Friday, September 26, 2008

A Lovely Little Island, But...

After a short ferry ride from the northern coast of Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island (see map below, if you would like a reminder of how the Atlantic Provinces are arranged), we looked forward to exploring what is promoted as the Gentle Island.

PEI (the acceptable nickname of Prince Edward Island) is the smallest of all the Canadian Provinces. It's flat, very pastoral and ringed with sandy beaches. It's noted for its many golf courses and is famous for its potatoes. Yes, indeed. It is gentle.

But after the wilds of Newfoundland and Labrador, and after the rich multicultural history of Nova Scotia, we just couldn't get too excited about Prince Edward Island. It was, perhaps, a little too gentle for us.

And, truthfully, we were dismayed by the crass commercialization of PEI's favorite daughter "Anne of Green Gables."

"Anne of Green Gables" is a popular children's classic about a young redheaded orphan and her coming of age on Prince Edward Island. It was written in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery, who was born on PEI. "Anne of Green Gables" has made the island famous around the world and is vitally important to the province's economy. I can understand and accept that.

And, this being the 100th anniversary of the publication of the book, there are - understandably - special events. And special merchandise. But little Anne is everywhere on this small island. Her fictional face is on posters for festivals and musicals, on dolls and coins and stamps, on jars of jam and bags of potato chips. And frankly, we got weary of seeing her.

We did, however, enjoy our visit to the College of Piping!

Ah, piping. As in bagpiping, that most noble of Scottish musical pursuits. The College of Piping is devoted to promoting and preserving Celtic culture and offers instruction in traditional Celtic disciplines: Highland bagpiping, Scottish-style snare drumming, Highland dancing and Island step dancing. That, my friends, is cool. Very cool.

The College of Piping is the only year-round teaching institution of its kind in North America and is affiliated with the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland. It has an excellent gift shop: Celtic music CDs, Celtic jewelry, Celtic tee-shirts...what more does one need? Being a school, it also offers a student supply store where all your bagpiping needs are met:

I happen to dearly love bagpipe music, but I do realize that not everyone does. However, it is my hope that those of you who remain resistant to its soul-touching melodies, some melancholy and some stirring and some as infectious as fiddle music, can appreciate the complexity of the bagpipe itself. Any musical instrument that uses cobbler's wax and goose adapters is an instrument to be admired (although Art and I do wonder what the goose thinks about its participation). And no wise a** comments on the bore oil, please. ;-D

To wrap up this short (for me!) update on PEI, Art and I would like to say this: Prince Edward Island is a lovely little island, but - and this is just our opinion - it would perhaps be best served as an appetizer for the main courses that are the other Atlantic Provinces.

--- Barbara (currently in Brattleboro, Vermont)
Day 109
Total miles: 10,013

1 comment:

Joan said...

This continues to be a *swell* blog! I really enjoy the location maps, the creative narratives, and the well-chosen photos, and look forward to each update! It's not *quite* like actually being there, but it's close, it's close! ;-)