Relaxing on a cruise is a good way to recover from deadline craziness. It's also good at providing a real drop-dead date because who wants to go on vacation with an unfinished book hanging over one's head like the Sword of Damocles?
So I sent Not Always a Saint off to my editor at 1:30 am of the day we left for a cruise of Canadian Maritime provinces and Quebec. (What can I say? My Muse likes to live dangerously, alas.)
Eastern Canada has a very long history of settlement by the French and British, and the provinces are as richly individual as the American colonies. Just as no one would confuse the Massachusetts Bay Colony with Georgia, Quebec and Prince Edward Island are very, very different. The Maritimes were thriving long before there was a Dominion of Canada.
"Maritime" means 'of the sea,' and the three Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island are very oriented to the sea, with gorgeous views, lighthouses, and fishing villages.In the map on the left, New Brunswick is green, Prince Edward Island is red, and Nova Scotia is blue. (Map courtesy of Wikipedia.)
St. John, in New Brunswick, is right on the Bay of Fundy, which has the widest tidal range in the world. We took a coach tour that brought us to the St. John River just as the rising tide was sending sea water up the river. Lots of churning water and rapids! Which didn't photograph well, but was impressive to watch.
Another interesting stop on the tour was the Old Loyalist Burial Ground. It was founded after the American Revolution when many thousands of Loyalists moved to Canada. After it was closed as a cemetery, it became a lovely park right in the center of town. Over time, it deteriorated, until in the 1990s, the very rich local Irving family, who seem to own half of New Brunswick (but are said to be nice, approachable people) refurbished the park as a gift to the city. A centerpiece of the changes is the wonderful Beaver Fountain, which is gorgeous and utilizes an animal that is a classic Canadian symbol.
Prince Edward Island is the smallest Canadian province and is lovely, quiet, and agricultural. It's famously the home of the fictional Anne of Green Gables, and lovers of the books come from around the world to pay their respects.
I've not read them so I have no opinion, but a long time friend of mine lives there, and she arranged for a meet and greet at her local library, which was great fun, especially since I did it with my friend, mystery writer Lillian Stewart Carl.
In fact. we took this particular cruise since Lillian and her husband were also on the ship, and it gave us the opportunity to have much writerly gossip. Since her Fairbairn-Cameron mystery series is set in Scotland and Scots loomed large in settling the Maritimes, her books were spot on for the audience, and we were able to show some of the contrasts of our different genres.
(If you like mysteries, I recommend Lillian's highly, as does my sister, a major mystery fan.) Here's a picture of us: MJP, Lillian, and Stephanie. The younger of the two librarians, Ashley, recently married, and she made a delightful bouquet out of book pages. Perfect for a book lover!
After a wonderful locavore lunch in Charlottetown, Stephanie took us out to the Belfast MiniMills, a remarkable operation that not only spins unusual fibers, like musk ox and Samoyed fur into yarn, but also makes the machinery possible to set up small cottage industry mills all over the world. Their machines are in dozens of countries, including one mill 14,000 feet up in the Bolivian Andes. An amazing business, hospitable people, and they had a wonderful gift shop full of warm, fuzzy things!
Nova Scotia is the last of the three Maritime provinces, and the name, New Scotland, tells a lot about the place. The scenic village of Peggy's Cove has a light house that's one of the most photographed sights in Canada. That's it with me and the Mayhem Consultant in the foreground.
We also visited Quebec, and our cruise ship was parked right below the magnificent Chateau Frontenac, which is one of the chateau hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. It sits high above the St. Lawrence River–I took this picture from the top deck of our ship, which meant I didn't have to aim the camera so high. I've visited Quebec before, but that didn't make this visit any less lovely.
Also in the province of Quebec, we visited the remote but lovely little city of Saguenay, which is situated on the fjord of the Saguenay River. It's an oasis of civilization in the vast wilderness of Northern Quebec, but well worth a visit. (Our tour guide was a retired professor of biochemistry from the local university. I gave her some of my cough drops since we were both hacking and wheezing. <G>)
I could go on at much greater length about this journey, but I've run out of time and energy, so I'll just say that I want to go back so I can stay longer and see more. And if you get a chance to visit the Maritimes and Quebec–grab it with both hands!