A weekend in PEI
The long awaited epilogue to the ride is finally here. Just what did I get upto in Prince Edward Island? After a succesful ride, did I go out and party hard and paint the town red? Well actually, given that all the dirt in PEI is already red, and I was pretty tired, I sided with more of a low-key weekend and enjoyed what the Island had to offer. So, if you are interested, here’s a rundown of my Prince Edward Island weekend. Be forewarned though, the following includes no tales of monumental struggle, no acts of heroism by valiant inner tubes, and no mention of interesting daily tidbits or tunes of the day. As such, this entry may read more like a pamphlet from the Prince Edward Island Tourism Bureau. Nevertheless, here’s my weekend’s story…
On Saturday, I started off my day at Founder’s Hall. The exhibits here trace the events that led to Canada’s Confederation which of course began with the meetings in Charlottetown in 1864. Though some of its re-enactment videos are a little cheesy, all in all, it’s quite entertaining. Also, the written content that goes along with the multimedia displays is very informative but not as long-winded as it is in other museums. Definitely, Founder’s Hall was a very worthwhile visit. An interesting point as to why the meetings were held in Charlottetown: if it were held elsewhere, representatives from PEI would likely not have attended. Those in the colony at the time were not too keen on the union, and ironically, though it all began in Charlottetown, PEI did not join the rest of Canada at its onset in 1867. Only in 1873 when they were struggling with debt from the railway they were building on the island, did they join on.
In the afternoon, I felt compelled to take in a matinee of Anne of Green Gables, the musical (I was in Anne’s land – how could I not?). It turned out to very entertatining, and the cast was quite good. The show has been running every year since 1964 making it Canada’s longest-running musical production. Following the show, I was looking forward to seeing another PEI tradition, the Gold Cup and Saucer, PEI’s annual big event horse race. Unfortunately, there was an absolute deluge in Charlottetown that night, and the race was postponed. I settled for a night in front of the TV watching some Olympics and a little bit of Strange Brew which just happened to be on. For those not familiar, Strange Brew is a Canadian classic that stars Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as Bob and Doug MacKenzie. If you haven’t seen it, I can lend you the DVD!
On Sunday, I took a shuttle to the west side of PEI to do a little exploring. As all the tours were booked solid, I took my bike with me on the shuttle so that I could get to a few places in the area. I started out by heading to Kensington, where I was going to see the Woodleigh Replicas, a series of re-creations of famous buildings and castles from all over the world. From my starting point in Cavendish, it was a 25km hike over a hilly countryside, and against a nasty headwind (thankfully, on this day, I had no extra weight on the back of the bike to slow me down). When I got to Kensington, I found out that Woodleigh Replicas had closed down this summer (maintenance costs were too high apparently). OY! So instead, I went to the Haunted Mansion in town (which was OK) and headed back to Cavendish. It wasn’t all a loss though as the ride back was easy with the wind at my back (I traveled a good 6-8km/h faster than on the way there) and I got a couple of great shots of the countryside.
Once back in the Cavendish area, I headed to PEI National Park. Here I was able to get my official end of ride shots: me, the ocean, the flags of the four provinces I rode through, and, of course, Mickey. After a short respite at the park, it was time for a visit to Avonlea. Yes, in Cavendish, they have re-created Avonlea, the setting for the Anne of Green Gables series. Though geared towards kids, it was a fun afternoon. The cast there act out all the main characters, and you can even attend class (I felt compelled to answer all the history questions when the young ones were stumped). The highlight of the visit was a concert by a great band that plays traditional Island folk music every Sunday (I picked up a CD it was so good). After Mickey got his picture taken with a number of the citizens of Avonlea, it was time to head back to Charlottetown.
Though I had hoped the horse race would have been re-scheduled to Sunday night, they had actually moved it to Sunday afternoon, so I had missed it. So, instead, I decided to go see Sketch-22, a local comedy troupe. This was a blast. They had a lot of great sketches, a number of which parodied Anne of Green Gables. Having seen the show, and having just been to Avonlea, I didn’t have any trouble picking up on all the references.
Monday arrived, and I only had one site left to see, Province House. Province House is the home of Prince Edward Island’s Legislative Assembly and was the venue at which much of the Charlottetown meetings of 1864 took place. Here, I watched a good video depicting some of the goings-on at the historic meetings and wandered around upstairs where they have preserved one of the main meeting rooms much as it was back when the meetings took place. Before leaving, I bought my first souvenir that was something beyond a postcard or fridge magnet (I had been quite strict about carrying extra weight up until this point). It was a mug with the famed photo of the 1864 meeting delegates, with John A. MacDonald sitting in the middle with his colleagues providing a backdrop for him. John A. rules!!
And that was the last of my stay in PEI. Monday night, I flew back to Toronto, and was greeted very warmly by my parents who celebrated my return with a wonderful dinner, some champagne, and the family maillot jaune, presented to me by my dad. This past week, I have returned to work, and done my best to comply with my body’s demands to catch up on sleep. It was a great trip, but it’s also good to be home.
So that was my rather docile stay in Prince Edward Island. Stay tuned for the Ride Wrap-up which will highlight some of the ups, downs and all-arounds of my journey. And once again, thanks for tuning in — it wouldn’t have been the same without you!