to the top of the flag pole, and raiding another dormitory and tying all their shoes together.  But the instructors who were really third and fourth year university students were sadistic and had no knowledge of pedagogy. They did things that would have them dismissed now, such as that officer who whacked a steel bar next to John Bathurst’s head when he fell asleep at his desk. John sat bolt upright, terrified.”  Jim is one of my few friends not planning retirement.  “I’ve got three in University,” he explained.  “I’ll be working to sixty-five years of age.”  That summer remains the worst three months in my life.


We bypassed Digby and drove directly on Highway 303 to the Saint John ferry terminal.  We found that there were two ferries daily, at 8.30 am and 4.30 pm.  The fifty-kilometre crossing takes three hours and costs about a hundred dollars.  We booked for tomorrow, Sunday morning, and then checked in at 7.00 pm into a standard room at the $69.00 Admiral Digby Inn, a kilometre from the ferry terminal.  I was asleep by 8.00 pm in anticipation of a 5.00 am start tomorrow while fog crept down the Annapolis Basin and shrouded the Inn in a nocturnal ghostly mist. Richard caught up with the washing.


Sunday 1 June Frederickton, New Brunswick via Princess of Arcada, Bay Ferries


A 5.00 am start led to hasty packing and a quick free meal courtesy of the Inn.  We drove passed aqua culture nets in the basin used to raise Atlantic salmon from minnows, and reached the terminal by 7.10.  I exited the car, and was boarded in my wheelchair by a gangplank aboard Bay Ferries by a talkative friendly sailor. The ship was named Princess of Arcada. At 8.00 Richard parked the Buick on the ship. The three-hour ferry trip was very calm and uneventful through fog across the gently rolling Bay of Fundy. I was told by the sailor, “You are lucky to have a mill pond crossing.  Gale force winds are predicted for this evening’s crossing and this craft rolls in a storm.  You could be sick as a dog for three hours.”


I typed for two hours and then I felt frustrated. My computer file, named ‘Chapter Six’ of my travel story, some eighteen pages that I had written laboriously, late at night, became corrupt and refused to open. I had made no copy. I castigated myself, “So very thoroughly stupid.  What an ass you are.  You’ve had a computer since your Apple II in 1981. What is wrong with your head?”  I thought, “This is a disaster. I can never rewrite it. It’s taken me so much work.  I feel like quitting.” I felt really bad, angry, frustrated and sad, mainly angry in the eighty percent bracket.  “Hold on,” I told myself.  “The 112 megabyte file is still there.  A computer programme will read this file at the ASCII level and recover this information.  It’s only a minor glitch, a temporary delay.  Anyways, nine days out of five months is nothing, even if it isn’t recoverable.”  I still felt anxious, but less angry, perhaps 30% instead of 80%, and still a little sad. My new belief was that I would eventually recover this corrupt file and I wouldn’t worry about the loss now.  [I recovered this file two weeks later.]


At 11.00 am the ferry docked and we reached St John, capital city of the Province of New Brunswick.  We bypassed this grey industrial city by heading west on highway 1 for the ninety-three kilometre trip to Frederickton on Highway 7.  I showed Richard the route on the map.  “Remember, Richard, Highway 1 to exit at exit fourteen, then go north on 7 to Frederickton. No dramas as you know the exit numbers. Please don’t go to sleep on me.”  Richard then infuriated me by driving blindly and obliviously past exit 14.  “I saw Highway 7 but didn’t know we were taking it,” he said.  “Turn around at the next exit and go back,” I said somewhat sharply. “Perhaps I should have driven.”


We reached Frederickton, a town of forty thousand people after a boring drive through wooded, rolling countryside.  I wanted to catch up with Chuck York, a ham operator, VE9CDY, whom I frequently spoke to on my way to and from work in Perth.  I didn’t have his last name or frequency of the local repeater. As we neared the city I scanned the 144 to 148 kilohertz band. There was Chuck’s voice that I recognised instantly and I reached him on 147.120 +600. “VE9CDY this is VK6DN portable VE9, How are you Chuck.  Its Don from down under, Australia! I bet you never expected to hear me on your local repeater.”    Chuck guided me over the radio down Vanier Drive to Prospect Terrace and into a Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop, where he and four other hams Dave Skidmore, Paul Hare, Tim and Silvan spontaneously caught up with me for a three-hour Sunday afternoon coffee break. “I was just heading home in the car when you called,” Chuck said.  “I turned right around to meet you.”  I had talked with Chuck two years ago on my 4.30 pm drive home from school nearly every day and heard his dog, Mr McGoo bark and his wife Judy say hello. It was 3.30 am in Frederickton when I drive home from work in Perth and Chuck trudged through snow delivering newspapers from his car to each door through the night. He carried a handheld and I could hear the crisp snow break under his boots and the noise of rusty mailboxes creaking open and the thud of the paper hitting the boxes. 


Then one day Chuck totally disappeared from the airwaves, his email became inactive, and I found out later he had been hospitalised for three months. “I totally withdrew and did nothing, lost contact with the world,” Chuck explained.  “I had overloaded myself with too many jobs.  I’m careful now.” Chuck also worked days in a variety of jobs, courier, and chef, and seems to survive on three hours sleep.  He looks fifty but produced a driver’s licence saying he was forty.  He’s definitely an energetic outgoing Type A personality.


Richard chatted with Dave, a giant of a man, with a flowing white beard and longer hair, who now suffers poor health after a series of heart attacks, but once drove trucks all over Canada as a professional truckie. Seated next to Richard was Paul, a fifty-seven year old eccentric bachelor, who delivers the National Post and Financial Times daily on his bicycle, while talking with me in Australia on his handheld.  Paul has a brilliant technical mind and he has invented some profitable technical device for the petroleum business. Paul lives with his elderly seriously ill dad and has never married.  “You need a string to find your way through his basement,” Chuck warned. Tim is a geotechnician who performs seismic work as a consultant.  He recently returned from a business trip to Iran, which I had visited in 1975.  We compared notes on Isfahan and Iranian carpets.  With Lily, I have attended a series of Persian carpet auctions and have recently purchased twenty tribal and city works for our renovated house. Silvan, the youngest ham, gives a somewhat serious image, and is softly spoken.  He is totally bilingual and is employed in the provincial government.


