It being summer and time for vacation trips to different parts of the country, I thought I might address a few words to my fellow Ontarians and really
anyone else heading out to the Atlantic Provinces on their holidays. If you have been there before, you will know how great that part of the country
is. The pace is slower. The people are friendly. The scenery is beautiful. The seafood is great. It has all the makings of a great getaway
In the Maritimes one is regularly put in one's place by Nature and that is not a bad thing.
However, it is important for people used to Lake Ontario, for example, to be mindful that although the Great Lakes are awesome, the North Atlantic
Of course things can go wrong anywhere, but the coast of Atlantic Canada has peculiarities that should be noted.
I read in the Globe and Mail today that somebody had been swept into the ocean at Peggy's Cove and was presumed dead. The body was not recovered.
Peggy's Cove is a beautiful little fishing village on the coast of Nova Scotia, as you can see from the photo below. It is a bit of a show piece,
illustrating a very old way of life that still exists in places along the coast of Atlantic Canada. Peggy's Cove is probably the most famous of these
places but there are many similar coves and villages in Canada's Atlantic provinces, particularly in Newfoundland.
The tourist is enchanted by the quaint beauty and, spouse and children in tow, expects to see scenes like the following:
They do not expect to see this:
Often a beautiful day by the shore will give evidence of stormy turbulence out to sea.
People who are not used to the Atlantic Coast can sometimes be surprised by the moment in which several hundred tons of lurching sea water suddenly
make landfall. People who know that region and are familiar with Atlantic coastal waters at that latitude are very careful around a rock cove like
Peggy's, where fairly turbulent water is inches away from where you might be standing.
Getting swept off a rock with no observable warning can be the fate of the inexperienced, someone watching their footing, but failing to notice the
swell coming in two hundred yards away.
There have been two serious incidents recently at Peggy's Cove.
After two men slipped into the swirling waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Peggy’s Cove in recent months, a debate over safety has hinged on
whether common sense should be enough to protect people from the natural dangers at the popular tourist destination in Nova Scotia.
Family and friends of the two men — one from Smith Falls, Ont., who hasn’t been recovered from the ocean — are pushing for increased safety
measures, but their appeals have sometimes been met with skepticism from locals, particularly on social media.
Last week, James Rubec of Toronto wrote to the Halifax Chronicle Herald after his friend was rescued from the water about two weeks ago, asking the
province: “When will you mature your tourism product to a level where it is safe for all?”
Rubec has suggested barricades around the parking lot at Peggy’s Cove to funnel visitors to a turn style where they would be informed of the
dangers, along with monitors to let people know when they are putting themselves in peril on the smooth and sometimes slick rocks. He also wants a
boat and a trained team available to help anyone who ends up in the water.
I haven't followed the debate on social media, but I suspect that many opponents of "improvements", at Peggy's Cove, to increase tourist safety, are
worried about spoiling the pristine beauty of an important showcase of the traditional culture of Nova Scotia. I sympathize with that point of view,
One doesn't want to see a lot of excessive sign-age and "installations" marring the beauty of the seascape at the cove.
However, one also doesn't want anyone's holiday to end in tragedy or to give the impression that if a tourist's family member dies, that is their
tough luck. It is not just their
tough luck. It is everyone's tough luck and a problem for everyone.
Any Maritimer will tell you that the rocks at Peggy's Cove are dangerous, for reasons alluded to above, but also because the scene there is almost
always beautiful and benign. The inexperienced will be lulled into a false sense of security in places where they should be very alert.
Our family moved to New Brunswick when I was a child, although I was born in Ontario.
We would occasionally go to Mispec Beach, outside of Saint John, for a picnic and an afternoon spent clambering over the large rocks, exploring and
sometimes swimming in the tide pools at the right moments between high and low tide. My father used to swim in the water of the Bay of Fundy at high
tide and used to emerge after a few strokes, beat red. The water temperature seemed to hover only slightly above absolute zero.
I could only swim in the tide pools on a hot day when the sun had had a chance to warm them up. As the tide went out, one could walk out a
considerable distance on the sandy sea bottom, which undulated, creating areas which might, for a brief period, be chest deep and ideal for a
comparatively warm swim in the normally frigid water.
When the tide was coming in, the same thing could be done, but one had to be watchful, particularly as children, not to become surrounded on a dune of
sea bottom by the ever deepening water and then cut off from wading back to the beach. One became alert around the ocean, as a child. Seeing the tides
of the Bay of Fundy gave me my first example of relentless natural force.
As we know from a famous legend, no kind of entitlement can hold back the tides.
Another image from my childhood. Driving on a rainy day toward Mispec Park along the Old Red Head Road and seeing ahead of us, from an elevated part
of the road, ocean waves breaking over the shoreline to our right and sweeping across the road and far into a field on our left. We stopped. We
couldn't get through. The scene absorbed us. The waves kept rolling over the highway. The long sweep of each wave as it moved inland was a rhythmic
assertion and reiteration of sublime indifference to everything, except the gravity of the Moon.
edit on 13-7-2015 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)
edit on 13-7-2015 by ipsedixit because: (no reason
edit on 13-7-2015 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)