Wild and windswept Maggies!

Trip Start Jul 03, 2012
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6
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Trip End Jul 29, 2012


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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We couldn`t have asked for a more perfect arrival in the Iles de la Madeleine (the Magdalen Islands), or The Maggies, as they are known in the anglophone speaking parts of Canada.  Blue skies, and approximately 26`C weather accompanied us on our crossing from Souris, PEI. 

Perfect weather is not always the norm, as the geographical location of the archipelago of Iles de la Madelenie earned it the sinister name of the ``second cemetery of the Atlantic``.  Shipwrecks are scattered everywhere around the islands.  Dad says the diving would be amazing, although cold and potentially treacherous!

Mum and Dad chose to spend most of the trip out on deck, and I couldn`t have been happier.  I napped and got to know my fellow passengers whilst tottering around between three dogs that all needed my attention and love.

The Iles de la Madeleine are an archipelago in the Gulf of St Lawrence, 105km from PEI.  The archipelago is shaped like a extended fish hook, with a total area of 205 square kms.  The length of the archipelgao is 65km.  The population is approximately 13,000, but this expands in summer, and Mum believes that it most likely decreases in winter.  Given that it is part of Quebec, French is the main language.

Mum and Dad had pre-booked us to stay in a lodge on Grande Entree, the most northerly island.  Six of the islands are connected by long sand dunes, and given that there is only one main road, it is impossible to get lost!

We were greeted by fishing shacks and beach shacks of varying sizes, colours and condition as we drove north.  Fishing (especially for lobster) is the main industry on the islands, followed by tourism.  Kayaking, wind surfing and kite surfing are all popular pastimes here in this windswept isles.  I think everyone also loves to cycle here, as there were LOTS of bikes attached to cars on the ferry, along with people just bringing their bicycles on the ferry.  Tall trees are non-existent, and the ones that make it several metres high have to be tough.  The most trees on the island appear to be in the view from our bedroom window.  Yes, it feels like Canada!

I have taken quite a liking to mussels, which is good news, since they were served as part of the set menu upon our arrival.  The `speciality of the house` seafood chowder containing chunks of lobster, scallop, mussells and other tasty treats that was to die for.  We are all in seafood heaven, and the trip has really only just begun!

Dad was adventurous today and undertook a visit to the Grottes.  With the heavy northwesterly winds, it was apparently a glorious day in which to partake in a wave adventure.  This required Dad to wear a wetsuit and a helmet, listen to instructions in French from some young guides and to throw himself off of some rocks into an oncoming wave for an exciting wave-driven ride alongside a cliff!  Dad now knows what clothes feel like when they are in a washing machine!

Mum and I endured the equally tough activity of hanging out at Harry`s beach.  It was a gorgeous beach with pure white sand, although a little windy, we still had lots of fun!  We were told it was voted number 3 beach by National Geographic, however, not sure when......

Tonight, after I went to sleep, Dad went to the local Catholic Church (of which there seems to be more of than grocery stores on the islands) to listen to a local choir sing songs of the sea and the islands.  Dad says that the place was packed and that the locals in attendance knew the words to many of the traditional songs. 

While the islands are isolated and windswept, the community spirit is very strong.  Even after a couple of days we have felt the amazing atmosphere that exists here from the warmth and hospitality of the locals.  We explored the entire island, and enjoyed meeting both locals and visitors alike.  My favourite things on the island also include the boat playground in Havre Aubert, The Aquarium, (except for the scallop that nipped my finger), and the Museum of the Sea.

As I mentioned above, lobster fishing is HUGE here.  Lobster season only lasts for nine weeks beginning from the middle of May, with the annual harvest totalling approximately 2 million kilograms.  Our stay coincided with the end of the season.  Dad was especially thrilled to hear that our lodging was hosting a lobster feast on our last night.  Our dinners were part of the package, and I too was eligible for these dinners.  On our first couple of nights, Mum and Dad kindly shared their meals with me.  Not tonight, however, as Dad said I had to get MY OWN!!!!!  I enjoyed playing with my new lobster friend, and also dipping things in the garlic butter.  I wasn`t too happy when Dad starting pulling my new lobster toy apart though and sharing my dinner with Mum!!!
 
Tomorrow, I get to go on a big boat again.  Sadly our short stay on the Maggies is coming to an end and we head back to PEI.  I look forward to where my parents take me next and what they will feed me!

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