Most Popular Post

Friday 28 February 2020


This bird blends into the countryside, even in the snow. As we drove along the north shore of the island, my husband caught sight of the movement along the side of the road. We stopped and as I exited the car I could see the long tail feathers.

Ring-Necked Pheasants were introduced to Prince Edward Island as game birds. They have settled into life on the island as we all do and they too are doing well. This is the second male pheasant we’ve seen in different areas.

You can see how well this one blends in among the trees. As I crept forward, it walked away but was not in any rush. I had the opportunity to see the furled feathers of various colours which make the long body. The red face alone is a wonder.

My father-in-law tied flies for salmon fishing on the rivers of Newfoundland and pheasant feathers were in demand. Pheasant under glass, a recipe for the breast of the bird, is a gastronomic treat. I prefer pheasant with their feathers in their natural environment.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Seven weeks of winter

On the second day of 2020, I drove to Seven Mile Bay and took some photos of the Confederation Bridge. It was a day with cloudy periods and the sun was within an hour of setting. The sunlight played on the bridge when it periodically broke through the clouds.

The Northumberland Strait was not frozen at that point, as it wouldn’t be for a few more weeks. 

However, there was ice along the shoreline and the countryside was beginning to accumulate snow in places.

Now in the last week in February, the scene looks different.  The convergence of land and sea is complete and the frozen, snow covered land appears to continue around the bridge and beyond. 

One might be tempted to walk out there but the ice in the strait is choppy because of the wave action. This is not a place for an ice highway.

Milder weather this week will melt some of this ice and make it less stable than it already is. However, with so much ice along the south coast, it is cold along the coastline even on a day with the temperature above zero.

It is easy to complain about these conditions but they are part of the history and culture of this place. Those of us who have come to call this island home, have come to understand its significance and enjoy it while it lasts. 

Saturday 22 February 2020


The land and sea converge here at the edge of the city. People walk to the end of the boardwalk and then to the edge of the shore to look out over the vast white plain which covers the Northumberland Strait. The overcast day emphasizes the scene as the winter blue along the horizon accentuates the cold.

Many will find this scene bleak. However the small tree and the remnants of the vegetation visible through the snow withstand harsh conditions. They resist and persist. 

So do the people who come to this place to take in the setting and the atmosphere despite the cold. They are a testament to the human spirit and are an inspiration.

Freezing temperatures, snow and ice are the great equalizers here although what lies beneath is different. Nature creates these conditions and nature will restore the land and sea to their warmer selves.

The footprints visible in the snow will disappear and those who walk here will linger longer as the temperature rises. Soon land and sea will be distinct again. However, for a few weeks every year, they converge and become as one in a spectacle of nature.

Thursday 20 February 2020

Winter at Cavendish Beach

It was one of those days when winter invites you outside. Without a breeze and 2 degrees Celsius, my husband and I headed to the beach at Cavendish for a walk. Georgie, the golden grand-dog accompanied us. She enjoys the area too but to be honest, she enjoys everywhere.

The boardwalk to the beach at Cavendish was empty as we approached. This was one of the rare times this has ever happened since locals visit the beach in the off season. The wood against the backdrop of the snow and sky gave us pause. 

The boardwalk disappeared behind a sand dune giving the sense of a walk into the unknown. Georgie was anxious to go while I wanted to take in the scene for a few minutes. She won!

Along the way we could see through the dunes that the sea along the north shore was not frozen this year as is usually the case.

The stream across the marshland and behind the dunes hadn’t frozen either.

From the top of the boardwalk overlooking the beach, the dunes were frozen and snow covered while the beach was frozen past the low water mark. 

It was possible to walk along its length.

Dogs are allowed on the beach in the winter and without a soul in the area, we let Georgie off lead to run between us as she always does. 

I heard a buzzing which sounded as if it came from the sand dunes. Above, a drone flew over the dunes as we watched. 

                                          A drone looks like an insect above the dunes

A few minutes later, what I think was a juvenile bald eagle flew over, scanning the beach for lunch. The feathered flier was my favourite.

Off shore, pans of ice were visible in the distance. Unless we have consistently cold days for an extended period, the north shore will not ice up this year. So far this winter, we have a few cold days, then the temperature rises to hover near zero for a day or two. We have had a significant fall of ice pellets this year too which was unusual. Winter, as ever, is hard to predict.

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Mary Ann

The name caught my eye. 

