Quebec City, founded as a French colony in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, was selected for its perfect location along the St. Lawrence River. From a ferry ride across that river, the old city’s walls, charm, and vibrance are as beautifully real as the images portray.
The village of Baddeck is in the heart of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The Kidston Island Lighthouse overlooks Bras d’Or Lake (“Arm of Gold”), an inland sea, and can be seen from several vantage points in Baddeck, including the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Bell’s biography is an interesting one, starting in Edinburgh, Scotland with a mother who was deaf, and a father who ran a school for the deaf. After moving to North America, first Ontario Canada, and then the USA, Bell continued working with the deaf in New England, where one of his students became his wife. Bell met, and was a integral part of Helen Keller‘s education, as well. Baddeck became Bell’s summer residence, and eventually his permanent home, which he called Beinn Bhreagh (“beautiful mountain”). Bell, along with his father-in-law, were part of the group of founders of the National Geographic Society. Oh yes, somewhere along the line he invented the telephone, 🙂
The last thing we expected to discover on our road trip was a distillery. The grounds and building seemed inviting, so we stopped in for a tour. Nova Scotia translates to “New Scotland” and many Scots settled in Cape Breton, along with their desire for good whisky. In 1990, the first single malt whisky in North America was bottled at the new Glenora distillery. A key ingredient is water, and some of the purest water is produced in the highlands of Cape Breton. The interesting twist to the story is the use of American oak barrels to mature the whisky. (Those would be used Jack Daniels barrels from Tennessee!)
Fort George, aka the Citadel, sits upon a hill overlooking the harbor and downtown Halifax. Its vantage point has been so successful since the fort was first established by the British in 1749, it has never been under attack. That leaves time for pipers to entertain us with their look and their sound!
Halifax is a successful port city due to its natural harbor. Not only is it one of the deepest in the world, its length protects is from harsh weather, yet it is wide enough at its inner most point to manage large ships. As we watched the Holland America Veendam cruise ship pull away from the dock and head farther down the harbor, I wondered where it was going. Ah…the harbor is wide enough to let the ship take a spin around Georges Island!
Georges Island boasts yet another Nova Scotia Lighthouse, but it was also used as a fortress for defense of the British Empire. Its history includes time as a detention center for Acadians during the Seven Years War 1755-1763. When some of those Acadians left Halifax, they moved on down to Louisiana in the United States.
Less than an hour from Halifax, Nova Scotia is the tiny fishing community of Peggy’s Cove. I have read 3 different accounts as to the origin of the name Peggy’s Cove, but one must know that “Peggy” is a common nickname for “Margaret”. It is a fact the Peggy’s Cove sits at the entrance to St. Margaret’s Bay, but who was Margaret? The Bay was named for Samuel de Champlain’s mother Marguerite, so did the small village take that name a step further and use Peggy? Some say she was the wife of William Rodgers, an Irish immigrant who settled there in the area in the 1770’s. Others say she was the only survivor of a schooner that sank some time in the mid-1800’s after hitting Halibut Rock, and she stayed on and married a local fisherman.
The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia was called upon for the grim task of attempting to recover those lost at sea due to the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912. Of the 337 passengers and crew recovered, some were buried at sea, some were shipped home to families, and 150 were buried in three cemeteries in Halifax – Catholic, Jewish, and Protesant. White Star Lines, owner of the Titanic, paid for cemetery plots and simple rectangle markers.
Of the 121 individuals buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, 42 are unidentified. The only markings on their gravestones were the date and an identifying number used when the the body was recovered. Some names were added over the years, as identities were discovered from notes taken about the victim, clothing, jewelry and personal effects. This meticulous work performed by the people of Halifax to process victims, sadly paid off during the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion five years later.
Did James Cameron know there was a real J. Dawson on the Titanic when he named his character for the movie, Titanic? This man was actually a crew member named Joseph Dawson.