Some interesting and appropriate reading on this American Independence Day, not taught in my American History classes:

Black Loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia between 1783 and 1785, as a result of the American Revolution. They were the largest group of people of African birth and of African descent to come to Nova Scotia at any one time.

In 1775, some people in the British North American colonies were arguing with the British government about how much control Great Britain should have over taxes and life in the colonies. The colonists wanted to influence decisions about laws and taxes but had no representation in the British Parliament. They declared themselves independent of Britain when they weren’t able to come to an agreement. The American Revolution, also called the American War of Independence, was the result.

People of African birth, who were brought forcibly to the colonies to provide slave labour, and their descendants, were caught in this war. In the late 1600s and 1700s, the British had established rice, indigo, and tobacco plantations in the southern part of North America. Plantation owners required lots of labourers to do field work and other jobs. To reduce costs, they used slaves. At first they enslaved the native Indians but then used mostly African slaves.

In the northern colonies, slaves worked as farm hands or at various jobs as domestic workers or at semi-specialized trades, such as lumbering, mining, road-making, black smithing, shoemaking, weaving and spinning.

When Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia, lost control of that colony to the rebels in the summer of 1775, the economy of Virginia was based on slave labor. Lord Dunmore issued a proclamation that any slave or indentured person would be given their freedom if they took up arms with the British against the rebels. As a result, 2,000 slaves and indentured persons joined his forces. Later, other British supporters in the colonies issued similar proclamations.

Then the British Commander-in-chief at New York, Sir Henry Clinton, issued the Philipsburg proclamation when the British realized they were losing the war. It stated that any Negro to desert the rebel cause would receive full protection, freedom, and land. It is estimated that many thousands of people of African descent joined the British and became British supporters.

When the Americans won the war and the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, British forces and their supporters had to leave the new United States. They gathered at New York, waiting to be evacuated. In the meantime, the Americans wanted their lost property returned. Sir Guy Carleton, the new British Commander- in-chief, refused General George Washington’s demand for the return of those slaves who had joined the British before November 30, 1782. The two men agreed that the Americans would receive money instead.

The British-American Commission identified the Black people in New York who had joined the British before the surrender, and issued “certificates of freedom” signed by General Birch or General Musgrave. Those who chose to emigrate were evacuated by ship. To make sure no one attempted to leave who did not have a certificate of freedom, the name of any Black person on board a vessel, whether slave, indentured servant, or free, was recorded, along with the details of enslavement, escape, and military service, in a document called the Book of Negroes.

Between April and November, 1783, 114 ships were inspected in New York harbour. An unknown number of ships left New York and other ports before and after these dates. Over 3,000 Black Loyalists were enrolled in the Book of Negroes, but perhaps as many as 5,000 Black people left New York for Nova Scotia, the West Indies, Quebec, England, Germany, and Belgium.

Peace Everyone. Pete

Taken from:

July 4, 2022. Happy Independence Day America!

Our ferry landed in Yarmouth Nova Scotia the evening of July 2nd. It was past 9 pm by the time that we reached camp at Ellenwood Lake Provincial Park. We had just enough light, and energy, to set up camp, make a snack, and hit the bed. Although we reserved two nights here, the late arrival made it feel like a single day’s stay. It is a beautiful setting, deserving of a longer visit.

The order of business for the morning of July 3rd was to drive into Yarmouth, find an ATM to secure some Canadian currency, find breakfast, and then a grocery store to replenish foods that we had unfortunately and erroneously discarded back in Maine.

Information we received the day we boarded the ferry counseled us to discard all fresh vegetables, dairy, and meat. We complied, keeping our three eggs which were not prohibited. We learned during the crossing that “new limits apply”!

Canadian Border security was sympathetic as we handed over our “no vegetables, dairy, and meat” entry declaration, the pleasant representative pausing to ask where the 3 eggs came from. “Maine”, Christine replied. “Eggs from Maine are prohibited, but only recently… Avian Bird flu.” We surrendered our 3 eggs for which we received an official receipt not good for Canadian replacement eggs.

$65 Canadian dollars (about $52 US) spent at a huge, clean, and well stocked grocery store and our larder was replenished. We were then off to check out Yarmouth by day and on a recommendation nearby Cape Forchu. I took lots of pictures, but honoring my pledge I have severely limited the number I’m posting.

