After we were able to leave Newfoundland for Nova Scotia on the last ferry before the arrival of the most violent hurricane ever recorded there (last blog), we find ourselves on the next ferry just a few hours later: this time to Prince Edward Island ( P.E.I.), the third province we visit in so-called “Maritime Canada”. The contrast to tough, sparsely populated Newfoundland could not be greater: P.E.I. is lovely with gently rolling hills, the very mild climate allows high-yield agriculture and the deep red earth present everywhere is reminiscent of the laterite earth roads in East Africa. There are also great long sandy beaches and beautifully manicured gardens in front of picturesque wooden houses.
Fishing still plays an important role – despite the nowadays extremely strict catch quotas. While having lunch in an authentic fish restaurant, we hear that a fishing boat with a tuna weighing over 350 kg is about to enter the nearby harbor. Of course, we join to watch the disassemblement and washing of this monster and we learn a lot about the entire catching and further processing steps. Due to the restrictive catch quotas (per boat only 1-2 fish per year) only “high-end sushi quality” is fished here. To calm down the tuna after the catch (of course with a fishing rod and not as in many other places with a net), it is first pulled many km behind the ship. This is the only way to avoid too high an adrenaline release and the meat remains dark red and of the appropriate quality. While we watch the fishermen working, the tuna broker is already on the phone with potential buyers in Europe and Japan. The tuna will then be flown out on the same day – of course in First Class 😉.
Province number 4 – New Brunswick – is not far away. The previously consistently high temperatures are becoming significantly cooler and the legendary Indian summer with its great foliage color is slowly but steadily coming. We go on long hikes in the various national parks and – after I was able to replace the thru-axle on my new mountain bike that was lost somewhere in the middle of nowhere – I finally can go for a few great bike tours.
With our province number 5 – Québec – a lot is changing again: not only the language (a strongly accented French is spoken here and to our surprise we meet numerous people who don’t speak any English at all) but also the French savoir-vivre is gaining ground. Great patisseries, upscale restaurants, playful interior design shops…. Sometimes you feel like you’re in Normandy. We enjoy it and replenish our supplies accordingly. After we have circumnavigated the lonely Gaspé Peninsula and hiked through the remote national park, we take the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to the north bank. By chance we learn that the next hurricane – Fiona – will hit Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland. Fortunately, we are now far enough west inland this time: global warming is no longer sparing the north-east of Canada either.
Very rural, old-French landscapes line the huge Sankt Lorenz river as we get closer to Québec city. The offshore Ile d’Orléans seems like France a century ago: beautiful old country houses, wonderful gardens, wine and apple harvests are in full swing and tastings and farm sales are everywhere. Québec city itself is surprisingly small, but also very French. After a few days of nature and relaxation in the Mount Sutton area, already close to the border to Vermont/USA, we end our journey through eastern Canada in Montreal.
Here we and another Swiss overlander couple are invited to a prospective Canadian overlander and can enjoy self-killed moose meat (the moose even had to be pulled out of a lake by a rowing boat after it was shot, so there is a lot to tell and discuss😉). He has completely built his 3-achsle truck himself into size dimensions, against which even Shujaa appears to be an absolute compact vehicle. Everything in life is relative, as we know.
Then we go to Montreal Downtown and we explore our first real big city on North American soil. Impressive quality of life paired with a very strong multi-culture and all this in a completely relaxed coexistence. Many other countries we have visited can take an example on that! With these very positive impressions we leave eastern Canada for the USA and are already looking forward to traveling the western part of this great country next summer on our way to Alaska.