Mary Ann

It was at the top of the old headstone in raised letters. I looked down the stone and saw that she was 23 when she died in 1852, the wife of David Campbell.

Beneath her name was that of a young child, William, of the same man. Was he her child too? What was his cause of death? How did she die at such an early age? Something as simple as a toothache could have been the cause of death. Infections were deadly as were many of the diseases which antibiotics and vaccinations control today. Of course childbirth was a common cause of death for young women.

Did she leave any children giving her descendants who know of or search for her today? I wonder if, like my Mary Ann, she has a great granddaughter who wonders about her?

Mary Ann Pretty died in 1908 of tuberculosis, which had taken her husband and two children previously. Over the next several years, four more would succumb to the deadly disease. Only three children survived, one of whom was my grandfather.

It is interesting to see the name of David Campbell so prominently displayed on this headstone though he is not buried in that spot. Maybe he married again and is interred with another wife. Mary Ann Campbell’s family has interesting items to research.

Can you tell I am knee deep in genealogy these days?

Sunday 16 February 2020


They dot the countryside, these old buildings, once places of congregation where people prayed and sang hymns of praise for all the big occasions in life and the times between. Now they are decommissioned and up for sale, some bought and repurposed, others left to disintegrate. This is possibly the fate of the old church on a country road west of our city.

It is slowly falling apart, peeling paint and rotting boards, 

without a time of service posted or even a name. There is nothing welcoming about this building. Former congregants, having passed to their eternal rest, fill the yard, the old headstones doing the best they can to stand vigil. 

Someone has placed the fallen ones to lean against the walls. On this cold day in February, as I walk around the building and through the cemetery, the silence and cold envelop me like a shroud.

This was a Presbyterian Church, the second here in Birch Hill, the congregation having outgrown the first built in 1800. This building was started in 1858. In 1925, when the United Church of Canada formed from four Protestant religions, including Presbyterian, the congregation of this church split, some joining the United Church. They built a new church in 1928, across the road from the Presbyterian building. The United Church is still in use and in good repair. 

Meanwhile the older building is crumbling.

Behind the church, among more headstones, three white birds which looked like Willow ptarmigan, flew off as I approached. We surprised each other. 

However it was not surprising but somehow fitting to see such beautiful white creatures here among the ruins.

Thursday 13 February 2020

The homestead

One day recently, in spite of the weather, my husband and I took the cameras and headed out, this time west of Summerside. It had been November when we last took a photo excursion. It was long overdue.

This old homestead fascinated me. It looked like some of the old trees lining the property had succumbed to the winds of Dorian like so many more of the island’s trees.

Here however, there wasn’t anyone to trim the trees and claim the firewood. 

The barn has a metal roof which has rusted and begun to rip from the beams. 

The clapboard and shingled exterior are the well worn grey that only time can impart. Some windows are missing. Looking at it from the right, one sees it is open to the elements. 

How much longer can it remain upright?

Right of the barn, what may be the original house still stands behind its larger descendent.

The old house is adjacent to a barn of the same size. It was common for animals to be kept close to, or even in the houses at one time.

The newer house was painted white and had a third floor to include rooms in the attic. A family had more space in this house, the front facade hiding the extension at the back of the building. Time has not been kind to this old place.

Where are the owners of this property? Did they die without descendants or is everyone gone from the island now? Did they try to sell this place without success and now it is left to ruin? The old place once was filled with the laughter of children, clothes on the line, supper cooking, friends and relatives, the smell and sounds of animals and hay. Now the elements have their way.

Any time I see an old homestead left to ruin, the song Where the alders grow by Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers comes to mind. You can give it a listen here.

It brings the old place to life.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

The wharf in winter

The boats are long gone from this place. What remains is rooted here, standing against the elements, totally unprotected. It is silent, except for the wind which whistles around the old fishing shacks.

I pull up my hood as I look around, thinking if I stayed a minute too long I’d become an icy statue permanently affixed to the wharf.

Conway Narrows on the northwest shore of Prince Edward Island is frozen and Milligan’s Wharf, a protected area for recreational and commercial boats, is encased in ice. 

Looking out to sea, the sand bar which parallels the shore is barely visible, itself entombed in ice and snow.

Nearby, the buoys which mark the channel for the safe passage of boats are piled together, attached to their concrete anchors. They add a splash of colour to the white and grey as they wait for the return of the boats and warmer weather.

Walking around the fishing shacks I notice that winter blue, the colour of the overcast sky so common this time of year. The muted light creates a mid morning twilight. 

