Tails of a Travelling Cat
The Canada Edition
Hello all! Today has been the most amazing day! I started the day with a relaxing morning getting ready to check out at noon and start the long two and a half hour trek back to the station with my giant hiking bag via French Fort Cove. Just as I was ready to leave, my fantastic hosts invited me to dinner and offered to drive me to the Cove and the station this evening. This meant that not only did I get a hot meal, my first in Canada, I also didn’t have to trek around with the giant hiking bag and got to enjoy a relaxing meal with my hosts. So, after having repacked a small bag for the day, we set off to the Cove.
French Fort Cove is so called because when the Arcadians were expelled by the British in 1755, a Quebecois 'adventurer and soldier' made Beaubear's Island just up river of here a refuge for the Arcadians and the cove area a defensive fort. This adventurer was called Charles Dechamps de Boishébert of which Beaubear’s is a corruption. However. The cove is much older than this, the original inhabitants were the Mi'kmaq, first arriving three thousand years ago.
After the Arcadian expulsion, a Scottish entrepreneur was granted a lot of money by the British crown to establish a British presence here. This was done by setting up a fishery; a lumber mill, grind mill and shipyard followed. Then Charles Fish built a quarry. Now the area is a nature area, full of hiking and biking trails, one of which is named Fish Quarry Loop. There were also signs warning of the presence of bears. I didn’t see any (nor have I seen any moose yet for that matter), which I am a little disappointed about, though how I would have reacted if I had seen one, I don’t know.
With a few hours until I'd be picked up for dinner, I set off along Fish Quarry Loop, a trail which stayed close to the stream. Not far into this trail, the Creaghan Gulch Loop began. I had intended to stay on the Fishy Loop, but quickly changed my mind and I’m glad I did. The path climbed higher, away from the water, up towards the top of the valley sides. The trees which shielded most of the view of the Creek fell away and after passing a zombie warning sign (I don’t know), I reached a rocky outcrop with an amazing panorama of the valley. The view was so amazing, I decided to stop there for lunch, periodically turning around to enjoy the view from all angles.
Although considerably warmer than yesterday, it was exposed up here and so quite windy (as well as there still being snow on the ground). So I set off walking again soon after I’d finished eating. Although there had been some snow on the ground on the rest of the route, it started to get deeper as I walked further. In places it was so deep snow came up to my mid-shins and I had to keep scraping snow out of my boots. However, I wasn’t very successful at this, soon my feet were quite wet. It was worth it for the views though as I got higher up and the trees continued to thin and I could see more of the valley. I continued through the snow until I reached the start of another trail. I started off on this third trail, but soon the snow became so deep and covered the entire path, so I decided it would be sensible to retrace my steps (literally standing in the footsteps I made earlier) and rejoined the Creaghan Gulch Loop. Initially, this path was quite well maintained. Then it disappeared a little, before returning just before it reached the river.
It was a rather precarious looking bridge, built very low to the water and slightly collapsed in places. It was probably so close to the water as, after an exceptionally long winter, snow starting in late October rather than early December, and totalling ten feet, there was a lot of snow to melt. As such, it was all flowing into the Creek and on to the Miramichi. I made it safely over the bridge and discovered the path was completely snowed under. Not knowing where it was, but just about being able to see where it reappeared at the top of the valley, I was left with two choices, retrace my steps or climb the bank. The first option seemed like quitting and so I summoned my inner cat and began to climb. There were plenty of trees to hold onto and I made it up the bank without losing my tiny wireless earphone or falling back into the Creek which would probably have been worse than losing a headphone. Back on the path, I found where it should have brought me up from the river and continued walking. After this, things were a bit easier, I rejoined the Fish Quarry Loop but not before taking a little detour over an even more precarious bridge over a wide part of the Creek. Here several weirs flowed under the bridge, splashing against it. This spot produced some fantastic pictures, but I don’t think the view and sheer scale of the place can ever be properly captured in photos. You’ll just have to visit for yourselves. From here I then returned to the original trail, this time walking up a bridge to discover the path entirely covered in snow. Here it was flat ground so not much of a problem, but soon the path started to lead up the valley sides. Here I met a couple of walkers who promised me it was snow all the way out. And they were right. After using a helpful rope hand rail to haul myself up the path, I trekked through snow all the way back to the lake. The views continued to be amazing though so I can’t complain too much. There was a big metal bridge across the still partially frozen lake which also provided a great photo opportunity.