The Hams had lots of questions such as, “Is there a GST?” “How much is gas?” “Why did you move there?” and so on.  I had talked to most of these guys before by the IRLP system of using the Internet to link repeaters so they knew something of Australia.  As we chatted Chuck kindly phoned around and found us a cheaper ($79.00) but comfortable hotel, the Lakeview Inn with a ground floor room number 127 nearby.  Chuck guided us to the hotel and I got out at 4.00 pm, in a cold heavy rain.  “I’ll come around and pick you up tonight for a steak meal and a movie,” he promised.  “I’m really looking forward to it,” I said. “I really enjoyed myself meeting them,” Richard shared. “As they are all such really interesting characters with such different personalities and with fascinating stories to tell.”


Chuck arrived at 6.30 pm.  It rained an unpleasant, unrelenting cold downpour, with a frigid wind. “Colder than a nun’s tit,” Richard muttered. “Canadians are so hardy to tolerate this crap.” Richard dressed himself like a Newfoundland fisherman, with long raincoat and a rain hat.  Drenched, I struggled in to the Buick and we drove along Prospect Terrace, one of the main shopping areas in Frederickton.  The street is lined with hotels, fast food franchises and stores.  We selected the Swiss Chalet where Chuck had once worked for two years. A very pretty student served us.  I selected chicken and shrimp, requesting the cook to cut the chicken from the bone for me, as I can’t grip a knife.  I swallowed anti-histamine tablets, hoping to avoid a two-hour coughing fit after the meal that was plaguing me. The food was excellent. I tried an Alpine Beer, brewed in St John, New Brunswick, and enjoyed its fresh taste. I enjoyed the meal and thankfully remained allergy-free. Chuck told me, “I’ve emailed your friend Peter, VK6PEC and asked him to ring Lily to reset your IRLP node in Perth and to monitor for you tonight or tomorrow.  I’ll meet you for lunch tomorrow and I’ve organised an evening BBQ at my place.”


We then drove three minutes to a large shopping mall containing a cinema screening nine movies, and a Chapters Bookstore.  “This is a small town,” I told Chuck. “Two minute drive to eat and three to the theatre. It takes me half an hour to get anywhere in Perth.”  I love movies and usually see a double feature, beginning every Saturday morning.  We watched the Matrix Reloaded, commenting on its creativity, amazing computer animation and incomprehensive storyline.  Chuck showed us the fast food pizza and Italian fast-food outlet where he worked.  We were wet and cold and very tired and we returned to our room around midnight.


Monday 2 May Frederickton


I was awakened by a 9.00 am call from Chuck.  He had delivered the St John Gleaner during the freezing rainy night after we went to bed from 12.00 pm to 6.00 am.  “I was so tired by 4.00 am,” Chuck confessed, “I pulled my car over and slept for an hour but was woken up by Paul who called me at 5.00 am.”  He added cheerfully, “I got a reply email from Peter in Perth.  He’s pissed off you haven’t contacted him yet. He’s phoned your wife and got your IRLP node, 6200 fixed. You may talk to him tonight on Echolink when you come to my place for a BBQ.” Echolink is a system of linking computers with ham repeaters.


Richard commenced a 9.30 BT process with me sitting on my commode or modified wheelchair, next to the bed.  Suddenly, I felt very dizzy and started to pass out. “Quick, Richard, I’m going to faint. Lean me forward.” I wasn’t alarmed as I’ve occasionally experienced these bouts before, and know I recover in sixty seconds provided I increase the blood flow to my brain by leaning back, forwards or sideways.  Such circulatory problems are common to quadriplegics.


At 12.00 pm Chuck knocked on the door to take us to lunch at Mrs Marelli’s Pizza and Pasta Restaurant, at the mall, where he cooks daily.  The weather today was sunny and warmer, but changed rapidly in mid-afternoon to chilly windy weather.  “Canadian weather is unpredictable,” I warned Richard. “Warm in the morning and cold in the afternoon.” After browsing through books at Chapter’s we caught up with Paul Hare VE9MCK and ordered our choices of pizza and pasta from the boss, Happy, and two employees, Jason and Mike.  We chose the pasta ingredients and the food was cooked while we waited.  We all enjoyed the meal. I then met another ham, Gus, VE9GUS who had retired after thirty-five years in the Canadian army and who runs EMO, an emergency management organisation. We joked and chatted while Chuck bought himself a new driver golf club, Big Bertha.


Chuck suggested we visit Paul’s large white-framed house, constructed in 1932.  “They say six hams disappeared into the basement, got lost and were never seen again,” Chuck joked. “Beware, they may still be there, mouldering.  Who knows what lurks down there.”  Like many hams, Paul has been accumulating electronic components for years, which fill numerous boxes, and he specialises in the repair and collection of hand held gear. Many hams beat paths to his door to get their handheld walk talkies repaired.  He is reputed to have three hundred or more such radios, most of which he has fixed and which work.  “I was forced to learn computers, DOS, then windows to programme them,” Paul told me. “I resented the move of radio technology into computers at first, but now I like computers.”  He carries an encyclopaedic knowledge of radio frequencies and can tell you all about who operate where and the band characteristics.  We followed Paul’s car loaded with four radio antennae to his house.  I waited in the car while Richard took some photos, as wheelchair room was noticeably lacking in Paul’s house.  We met Paul’s dad, who requires around the clock care.


