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Romantic Canada
Chapter I Nova Scotia

NO call sounded by the pipes of this New Era is more insistent than that of the Canadian Sea-coast. One sometimes wonders if Canadians as a whole even yet realize the important gift bestowed, when Heaven, gave to Canada so magnificent a coastline as that which the constant sword-play of land and sea traces from Saint John, New Brunswick, to the Newfoundland-Labrador Boundary? The man of Eastern Canada is "a study in charts" worthy of basest attention. For it s here the Dominion rings up the outside world.

But to get the real "lay of the land", the true spirit of its people, one must not be a stay-at-home, a mere map-student only, but a follower of the Piper leading by the longshore road through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island. Canadians must be able to say, "these are our Maritime Provinces", and say it with a pleasurable, personal, as well as deep, national sense. And visitors from other lands must be able to become personally possessive if they are to enjoy the life etched quaintly enough of Grand Pre, of the Valley of the Gaspereau, of the bonnie Hielands o' Cape Breton. One hardly sets foot in any part of this long stretch, without being at once conscious that the sea invades all the life of Bluenose land, that the marine spirit is here in a beautiful, intimate sense, like the figurehead on a ship, both soul and mascot of the "half-island".

Sailing-vessels in themselves, are genre crowding the Nova Scotia stage. Her earliest discoverer came hither, over the sea, in the picturesque craft of a Norse Dragon-ship. And the immediate chapters of her history, after these half-shadowy voyages of the Norsemen, were written by Basque and Breton fishboats and sail, drawn across the Atlantic Ocean in the wake of Cod.

Cod is still, more than ever, King in Bluenoseland and bej'ond. Over all the vast stretch of the Canadian "Maritime" his huge fleet holds sway. And what is so romantic as a fleet-winged schooner speeding away under full sale on her voyage to the Banks? Unless it be the one coming in, her decks almost awash, with the full load? Oars and sails, and the tripping bows of the Dragon-ships and Breton bateaux founded this long one of "Bankers" and Dories--laid the foundation of Nova Scotia's talent for shipbuilding. The "gift" which turned out the big square riggers from the Hantsport and Parrsboro "ways" was a natural sequence of the maritime beginning of this land, where thought turns so naturally to the sea, and to sea-power. It was those wooden wind-jammers, wind-jammers with mere boat-beginnings, which paved the way to the ocean-greyhounds which now home true to Halifax and Saint John. Oh, the Maritimes is the life blood of Nova Scotian and Newfoundlander.

Halifax is the heart of the Marine circulatory system. And serving Halifax with fish for re-shipment, are 'enumerable little Havens and Outposts, all up and down Saint Margaret's Bay, Spry Bay, the Gut of Canso, and along the vast stretch reaching to Scuris, P.E.I., and Havre Aubert in Les Madeleiies. And in each of these little Outports there is, of course, a family behind every little "dory". The morning greeting among all these people is not, "Good Day!" but, "How's Fish?" To these coastal families, Halifax is not a mere cold city of business, but a "mother" to whom they can turn with the catch, be it great or small, and ask bread.

And so, in a morning spent on the Halifax waterfront, the lifting fog reveals schooner after schooner snugly riding against the old wet piers that artists love, or idly floating into dock amid harbour reflections, weathered spars and mildewed sails a-drip. Sometimes there is a clump of these schooners hitched together, all discharging at the same time. So in a single morning at a fish-receiving wharf here, we have chatted with skipper from Newfoundland, skipper from the Madeleine Islands in the Gulf, and skipper from. Prince Edward Island, and not moved from the one dock.

Codfish overflows the roofs n the final stages of the dr> ng, and lies upturned to the sun almost under the shadow of city cathedrals. And here on the wharves is an army of men and boys, the coopers and brine-mixers, moving about from barrel to barrel of mackerel, mending leaks and otherwise putting them in shape for trans-shipment; and over there, overflowing the basement of some old warehouse, the half and whole drums, called-for by the cod a-drying on the roof. Old scales are trundled back and forth to this schooner and that, as the flying cod hurtles through the air, hurled by some unseen hand at work in the hold of the "Nancy Ann", "The "Village Leaf", or the schooner, "Passport."

In sharp contrast to the fish-schooners is the brig, brigantine, or barque, painted white, with water-casks the last thing in paint and fancy designs on deck. She is discharging hogsheads of molasses brought from Barbadoes or other of the British West Indies. Molasses has played its part and commandeered the sailing vessel of the Bluenose fleet from the earliest times. For in the rationing of the sea-craft up and down the coast molasses was the "sweetening"; and old-timers to this day prefer it to sugar.