Having made it back to the start of my trek, I sat down at several places along the lake to enjoy the views. With just over an hour until my host would pick me up, I decided to head back to my lunch spot for one last look at the view. It was absolutely worth it. I laid down on the big rock to keep out of the worst of the wind and took in the different trees, the valley and down to the Creek. The cove area was absolutely amazing, I highly recommend it!
I then walked back to the car park (or parking lot as I suppose I should get used to calling it), via the Buckley Burner, a big brick chimney which is all that remains of the Buckley Lumberyard which burnt down in 1921. The sawmill followed in 1922. Now disused, the chimney is a town landmark.
It was now time to head back to the AirBnB where my wonderful hosts had made me the best mushroom and barley soup I’ve ever tasted. It was completed with Ritz crackers, the only vegan crackers they had in the house. The meal was great, we chatted about veganism, Canada and the UK. I’ve learnt many useful Canada facts, some of which I’ll share later and was able to correct their pronunciation of Brexit, makes a change from needing my pronunciation corrected. Here, they were pronouncing it Bree-ex-it which amused me. After this fantastic meal. I finished the last of my packing and my hosts took me back to the station. They were both amazing, even sending me on my way with some fresh fruit, a nice change from the dried fruit I’d been eating so far. The apple was a New Brunswick special so I’ll report back on how it compares to a British apple. They’ll definitely be getting a five star review.
Soon, the train arrived, I boarded and took my last look at Miramichi, and I’ve just about learnt how to pronounce it properly. As I am now on the train to Montréal, Québec let me share with you what I’ve learnt about New Brunswick.
Here, if someone asks 'how’s she going?’, the correct answer is 'the very best'. It’s also illegal to transport bees over the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border. Now, this poses three very interesting questions, besides the most obvious, why? Firstly, who intentionally transports bees across province borders? Secondly, what if a bee happens to get caught in a car and transported across? And thirdly, bees have wings, what’s to stop them flying over the border?
Miramichi is one of the least culturally diverse places in Canada, this country known for its diversity. The only religious buildings are churches, you can’t get Chinese food here, I doubt you could get a pizza. Moose walk across the highway, bears and racoons are regular visitors to my hosts' garden (or backyard, although as they’ve got land I think they just refer to it as their property).
In Nova Scotia, people stopped what they were doing to watch the train pass, in such rural areas, if it wasn’t dark now, I guess New Brunswickers would too. Trains are rare here, in a Lord Beeching-esque series of cuts in the 1980s, many trains were lost, now only one train a day runs from Halifax to Montréal and I don’t think that happens every day. If I’m not mistaken, this train is the first train to have come through here since the one I arrived in Miramichi on.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have a large English, Scottish, Irish and French heritage, this being the first stop for many immigrants and make up the Maritime Provinces. Add Newfoundland and Labrador and they are known as the Atlantic Provinces. They all share a time zone, four hours behind the UK, except for Newfoundland which for reasons known only to Newfoundlanders, is three and a half hours behind. Also, New Brunswick Cortland apples are really good.
Well, that’s about it for today. This is my first night train, I’ll wake up in the morning in Québec, maybe if I wake up early or after sunrise, I’ll see Québec City. Once again, I’m using food to reset my body clock as Québec is an hour behind the Maritimes. I find this a very strange concept, one country split into five different time zones. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
Until then, folks,