“We’ll see you at 5.30 at my place for a special BBQ,” Chuck announced and we retired for down time at the hotel. Paul dropped around on schedule.  I counted six radios in his car.  “I can operate on virtually any frequency,” he reported.  “Ham radio was made for people like you,” I thought, but said, “Come to Australia and try your gear in the Outback. You’ll be thousands of kilometres from civilization where radios are really needed.”  We drove a few kilometres into the country to Chuck and Judy’s flat.  They rent a property overlooking a mature cedar woodlot, a beautiful setting to raise their large Saint Bernard dog, Thumper.  Chuck used charcoal to impart a tasty grilled flavour to his meat.  We all enjoyed his meal. Chuck said,  “At 8.00 pm here, it’s 7.00 am tomorrow morning in Perth, Western Australia, drive time for amateurs going to work. Now’s a good time to call your friends in Perth.”  We called up the IRLP and Echolink nodes in Perth and caught up with eight ham friends over there, including Peter, VK6PEC.  I checked my email via hotmail and emailed my wife, Lily including my travel narrative as file attachments. I told Chuck, “It seems strange that they are going about their normal daily routines while so much has happened to us.  In another four months I’ll be back in that rut where one work day is like another and nothing changes.”


We left at 9.00 so Chuck could sleep three hours before his midnight paper round. “Thanks for your wonderful hospitality,” I repeated, “Richard and I have had a great visit and please, do come to visit us in Australia and bring Judy.  I don’t think I could handle Thumper though!”  Richard commented privately to me, “I can’t believe how much Chuck has done for us in the last thirty-six hours. He’s given up his sleep time to dine us.  I’ve enjoyed the amateurs and the stop thoroughly.  I also feel better for not having any alcohol.” We hit the sack at 10.00 pm.


Tuesday 3 June Quebec City and Return


When Richard and I set out at 8.00 am to drive from Frederickton to Montreal via Highway 2, 185, 20, and 40, we found Chuck had left us a newspaper on the windscreen of the car.  We also noticed Thumper’s paw prints on the windscreen, which the mammoth dog easily reached on his hind legs.  Chuck had entertained us all afternoon, then stayed up all night delivering papers and had thoughtfully considered us in his round. What a guy!  We really had a great time in Frederickton and left it regretfully. 


However, I was excited to catch up with other friends Bill and Sue Vanwart in Roblin, Ontario as soon as possible.  We have scheduled a week at their farm, near Napanee, Ontario.  Highway 2 through New Brunswick to Edmundston, then on the Quebec border is two-lane high-speed limited access road that is newly paved and easy to drive.  It’s an interesting drive because of the hilly landscape, giving vistas of countryside green in spring, mixed forest and farmland, large sparkling lakes and sizeable rivers.  We then drove to Riviere du Loup and on to Quebec City through pleasant rolling farmland, following our previous route to the Gaspe Peninsula.  I drove four hundred kilometres and handled the Pierre Laporte Bridge and subsequent cloverleaves to Highway 40 joining Quebec City to Montreal faultlessly.  “I’m really good at this driving stuff now,” I congratulated myself.


“This route from Quebec City to Montreal is really boring,” I told Richard.  “The land is as flat as central Australia and there’s nothing much to look at but trees.  Only some of the sizeable rivers flowing into the Saint Lawrence are impressive.  I wish we had rivers like these in South Western Australia.”  Richard did the 250-kilometre drive to Montreal.  We reached Montreal at 5.00 pm, and found the freeway widening to multiple lanes, traffic increasing and heavy industry proliferating, from petroleum refineries to chemical industries evident on both sides of the freeway.  This was a heavy industry zone. We had intended to stop outside of Montreal and find a motel, but no motels were around and we were in the centre of a heavy traffic flow.  “Oh, oh,” I said.  “We’re too late to find accommodation along here and we’re in peak 5.00 pm traffic flow. What the hell! Let’s try to follow Highway 40 through the city.” We did well for twenty minutes, and then we missed a turn and found ourselves diverted south of the city via a tunnel to Longueuil, Quebec, south of the Saint Lawrence River.  “Damn,” I thought.  “Enough was enough.  Richard will have an accident if he drives on in a tired state in this awful traffic and my derriere’s sore after sitting here without a single break since 8.00 am.”  We sought accommodation and the first three hotels were booked out. We were in Montreal after all, not some hick town. Finding the hotels was chAlanging enough in the unrelenting heavy evening traffic. At 8.00 pm we finally and gratefully booked in at the Holiday Inn, obtaining their very last room, 628 on the sixth floor in a six storey sizeable hotel in Longueuil, for $137.00. “This city is red hot and oh so busy,” Richard said.


In spite of an enforced stay over in Montreal, I was pleased with the eight hundred and fifty kilometres that we covered today.  I thought anxiously, “I’m apprehensive concerning red pressure areas from sitting twelve hours in the automobile seats without a break but I’ll find out tonight if I got away with it.  Now it’s time for a rum and dinner.”  We watched a red sun gradually settle over Montreal and the Saint Lawrence River and the city lights began to reflect off the river waters.


We enjoyed a low priced but tasty $11.00 buffet at the hotel restaurant, with no adverse reaction to my breathing thanks to an anti-histamine tablet taken before the meal.  I am learning. Then I phoned Bill to confirm a 5.00 pm arrival tomorrow.  His welcome was enthusiastic and typically Bill’s.  “How are you, you old piece of sheep dung, koala turd? Where are you?    When are you coming? I’ve made some ramps already to get you into the house.”  Bill is always good at making me feel welcome.  “I’ll be there tomorrow night with a case of Australian wine, you old beaver pelt,” I replied.  “I’m really looking forward to seeing Sue and yourself. Catch you soon.”  Richard and I headed to bed. I felt a sense of relief when he told me that my rear end was not unduly red from the long day sitting in the car. “That was a really tough drive through Montreal this evening,” was Richard’s final words.  “I feel really stressed and drained.  I’m not looking forward to tackling the Montreal freeway system tomorrow.  The traffic here is so heavy.”                                       


