Mabou: Still Standing!

We are so proud of our hometown and our family, recently featured on CBC's Still Standing series broadcast this week. It quickly captures some of the traditions of what we know from calling Mabou, Cape Breton a hometown. I often think of John Allan Cameron's music, when he talks about living and working away from Cape Breton but thinking of visiting home whenever possible.  

Side note: The donated house featured in the video was my grandparent's house, something they would have loved to hear about themselves.  Thanks to our parents and aunts and uncles for making us proud by having it serve as a home for an immigrant family. 

Have a watch and enjoy it as much as we did. Great Job Margie and Rodney and everyone else featured on the show.  See it here:


Camping and Beach Walking on Grand Manan Island

Our family has been looking forward to trip planned to Grand Manan Island, in the Bay of Fundy.  Grand Manan lies south of the mainland, across from Maine.  The island is part of a archipelago which was debated over sovereignty in the early 1800s-1900s.  (One island south of Grand Manan, Machias Seal Island, is still contested between the US and Canada.)   Also, it may be a presumptive statement, but it seems that Grand Manan is easily overlooked when talking about Southern New Brunswick.  Interestingly, there are friends of ours who have lived in the Saint John area, but never been to Grand Manan -- a short 30 minute drive and 1.5 hr ferry to the island.  I had been to Grand Manan as a kid, but remembered little of the visit.  Although, based on what we saw after a three day camping trip there, we found it to be a little jewel of the Bay of Fundy with incredible scenery including 11 beaches, many lighthouses, bird life, and an island filled with a proud and friendly people with an easy going and welcome slower lifestyle. (We spoke to a few locals and  heard there are older folks on Grand Manan that have never left the island!) I'd encourage anyone to read a bit on the history of Grand Manan, which gives a feel for the type of place you're visiting.  Many authors and artists have called Grand Manan home. If you visit, be sure to see the museum, which is well worth the entry fee.  

The first experience is the Ferry trip, leaving from Black's Harbour.  It was Rebecca and Abby's first trip on a car ferry and just that experience was worthwhile for them.  The added fun is watching all the sea life and islands along the hour and a half trip to North Head.  Seeing whales for the first time was not lost on them at all -- and it was fun watching their excitement.  

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Waiting for the Ferry in Blacks Harbour

 

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Watching for whales
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Wolf Islands

 Arriving at Grand Manan, we went straight to our campsite -- another first for everyone camping together.  The girls were excited to set up their tents -- and more importantly their bikes to zip around the campground and explore their surroundings.  We spent most of the three days thinking to ourselves that we will always bring the kid's bikes on these types of trips as any down time was spent biking.  It gave them lots of freedom and little deserved breaks for the parents as well.  

IMG_1980We headed straight for the beach next to the Anchorage Campground.  The girls went straight to their beach play. 

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Seaweed Skipping


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After our supper, we left to see Grand Harbour beach and hunting for sea glass.  Picturesque fishing and bait shacks could be seen on the road to the beach.  

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We also headed out to check out the Southwest Head lighthouse at the southern tip of the island.  There are some distinctive rock formations off the coast here, which is also the starting point for the 3 day backpacking trip that can be done on the western coast of Grand Manan.  From the cliffs, it was easy to see the US and the Atlantic Ocean. Machias Seal Island was also visible. Walking on the trails really felt like you might walk off the end of the earth!

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The highlight of the evenings were the camp fires and evening biking at dusk.  The girls could be heard laughing from the nearby playground with their glow stick bracelets.  

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We tried to spend as much time at the shore, even while waiting as there's shorelines all over on Grand Manan.  (The photo above was behind a fish plant in Grand Harbour). The following day, we visited White Head Island -- another inhabited island a 30 minute ferry ride from Grand Manan.  The smaller island of White Head island has three beaches and lighthouses.  This time, we visited Long Point lighthouse and the Sandy Cove area.  To get the feel for it, imagine walking off into a sea of fog and following a gravel beach road switching from stone beaches to brown sandy beaches, with little or noone around.  We found these scenic boats by the ferry to White Head island at Ingalls Head.  

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The grassy section of road leading to the sentinel lighthouse at Long Point.  This was the grassiest area we could find! 


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Looking back at the coastline from Long Point Lighthouse.  Long since abandoned, the lighthouse rocks are full of sea birds, who's song was loud and clear.  
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We spent the better part of a day exploring White Head Island and the shoreline.  A remote but beautiful spot -- a beachcombers dream with all the flotsam and jetsam washing ashore. 

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Our last day, we packed up early and spent our time in the North Head area, visiting Stanley's Beach, Whistle Point and the Swallow Tail lighthouse.  Rebecca was wanting to take part in a rock skipping competition on Stanley's Beach, while taking a break from sea glass hunting.  Both girls gave up some of their seaglass to other pickers, striking up conversations with people from the US and other parts of Canada.

