It was my last full day on the Island. We headed out for Kings County going East along the Coastal Drive part of the way (if I recall correctly), stopping at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell for lunch in the tearoom. It was a wonderful lunch, featuring vegetables from the organic garden on the property. Andrew Macphail was a teacher, medical doctor, scholar and author. Though he did not want to remain on the family farm, he spent summers on the Island and provided jobs for Islanders in expanding the house, planting experimental crops on the land, and care for his mother, who continued to live there.
Today the grounds are enhanced by woods and by a large organic garden and there are workshops and guided tours that introduce visitors to ecological concerns of today and ways the Andrew Macphail Homestead Foundation is attempting to address them in the spirit of Sir Andrew Macphail.
Macphail house is inviting from first view.
Macphail taught the first course on history of medicine at McGill University. When World War I broke out, he wanted to do his part. At fifty years of age and partially blind, he was an unlikely candidate for the army. When his application was refused, he appealed to the Canadian Prime Minister. Sent to France, Macphail became commander of a Field Ambulance Unit. Soon he was directing medical operations. Following the war, he was knighted for his contribution to enhanced field medicine.
This was another site where we could have spent the day exploring the house and the surrounding 140 acres.
Another stop was at St. John’s Presbyterian Church near Belfast. The church dates to 1803 when Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk brought settlers from Scotland, largely from the Isle of Skye.
Dr. Angus MacAulay, a medical doctor and British Army Chaplain headed the group from the Isle and conducted worship in a log chapel on his own property. The Lord Selkirk donated land and the present building began construction in 1822 under supervision of Robert Jones who had lived in London and was influenced by Sir Christopher Wren.
Services were held in Scottish Gaelic and English until 1910. It is still an active congregation. The building and grounds are well worth a visit. After a tour of the building I wandered through the graveyard that surrounds the church looking at tombstones, many of which read “born in Skye.” Standing there with the wind whispering through the trees around the churchyard, I wondered what the lives of these people who survived the journey from the Isle of Skye were like, how they dealt with the hard life they must have found once they reached PEI.
We stopped at the Woods Island Lighthouse. where we had a breathtaking view toward the faintest outline of Nova Scotia in the distance. Built to assist traffic between Nova Scotia and PEI, it was one of the last two lighthouses on the Island to house the Keeper and family. Today it houses a museum and gift shop. Attached is the Captain Angus Brown Gift Shop, filled with local crafts. Captain Brown, a ferry boat operator had the distinction of spotting the mythical phantom ship of the Northumberland Strait.
I found a hand knit pull-over sweater and matching hat just the right size for Patches, my granddaughter’s well worn and well loved bear. (Patches could write his own travel blog as he has accompanied her on most trips. Perhaps a future guest blogger?) I think Patches looks very smart in his new matching set. Fortunately his friends don’t seem to resent his new outfit.
I didn’t get a good picture of the lighthouse, but borrowed this one from Lighthouse Friends . To the best of my knowledge, it is in the public domain.
We made a spontaneous stop at the Rossignol Winery one of several wineries on PEI. They weren’t expecting us and were apologetic for not offering us full hospitality, but I don’t think we had any reason to complain. We sampled several wines, including their signature blackberry mead. It did make me feel a bit of regret at having carry-on luggage! With a designated driver to hand and more time, one could sample a number of wines as well as take a tour of the vineyard. I think that would be a great day’s experience. And one could always console the designated driver by taking wine for dinner later.
Our companion on the Road Scholar PEI tour, Karen, took this picture of the interior of the store and welcome center. Notice the art. One of the impressive things about the winery was its attention to the aesthetic. The sandstone sculptures along the drive, art and sculpture on the grounds, and a display of local art in the store made it an altogether pleasant experience.
We arrived at Rudd Brundenell River Park where we checked into our hotel. with just enough time to freshen for dinner overlooking Cardigan Bay.
Then we were off to a Ceilidh in St. Peter’s. I understand that every Ceilidh has its own personality. This one featured fiddlin’ and dancin’ with plenty of back up on the guitar and a few soloists thrown in.
Many of the tunes were familiar as fiddle players and singers drew on old gospel and country music sources, some handed down for generations. The themes were certainly universal—love, perseverance, hope, grief and loss. It was hard to sit still and observe when there was such music being played and my toes longed to dance. I was reminded of the exchange between Mary and Elizabeth in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice production. They were sitting out the dance:
ELIZABETH: I would take more pleasure in this one if there were enough partners as agreeable as Jane’s.
MARY: I believe the rewards of observation and reflection are much greater.
ELIZABETH: And so they are when there are none others to be had. We shall have to be philosophers, Mary.
The next morning I said good-bye to the group and had an early start back to Charlottetown. The Road Scholar tour included another day featuring more time with Boyde Beck examining history of music on the island. A visit to the Greenwich Dunes was in store for them as well. Maybe I’ll get to do that on another trip. Lucy Maud Montgomery puts it nicely when she has Anne saying, “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world.”
I was given leave to visit PEI by my girls (thebolingirls) on condition that I consider it a reconnaissance mission. So who knows, perhaps there will be more on PEI in the future. I’d visit again in a heartbeat.