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I arrive at St. Johns airport compliments of a free shuttle from my budget hotel. The driver won a trip to anywhere in the hotel chainís realm and chose Orlando. Heíd won it because heíd been deemed as the best of the best in hospitality and it doesnít surprise me in the least that someone from Newfoundland would be a winner. Darren told me heíd once offered his new car to some stranded visitors from the USA and now they return on a regular basis to visit them. Even Iím impressed with that generosity but I believe it to be not only plausible but likely now that Iíve been exposed to Newfoundlanders on their home turf. When Darren drops me off we exchange farewell hugs that I initiated. Totally unlike me but not here, itís contagious!
Inside I see a sculpture titled ďEmbraceĒ by Luben Boycov commemorating the Ďkindness and support shown by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to thousands of people from around the world who sought safe haven here following the horrific events of September 11, 2001.Ē I made mention of this earlier in my travelogue but itís worth revisiting because Newfoundlanders abilities to pull together to give comfort to strangers in distress is the stuff of legends. Iíve heard about a number of Americans who return to Newfoundland because of this life altering event which caught the world unawares. Iíll make refer to another gesture of kindness during catastrophe further along in this last instalment of my travelogue. The plaque makes mention of Labrador as well due to it being part and parcel of the provinceís territory which rankles a number of Quebecers so Iíve heard but not from anyone in Newfoundland or Quebec.
Until 2001, Newfoundland did not officially include Labrador in their title even though the mainland mass was larger than the island.
Some residents wanted to remain under the realm of Great Britain, others wanted to join in an economic alliance with the United States but after two referendums Canada won the prize of a warm hearted island. For decades Newfoundland has suffered hardship upon hardship but lately it is no longer a ďhave not provinceĒ because of offshore oil. House prices in St Johns have spiralled out of control but theyíre still much less expensive than Vancouver or Toronto.
Iíve never had a smooth landing in Halifax and this one is no exception but isnít as bucketing as the first time I touched down in January 1996 which was like a bucking horse ride. When Iíve collected my baggage, I make my way to the car rental kiosk. After discussions about upgrading my vehicle choice to something more Ďsuitableí I stick with my economy choice and am given a black ďAccentĒ. The Halifax airport is a sixty dollar cab ride from the city. I have no idea why itís so far out but Edmonton airport has the same geographical oddity even though thereís millions of acres of flat land in Alberta. Choosing a rental car over two cabs is akin to four days for free. I choose a navigational device as well because I know Iím going into downtown Halifax plus I need to find an unusual location. Itís the first time Iíve ever rented one of these things but my new car has one so Iím vaguely familiar with how they work. This unit is much simpler to operate than the one that was included in the luxury geegaws of my Dodge Challenger or perhaps itís because Iím more familiar with how they work. After acclimatising myself to the very comfortable car and setting the address of my accommodation Iím away. What would have been a stressful drive becomes a breeze of following the purple line and my only moment of panic was searching for a loonie [dollar coin] to pay a bridge toll. Iím staying at the Chebucto Inn and my choice was partly price and partly because it was close to downtown. I check in and meet Yvonne at the front desk who is charming. Sheís of Acadian heritage and I tell her my carís name is Evangeline which was her grandmaís. Yvonne used tante for aunt so I became aware immediately. Nova Scotia has a vivid history of expelling Acadians who travelled to Louisiana for a new life. Evangeline is an epic poem about that tragedy and it begins in Grand Pre where I plan a visit this time Iím here.
Henry Longfellowís poem Evangeline
While Iím chatting with Yvonne I tell her my reason for stopping over in Halifax one more time and she tells me the unusual location Iím looking for is a mere two minute drive away which I could take the bus or walk to if I chose. Now the serendipity of this circumstance delights me unduly. I am always having these sorts of occasions happening which rarely bless travellers who donít do their research. I am convinced itís because I choose come by chance that such events occur. Rather than dash off I get myself settled, have dinner and try to catch up on sleep I missed in St. Johns but no such luck because Iíve come across another traditional hotel/motel bed. After trying out both of the queen sized beds assigned to my room I choose the slightly more supple one.
After breakfast I key in 3720 Windsor which is the address of the Fairview Cemetery.
One Hundred & Twenty One graves
I figured if I made the trip to Newfoundland in 2012 I should pay my respects to the victims of a collision with one a hundred years ago. My visit was made easier due to car traffic being encouraged and the abundance of directional markers. On a Friday morning I wasnít alone for long as other tourists stopped by too. I stayed off the lawns even though I knew it was allowed because I have this thing about walking on cemetery grass.
After a moment or two of silence I leave and while navigating my way out of Fairview Cemetery I pass by another grave maker of historical significance. December 6th, 1917. Even though I am somewhat of a history buff I knew nothing about this until I visited Halifax in January 1996. To think my Canadian education did not include the largest man-made explosion on earth prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki is scandalous! The way I found out was going for a walk around the city and coming across a tatty billboard marker. Since then Iíve done a bit of reading up on the Halifax Explosion and on the fifteen of June 2012 I discovered something else thanks to a tour guide on a harbour cruise. The city of Boston Massachusetts rushed to the aid of the citizens of Halifax and sent provisions and doctors by train to help . Some of the medics were Harvard medical students. Each year on December 6th a beautiful Christmas tree from Nova Scotia is sent, via train, to the city of Boston as a gesture of thanks.
I take a photo and then slowly make my way out of the beautiful cemetery and continue on towards downtown where I visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to complete the connections of my trip.
Iíve never been one to lay about on beaches during holidays and I donít mock or envy those that do. For me, I like to have experiences and while Iím not into hiking or other industrious adventures I enjoy exercising my mind when I broaden my horizons. Iíll be in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for another ten days but after todayís travels to Lunenburg to take in another Canadian icon my travels will be to visit friends and family other than the Evangeline detour. Perhaps Iíll post another travelogue before June 26th, perhaps not.
Pen signing off.
"Tigers bloom where there's oodles of room." Zodiac Zoo