Yarmouth is a delightful “working” seaside community with an active maritime industry that dates back to at least the 17th Century.

Cape Forchu (“forked tongue of land”), so named by the explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1604, is located near the entry to the Bay of Fundy and is a prominence with safe harbor at Yarmouth on the left and a dangerous “false harbor” on the right. Many ships met their end on the rocky Cape and false harbor, victims of the frequent fog and deceptive coastline.

The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal range in the world, rising and then falling over 50 feet every 6 hours. On a visit there a few years ago we walked the bare sea-floor at low tide, having been given a caution and timetable that unless we returned to “shore” by a certain time we would die. Here on the Cape the tide range is “only” 15 feet.

In 1839 the first Cape Forchu Lighthouse was installed. We visited the mid-20th Century version, affectionately known as the “apple core” lighthouse. I climbed to the top and was rewarded with stunning views of… fog.

This area knows fog! So much so that Hollywood used Cape Forchu as its set for the filming of the strange 2019 movie, “Lighthouse”, starring William Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. The rugged coast and climatic conditions were perfect for the movie, the lighthouse not so much. So, Hollywood constructed a huge period appropriate lighthouse (out of wood) and light keepers cottage on the Cape. When filming was concluded the producers offered to gift the set to the community, but unfortunately it was too large and the upkeep would have been too costly. Down they came.

Yarmouth was unable to set off its Canada Day (July 1st) fireworks display because of fog. ironically, they’re looking at setting them off on July 4th.

Today we make our way up the Atlantic coast a two hour drive to Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, but not before again stopping in Yarmouth to visit its well regarded County Museum and view some of the amazing 19th Century mansions located in the neighborhood.

Peace Everyone . Pete

PS. Are Canadians happier than Americans? Its a question for which I have no current answer. I know that there are studies that have sought to rank the happiness of various populations. I recall that the people of Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden rank near the top for “happiness”. Often this is attributed to a well funded social safety net and universal health care (which Canada has). I also recall that the United States does not fare well on the “happiness scale”. I don’t recall Canada’s ranking.

However, what we have experienced in just two days are smiles, helpfulness and “happiness” in everyone we have met from Tom our waiter at Rudder’s Seafood Restaurant (we highly recommend it!) to a lady stocking shelves at the grocery store who went out of her way to find us a dollar off coupon for some cheese we were buying, to Candice who checked us into the Park and gave us recommendations for area attractions, to the young lady who escorted me to the top of the lighthouse.

There was even the gentleman who retired from 40+ years as a lobsterman and sets up his tent to explain the industry to those like us willing to listen…

…and Barry, who when we asked yesterday about available parking for a car towing a trailer near the County Museum, directed us to his driveway and insisted that we pull in for our visit today.

Perhaps they are merely reflecting the happiness of two retired travelers.

We have often remarked that so many shoppers we see at Walmarts in the States appear “unhappy”. I will make it a point to visit a Walmart in Canada to further my investigation of “national happiness”.

One more time. Peace Everyone (and be happy). Pete

July 2, 2022. Bar Harbor, Maine.

Yesterday and the day before we wandered, first day Bar Harbor’s tourist district, and yesterday Acadia National Park.

When we haven’t been out and about or managing camping “stuff” I have found myself writing content for these posts and struggling against poor connectivity to upload the pictures and content. My “reality check”, Christine, and I talked. More on that in a minute.

Since we learned a few years ago that a part of France is located a short 1 hour ferry ride off the coast of Newfoundland it has been our intention to make a visit to these Miquelon Islands. Somehow the thought of France being located in and just off the coast of North America feels “foreign” (pun intended). However, when one considers that Hawaii, a group of islands thousands of miles from the mainland United States, is part of the USA, then not so strange.

We have been evaluating our Canada itinerary which begins today with a 3 hour ferry crossing to Nova Scotia. We will be 8 days in Nova Scotia, followed by 19 days in Newfoundland. With only two exceptions we are camping in two day increments.

Newfoundland is not small. Our plan included 3-5 hour drive times between each planned camping location, EXCEPT from Gros Morne National Park to the town of Fortune where we would cross to Isle St. Pierre, France, in the Miquelon Islands. That day promised to present at least 10 hours behind the wheel. We paid for the ferry crossing, a tour, and campsite.