Wednesday 4 June Roblin Ontario


Up at 7.30 am, Richard finished BTs by 9.30 and we enjoyed the hotel’s $9.00 buffet breakfast.  My omelette was superb with ham, sausage, mushrooms and tomato interior.  I felt embarrassed when Richard ate three helpings of fruit and took four bananas away with him saying, “They are only going to spoil and be thrown out.” “I guess the waitress will be thinking he’s a monkey,” I thought. Hanging from the six-story ceiling in the centre of this hotel by our lift is a genuine yellow canvas replica of the Canadian World War I fighter pilot, William Bishop’s biplane. “It’s identical to the real plane and lacks only the engine,” I was told by an aviation buff on the elevator. “Look at those bicycle wheels, and those thin wires controlling the ailerons, elevator and tail.  They flew by the seat of their pants.”   Returning to the room, I viewed a clear sunny day from our large sixth floor window, with a large red container ship carefully and slowly negotiating into an unloading bay across the river. Traffic poured down a freeway alongside the river.  Richard packed, and then we checked out at 10.30 to combat Montreal’s freeway system yet again.  I felt apprehensive and hoped I would survive this fray and the 401.


Richard drove the Montreal section.  We accessed freeway 20 ouest from the hotel easily and followed it over le pont Champlain and through the tortuous cloverleaves of central Montreal.  By 12.00 we were through and following 20 ouest towards Ontario and its junction with the 401 freeway.  Light traffic and the 70-kilometre speed limit helped us with highway 20, but accessing that route in peak hour traffic would be a nightmare because of insufficient warnings of highway exits.


Highway 401 east of Montreal is a boring drive through flat countryside, but large limestone rock cuts towards Kingston add diversity.  We reached Kingston at 3.00 pm, and excited the freeway onto Highway 15 to enter the city.  In 1971, when I studied for a Masters of Arts degree in Ottawa I had frequently taken this highway to Kingston to catch up with my friend Alan .  In Kingston, we stopped at the downtown LCBO the only agency allowed to sell spirits and wine in Ontario.  They have a hundred odd Australian wines at prices similar to or cheaper than Australia, ranging from eight to eighteen dollars.  I purchased twelve bottles for Bill and Sue.  Richard and I then drove around Queen’s University taking photographs.  I drove out to Amherstview where I had lived with Lily for four months in 1988 after spending eight months in a campervan touring around   North America.


We reached the farm house of Bill and Sue Vanwart, road twelve, eight kilometres north of the 401 on highway 41 in Roblin, Ontario at 5.00 pm.  Lily and I had first met the Vanwarts in 1988 when Lily taught with Sue in the Ernesttown High School.  Since then Bill and Sue visited us in Australia on one of their many round the world trips in the 90’s and Bill holidayed with us for a month in 2002.  We planned a week’s stay with the Vanwarts. We were greeted first by their two large dogs, and then by Bill and Sue themselves.  Bill and Sue are both teachers, Bill of Art and Sue of English.  They purchased a farm, including a large wooden barn in which they keep two horses as pets and live a rural lifestyle, overlooking a woodlot, green fields, bulrushes and an small pond.


I phoned and chatted with Lily who reported the completion of landscaping of our backyard, and then we spent the evening drinking Australian red wines, eventually consuming six bottles.  I sadly to say got carried away and badly overindulged to my severe discomfort the following day.  Fortunately Richard maintained control and was able to put me to bed safely in spite of my intoxicated state and inability to assist him.


Thursday 5 June Roblin


I woke up 10.30 feeling as if I had been run over by a train.  My head ached and I felt listless and groggy.  I thought, “This was the mother of a hangover.  I should have known better.”  Richard was in good form, and helped me dress.  I consumed a Spartan breakfast of an aspirin and coffee, then spent the next hour hours sitting quietly, chatting with Bill who is at home on sick leave for a knee operation and watching redwing black birds and blue jays feed from a large bird feeder in the garden.  I didn’t feel like lunch but ate some boiled egg, then slept part of the afternoon.  By dinner I was feeling better and joined Bill for a beer.


Dinner was exceptional, tender garlic steaks lovingly barbequed.  I feasted well and chatted with Bill and Sue over our mutual visits to New Zealand and Australia.  Bill read an email to me from Bob Heeney, a family friend, entitled ‘you’re just visiting, some salient warnings.’  He wrote, “You are now at ‘the farm.’  Even if it seems foggy, damp and cloudy and cold, remember it is a farm.  You are nowhere near the ocean on a winter’s day, even if it feels that way.”


“Also remember – you are visiting.  I have been there many times as a guest and the host attempted to put me to work. Remind Bill that you are a guest and should be treated that way. If he needs the horseshoe pit dug, he will do it.  If he needs the hay moved up to the top of the barn, or thrown down from the top, he will do it.  This also goes for cutting the grass, weeding the garden, going to the dump, etc.  They are good at doing their chores so just let them do them. I have learned from past mistakes.  I have said, ‘anything I can do to help.’  That is a question I would not recommend that you use.  That question has led me to dragging trees out of the swamp, doing the dishes, feeding the horses and the dogs, and throwing half dead mice out of the house, courtesy of Mr. Paddy, the cat.”


“The people you are staying with are obsessed with wood.  They love to see it through the entire cycle.  They plant little saplings, and nurture them very nicely.  On the other side of the fence, they spend enormous hours cutting down trees, then cutting the trees into bite-size pieces for Roseanne, the furnace with the big mouth that eats a lot.  Watch your pencils and anything you own that’s made of wood.  They will take it and put it to some kind of use.  My best piece of advice to you is to start drinking early and get to bed early because you are on the farm and Bill gets up early.  Enjoy yourself and welcome to Ontario, home of SARS, Mad Cow and the West Nile Virus. Enjoy your stay.”


I hit the hay by 9.00 pm.


