CANADA 150 ROAD TRIP BLOG #1
Started the journey at Greg and Cathy’s for grand daughter Gabby’s 19th birthday party, June 30. Hit Highway 7 latish and headed to Ottawa to join friends Lisa Morgan, her boyfriend and Gar Quiano to celebrate the “settlers” celebration for Canada’s 150th anniversary. Of course, as it has been emphasized, this was not the “real” birthday of this contintent’s ancient legacy.
Regardess, the huge throngs in downtown Ottawa were in a celebratory mood despite the intermittent heavy rainstorms. There was no way to get near the parliament buildings: insane, over the top security meant huge long lines with many frustrated citizens unable to get close to the official “goings on” on Parliament Hill.
Next stop was St. Eugene, Ontario to visit Barry Rosenburg an old aquantance from days of yore who owned and operated a Ferrari/BMC dealership called Citation Motors located at the crotch of Vaughan Road and Bathurst just below St. Clair Avenue in Toronto. It was a shop where quite a few racers hung out and provided token sponsorship for my racing Mini in 1965. We regaled each other with the infamous attempt to get to Le Circuit Mt. Tremblant with a two car entourage: Barry’s Ginetta towed by a Ford of some sort and my Mini behind an Edsel! At one of the early truck stops along the 401, we signaled to turn off and as we slowed to enter the parking lot, Barry’s brake lights came on and I applied the Edsel’s brakes accordingly only to have the pedal go to the floor. The Edsel obviosly didn’t slow down and plowed into the back of the Ginetta forcing the trailer into the back of the Ford. A fair amount of chaos ensued. The collective decision was that I would back the Mini down off the trailer and try to get to the track. The rest of the crew would stay to repair the Edsel and eventually get the “fleet” to Mt. Tremblant. Now, this was an unlicensed, numbered race car with an open exhaust: a very loud “tin can” with no interior insulation. Many hours later, after feeling every single bump and road irregularity, I arrived at registration… 20 minutes after it closed! Being Quebec at the time of some “unrest,” Ontario competitors were not welcomed with open arms! The race officials just folded their arms and shook their collective heads at my pleas to be allowed to race. Subsequently I competed in many races at this track and was never subjected to similar “officialdom.”
On to Montreal to connect with a bunch of Caravaners idling their jets while the AMARA ZEE makes its way from Texas to BC aboard a freighter. First up, lunch with Segeo Kirby, son of Paul and Nans, who heads up Loaded Pictures, a documentary film producer whom I’ve known since teenagehood.
Next, find the hostel Auberge-St. Paul in Old Montreal, a very welcoming, clean, neat and tidy place to chuck my limited gear and to check out the area. Watched several street performers/buskers in a square just below city hall as huge crowds ebbed and flowed past restaurants and bars surrounding the square, many “thumbing” their devices and barely noticing the talent on display.
I was looking for Ariana Nasr and her partner Curtis Thorpe who I knew were playing in the same area. Ariana “channels” Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel (http://www.ariananasr.com) along with songs in several other languages. After wandering around for an hour or so, I heard Ariana’s distinctive voice around a corner, found a bench and settled in to listen. She finished her song and came over to give me a big hug. I was their token “groupie” for two days!
She has two equally talented singer/musician sisters, all from Wolfville, NS, who, again, I’ve know since they were teens. The group called ASHK (https://www.facebook.com/musicashk/) along with Ken Shorley perform world music with an amazing mixture of voice and instruments. I’d love to book the into Belleville sometime. Ariana has performed two Piaf concerts at Sans Souci and along with former partner Andy, have rocked my “stage’ in Latta Mills.
Next up was a mini-Caravan reunion that was a fun evening of stories and recollections from our recent opening of “Nomadic Tempest” in St. Petersubrg and an update for me of the rained out shows in New Orleans and the two successful shows in Beaumont TX prior to the AZ being loaded onto the freighter. If I get to BC without any hassles or grief, I’ll see most of them again in six weeks or so.
So off down the Trans Canada Highway to Wolfville with a quick stop in Parrsboro where my friend Kaylaira is teaching yoga and art in an old converted post office. I found a hostel in town that charged the princley sum of $20 for a night. So I stayed to see the play “Pugwash,” the story of how the world's leading scientists descended on a little Nova Scotia fishing village in 1957 to deal with the nuclear threat following WW2. It made its world premiere at Parrsboro's Ship's Company Theatre. (http://shipscompanytheatre.com) (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/how-the-tiny-fishing-village-of-pugwash-tried-to-stop-a-nuclear-war-1.4186462?cmp=rss). And then stayed to attend the “Rum Runners’ Speakeasy Night” at the Legion the following night. For some reason, this event ran simultaneously with a street dance and party in downtown Parrsboro so the crowd at the legion was a little thin and the band never showed up!
Wolfville, on the south side of the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Basin, is where I’m currently sitting pecking out this blog. I’ve been coming here for 35+ years after my sister Ladny settled here followed later by our mother Paula.
A day’s canoe trip on Black River Lake, one of several formed by the multiple dams on the Black River, was my introduction to the wilderness beauty of this part of Nova Scotia. I sat amidship while Marilyn Manzer, who was a great friend of Ladny’s and later kept an eye on Paula for several years, and her friend Caroline, paddled like crazy against the wind and choppy water in preparation for a week long paddling adventure up the St. John River in New Brunswick.
Last night: two interesting plays at The Two Planks and a Passion Theatre, located way off into the woods NW of Wolfville. “Nothing Less” about suffragetes in rural NS, early 1918, just before women in NS were awarded the provincial vote then followed by the federal vote later in the year. The second, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, By Fire” by Bill Shakespeare 3was performed around a blazing campfire by the same actors! (www.twoplanks.ca)
Getting organized to head West: first stop is Field, ON for the River and Sky Festival near Sudbury…
Maybe more later.