This view captured me every time we pedaled by. The storybook aspect of the houses and colors drew me in.
Meeting Dan and Addie in Souris, PEI. You can see our ferry off to the left. It was big.
We were situated on Havre-aux-Maisons--a convenient location from with to explore in different directions
This was our view from out little place on Havre-aux-Maisons. The sea is calm here, but often provided a dramatic show along the red cliffs. The island in the distance is Entry Island
The Magdalene Islands are situated about 50 miles out in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and are accessed by ferry from Prince Edward Island. There are 5 islands connected by roughly 60 miles of long sand causeways with a 6th island reachable by ferry. The islands are predominantly French speaking, although there are two English speaking towns that we never managed to get to. That's okay; it was great to be immersed in French culture and language.
Our home for the week
This house was just around the bend from us
Food was a cornerstone of our trip. The four of us all appreciate honest, local, quality foods, no matter where we are, so it was natural to see what we could find on the islands, and we were richly rewarded.
Down the street we found a herring smoke house that has been run by the same family for three generations and has weathered the challenges of quotas, loss of stock, and the other difficulties of making one's living from the sea. The process itself was amazing. The fish are brined for a day or so and then strung up on wooden stakes and then hung in the smoke house rafters. A full smokehouse would have thousands of herring if it were filled up. We were able to walk through the smokehouse and see the fish hanging. Needless to say, the herring were an amazing treat, both dried and in a jarred marinade. Just across the street we found a family cheese making business with a variety of cheeses, all made from the Canadian breed of cow. They were all yummy and we again stocked up.
The fumoir that has been creating smoked herring for three generations
Herring hanging in the smoke house
After the fromagerie we cycled around Cap-aux-Moules where we got some coffee, toured around and managed to find a neat brewery located in an old fish processing plant right near the ocean. There was a shipwreck close by to boot.
Our days easily stretched into the evening as the sun did not even set until about 9:00PM.
Each day was a chance to explore a new area; the islands are roughly 60 miles long from end to end, allowing a lot of room for meandering and discovering new places. Since we chose to only bring our bikes, we had to consider our choices in ways that would not have been notable had we had a car. This week reinforced the beautiful relationship between place, scale, movement and experience provided by riding a bike. Our days roughly broke out into exploring an island a day. Given the strong winds, we had to be mindful that a journey fifteen miles to the south with the wind at our backs would mean some serious work returning. The experience reminded me of sailing, which I suppose is appropriate 50 miles out in the middle of the ocean.
Exploring a shipwreck near Étang du Nord
One day we decided to pedal north to explore the vast lengths of beach that connect Havre-aux-Maisons to Grosse-Ile. We had the place to ourselves, napping in the sun and contemplating our good fortune to be in such a lovely place
All our journeys were by bike. In a place as windy as this, you need to think carefully about traveling too far downwind unless you have a lot of time and energy to get back
A meal of fresh scallops and salad of local greens
Our place at night
We didn't see many other cyclists during our stay on the islands with two exceptions. We met a French couple who were traveling around the eastern provinces of Canada. We had a lot in common and it seemed that we just kept crossing paths with them where ever we went. We also met two young women who had rented bikes and made their way out to La Grave as well. That ride was not for the faint of heart.
La Grave was beautiful despite the raw weather. It had an antique quality to it, as well as a bohemian air. I'd like to head back there for a little more exploring next time around.
On our way out to La Grave on Havre-Aubert, the wind was fierce and sand blows at you over the dunes. The distances from island to island are not insignificant
The Cafe de la Grave. This place was dream-like in its timeless setting and decor
Our time on the island was so rewarding. We loved the food, the stunning scenery, being with dear friends, and having a cozy home. As the time to leave drew near we simply couldn't leave, so we decided to extend our stay an extra night.
An evening walk with Dan and Addie
We departed the islands with heavy hearts, grateful for a good time, but sad to let go. Nancy and I were headed on for further adventures while Dan and Addie were headed home. If I had been able to rearrange things then and there I think I would have voted to stay for the rest of our vacation. I dearly hope we will get back there again some time. There is more to explore and great places to return to.