Friday 6 May Napanee / Belleville


My schedule for today was more energetic than yesterday’s fiasco, including a 6.00 AM start, an eighty-minute guest appearance in Sue’s Napanee High School classroom, phone calls to old friends and a visit to a reunion function for my old high school, Belleville Collegiate Institute.


The talk went well, based on the theme of discrimination. I talked twenty-five minutes, we gave the twenty-five year ten students ten minutes to chat in small groups to share their experiences with discrimination, and then they reported back and asked questions. “How much did your ticket cost?” a student asked. Another asked, “What was the most memorable place you have visited?” and I replied, “It was a ten day trek through the Himalayas with Sherpas carrying my pack and setting up my tent at nights.  The views of the lofty Himalayan peaks were tremendous and the local Nepalese people friendly.  We stopped along the route to drink locally made beer made from corn.  I’d recommend you plan a hike in Nepal.” Another girl asked if I’d been to Alaska. “Yes,” I replied, “I drove from Whitehorse along a very rough gravel road over mountain ranges into Alaska and spent a few days in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and the state capital Juneau, in 1988.  It was summer and the sun never set.  I could easily read outside at 3.00 AM in the morning.  The mountains in Alaska are wonderful, particularly Denali National Park.  Anchorage has the largest collection of private float planes in the world, since most of Alaska is inaccessible by road.”  We wrapped up the pleasurable session with the students and returned to the farm for an afternoon nap.


Sue reported back the next day that the students were influenced by the talk. “Two students looked up Nepal in an atlas,” she said. “Five told me they wanted to visit Nepal. Another said he regretted passing up a trip with his parents recently.  The students were blown out by how much travel you had done.  They wanted to know details about how you managed with your disability such as how you got on a plane but were too uncomfortable to ask you in front of their peers.”


At 5.00 PM we drove into Belleville and drove past sites from my past, my old high school, Belleville Collegiate Institute, now sadly dilapidated and closed, my first primary school Prince Charles from 1950, still functioning and unchanged fifty years later, Queen Mary Primary School where I attended grades 5 and 6, 37 Dunbar Street, my parents home from 1950 to 1958, and finally 111 Palmer Road, my parents home from 1958 until my dad’s death at ninety years of age in 1996.  The home had been extended and remodelled, looking much better than when we lived in it.  Richard and I then headed to the Belleville Collegiate reunion, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the high school from 1928 to its closure in 1992.  Held in a hockey arena, the reunion numbers were awesome, a thousand people, with many older folk who had attended in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  My graduating year, grade 13 was 1966, and I met a few people I knew, but many more who remembered my brother George or me.  I caught up with Seona Halsey who was in my year 7 and 8 class in Avondale Primary School, and she had married a friend and fellow boy scout Ricky Halsey. Seona is responsible for my attendance at the reunion because of her email contact with occasional online chats with me. She had joined to obtain my email address. I also met Lois, a sister of David Williamson, a fellow boy scout, who shared the three-kilometre bike ride to high school every day.


Leaving the reunion we drove to the Belleville Club, situated in one of Belleville’s traditional nineteenth century three storey brick buildings.  Ross McDougall, who lived at the end of Palmer Road and whom was a good friend of my brother, organised to get my wheelchair carried up the stairs.  I caught up with a fellow student of George’s, Kam Tom, who helped me build a tree fort in a large cedar tree behind the cottage.  “I remember you tied a length of bicycle tube down the side of the tree, as plumbing.  When you tried to pee into it, the tube was blocked, and you pissed all over yourself.”  “Thanks, Kam, I didn’t need reminding of that forgotten anecdote,” I said.


We got back to the farm and bed at 12.30 AM.


Saturday 7 June Belleville


Richard was up by 6.00 AM so I would be dressed and ready to depart for the forty kilometre Drive on the 401 Freeway by 7.30.  I had organised months ago to visit a group of Quinte Amateur Radio Operators who meet every Saturday morning at 8.00 AM for breakfast at the Quinte Restaurant, near the Moira River. We reached the restaurant at 8.20 AM, and I felt hesitant. Would anyone be there?  Seeing a few radio antennas on cars reassured me greatly.  Going in, we spotted a group of twenty hams, well into their meal.  “This is amazing,” I thought.  “They all know who I am and were expecting me. I feel really welcome and comfortable here.”  I dug into a Western Omelette, chatting with many hams that I had chatted to from Perth, while driving to school every week.  One ham had worked with my father, at Northern Electric Company, during the 1960’s. “How’s your trip going?  Where are you going next?” they asked.  After the meal, they gave me a signed card and an Amateur Radio Operator of Canada jacket and hat.  Richard was also delighted to receive a cap and said, “I really enjoyed that group.  They were relaxed, laid-back and really friendly. I had a good conversation with them.”


We were late for the next Reunion activity, a 10.00 AM walk from the front street footbridge along a new cycle path following the Moira River.  Richard completed the riverside walk to the Belleville Yacht Club while I typed in the car.  I thought back to my year 10 summer of 1963 when my father had signed me up for a month of sailing lessons from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm five days a week on the Bay of Quinte.  Not only did I learn knots, splices, sailing terminology and other skills, we raced and picnicked around the Bay.  My sailing and photography skills through the Belleville Collegiate camera club helped me obtain a job as a camp counsellor at Camp Comak for the following three summers.


Leaving Belleville, we returned to Bill and Sue’s for an afternoon nap, and then left for the gala dinner and dance at the hockey arena at 5.00 pm.  I joined the 60’s graduating group, and enjoyed the excellent beef and chicken buffet, while being awarded a Canada photograph book for being the alumni who had travelled the furthest.  I caught up with Jim and Marlene Williams.  Jim was a friend from early primary school days, who originally attended Bible School and became a youth worker.  He later built kitchen cabinets and presently works for the juvenile justice system while being elected to the local board of education.  I’ve periodically followed his career through the years.  Jim and Marlene have raised four children, now all employed and married.  “My recollections of BCI,” I recalled for Jim, “are mainly of working as hard as I could, to get the highest marks possible.  In years 11 and 12 I took Spanish, French and Latin, so the workload was considerable.”


