From the Desk of Don Slinger Issue 49

Winter 2003 CSANews Issue 49  |  Posted date : May 02, 2007.Back to list

Hi folks!

Have you ever taken an extended tour by coach? Until this summer we would have answered no to this question, but Beth and I celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary this way. Yes, our pension problems outlined in the last issue are still with us, but the pending election plans in Ontario caused no positive action from the government. As a matter of fact, the elected personnel refused to talk to us.

Since the government has now changed hands, we will start again and hope for the best. We know from past experience that there is none so deaf as he who will not listen.

Our tour was arranged through and carried out by Great Canadian Holidays of Kitchener, Ont. Our coach carried 50 paying customers, a tour guide and, of course, a driver. Our fellow travellers came from across southern Ontario, from Sarnia to Ottawa. At the beginning of our trip, our hostess, Beatrice Bach, introduced our driver, David Sopha. We quickly learned that he was not only a good coach driver but also an extraordinary artist. He painted the coach that we were travelling on ­ it told a pictorial story of Canada's centennial. There were remarkable likenesses that many of us would not be aware of. To date, Dave has put his brush to 15 coaches owned by Great Canadian Holidays, each telling a story of Canada and Canadians. Another 135 coaches in Ontario demonstrate his artistic prowess. He is now busy painting murals in several towns and cities in the province ­ some 40 feet wide. What a talent.

And our trip...fantastic!

The weather was great all the way, and the company congenial. Our driver, Dave, and hostess, Beatrice, were friendly and professional.

We spent two days in Prince Edward Island, arriving by the Confederation Bridge and stopping at the Gateway Centre. We visited Silver Bush and the Anne of Green Gables Museum. We toured the beautiful island with a step-on guide and saw the 57 shades of green the island boasts. At New Glasgow on the Clyde River, we stopped at the P.E. Conserve Co. and Café on Clyde. The owner, Bruce Angus McNaughton, was resplendent in his kilt. When we asked him what he wore under it, he replied, "Nothing. Everything is in perfect working order." We visited Province House, with its two government rooms, P.E.I. Agricultural Research Farm and P.E.I. University. On our second evening, we attended the show "Anne of Green Gables" at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown.

In Labrador we attended a dinner theatre that depicted life in a typical L'Anse aux Clair home in 1940. We had a walking tour of Red Bay and visited the Basque Whalers Museum.

In Newfoundland we visited a Viking Village, with its sod buildings and two "Viking" couples, at L'Anse aux Meadows; the Loggers Life Museum; the Mary Marsh Regional Museum; Grade Falls-Windsor; the Twillingate Museum; Cape Bonavista; and Trinity Village. We saw many mussel farms along the way. In St. John's we had a walk-on guide and spent an enjoyable few hours touring the Colonial Building (where Newfoundland joined Canada under Smallwood), the Anglican Church whose double towers guided early ships, Signal Hill, Government House and George Street. We also learned about the 186-year-old St. John's Regatta.

In Nova Scotia we visited Hector Heritage Quay in Picton. We boarded a replica of the ship that landed in 1773 with 178 passengers, and toured the Hector Museum. At Stellerton we visited their Museum of Industry. We crossed on the Conzo Causeway to Cape Breton Island (it took 10 million tons of rock and is 244 metres at its base). We drove the Cabot Trail in beautiful weather, stopped at Black Brook Cove and the arches, and made it over MacKenzie Mountain with 53 folks and their luggage.

In New Brunswick we visited Magnetic Hill and Wharf Village and were greeted by Murray in a full kilt. At Hartland we walked the longest covered bridge in the world (it was built in 1982).

In our travels we saw many quaint and beautiful churches, including St. Peter's in Twillingate, which is the oldest in Newfoundland.

The lighthouses we visited included the tallest one in Canada at Red Bay in Labrador, the first in Newfoundland at Bonavista, the northernmost in Newfoundland at L'Anse aux Meadows and Long Point Lighthouse at Twillingate, where Cook landed in 1497.

We had six ferry crossings. The shortest was half a kilometre on the Englishtown ferry in Cape Breton (it worked on a cable and held our bus and six other vehicles). The longest crossing was 14 hours aboard the Joseph and Clara Smallwood ferry from Argentina, Nfld., to North Sidney, N.S.

Oh yes, we saw moose, as well as black bear, bald eagles and a distant whale. However, the only puffin we saw was the one we kissed when we were screeched in a Trapper John's on George Street in St. John's. We also became members of the Order of Good Times of Nova Scotia.

We saw so much breathtakingly spectacular scenery as we travelled the Viking and Cabot Trails, along coastal highways and through Gross Morne and Terra Nova National Parks in Newfoundland and Cape Breton Highland National Park. The scenery was second only to the warm and wonderful people we encountered on our travels. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful.

Our final evening we enjoyed a farewell dinner at La Bonaparte Restaurant in Quebec City and spent a couple of hours wandering through Old Quebec. This was our official farewell to the 50 great folks we spent 18 days sharing our experiences with. What wonderful friends!

A thought for the day: Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your own arm. As you grow older, you'll discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

God Bless!