In addition to her fishing industry and tale of ships, Nova Scotia enjoys a pastoral side no less rich in genre. Farms are here. In following the highways and little by-paths rambling among apple orchards and gardens, potato fields and hay meadows —paths etched in Spring by the pink flush of apple-blossoms, or in autumn by boughs curling to earth under weight of rosy Baldwins or creamy Bellefleurs—one follows everywhere hard on the heels of romance. It s her hand that beckons into every little cottage snugly tucked away in valley and glen; where every grandmother sitting carding. spinning, hooking rugs, knitting or reading her daily portion of Scripture, can keep you entertained with tales and the recounting of interesting happenings and not go outside the range of the half-dozen houses which have been her little world for more than half a century.

Along these roads and about these inland homes, friendly old willows mingle atmospherically with tall and stately Lombardy poplars. It is or. these uplands of Nova Scotia one follows the old Post-reads—roads that recall the dashing coach of other days and still cross rivers by old covered-bridges, and preserve the quaint, rambling old houses that served as Inns where passengers of old sought refreshment, or spent the night, while waiting to make connections with the coach to this or that objective.

Sitting clown by the roadside to rest, some old-timer driving a spar of oxen and urging them along with an apple-bough goad, s sure to come along and enter into conversation in that happy way which s half the charm of adventuring by Nova Scotia highways. This old farmer-carter well remembers Harry Killcup, the Robin Hood Jehu of the Post-road from Annapolis Royal to Halifax. He relates how Harry was talking to a girl and didn't pay attention to his horses, and drove them too near the edge of the bridge and they fell over, dragging the coach with them. "The river was in flood, too, but Harry managed to get the girl clear of the wreckage, and saved her, but the young man, with whom she travelled, was drowned." It sounds like a movie stunt in the cold light of to-day, whereas, in fact, it was Victorian realism and a typical incident of the dashing times of 'the chaise in which Sam Slick engaged a permanent seat in that other "chaise of Canadian literature" by which Judge Haliburton eventually established his name in Canada's Hall of Fame. The events live very graphically before you as recited by this old eye-witness; who, with many a "gee" and "whoa there", again starts his oxen on the way.

To the period of the Post Road belongs that old landmark of time and the road, Grand Pre Church, outstanding figure of the countryside in which dwelt Evangeline and her people. In order to catch its romantic spirit, the time to see Grand Pre church is in the evening, when there is just a wee flare of daylight and a soft mist arises from the waters of Minas, shedding itself like a diaphanous veil over the land, as one strolls up the country-road that comes through the village from the North, under willows and poplars, to the door of the old church and then rambles off to the South between clover fields and stacks of hay; the hay resembling Hottentot villages outlined against the ashes-of-roses sky. It is at dusk, that the rather austere lines of window, tower and roof lose their sharp, almost Quaker-like severity. It is at that hour that the old stones of the graveyard become time-softened, ivory-tinted pages of history assembled under the stately poplars. Inside the church, in the strong, simple lines of its painted box-pews and high pulpit; in the old gallery; and in the square windows with little panes, there is the quaint atmosphere which clings especially to old churches of the early Colonial Period.

Sitting in these old pews during service is to be carried away on the wings of history to a pivotal point, whence to behold a Cyclorama of all Canada. To the left, on this great canvas—Glooscap and Micmac; succeeded by crude Breton and Portuguese fishermen in their strange bateaux; followed by stirring panels of Annapolis Royal and Louisburg, contrasted against panels of tenacious pioneer Scotch and English settlers; in the next, the clash between France and England for supremacy, not alone in this sweet countryside of Grand Pre, but in every other contained in the word Canada. These are followed by a panel of united empire royalists—very realistic this, because, in the village, you have just been looking at an old oil-painting of Colonel Crane and fingering his fine old sword, that never wavered in its allegiance.

The other half of the Cycle, begins the New Order. First, a symbolic figure of the stream of emigration flowing through the Maritime Gate to the great Canadian West, followed by prairie scenes and mountain peaks, mining scenes, cattle scenes, tawny grain, and Trans-Canada trains, sisters of "Glooscap", and "The Flying Bluenose". That, is Grand Pre Church—a link between the Past and the Present.

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