This summer we travelled to the east coast of Canada and enjoyed Kayley and Matt’s wedding.  Afterwards, we stayed for a while and went on a road trip through the Atlantic Provinces.  In Newfoundland we hiked at Gros Morne National Park and saw a moose up close at dusk.  The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia was very scenic, as were the Hopewell rocks on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick.  Prince Edward Island offered relaxing country drives and red cliffs.  It has been almost twenty years since I’ve been to the east coast and it was great seeing the completed Confederation Bridge that joins Prince Edward Island to the mainland.  I recall just seeing a few concrete pilings stepping into the ocean.  This 12.9 kilometre bridge is the longest in the world.  What a fantastic trip!

It was enjoyable driving the Cabot Trail, which is a world famous scenic roadway located on Cape Breton Island.  The views are stunning with cliffs rising up out of the ocean.  We also liked visiting the small communities and artisans we met along the way.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park covers 950 square kilometres and was a great place for us to explore by hiking.  One hike I’ll always remember is the Acadian, which is a steady climb to the summit and takes up to four hours to complete.  The day was overcast so it was ideal for our trek.  Near the beginning of our hike I saw a moose within thirty feet of us!  His antlers were losing their velvet which provides nutrients and oxygen during growth.  When we reached the summit it started pouring rain; thick heavy rain that blew sideways.  We laughed as we started our descent and a flood of water tumbled down the middle of the pathway along with us.  Despite soaked boots it was a very enjoyable hike.


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Franey hike summit in Highlands National Park

Cabot Trail

Old wooden boat near the Cabot Trail

Moose on the Acadian hike in Highlands National Park

Peggy’s Cove

Mushroom on the Franey hike in Highlands National Park

Fog bank on the Cabot Trail

Buddha statue by a stream at the Gampo Abby monastery

Peggy’s Cove lighthouse

Kayley and Matt’s wedding in Halifax (photo by wedding photographer)

Red admiral butterfly in the Halifax Public Gardens

Pier 21 in Halifax is where my dad and grandmother entered into Canada in 1948

Gros Morne National Park was a highlight of our Newfoundland visit and our east coast trip.  The boat ride through the fjord at Western Brook Pond was very scenic as tall cliff faces towered above us.  Our guided day hike to the top of the Tablelands was spectacular.  It was a very hard climb for me but well worth the reward.  This stark landscape is actually exposed rock from the earth’s mantle.  It is thought to have been forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago, and provides a rare example of continental drift.  The rock is Peridotite and lacks the nutrients to support most plant life, with the result being a barren landscape.

I really wanted to see a moose up close so we went on a short hike at dusk on a nearby trail close to our cabin.  Things seemed uneventful as we were walking when all of a sudden I heard Sewailu whisper behind me “Jim”.  She saw a huge male that was partially hidden behind a few trees.  I managed to get a bit closer for some pics but didn’t want to push it too much as I didn’t want him charging in my direction.  What a great encounter!


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Western Brook Pond boat tour - Gros Morne National Park

Moose discovered during a hike at Bakers Brook Falls - Gros Morne National Park

Grey jays at Western Brook Pond - Gros Morne National Park

Western Brook Pond - Gros Morne National Park

The start of our Tablelands hike in Gros Morne National Park

This old juniper has grown flat to the ground due to high winds on the Tablelands

Moss campion usually grows in the arctic tundra, but can survive on the Tablelands

A rugged view during our Tablelands hike

It’s windy and cold at the top of the Tablelands, but the views are awesome!

Summit view on Tablelands with an elevation of 841m (2671 ft) - Gros Morne National Park

Woody Point lighthouse

Bakers Brook Falls - Gros Morne National Park

Prince Edward Island is a very scenic place that has a prosperous agricultural community.  We were impressed by the care that went into the properties and well maintained farms we passed during our travels there.  Many homes are in the Queen Anne Revival style which was favoured for Canadian house architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  These homes have been carefully restored and add a nostalgic feel to the island.

Prince Edward Island National Park is a great place to explore.  Established in 1937, the park’s mandate includes the protection of many sand beaches, sand dunes and both freshwater wetlands and saltmarshes.  Many red sandstone cliffs could be seen during our drive through the park.  We liked the Greenwich sand dunes where a floating boardwalk allowed us a closer look at the dunes.  These sand dunes are constantly being reshaped by the wind, and are a unique habitat for wildlife.  The base plant that allows this eco-system to exist is marram grass.  The grass is so tough it is able to grow up though the accumulating sand, while sending out a web of roots and rhizomes which help to slow down the progression of the dune.  When the dune is stabilized, other species of plants such as bayberry and wild rose begin to grow.

In the town of Victoria we walked into the Leards Front Range lighthouse, which was built in 1879.  This light was used in conjunction with others to guide mariners into Victoria harbour.  I enjoyed our trip to PEI, and the glimpse we had into the island’s past.


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A view of Confederation Bridge heading back to mainland New Brunswick

Red cliffs at Prince Edward Island National Park

Greenwich sand dunes

Leards Front lighthouse in Victoria

The Hopewell rocks or flowerpot rocks of New Brunswick are spectacular to see and have been created by tidal erosion.  Advancing and retreating tides have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their sculpted shapes.  We enjoyed walking on the beach around the main formations at low tide, and also discovered more flowerpot rocks by walking further along the beach.  Being a fair distance from the exit point, I was glad to see that the park sent guides out to gather up tourists before the tide started coming in.  The two daily tidal exchanges against these rocks vary but can be as high as fifty-two feet, giving the Bay of Fundy the highest tides in the world.  We came back to the park at high tide to see the difference, and were amazed by the volume of water that covered the beach and rocks where we were walking earlier.

We also saw the Sawmill Creek covered bridge, built in 1905, located near our B&B.  A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge built with a roof and wooden siding, creating an almost complete enclosure. The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members inside from the weather.

Great hiking was also enjoyed at Fundy National Park.  This park contains some of the last remaining wilderness in southern New Brunswick.  The trails are well laid out and there is an abundance of waterfalls within the park.


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Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy

We were surprised by the Bay of Fundy’s tidal exchange after four hours

Coppermine trail in Fundy National Park

Sawmill Creek covered bridge

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

Dickson Falls trail in Fundy National Park