After 6 days post-Fiona, some 45,000 Islanders are still without electricity in PEI. The electrical company Maritime Electric does not give any timeline. The main reason is the amount of damaged due to fallen trees, there are so many it is mind boggling. Some 500 telephone poles carrying the high voltage lines collapse and must now be replaced and this takes time. The main garbage collection and recycle centres are receiving on the hour and every hour hundreds of cars carrying all the food stuff spoiled which will be burned. The tourist season is at an abrupt end, though the port of Charlottetown would love to have the cruise ships return next week. We all know this is pure nonsense, there is nothing to see but devastation, are we now into natural disaster tourism? Our Provincial Government and Municipal authorities had no plan despite saying otherwise. It is up to people to get resourceful and organized. It is embarrassing for some of us who got our power back on Sunday afternoon the day after Fiona while just a few feet away on our street neighbours have nothing. We offered to help out by brewing coffee and laundry.
The weather since the Fiona has been lovely, sunny and warm.
So today is Friday, I started to write this post on Thursday night. Hopefully by Monday Morning everyone will have electricity. Funny how we are so dependent on electricity for heating, internet, phone, ATM, refrigerating food, life in general.
Some people are pushing the notion that we should promote disaster tourism, come to PEI see the devastation and beaches ruined, are forests flattened, people struggling. Some politicians claim that we will be ok not to worry. Behind this train of thought is profits, greed. It is bad enough that some operators are soaking the tourists for every dollar. Sad situation and I am glad I am not a tourist. This was the worst storm ever to hit this Island province in our history. Storms are getting worse each year because of Climate Change and our geography does not help. Ian now is coming, we are hoping that it will only be some rain showers. However the crops are rotting in the soil turned to mud by Fiona, farmers are desperate and some will probably leave farming all together.
More pictures are emerging now of the devastation on the Island. The picture below of Stanley Bridge and area around Cavendish on PEI very bit spot for summer cottages and the Anne of Green Gables story. I was there this summer and the restaurant Carr’s is famous, it all appears gone now destroyed by Fiona.
For all lot of tourists coming to PEI they will not recognize the Island after this storm. It will take many decades to see nature in a more picturesque setting. The tourist season took a abrupt halt on Friday and now it is truly over until at least May 2023. After two years of shut down because of Covid now this, it will push many into bankruptcy. Farms have lots their crops, buildings and machinery, a total disaster and harvesting of potatoes and corn had not even started yet. Many farmers will be out of the business all together and probably forced to sell farm land to build tourist cottages and homes. But with the great shortage of manpower, I do not see how any of this can be done. For sure some savvy entrepreneur will buy land cheap from desperate farmers.
Currently what I cannot stomach is our Premier Dennis King constantly telling us how good we are and how we can overcome this, he loves to talk down to people as if we were 5 year old kids. Uncle Denny will explain it all to you, why does he not tell us what his government can do or is doing. Same with the smiling clown Philip Brown Mayor of Charlottetown who tells us he spoke with the Prime Minister in Ottawa, so what! Why is the City not cleaning up the mess already, what are they waiting for. The Federal Government has already sent the army, 100 soldiers, teams of people are arriving to clean up and funds are available. So now I want to see what the Provincial Government will do, to improve infrastructure to bring it up to 2022. Or like in the past will they simply line their bottom line and make us believe in a budget surplus.
Stanley Bridge same area this Summer, the before picture, all gone now. The red roof building above under water.
We had been warned all of last week that Fiona was coming, it was to be an historical storm never before seen in the Atlantic Provinces ( Nova-Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoudland), indeed it was history and a horror show. The worst parts was the direct hit in Cape Breton which is an isolated area and in Newfoundland in Port aux Basques where 20 houses where swept out to sea by the raging surf. Incredible to see sand dunes on the North beaches of PEI simply washed out like sugar, where beaches use to be covered with sand dunes now it is a flat even surface, a lot of severe erosion everywhere on the North side of the Island caused by the left hook tail of the hurricane. Thousands of trees destroyed and property damaged. North Rustico suffered greatly and its famous lobster harbour damaged my the surf and giant waves never seen before. At one point 95% of the Island population was without electricity. Flooding was also severe everywhere, Charlottetown where we live had deep water pockets at major intersections, driving was difficult, enough water to float a car away and drown your motor. People had been told repeatedly to stay home, everything was closed, nothing worked, you could not pump gas because of power cuts, no ATM machines worked, phones landlines were dead, no internet, and no cel phones either. We lost power at home around 5:30pm on Friday all of a sudden, due to a tree falling on an electric line. No power until Sunday at 4:00pm. when our area of town, which is considered strategic by the government Prince and Water streets and Riverside Drive were the first to get power back. But as of writing this tonight, an estimated 77,000 people are still without power and it may take 3 weeks to re-establish the electrical connection due to severe damage caused by falling trees and remote rural area.
