On Prince Edward Island, the third province in our 10-province, 30-day paddling tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday, we hit the obstacles of rain, fog and tides in Charlottetown.
And that meant our goal of two outings per province was already in trouble.
See, we consulted a local sailor at Charlottetown Yacht Club about the conditions and he advised against us SUPing on the harbour. The plan was to follow the path the Fathers of Confederation took to land in Charlottetown for the talks which created Canada.
The dunes that sweep back from the sea on PEI are lit gorgeously by the late afternoon sun, conditions we wish we’d enjoyed on a flying visit. Photo by Carrie Gregory courtesy of PEI Tourism.
Our rule of thumb was to always abide by local wisdom when it came to conditions and the prospect of paddling into trouble. So when he suggested the placid Brudenell River instead, we headed 30 minutes to Brudenell River Provincial Park and the adjacent Rodd Resort.
The Broad Brudenell
There, the odd combination of driving rain and maddening mosquitoes made for a shaky beginning on the broad Brudenell. But after a time the rain and bugs relented and it was calm paddling against a slight tug of tide, us and both river sides sandwiched by opaque water and sky.
John swipes at mosquitoes as we launched at a provincial park on to the Brudenell River. Once they and the rain abated we enjoyed a quiet paddle on a calm stretch of the river.
We carried on past a community playground and community centre, then the pampered pastures of the Rodd golf course where the river bottom was studded with golf balls. We wondered if any local kids thought to dive for this bounty for a little spending money or if that kind of enterprise was long gone.
Pam caught up on her yoga routine on the Brudenell River flanked by PEI’s signature red soil and verdant river banks.
With the rain stopped, duffers were back to torturing themselves with notions of greatness while we lengthened our strokes to a robust rate to get a workout before our day’s drive. It turned into a lovely paddle, though wet one, and the hot shower at the community centre was divine.
Turns out the Rodd club had a decent restaurant and we eagerly dug into seafood chowder and turkey and rice soups, both excellent with good bread warmed our insides before we headed to the Cavendish Destination Centre of Prince Edward Island National Park in search of the red Canada150 Muskoka chairs which were sprinkled across the country. The aim was to get photos of these and the different settings in each province.
The back roads of PEI were just flaring with colour during our visit. Photo by Dave Brosha courtesy of PEI Tourism
But that would have meant an eight-kilometre return hike to locate them, so we made do with the backdrop of a red picnic bench at the visitor centre and headed for New Brunswick.
So, no second paddle on PEI and not great weather but the night before was fun after PEI Tourism found us a nice room at the Hotel on Pownall, a recently refurbished accommodation which offered free happy-hour drinks and snacks to guests in a stylish lounge and featured well-appointed rooms. We dined deliciously at the Merchantman Seafood & Oyster Bar, a lively eatery by the waterfront, where we enjoyed steamed Island mussels in a garlic and white wine sauce. They were fat specimens and perfectly prepared.
Pam plays coy behind our journey’s mascot, Molly Kool, a prop appropriated from Marine Atlantic’s Highlander ferry.
Beforehand, we checked out a launch site at the yacht club and walked a good portion of the old town’s small and pristine footprint. Afterward, we caught the final few minutes of a Neil Young documentary screened on the back wall of the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
We waved goodbye to PEI with a resolve to return and paddle more of it, the capital’s historic harbour, both shores and rivers wending through the green countryside.
Oh,if only we enjoyed these conditions. But the mere sight of them harkens us back to explore more of the island’s waterways. Photo by Carrie Gregory courtesy of PEI Tourism.
Feature photo: Charlottetown offers a watery playground with a broad harbour and river estuary, but tides and fog meant we didn’t get to explore it during our visit. Photo by Alan Deveau courtesy of PEI Tourism.