Friday, February 14, 2014

Halifax to North Sydney

I got up for breakfast feeling like I had not slept at all, in spite of the wonderful bed at the Chocolate Lake Best Western

A wonderful cup of coffee revived me nicely and after getting fuelled up I headed down to my packed bike. I was meeting some of the boys from CAV at a Timmy’s parking lot and they were going to escort me as far as Truro.

We rode through Stewiacke and into Mastodon Ridge via some beautiful secondary roads with lovely twists and the ever-incredible Nova Scotia scenery.

Mastodon Ridge is a park with a mini golf course, an art gallery at the edge of Stewiacke.
We stopped for fuel, coffee and hugs and pretty soon I was riding by myself. Jason Rourke of 2 CAV in Cape Breton was going to be meeting me at the Canso Causeway’s Big Irving gas stop to escort me to the Ferry.

On my way to hook up with Jason 
I decided to stop in Pictou and take in the Hector Heritage Quay Museum and to stop in at the world famous Grohmann Knives.

Known as the birthplace of New Scotland, Pictou is a pretty picturesque place whose roots go back to 1,773.

The first stop was Grohmann Knives. The German Czechoslovakian knife maker from Sudetenland who came to Pictou after the Second World War to help found Pictou Cutlery at the behest of the Nova Scotia Government was named Rudolph Grohmann.

I looked around the shop at all of the incredible examples of their workmanship and asked if there was a tour of the. Sadly there was no tour of the factory the day I stopped in, but I was able to get a lesson on the history of this company and the man who designed some of the world’s best knives.

One of Rudolph’s long-standing customers from Quebec had offered to help him get started in Canada if he ever decided to leave his homeland and when he decided to come to Canada he contacted the customer who introduced him to the people who eventually hired him. After the closing of the Pictou Cutlery, he went to work making cannon balls for the Korean War effort and aviation parts.

Frustrated, he built a workshop and began building and designing knives. The private secretary to then Prime Minister MacKenzie King, Deane H. Russell decided it was time Canada had knives made in Canada instead of only the imported variety and he and Rudolph came to work together to design truly Canadian knives. The DH Russel Belt Knife along with other designs won awards around he world and together they went on to design and create three more famous knives. The Trout and Bird, the Army and Survival. Grohmann Knives Limited was formed in 1961 and is still a family run company today.

I headed over to the Hector QuayHeritage village and marvelled at all of the Clan Tartans that I saw hung on the lampposts that line the street. It seemed that they did not repeat themselves but that post after post bore another tartan from another clan.

In 1773 a ship called the Hector landed in Brown’s Point with 189 Scotsmen from the Highlands.

It was the first of many sailings that created a massive immigration and earned Pictou the rightful name of the Birthplace of New Scotland.

The interpretation centre is filled with the artifacts and history of the proud highlanders that settled this region.

It is also home to a full sized replica of the Hector. There is a fully operational blacksmithing and carpenters shop on site too.

Sometimes timing is everything and for me, mine was off. The day I was at the museum, they were doing some work on the main mast of the ship and during the time I was there, they had temporarily halted the tours of the ship itself for safety reasons.

Still, I was able to see and learn a lot about my Scottish ancestors. Time was starting to close in on me and so I headed off wishing I had time to spend in Baddeck or to stop in for a visit at the Middle River Cabot Trail Motorcycle Retreat and visit Patrick and Angela.

I would have loved to tell them in person how sorry I am that they are closing. Apparently the government will not fix the Middle River West Road, which made CAA’s Worst Road list for Atlantic Canada.

Yes, I have to plan another trip to this province. I have been here three times now and haven’t seen one tenth of what I would like to.

I hooked up with fellow CAV member Jason at the Canso Causeway Irving, the weather had begun to turn a bit, it was becoming overcast so we high tailed it for the Ferry at Sydney. We rode pretty steady only stopping once for fuel.

We got in a little bit early and so we parked the bikes at Tim Horton’s so the gals from the Cape Breton Saddlebags would know I was around and we walked across the street to the A & K Lick-A-Chick for some of their amazing chicken.

We sat outside to eat and low and behold about 10 minutes after we were finished the gals started rolling in. We walked over to greet them and then some of the gang from the CVFR PEI showed up and before you knew it there were about 30 of us in the parking lot.

I got Rita out of her saddlebag and we took a ton of photos, we had some laughs and before you knew it I had to go. I needed to be at the ferry 2 hours before departure.
Jason and the Saddlebags rode me to the ferry and with a few waves and honks, they were gone and I was in a line of about a dozen bikes all waiting to take the ferry to Newfoundland and that my friends is where we will pick it up next week.

I want to thank the guys and dolls of 2 CAV, Sue Cole and Joe Gregoire and all of the people who did so much to make my time in their province as wonderful as it was.
Everyone truly understood that I wanted to ride like a local and experience and feel their province the way they do and man oh man did I ever experience the warmth, the hospitality and the amazing history and lands/seascapes.

All I could think of as I waited in line for that ferry was the song, Farwell to Nova Scotia and it played over and over and over in my head….

VIEW My Nova Scotia photo albums

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