The worst part of FIONA was after 10pm Friday night when the wind coming from the North suddenly raged across the Island and the sky had frequent flashes of white light. The rain was also violent lashing at buildings and shredding the leaves off the trees. In our neighbourhood we had many giant trees, some 125 years old. many were weak with disease and should have been cut down years ago. They were the first to fall blocking streets with their huge trunks, some trees are 60 feet long or more, luckily most fell in the street and not on houses. Though one friend of ours had one such old tree fall directly on his house and split the building in two. Our friend is uninjured, not a scratch, a miracle. Charlottetown without its old trees will look very different. The same can be said of many nature areas and national parks where Fiona devastated large areas to the point where it is not safe to go there and will not be for years to come.
We were lucky, yes the major inconvenience was the lack of electricity and this meant eating only cold food and drinking water. Funny how not having tea or coffee for 3 days becomes a major problem. Our front door is also electric, it opens automatically when approached, now we had to remember to bring our keys at all time to open the door. Many friends sent us messages but we could not answer, could not phone anyone, nothing got through.
I did go out once Friday night just before the rain and wind arrived to walk the dogs, they could smell something ominous in the air, and the air did have a heavy smell of seaweed which is unusual. After that on Saturday at the height of it all, it was impossible to leave the house with all the debris flying around, so they had to use the south balcony which is protected and out of the way. Still they did not like it at all.
Finally by Saturday 5pm the worst had passed us and the wind started to fall rapidly and the rain stopped all together. Saturday night was bright with stars and only a light wind, at the same time the city was in complete darkness, no street lights, nothing. It was so dark you could not see pass your nose. It was also eery no sounds, no cars, no one anywhere. I did venture out with a flashlight to walk the dogs at that point but stayed close to the house and did not venture far, afraid of down power lines and big tree branches dangling over head.
The brightness of the sun and the clear blue sky on Sunday morning was dazzling. I did finally get a coffee at the Holman Grand Hotel, they have a very good restaurant, they were on their generator and gave out very good coffee to anyone asking. The Confederation Centre for the Arts also offered to recharge your phones for free and also gave out coffee. Both are just 3 blocks away from the house, however I got to see walking on those 3 city blocks an incredible amount of trees totally destroyed, once the area cleaned up there will have to be a plan to re-landscape it all. In the past hurricane Juan in 2003 and hurricane Dorian in 2019 left in the Maritimes a lot of devastation but nothing like Fiona, not even close. All three happened at this time in September. What PEI also needs is a serious infrastructure update, we are not prepared for such disasters and living on an island there is nowhere to go.
Halifax which is 3 hours by car from Charlottetown was the first to get it by Fiona it then moved across to us and then to Newfoundland. I did not hear what happened on Les Iles de la Madeleine which we visited in June, this is nothing more than a sandbank with 12,000 people living there. I will have to look at the French media stories to see what they have to say.
We had media crews here on the island and in typical fashion they travel together and all try to make their stories interesting with the same shots of down trees, always looking for a dramatic angle. This is what I never liked about the media in general. The radio station carried non stop reporting but then it must have been for people outside the region, we had no electricity so how could we hear them?
I did go to my car to recharge my phone at one point and then heard the news and what it was well they phoned people at random asking them to described what they saw. Again the people they phoned obviously where out of the hurricanes range and it was second hand stuff, not very helpful really.
Here are some photos taken today on the streets of Charlottetown.
We have had daily arrivals of giant cruise ship with thousands of passengers, pollution and garbage, but our politicians say this is so nice and so important to our economy, really? No one in business has spoken favourably of this disgorging of thousands of people for 5 hours daily. The only one that profits are the Port Authority a private corporation, Anne of Green Gables amusement park, and a few cheap souvenir shops.
