Until recently I could claim to have visited 9 of Canada’s 10 provinces but despite several attempts I had not yet made it to Nova Scotia. I fully intended to visit “Canada’s Ocean Playground” last August when I spent 10 days on neighbouring Prince Edward Island but those plans were scrapped when I inadvertently left my driver’s license at home and was unable to rent a car. But that’s another story for another day. So when the Cape Breton Island Horse Owners Association invited me to speak at their annual banquet on April 5, I jumped at the chance to make one last East Coast trip before heading West in July.
On the morning of April 1st I made the 20-minute walk from my home to the foot of Bathurst Street, took a two-minute ferry ride to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and then flew Porter Airlines to Halifax. If you ever have the chance to fly Porter, do it. Their slogan is “Flying Refined” and they do a pretty good job of living up to it.
I had reserved your basic economy size car for pick-up at the Halifax airport but when I landed in the middle of a late season blizzard I was easy prey for the Budget rep who suggested an upgrade. The BMW 335i had snow tires and all-wheel drive and would be a fun and safe car to drive on The Cabot Trail, he said. I handed over the Visa card, settled into the heated leather seats and turned up some Joel Plaskett. The upgrade was all in the name of safety, I told myself. Yeah, that’s it – safety.
During 7-1/2 days in Nova Scotia I had a chance to meet many of the horse people in New Waterford, Sydney, North Sydney, Inverness and Truro, drove The Cabot Trail, had several great meals, one or two Alexander Keith’s (India Pale Ale), visited the Debert army base where my father was stationed in WWII, had lunch in the town of Lunenburg (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), spoke at the horsemen’s banquet, made a few new friends and got to visit a judge who I had worked with in the West in the early 80s.
Seven days wasn’t nearly enough time to see Cape Breton – let alone the entire province – so I have vowed to return one day. Who knows, perhaps I’ll be able to complete my round-the-world journey with a voyage from Europe to Halifax before traveling overland to Toronto? That would certainly complete the circle!