 

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The Swallowtail lighthouse is an iconic spot, likely photographed by most visitors to Grand Manan.  A short hike to the lighthouse and the high rocks surrounding it allows a perfect view of the ocean and to do some whale watching if lucky.  One guaranteed sight is the ferries going by to land at North Head.  

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Watching the sea at Swallowtail Lighthouse

The weather was perfect for our trip -- we certainly lucked out while we were there.  There was so much to do and too little time, making it necessary for another summer return trip.


Catching up on Summer

IMG_1794We're sharing more photos from the girls wonderful summer.  Here's Rebecca at the Irving Nature Park in Saint John, wandering through the kid's maze.  Below is the girls on Saint's Rest Beach in Saint John,  looking for treasures among the rocks.  


IMG_1794Abby found a piece of seaweed which became a beard.  Not sure who she learned that from (Dad or Grampa!).


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Sheena took the below photo on a drive home from one of their adventures this past week.  Its of the sun going down over Belleisle Bay, about 10 minutes from our house.  


IMG_1794No summer photo collage could be complete without a photo of the girls swimming at the 'Cuts', a local swimming hole about 4 minutes from our house, on our road no less!
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Abby and Rebecca love all the treasures at Grampa's store, including the baby chicks that come in throughout the year. 


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During their three week stay in Cape Breton, the girls ran in the Inverness Days Race.  Rebecca ran in two races that day, the kids run and the 5k!

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This year's beach was West Mabou Beach.  The girls and Sheena loved spending their time there and going for ice cream at the Ceilidlh Cottages Campground.  

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IMG_1561On one of our cousin's days at the beach, a few were covered into the same sand pile by anyone who would join in.  


IMG_1561Rebecca and Abby posed for a few photos for Sheena's collage, including here with the lobster traps in Inverness.


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Here's Abby playing with one of the buddy's they made at the beach in Mabou.  This one is a step-daughter of a cousin's cousin.  :)


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The Mabou Harbour lighthouse is very picturesque. 


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After the kids returned home from Cape Breton, I took them to see a couple waterfalls in the Nackawic and Mactaquac area. The girls had a ball swimming and goofing around.  


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The trail to Coac Falls was a nice walk through the forest.  It was getting fairly hot on our walk.


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Coac Falls were neat, with the gradual steps down to the pool.  The water was incredibly cold, shockingly actually.  That didn't stop Abby or Rebecca though.  
IMG_1561Here they are testing out the current.  
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Summer Photos

 

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Thought I would share some photos from the past couple of weeks of summer.  The above photo, the girls were excited to get dressed up for a dinner with friends at their summer camp.  The background is our lilacs which were in full bloom this year.  

In the below photo, fun in the sun all day resulted in  the girls jumping for joy. :)  This one is taken in Wickham, a beautiful village off the Washademoak (Wash-de-mo-eek) Lake.


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We had our Canada Parade in Springfield/Hatfield Point.  The girls were sporting their Canada Day outfits.  The owl is Abby's new 'beanyboo' buddy.  


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One evening after a rain, Sheena and Willow discovered some visitors to the tree fort.  Three of them were taking shelter in the kids 'country kitchen'.  This one hissed at Willow who promptly ran away scared.  


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I had to post these grassy poses.  The girls look so great and so old!!  


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Yep, that's Abby melting hearts with her cuteness. :)


Summer's coming: Recital, Flowers and Kayaking

Its nearing summer and the end of school for this year.  Time has flown by so far, we all can't believe the hot weather is already here.  With the end of the semester, the piano lessons come to a close with Rebecca's recital.  This year, she played 'Sweet Forget Me Not'.   It's an Irish song, which we first heard from Newfoundland's Great Big Sea before the girls were born.  Now its a special song for us as Abby and Rebecca have requested it sung for a bedtime lullaby for several years now.  Rebecca did very well with her recital in front of everyone.  

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With summer also comes blooming flowers here on our hill.  While clearing the trails and paths around our house and land, I found a neat spot with a patch of Lady's Slipper orchids growing in a small clearing.  I took the girls to see them and spoke about how rare they are to find in the woods, let alone in a grouping.  

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While we have had rain what seems a couple of weeks, yesterday, we finally had some warm sunny weather.  We took the girls out to the Kennebecasis River in Hampton.  Launching at the Rivercentre is a great spot to put in, but also a fun swimming spot for the girls afterward.  We headed down Beamer's Creek which connects with the Kennebecasis just west of the launching spot.  There are always many types of birds to see.  We started with a view of an eagle's nest, going well with the feather Abby found before we launched.  

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Beamer's Creek is a nice relaxing paddle.  Sheltered from the wind, the creek flows through marshland and tall elderly Maple trees which stretch over the creek throughout.  We usually turn around near the large marsh behind Darlings Island, but it can be turned into a loop if you continue along the creek back toward the Kennebecasis.    

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