I also met Glen Shaver, now 81 whom had taught me physics.  I had been a member of his Pioneer Club for a brief ‘born again’ Christian phase in my life.  There were no other teachers present.  I recalled practice teaching at BCI in 1972 for my Bachelor of Education and seeing the surprise of my old teachers at being confronted by a former student in the staff room.  I’ve since experienced that feeling of being old from the opposite end, having former students join me on staff.


Richard and I returned to Bill and Sue’s about 12.30 am.


Sunday 8 June Kingston


Today is packed full of activity beginning with breakfast with Doug Rigsby in Kingston at 10.00, then back to Odessa, Ontario to visit Professor Jim Mason of Queen’s University, and then catch up with Leo Blondin and Lana Dale and Bill and Sue Vanwart for dinner at their home in Kingston at 5.00 pm. 


Richard and I located Doug on the fourth floor, 1260 Princess Street, and enjoyed catching up on events since my last visit in 1999.  Doug and I shared rental accommodation on Division and Albert Streets from 1968-70 and 71-72. I had also spent three days with Doug in Calgary in 1988 where he was a crown prosecutor.  “I once prosecuted a case,” Doug told me, “Where two dogs were screwing on a neighbour’s lawn and the owner had discharged a rifle near them, to separate them.  The man was convicted for discharging a firearm in city limits.”   Doug had also visited me in Perth, Australia in 1989 with a Japanese girl friend, Akiko.  Doug and I had shared accommodation for three years between 1969 and 1972.  Doug graduated as a lawyer but was plagued with schizophrenia.  At the age of 27 he lost his solicitor’s job, girl friend, and apartment when he heard voices and believed that the Ontario government was conspiring against him.  In 1990, he suffered a three-year relapse. He lived with his parents and stayed on the couch all day.  “I woke up one day and saw the sun was shining brightly, and I asked myself what was I doing lying here on the couch,” Doug told us. Since then, Doug’s been on preventive medication and has been well.  He works for the Frontenac Mental Health Board and has a steady girl friend, Judy.  “I’m very proud,” Doug, told us, “That in 2001, I was awarded the Courage to Come Back Award for the best recovered schizophrenic.  I’m now living a quality life and lecture in schools to promote mental health and to create awareness about schizophrenia.”  Doug has lived independently since his mother died four years ago and is apartment is clean, neat and well ordered with priceless oil paintings and travel photographs.  “I’m happy and pleased with my continued recovery,” Doug concluded. I noted that Doug still kept expensive Cuban cigars and decanters of port and scotch whiskey, reminding me of how Doug and I shared a cigar and Manhattan cocktail after study during our university years.


Saying goodbye to Doug after a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs, Danish buns and adult orange juice (champagne added), we drove thirty kilometres east to Odessa, Ontario to Maple Street and the farm house of Jim and Jane Mason and their twelve year old son, Kevin.  During my first year in residence, Jim was the second year Don in the room next to me, studying electrical engineering.  He amazed me with his study habits sleeping in twenty-minute periods and working twenty hour stretches.  George and Jim shared an apartment while George completed his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering for two years, with Jim completing his PhD in Electrical Engineering.  Jim became a lecturer at Queen’s and is a professor there today.  I visited him in 1977 in Christ Church, New Zealand where he lectured for a year, and he visited us in Perth in 1986 for a week.  Jim, Jane and I sat outside in Jim’s unmown grass, chatting.  “You’ll like my newest toy, a GPS,” Jim said as he plugged it into is IBM laptop.  “It plots your route on detailed maps, and you may bring up information on nearby restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. It also plots your altitude.”  Jim and I discussed Kevin who is a well-behaved boy, with difficulties in reading but very competent with computers. Kevin and Richard had gone for a walk in the woods.  On his return, he told Jim, “I really like your guests.  Can they stay for dinner?”  Jim showed us his collection of archaic computers including an Apple II, Osborne, PDP 11 and 15, all of which take up room in his back shed.  “I want to donate it all to a technology museum eventually,” Jim said, “but in the mean time I take components into my classes and give the students maths problems, comparing capacities, and read times then and now.”


By 4.30 we had to leave for Leo and Lana’s.  (Photos) We arrived on time at 5.00 pm, and got pulled up eight steep steps for drinks on the back veranda.  Lily had originally taught school with the couple in 1988, they visited us in Perth in 1990, and we caught up with them on every visit to Canada.  Leo and Lana have done two world trips including Africa, China and South America.  Leo fell off his roof last year and spent some months in a wheelchair.  I said to Leo, “You used to be a ski bum?”  “Yes,” Leo replied, “I grew up in Northern Ontario speaking French, but got the chance to work in Switzerland near the Matterhorn for a month.  I stayed five years, working mornings as a waiter, skiing from 12 to 5, and spending the evening at the bar.  I travelled around Europe each summer.”  Leo lived in Sudbury and met Lana there. He went back to university and became a teacher, teaching French Immersion classes for the last twenty years and retired last year. “I took my classes to Quebec City every year,” Leo said.  “I love the old city.”  I chatted with Lana about her rebuilt kitchen, which looked wonderful with granite slabs and new hardwood cabinets.

Too quickly, 9.30 pm rolled around and Sue and Lana both had to teach Monday mornings.  We drove back to Napanee and got to bed at midnight.


