28 August 2010

old home week, charlottetown pei

Mid August is Old Home Week in Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown is bursting at the seams with tourists from the Far East, Europe, The United States and from almost every Province in Canada. So, a good time to showcase all that relates to Maritime family-run farms and rural life. Here are some photos of our day out.

We parked at my father-in-law's apartment and walked to the Exhibition Centre in blazing sunshine. For several blocks all around people have been renting out parking spaces on their front lawns, driveways and even back yards! Five dollars seems to be the going rate. Licence plates on glittering automobiles from New York, Tennessee, Georgia and even Florida jostle for position between rusting local Buicks and Mustangs.

We wanted the girls to see the livestock so headed first for the animal sheds. Sheep, goats and chickens held the interest for a while but soon we made for the larger beasts. However the overpowering aroma from the indoor cow and horse enclosures, not to mention the slimy floor, forced us to beat a retreat.

MJ was as busy as ever and we moved between exhibits and shows to keep the peace. Ever the extrovert, she joined the volunteers on stage for a kids' sing-along. The others were accompanied by parents but two-year-old MJ shot up the stairs alone and simply looked around for visual clues before joining in the clapping, and dancing. I have photos of her with both feet several inches off the ground!

I retreated to the indoor arena with KR in the stroller to watch a display of horse riding. At just six months old she was restless and in need of a nap. After that we took in a harness race on the attached Charlottetown Driving Park. I am accustomed to seeing racehorses in full gallop on British courses and at first I couldn't work out what was different about the gait of these horses. Then I realised that although they were moving pretty fast they were using the trot stride pattern. This made them appear to be walking but in fast motion. Odd too to see the driver perched on a tiny ledge behind the horse's bottom, suspended on thin wheels. Somewhat precarious whichever way you look at it!

After a leisurely stroll through the funfair under a baking afternoon sun, mesmerised by the gut-churning aerial rides and the crazy prices, we picked up the car and took two exhausted girls home.

24 August 2010

gold cup and saucer parade, charlotte pei

One of harness racing's most prestigious events in Maritime Canada is the Gold Cup and Saucer held at Charlottetown's driving park. To celebrate and support the occasion roads are closed and a parade winds its way through town. Photos of the Parade are here.

We packed the girls in the car and snaked our way into town along with thousands of others, all optimistic of parking close to the parade's route. Arriving an hour before the start we managed to find a parking spot just a couple of hundred yards from a main road and set off carrying our folding chairs with MJ in tow and KR in the stroller.

By 10am the crowds lining the roads had swelled to five or six deep and a ten kilometre fun run raced past, with the loudest applause reserved for a five-yeariold who brought up the rear after running the whole way with his father.

We watched around a hundred floats grind slowly by, each one decked in bright colours and advertising a local business or organisation. Groups held giant inflatables, pulling on the guy ropes to lower their charges beneath Charlottetown's overhead power and phone lines.

MJ was pumped up by the sights, the sounds and the activity. She couldn't stop herself rushing into the road to join in the leaping and dancing of the cheerleaders and baton twirlers, or to march with brass bands and bagpipes. She is never a passive observer but wears her heart on her sleeve, pointing, shouting and faking fear as giants and clowns loomed in to view.

KR wriggled and fussed and squirmed in her stroller but eventually fell asleep. Flatbed trucks sounded their air horns making her startle without waking. After two hours the parade was over and we joined the rapidly dispersing tide of humanity hurrying for our cars.

22 August 2010

orwell corner historic village

We have had several nice outings this summer and I'll be blogging about more of them soon. I'll start today with our visit to Orwell Corner Historic Village. This is a tiny community preserved as it stood a hundred years ago. The cottages and houses have gone now but the church, hall, school, shop, barns and forge still remain. There were display cases in the village hall housing period pieces like the dental equipment pictured above. There are more photos here.

Everything has been kept just as it was when it was a bustling rural community. The highlights for me were the school and particularly the shop. A huge wood stove dominates the single classroom and a print of Queen Victoria glares down from above the blackboard, stark reminders of how frosty the lessons would have been. The shop is stocked with original items from a century ago and equipped with ancient scales and cash register.

A creaky stair leads above the shop to a tailor's loft complete with looms, spinning wheels and dummies. The shopkeeper was dressed in Victorian clothes and provided a wealth of information about the village and its way of life.

There was just about enough to interest MJ. She enjoyed the horses and pigs but preferred chasing the ducks around the farmyard. The place was almost deserted despite it being mid August and the height of the Island's tourist season. It was rather nice having the place virtually to ourselves.