The weather as been very good and sunny and looks like it is going to continue for a while which is very pleasant. I have to say that I am not sure some days of the month we are in, is it August or September and what day of the week. I am very preoccupied right now with a serious matter and maybe this is why my mind is wandering. I do keep busy with Club business and the new Fiscal year and renewal of the Club membership. Happy with this distraction.
Monday 19 September will be a National Day of Mourning on the occasion of the Funeral of our Late Queen Elizabeth II. In Canada it is a statutory holiday declared by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Because Canada was the putative home of the Queen, she came 24 times during her life as a Princess and then as Queen, Canada will play a large role in the ceremony with military detachments, the Governor General and the Prime Minister will be present. The Queen knew Justin Trudeau as a child when his father was Prime Minister.
This week also the Conservative party of Canada has elected a new leader who may be popular with his party but not with the population in general, Pierre Poilievre has embraced all manner of right wing extremist movements and individuals. He has been a politician all his life and he closely identifies with Donald Trump. The man believes that his caustic approach will allow him to become Prime Minister, if he wins the election in 2025. That is a long time off and I really do not see it as a possibility, however in politics anything is possible.
To counter him Prime Minister Trudeau has announced several programs which will help millions of Canadians, one is a free dental plan for children, a rental financial supplement for people with low income to allow them to get out of poverty, people who qualify with low income can claim twice the rebate on General service tax (GST). All these measures will make a big difference in the lives of a lot of people. Our new leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre who is also known by his nickname Skippy has already said that he does not believe in any of this because he is a conservative. He believes in Freedom, what ever that means. His voting record in the last 20 years in Parliament is telling, he voted against abortion rights, he voted agains any supplements to help the poor, he voted against rights for Trans people and against marriage for gay couples, despite the fact that his own father is gay. Pierre Marcel Poilievre was born June 3, 1979, to a “teenage unwed mother who had just lost her mother,” he said in an interview. He was adopted by French Canadian school teachers from Saskatchewan: “[They] adopted me and raised me and basically gave me a life,” he said. Now in his first news conference he silenced the journalists call them hecklers and took questions for QAnon. Does that remind you of someone south of the border.
Tomorrow Thursday I am taking the 2 puppies for a good grooming in Kensington, so I will be gone most of the day. Nicky is quite blind now and we have to be very careful with him when we go for walks. I am going to go again to the vet to have an assessment made again. I do not think much can be done given his age.
Well it is a blessing in disguise that the tourists are leaving and every day is more quiet. This has been a busy season but overall there have been big problems the PEI Government and the Tourism Board are not willing to admit openly. The biggest crisis is the lack of staff everywhere, forcing restaurants to operate without enough staff in kitchens or on the floor. Many operators have forced staff to work very long hours for little pay and pushed prices up, gouging the tourist for very average product. One example box wine sold as premium bottled wine. Not uncommon to see $12 to $15 for a 5oz glass of vin ordinaire.
Menus have been slashed, keeping only the most expensive items and no dessert is offered, people are pushed out the door as soon as possible. The other down side with the large extension of the docks in the port, now very large cruise ships at 4000 passengers can come in. The city is simply not equipped to deal with thousands of people arriving in one day. Politicians simply continue to do the happy face and hope for even more people. Profits dictates the course of events. We even had some racist incidents and bear spraying of people and drunk driving at high speed on narrow city streets in the tourist area.
One of the major attractions of the City was the Legislative building Province House, it has been closed for 5 years now due to a massive $100 million dollar renovation program long overdue for a 188 year old building. The building will now be closed for one more year as the interior renovation and reconstruction takes place before it can re-open as a Legislature. Built in the Georgian style of the early 1800, it is a beautiful building.
This week the steel skeleton built on the outside to uphold the walls and prevent their collapse were removed. Thousands of stones had to be replaced due to wear and tear. The roof is slate and the flashing copper. All 103 windows also had to be completely restored to keep the original look.
This is the South Side of Province House facing Great George Street and the river. The huts and barricades will come down once the project is completed in 2023.
The North side of Province House facing Great George street and the war memorial.
Today we left the cottage and drove back to Charlottetown some 50 min all together. We had lovely weather and what a nice, quiet vacation we had. Now it is back to too many cruise ship some 5 this week. Far too many people walking about aimlessly in a small town. Oh well Summer is almost over and the tourist season is ending.
Some last photos of the cottage, the beach, and the cliffs of Cape Tryon.