Monday 9 June Prince Edward County


Monday was an 11.00 am start due to my usual morning procedures.  Bill offered to take us wine tasting at Waupoos (Indian for rabbit) at the Waupoos Winery.  We drove Highway 41 through Napanee, and then Highway 33 passing a large electrical generation station to the Quinte Loyalist, the Glenora Ferry which links to Lake on the Mountain. Loyalists, who fled the United States prior to the 1779 American Revolution to live under British rule, settled this country attracted by free land grants and their added numbers led to the creation of Upper Canada or Ontario.  Crossing white-flecked waters of Adolphus Reach, in a stiff cool breeze, we reached Glenora, once a centre of grist milling.  From the ferry terminal, we drove up a steep hill offering scenic views overlooking the reach and overlooking a small deep mountain lake, called Lake on the Mountain. We drove road 13 to Black River to buy fresh PEC curd cheese and to view an old house which Bill had painted.  Bill had kindly donated the painting to us during his visit to Perth in January 2002.  From there, we went on to the winery. We met Ed Neuser, the founder and owner, an outgoing talkative white bearded German entrepreneur who migrated to Canada in the 1950’s.  (  Waupoos Estates Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario) He planned a winery, boutique and restaurant in the mid 1990’s, and by 2001 he operated the region’s first full-fledged grape winery, producing Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer and Saint Laurent wines of high quality in the $9.00 to $14.00 range.  Ed loves to meet his customers, and chat.  “We entertained a family from Perth recently,” Ed said.  “I’ve been to the East coast of Australia but not to Perth but I really prefer the northern part of the South Island of New Zealand. New Zealand produces a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc.  Last winter was an exceptionally cold one for us freezing Lake Ontario and it retarded or killed many of our vines.  We will get a poor grape harvest this year.”  We photographed Ed, checked out the restaurant with its attractive menu at $20.00 per plate, and admired the view over Lake Ontario.


From Waupoos we drove to Picton, a small town that flourished from the timber industry in the 1800’s, and passed a large cement plant to the Deseronto Bridge crossing the Bay of Quinte, reaching the Mohawk Indian Reservation of Deseronto, home of an Indian Art Gallery. We got back at 7.00 pm in time for a large salmon meal with Australian white and red wines. A chipmunk, bought in by the cat, Mr. Paddy, had escaped and created excitement from the chase to capture it in the kitchen. Sue sat next to me chatting and enjoyed four or five Du Maurier cigarettes.  Cigarette smoke as always set off my allergy and my lungs filled with fluid. I excused myself. We were in bed by 10.00 pm.


Late in the night I heard the drawn out air horn of a Canadian National railways freight train, warning vehicles as it approached an intersection, and the roar of its heavy diesel engines revving up a grade. It bought back memories of my youth, with the Canadian Pacific line, servicing Montreal and Toronto at the bottom of my street and the Canadian National line only two kilometres to the North.  My bed lay alongside a window and I would watch the falling, wind blown snow in sub-zero frigidness late at nights and listen to the music of passing trains.  These tracks in 1885 replaced the canoe, uniting Canada as a nation until the arrival of roads and trucks in the 1930’s.  I don’t hear trains in Perth.


Tuesday 10 June, Campbellford


Up at 9.00, the weather greeted me with warmth and sunshine.  Richard showered me on the farmhouse veranda using a garden hose, connected to Bill’s wood heated hot water system. This was my first normal shower for three weeks, since leaving Cornwall. Our plans for today include catching up with a Queen’s University friend, Jim Pendergest who will drive from Peterborough to meet us at Alan ’s house in Campbellford.


The phone rang and it was Jessica Naslund in Sweden.  When Lily and I stayed with Bill and Sue for a week in 1999, Jessica and Kalle Lonnbro, a Swedish couple, were also visiting, taking a break from running an Irish pub near Zurich in Switzerland.  We all had a wonderful week together.  Then Lily and I left for two weeks in England, flew to Zurich, drove down to Florence, Italy, and back to Geneva and Switzerland.  We spent three days camped in Jessica’s Irish pub in Biberist, drinking free Guinness after their midnight closing until the early morning.  The pub was actually an Irish church imported brick by brick from Ireland, complete with Celtic cross.  What an experience.  Jessica, who is an airline stewardess, is currently feeling despondent, between boyfriends and is planning an August trip back to see Bill and Sue. I’m feeling sorry to miss her.


We left for Campbellford at 1.00 pm, a hundred kilometre drive via Highways 41, 401, 62 and 14 to Oak Hill Lake and Stirling. We drove around Oak Hill Lake taking photographs and parked next to the Pugh summer cottage with its large British Columbia Provincial flag hanging over the kitchen door. “The water’s really high and crystal clear,” Richard commented.  “The lake’s not big, only about a kilometre or so across but it’s really peaceful and beautiful.”  I replied that it was spring fed and very cold.  Mr Alan, who owns Johnny Meyers cottage, dropped over to chat. John was a paraplegic who had achieved renown as a wood carver, executing some works for my brother-in-law, Ken Richmond, and he had died from complications from pressure sores, about a decade ago.  I remembered visiting the cottage in December, during one of our numerous overseas visits, late at night with Lily and I getting stuck on the ice.  Johnny and his son came out to help us.  “George and Pat will be here for a week at the end of June,” I informed Mr Alan.  “I never had the chance to meet Johnny Myers,” he commented.  I expressed astonishment at the way most summer cottages had been reconstructed as large permanent year around homes and a second tier of homes was beginning on the far side of the access road.  Richard and I moved on towards Campbellford.


We reached Campbellford at 5.00 pm as Alan and Carol  have invited us for dinner with my old Queen’s friend Jim Pendergest from Peterborough, Ontario.  Alan greeted us warmly, with a new metaphor, “Have you shown the women your weapon of mass distraction, Don? It’s a whopper.”  He bought us Coors beer and toasted, “Here’s to the hand, that holds the glass, feels the ass, and makes the lass feel better.”  Alan had reached Sudbury without incident after leaving us in Halifax and watched his son Ethan graduate from Community College. “I really enjoyed the trip,” Alan told me, “But I thought we did too much driving and not enough sight-seeing.  That PEI fishing village was a highlight for me.  I could have taught a complete geography lesson on mussel cultivation.”  I thought, “Remember, it was you that planned out itinerary, Alan.”


Jim arrived at 6.30 pm, looking very young for 56 years of age, a touch of grey hair but no baldness, few facial lines and not over-weight.  He and I completed Hons History and a Bachelor of Education degree together.  We both taught for two years, and then Jim completed a two-year Masters of Librarian Science degree and obtained work at Peterborough Public Library where he works today. “No-one can get a job with History alone,” he commented.  “They’ve even dropped history and geography as compulsory subjects in schools. Remember how we did British History in ninth, Canadian in tenth, Ancient in eleven, European in twelfth, and Canadian American in thirteenth.  Now they’ve dropped Grade Thirteen. Education standards are dropping.” We reviewed the graduates from our year and only two had jobs in History as University Professors while everyone else did further training to be civil servants, teachers, journalists, librarians or lawyers.


During Jim’s extended study I had helped him get employment as a historian with the Parks Branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources in Northern Ontario for two summers while I travelled in Europe. “I loved the work, got to fly up the coast of James Bay, and camped out in the Oblate Fathers and Department of National defence Archives in Ottawa, gathering information,” he commented.  “I was in a DC3 in Winisk that crashed on take-off.”  Jim married a French teacher now retired from Head of the French Department, and has two girls in their early teens, Christina and Caleigh. “They love horses and swimming and I’m always ferrying them somewhere,” Jim said.  “They want to become primary school French immersion teachers and attend Trent University.” 


I asked Jim about retirement.  “I’ve really enjoyed the intellectual chAlange of my work, but recently the library has become home for homeless youth and homeless vagrants with mental disorders.  Peterborough provides vagrants with free accommodation from 8.00 PM to 8.00 AM, and then they move into the library for the day to keep warm, use the free Internet service and to cause havoc.  I feel like a social worker and prison guard. I hate it, making the 85% offer of a pension look very attractive.  I’m also missing out on watching my girls grow up, because I’m at work and they’re playing at the cottage.  When I come home I have chores such as mowing the lawn.  Yes, retirement is looking very good.”


We enjoyed a tasty Lasagne with a white Spumante wine.  I suffered a severe food allergy attack, which I’ve avoided this last week by drinking red wine with my evening meal.  I’ve discovered that red wine for me has a protective, anti-histamine effect, and I love drinking it. The allergies caused a runny nose and made me cough, ruining the rest of the evening for me.  Alan got increasingly happy and took over the conversation with how he had helped an American Vietnam deserter, John Morshbocker get work and accommodation and settle in Canada.  John eventually gained a University degree and became a Canadian citizen in Alberta, married to a Canadian lady.  The story is a remarkable one, worth publishing, but we had heard it before.  At 9.30 PM, I said my farewells.  Alan seemed really touched to see me go, asking, “Do you think you will ever return to Canada again?”  “A good question, and I don’t really know the answer,” I said, but thought, “Of course, I’ll be back.  I’ve got deep roots here.”  Jim empathised with my allergy saying that with increasing age he had recently acquired hay fever. 


Richard and I drove a nerve wracking hundred kilometres back to Roblin in darkness and heavy rain.  I mused at our acceptance and familiarity with the 401, with its bumper-to-bumper heavy truck traffic. “Look,” I thought, “We merge on and off, sit behind a truck, and negotiate Canada’s heaviest travelled highway with the confidence of natives even in heavy rain on a stormy dark night at a hundred kilometres an hour.  Thank god, we’re not on it in a snow storm though!”  We were in bed at midnight and the wood smoke from the log fed furnace tickled my lungs as I drifted off to sleep.


Wednesday 11 June Napanee


This is our final rest day, before tackling eight hours of driving to Sudbury tomorrow.  I awoke at 9.30 on a dark, overcast day and was dressed at 11.30 after BT’s.  The afternoon was pleasantly spent indoors completing my diary.  Richard photographed Laura Schwager, a pretty lively girl, riding Sue’s horse, Mr. Ed or Emily around the farm.  Laura, who claims Mohawk ancestry, was a former student of Bill, who has completed university and will be completing a Bachelor of Education this year.  She has published a short story The Drum Keeps Beating: Recovering a Mohawk Identity in Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence editors Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival.  She writes:  “Where am I going? I am now set on a path of exploring and connecting to my Native heritage, my Native self.  I tell my father how I am singing and drumming with other native women.  I share with him what others are teaching me about the ceremonies and traditional teachings, the politics and our struggles to know that strong force within.  I share how wonderful it feels to be accepted, to accept myself.  I treat our culture as a good thing.”


Richard and Sue walked in the woods admiring Indian paintbrush flowers.  “This glacial erratic boulder is where I want to be buried,” Sue pointed out to Richard.  “This boulder was carried thousands of kilometres by glaciers and comes from another geological area.  This idea fits with my nomadic spirit.”


At 6.00 pm Bill and Sue took us to Blanche du Bois, a French restaurant in Napanee.  We chatted with our attractive young waitress, Melissa Bouchard, a bright ex-student of Sue’s, who was one of 150 students accepted for a Bachelor of Education at Trent University from 2000 applicants.  The owner and chef, who trained in New Orleans came out and chatted.  She had been a chef all over the United States.  “Times are pretty difficult here,” she said. “People in Napanee don’t appreciate French cuisine.  They’re used to French Fries, and meatballs.  I’ve got a big investment in this restaurant and I hope things change for the better.”  We were the only customers.  My crispy chicken in an apricot sauce was excellent, washed down by an Australian Lindeman’s Cabinet Shiraz.  Richard ordered Chocolate Mousse for Sue with thank you written in Polish on the plate.  Bill kindly paid the entire cheque.  Thanks Bill. We returned for an early 10.00 pm nights, avoiding a late night wine drinking session, suggested by Bill.


End Chapter 7