My mom grew up in Brigus, a beautiful little fishing village in Newfoundland.
As a smart Catholic girl in Brigus, Mom’s career options were nurse or nun. She choose nursing school and started dating boys stationed at the Royal Canadian Air Force base in nearby Torbay. That’s how she met my dad (originally from the big city of Montreal).
Long story short… they married, settled in Nova Scotia, and had two daughters. Thus the origin of our annual pilgrimages to Brigus.
Legend has it that when my sister was a baby she made her first trip nestled in a laundry basket in the backseat of the old yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Ahhh, 1971… no five-point harnesses back in those days!
These journeys were epic to my young self. The drive from Halifax to North Sydney is over 40o km and takes about five hours.
From North Sydney, we’d catch the overnight car ferry to Argentia, Newfoundland. This is a 520 km crossing that takes 14 hours and only runs mid-June to late September when weather permits.
My sister suffers from extreme motion sickness, sometimes it was hard for her to smile for the obligatory pictures.
For some reason, we always seemed to be wearing matching outfits.
The next day it was just a hop, skip, and an hour drive from the ferry to Grandma’s house. We just had to keep an eye out for moose on the highway.
My sister and I would spend our time playing with feral kittens and roaming the green cliffs over the harbour, looking for icebergs.
I have intense visceral memories from these visits. The smell of my grandmother’s country store… the taste of blood pudding and toutons for breakfast… the feel of a hot day touched by a cold ocean wind… the sound of capelin rolling on the beach…
And man, I LOVED those ferry trips!
Did your family make any annual pilgrimages?