Tire marks in the snow proceed onto the ice. Someone chanced a vehicle breaking into the icy depths. 

While this cold has probably thickened the ice enough to support a vehicle, I wouldn’t take a chance. How about you?

Saturday 8 February 2020

A walk in the park

The golden grand-dog, Georgie was visiting for a few days so we went to Heather Moyse Park in the centre of the city for a walk. This park is in an older residential area and is frequented by many area residents, especially dog owners. 

The park has various winding trails beside an open field and bridges over streams. 

The city high school is visible in the distance. It is a great area to walk a dog and if you repeated the circuit, you’d have a good walk there.

Georgie loves this place. The scent of other dogs and the ones we met whilst there provided a feast for her dog senses. She pranced her way around the trails.

Black capped chickadees were in abundance there. These birds aren’t fed by visitors as are the birds along the boardwalk. Two landed in an needle-free tamarack and feasted on the seeds from the cones. I had never seen chickadees feed like this before but it was tough to take a good photo.

Further along the trail, a rabbit had crossed back and forth probably during the previous night. I took a photo of the tracks before Georgie sniffed around them.

We walked the trails for a half hour before we headed home from canine paradise.

Thursday 6 February 2020


The park sits in the centre of the older part of the city. It is named after Heather Moyse, a young woman from Summerside who is a two time Olympic gold medalist in two-woman bobsled. Heather is an all round athlete having competed internationally in rugby and cycling as well. 

The park is a gathering place for activities throughout the year and is well groomed and maintained year round. It features labelled native island trees and the trails wind over bridges across streams. The irises alone in summer are enough to brighten one’s day.

What always causes me pause in this park is the memorial for the victims of the Dec 6th massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. Fourteen young women were murdered when a man, citing his anti-feminist stance, walked into an engineering class, separated the men from the women and opened fire.

The women’s names are engraved in stone here and flowers left from the December 6 ceremony are encased in the ice and snow. The names are frozen in time, their spirits forever young and strong. 

December 6th in Canada has become a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. We remember the fourteen but focus on the struggle women face in our world and how we can help. Many of us have friends or loved ones who experience violence or experience it ourselves.

This park celebrates a strong, capable woman who is living her best life. But we pause in this beautiful place every time we’re here to remember these other women who were cut down in their prime, who didn’t have that opportunity. Their names represent the millions of others who suffer behind closed doors, in silence and fear. Walking here in winter the silence and fear are manifested in the biting cold.

We pause and walk on, in hope of better days.

Wednesday 5 February 2020


The beauty of the scenes this time of year adds another dimension as the trees and shrubs stand against the worst nature has to offer. They hold their place while we mere mortals run for cover. These are some of the gems I see around the harbour.

It is hard to stand alone along the shoreline. The salt sea spray for the majority of the year assaults the trees. This solitaire is not big enough to be toppled by the wind which batters vegetation along the shoreline since it bends rather than breaks. 

The perch is all that’s left of this tree which has succumbed to the elements where the stream empties into the harbour. Crows love this spot this time of year and in the summer, kingfishers avail of the location as they watch the stream for fish.

The top of this spruce tree above the reach of the salt spray is all that’s left of its coniferous needles. I suspect a gale will topple it soon. The two young trees at its base give us hope for the future.

Rugosa bushes are tended along the boardwalk by the city staff. During the winter, they are interesting in their shape and spots of colour against the white plain. I have never seen birds eating the rose hips however.

It looks like this bush has been trimmed and the branches have erupted in response, a circle shape which defies the injury. Its shape is highlighted by the frozen sea.

Beauty defies the elements.

Sunday 2 February 2020

The village

When the harbour ice freezes smoothly every year, they appear overnight. Avid fishers take their smelt shacks from backyards and garages down to the frozen harbour. Those who enjoy the outdoors in an indoor way, spend their time fishing for smelt.

The shacks provide wind breaks from the elements. 

Some are equipped with stoves which take the smelt fishing experience to another level. 

However all you really need is a hole in the ice and a chair. 

The video shows one such shack and a fisher in a 45 second clip.

When I photographed the cargo vessel, Trinityborg and zoomed in on the vessel, it was interesting to see the smelt shack village on the opposite side of the harbour.

We tried the white flesh fish for the first time last year.

They were delicious. We will visit the fishmonger this week for another meal of the little fish.

                                   Two smelt villages as seen from a  nearby bridge