The next 3 days are forecasted to be sunny, we are now in September. New Season on the social calendar. The tourists have left and now its cruise ship season in Charlottetown, many tourists places will start to close for the Season and by Thanksgiving in early October most of it will be closed until May 2023.
Here at the Cottage I have returned to reading Tacitus who wrote some 2000 years ago about Rome and its Empire and the various people who populated it and its rulers. Tacitus did a lot of Ethnographic writing to explain to Romans what other people living outside the borders of the Empire or within it were like in terms of their culture, society, beliefs and food. How they dressed or not, Germans would go to war naked and paint their bodies as a talisman against injury of death. Feasting and hospitality was an important cultural value. Entertainment was dancing naked young men with swords drawn which required a lot of skill. Hunting and just lying about most of the time was common. Agriculture was not valued. People lived in forests and their gods in groves attended by Priests who also dispensed justice. Overall generosity and hospitality were the chief values. Tacitus wrote for the educated and powerful roman society, he himself came from a very well to do family and received the best of education. His father-in-Law was Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a commander of the roman Legions in Britain and then Governor of Roman Britain. Tacitus also occupied important functions in Rome and sat on the Imperial Council and knew Emperors like Vespasian, Trajan, Titus. His understanding of context and events have come to us and it is a great source of knowledge to understand how Rome was at the time, no Hollywood version here with Christian martyrs, Rome was a very cosmopolitan and complex society.
Life at the cottage is very quiet and pleasant, we enjoy it, with good food and good friends who are visiting us.
Life at the cottage on the beach continues. This morning with our friends we went to Summerside, pol 12,000. it is the second largest town west of Charlottetown. The drive to Summerside is fairly easy and the views are pleasant. We went to Holman’s for the ice cream, lovely place in the old mansion of the Holman Dept store magnates built in 1857.
Today is another great day, so enjoyable. Nice meals, good friends and peace and quiet, what more can you ask for.
The weather has been typical of this time of the year, after the 15 August everyone knows that we are slowly but surely going into fall season despite the fact that Summer is not yet over. We have had to return to Charlottetown for urgent matters, it is only 45 minutes away on quiet roads but nonetheless we had to. In the next few days friends are arriving from Ottawa to stay with us here at French River and other friends are coming to visit us at the beach.
Last night we went to North Rustico to the Watermark Theatre to see the play Drawer Boy by Michael Healey. This play premiere in Toronto in 1999. It has won several awards as a play and we really enjoyed it a lot. North Rustico is only about 20 minutes from French River and we go through Cavendish which is a tourists trap at this time of the year. North Rustico is a fishing village which features many good seafood restaurants. In Winter most people have places in Florida, so the area is very quiet until the fishing/lobster season starts again around end of April.
We drove back to French River and the rural roads are pitch black at night. You need your high beams all along, luckily there is no traffic but you have to be very careful and can’t drive fast or no more than 50Km.
Today late afternoon at the beach, there are no jelly fish this year, none at all. On the other hand, for the first time on the North Shore where we are, sharks and great white sharks have been sighted. Climate change and warming waters are pushing them north along the seacoast.
Well we arrived at our rented cottage on Cape Road in French River and the weather was hot and glorious. The view is perfect from dawn to sunset and so quiet, a luxury this quiet and peace. Left Charlottetown just in time, learned this morning that on our street about a block away there was a botched attempt at a contract killing, hit and run style, the police caught the guy red handed, a drunk Ontarian. Then apparently someone was spraying people with bear spray in the area of the pubs. Not surprised the tourist crowd is getting rowdier by the Season and no amount of complaining to the Mayor or the Chief of Police will achieve anything, you just get ignored.
The drive out of town was fast as always down HWY 2 to Kensington and to the right to Cape Road. This area is the actual birthplace of author Lucy Maude Montgomery and you can visit the house in which she was born, it’s very small but cute and her grandparents home and farm where she grew up. Mother died when she was just a few months old and father left for Western Canada, so grandparents took care of her.
French river is an actual port for fishers who got out to sea for lobster and also an area for mussel farming.
Love walking the beach here, it is very quiet, you meet neighbours who live around the area. Very few tourists, nothing here to attract them. Farms also, milk cows, beef, hay, potatoes. Lots of very old protestant churches 1760 era, mostly presbyterians and anglicans.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown