Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Port Hardy, BC— Remembrance Day, Northern Adventure

Waking up in Port Hardy. It's Remembrance Day. While Canadians everywhere stop at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in British Columbia the province pretty much shuts down for the entire Day. So it is very quiet in downtown Port Hardy as we search for our breakfast. We happen on to a pretty good spot and, by chance, the place is run by the brother of somebody Dave knows well. "I love the blues," says the man, "ever hear of Big Dave McLean?" After an enormous breakfast of our favourite kind, we wander the town.

By coincidence Dave's dad served in Port Hardy during the War. I gather that he was part of the coastal defense effort, manning the radar and patrolling the rugged shorelines. My dad served in Europe, as did my grandfather who was a career military man. So it is an easy decision this morning to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies on the beach here in Port Hardy.

When the Master of Ceremonies called out for a WWII vet to lay a wreath, none were present to step forward except the MC himself. It was a lonely kind of moment, one which resonated with Dave and I as our own fathers have both passed. In all, a splendid and moving ceremony— attended by all branches of service including our northern Rangers, First Nations, and the RCMP in their magnificent dress uniforms. I think we are bonding with this great country, each mile, each community, every province and territory, every vista, each page of history. It's a sense of place, it's hard to describe— but on this day we both feel especially proud of our Canadian heritage. The parade is heading across the way to the Legion Hall, but we have a boat to catch. And we've got to move!

It's hurry up and wait for the Northern Adventure, but I can imagine that this scene is pretty chaotic at other times of the year. The ship will, I understand, carry up to 600 passengers— and I don't know how many vehicles and tonnes of freight beyond. She's big... Well certainly the biggest ship I've ever been on. Today, I'm told, there are fewer than 50 passengers booked for the journey. The Inland Passage, a Canadian legend for its striking scenery and stark beauty. Soon we'll be leaving this Port, heading north, bound for adventure.

View from our cabin window. Very cool!

They were right— with only about 50 of us on this ship it is almost empty. It's like a very private cruise!

As we get underway we know this is going to be a thrill.

Oh Canada.

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