As part of the celebration of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864, tall ships came into Summerside Harbour recently.
They arrived a day late because of high winds which kept them in port in Charlottetown. We walked the dock in Summerside amazed at the size of the vessels, the height of the masts, thinking of our ancestors who braved the Atlantic in smaller vessels lacking motors, facing the North Atlantic, its gales even hurricanes without benefit of safe port in a storm.
We imagined the poor people below deck as they traversed the Atlantic, sea sick, in heat or cold, dirty, crowded quarters, poorly toiletted, disease ridden. It is incredible that any of them survived. Their journeys put human faces to Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest.
Today there is something almost romantic about the sails filled with wind moving the vessel along, giving a sense of ease as it cuts through the water.
The conditions below deck today are vastly different from the ships of our ancestors' time. Our predecessors saw these vessels for their transportation value and the hope of a better tomorrow. Many of us today see them as a link to the past and those who braved the North Atlantic hundreds of years ago.