|Anne of Green Gables House, P.E.I.|
I really didn’t realize how much I’ve missed wandering aimlessly through the world but now that I’m back at it, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time! I spent six weeks in Maritime Canada in May and June and then did a two week East Coast to Saskatchewan trip by train. I chose to do this trip and to travel by train for a number of reasons. 2017 marks 150 years in Canada since Confederation so it’s kind of a big deal for the government and as a result, entry to National Parks and National Historic sites are free! And if you’re under 25, you could get a Via Rail train pass for $150 – this is a crazy good deal, considering my pass of 7 one way tickets was over $700! But even before I knew what a big deal this was to Canada, last summer I had decided I wanted to do a trip from the Maritimes to Saskatchewan. Two years ago this month, my father passed away, so last summer I was going through some things of my parents and found some letters and postcards they had exchanged while my mom was away at school and travelling. My mother graduated with her education degree in 1977 and did a trip in the Maritimes with her girlfriends and then drove back home. Because 2017 marks 40 years after that trip, 10 years after my mom passed away, and I’m also coincidentally finishing another degree, I figured this would be a cool way to celebrate. I haven’t been able to do everything she did due to time restraints (touring the three provinces in a week compared to her month!), but I have managed to make it to a few of the places along the way and even recreate some of the photos she took. I wanted to travel by train because I’m travelling alone for this stretch of it and that’s a long way to drive alone, but also because I remember as a child my mom wanting to take us on a train ride across Canada, before realizing how expensive it is!
|Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia|
|Yonge Street, Toronto|
Before beginning the trip, I spent 5 weeks at Saint Anne’s University in Church Point, taking part in a French immersion program there through the nation wide Explore program. The campus is beautiful, about a 40 minute drive north of Yarmouth on Nova Scotia’s west coast and located right on the beach with beautiful hiking trails. For any students out there wanting to learn one of the official languages, earn some credits, and see a different part of Canada for basically free, I highly recommend this program. There are a number of different campuses you can attend either in spring or summer and apply by February. The first week of April, you find out if you received a government bursary and where you’re going (you list your top three choices) and from there, all you have to pay is about a $275 registration fee and your transport to and from where you’re going. Once you’re there, all accommodations, classes, and food is paid for. The university I was at is considered one of the best immersion programs in the world, mainly because of its isolation (it’s basically in the middle of nowhere and you’re kicked out if you’re caught speaking English three times) and because the professors live in the residence with you. So I chose it for this reason and because it was highly recommended to me by multiple people, as well as for the aforementioned desire to go to the Maritimes. If residence life isn’t for you (it sure wasn’t for me!), other universities offer home stays with families, which would probably be my choice were I to do the program again. The school also offered short afternoon trips after class to the supermarket or pharmacy if you needed anything and also to some nearby site seeing spots, such as Belliveau Cove and l’anse de Hirondelles (Smuggler’s Cove en Anglais). Even while off campus in these parts, French was spoken, as it’s the largest Acadian community in the province. We also did a weekend trip to Grand Pre and Port Royal, both National Historic sites in the province. Stay tuned for more!