Jun 19, 2013

Not All Who Wander (PEI Day 3)

For my second day on PEI, I had decided to spend the morning in Charlottetown, and then to go somewhere else on the island for the afternoon. Not really sure what I was going to do in the afternoon, I spent my breakfast looking at the tourism materials available. With two or three ideas in mind, I went out into the city.

I love Charlottetown. It's got a small town feel, and just feels so laid back and calm. I had taken a little walk before dinner the night before, and loved how downtown was set up. (I was also whistled at . . . sort of. A man had asked me a question and then said, "Miss, if I may . . ." and then he attempted to cat call, which didn't work, so he added, "I was trying to whistle, but I can't." I smiled and thanked him. I love that he asked my permission first. So Canadian.) The first place I went was the Province House, just down the street from my hotel.

The Province House is called "The Birthplace of Canada." A very nice guide told me all about how representatives from the various provinces met on Prince Edward Island to discuss the unification of the country. These Fathers of the Confederation never wrote anything up or signed anything during this meeting, but it was significant because it started the process. Funny story, PEI didn't even join Canada until several years later because it was a pretty prosperous province and didn't feel like sharing it's wealth. It was only after the shipping business all but disappeared with the appearance of steam powered ships and PEI lost all it's money that it finally joined the union. 

As I said before, I couldn't go anywhere without having a conversation with someone, and it was true here too! I watched the little movie they had about the meeting, then talked to the guide and the security guard for a little while. The guard even gave me three free pins to add to my collection!

After that, I wandered down to Beaconsfield House.

Beaconsfield House was built in 1877 and had all the best of the modern amenities, including indoor plumbing, central heating, and gas lighting. It was built by a ship builder and his wife, the daughter of another ship builder. Interesting story: a house already existed on this property, but they wanted their dream house there, so they picked up the existing house and moved it across the street! That house still stands. Five years later, they were bankrupt because of the aforementioned decline of the need for wooden ships, so they sold the house. This next owner tried to sell it, for a mere $10,000, but couldn't, so instead he and his two unmarried sisters lived there for 35 years. Then it was a home for young women, then for nurses. It has now been restored to it's previous Victorian State. It's a gorgeous home, and the original central heating system still works and it used today!

This house isn't anything important, except that it was for sell and I want to buy it.

After my morning in Charlottetown, I went back to the hotel to figure out where I wanted to spend the afternoon. I decided on the potato museum, because it sounded random and I wanted to see how much one could say about potatoes. I found the directions on Google Maps, and headed out. Somewhere a long the way I took a wrong turn, so I changed my mind and decided to drive the Red Sands Coastal Drive instead.

There are four coastal drives on the island, covering the four different parts. Each coastal drive is marked with a little picture and arrows, so you know where to go. So I just kept following the arrows, knowing it would get me back to Charlottetown eventually.

In all, I drove for about three or four hours, but I didn't feel it at all! The Island is so beautiful, and the highways take you through little towns, and past farms with their fields of red dirt ready for planting, and white churches with lovely graveyards. 

Prince Edward Island . . . is really a beautiful Province. . . . Elsewhere are more lavish landscapes and grander scenery; but for chaste, restful loveliness it is unsurpassed. . . . Much of the beauty of the Island is due to the vivid colour contrasts--the rich red of the winding roads, the brilliant emerald of the uplands and meadows, the glowing sapphire of the encircling sea. (L. M. Montgomery, The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career, 10-11.)
This is what I saw on my drive--and during the rest of my trip--the "chaste, restful loveliness."

The Confederation Bridge. It connects PEI to mainland Canada. 

Just a view I saw during my drive. I thought it showed
the red, green, and blue perfectly. Unfortunately, cameras never capture
what exactly it is that you see. 

After dinner that night, I went on another walk of Charlottetown. It was Prom night for two of the high schools, so I got to experience what a fun thing their Prom is! They "Promenade" to the Province house, where friends and family (and curious tourists like me) are waiting to see them. They come in all kinds of fun vehicles, like the sightseeing bus below. Fancy cars, tractors, pink fire engines, carriages, police cars, and two girls were even pulled along in wagons by their dates! The girls looked lovely in their dresses. It was so much fun to see, and made me wish that I were 18 again and going to Prom--almost.

I got to experience "turn down service" for the first time that night, and let me say, I'm a fan! It sounds so dorky, but they just come in and turn down your bed, leave some chocolates, fill your ice bucket, and pull down the shades (I didn't even know the windows had shades the first two nights!). I liked it, and I felt spoiled!

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