Prince Edward Island doesn’t seem like a big place, especially if you come from Quebec or Ontario. It’s hardly big enough to be a province. But it seems quite large compared to the Magdalene Islands, the sandy archipelago that is nestled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, only 105 km from Souris, PEI.
We arrived on Tuesday, around 7pm, after a very pleasant ferry ride. The CMTA ferry was well appointed with a great bistro where we sat and had a glass of wine and played a few games of Scrabble. For once I won a game!! Leon always wins as he is clearly better at this that me.
When you arrive at IdlM, you first pass l’ile d’Entrée, one of the 2 islands which are not joined to the rest of the archipelago. It actually has approximately 150 inhabitants who are connected via ferry to the other islands during the summer months. In the winter, they must take a plane to reach the larger area. I can’t imagine!
We docked and quickly found our campground for the next 4 nights – Camping Aux Sillons on Iles aux Maisons. We were lucky enough to arrive in time for the evening show which consisted of a storyteller and a small fiddle ensemble that played Reels (sort of like square dance music). The storyteller was very interesting, telling us the legend of how the Acadians settled in the islands after a long exodus following “Le grand dérangement”, when they had to leave St. Pierre et Miquelon during the French Revolution. Some were so angry that they swore to never say the word king again (roi), and thus their accent no longer included the R sound, which was henceforth pronounced like a W.
The next morning we woke to another warm sunny day and spent it sitting on the beach which stretches about 22km. The water was blue and turquoise, the gannets were busy fishing, the sun was hot and the wind steady. We walked, read and slept. While Leon studied his French, I walked further down the beach and saw what looked like a bunch of tables set up. It turns out they were drying tables for the local coffee roaster, Le Moussonneur. They soak the coffee in salt water, let it air dry on the beach on netted tables and then roast it. We tried a cup on the last day and found it quite delicious.
The next day, I figured we’d better get some exercise and go for a bike ride. We rode to the next small island, l’anse aux loups, 14km there and 14km (against the wind) back. Needless to say, my bum was very sore. It’s a good thing we didn’t ride to the next big island which is Grosse Ile! While riding, we ran into our friends from PEI, John and Carolyn, who were touring the various beaches and dunes by car. We asked them to meet us later on the beach for an afternoon cocktail. And so, we sat, the four of us, enjoying the surf, sipping our wine, chatting about the sights we had seen. Carolyn tried to get me excited about the lobster poutine she’d eaten that day, but I prefer my own cooking. I think my guedille recipe outdoes any poutine, anytime!