Yesterday, we talked more. Decisions followed:

Those who follow my “Thoughts” know that my preference is to post a lot of pictures and to “go deep” into the backstories of places we visit. I want to “bring you along”. What I want, and what I deliver may have to be two different things on this trip.

I am reminded that when Christine and I shop at Christmas for the “grands” there are many things that we want to buy, feeling some sense of disappointment that we can’t buy it all. However, what the grandchildren see with gratitude is what they actually receive, not our “wants” for them. So it will be with you on this journey. Fewer pictures and shorter narrative. That was decision number one for the day.

As much as it pained us, practicality and sanity won out regarding Isle St. Pierre. We have canceled the ferry, tour, and altered the camping location for those 2 days, saving hundreds of miles of driving and not a little stress. That was decision number two for the day.

By the way, while fuel costs are not significant to our planning, a Canadian couple we met at camp last week shared that they smile every time they gas up in the US at “only” $5 a gallon. It seems that the Canadian average for regular gas, converted to gallons and in US dollars, is over $6.50.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. I am typing this post-script aboard the CAT Ferry bound for Yarmouth Nova Scotia, saving about 700 miles of driving. There is conflicting information about what foods we can travel with into Canada. One source says virtually nothing and another indicates not more than a lot (in kilograms).

Loading for ordinary automobiles is straightforward drive-on. However since I’m towing a trailer I had to back up a 500+ foot dock and loading ramp into the ship. Fortunately, been there, done that. For the uninitiated the ship crew will do it for you.

Conditions are a bit rocky, and definitely not to Christine’s liking.

We lose an hour, making landfall at 7:30 pm local time.

June 27, 2022. My previous post introduced you to the remarkable Shelburne Museum located in Shelburne, Vermont. Let me emphasize that it is truly world class, and remarkable.

For details about its founding, history, scope, and how we happened upon it, please go the the previous post.

The Remarkable Shelburne Museum, Part One

Within the Shelburne’s grounds were two sites that are deserving of separate treatment. The first of these is the Carousel and Circus Building.

The restored vintage Carousel is great fun for young and old alike. The attendant remarked that adults seem to be more excited to ride it than the little ones.

Standing alone it is a pleasant diversion, but it really sets the stage for the entry into the Circus Building.

This 500 foot long, narrow, horseshoe shaped structure houses the life work of two men and artifacts from the glory days of the Circus.

Railroad brakeman Edgar Kirk set to create a special toy for his 4 children, “The Kirk Circus”.

In 1910, using his penknife, he began to carve figures that became the performers, audience, and “Big Top” of his circus. His passion became near obsession. 46 years later “The Kirk Circus” had grown to over 3,500 figures of amazing detail. His children long outgrown toys, Edgar would occasionally “bring the circus” to his backyard to the delight of children and adults alike.

This phenomenal exhibit, located at the start of the Circus Building, was acquired by the Museum in 1981.

As amazing as Edgar Kirk’s work is, it is but a shadow to what one next experiences in the gallery.

As a child, Roy Arnold loved circus parades. His love carried into adulthood so much so that between 1925 and 1955 he, along with the assistance of 5 others, hand carved and recreated the circus parades of his youth.

Rendered in a scale of one-inch equals a foot, his scale model is over 525 feet long, includes nearly 4,000 pieces, and is the equivalent of a parade over two miles long.

The wagons, carriages, and cages are fully functional in every important detail.

On the wall opposite to this singular parade are actual 19th and early 20th Century circus artifacts. These include signboards, wood sculptures, and restored carousel creatures.

The steamship Ticonderoga was launched from the Shelburne shipyards in 1906. She measured 220 feet long with a beam of nearly 60 feet.

This Lake Champlain behemoth had a displacement (weight) of nearly 2 million pounds. She sailed the lake for 48 years. At her retirement this side-wheel “walking beam” steamship of a bygone era was destined for the scrapheap, until she was brought to the attention of and purchased by Electra Havemeyer Webb.

That is only the beginning of the story. How does one move a 200+ foot, 2 million pound ship, more than two miles overland to her final destination for restoration and exhibit? Where there is a will (and a LOT of money) there is a way.

Planning, engineering, and execution took over a year. The actual move, covering over 2 miles of ground, took 3 months.

A huge dry lagoon pit was excavated near where the Ticonderoga was at dock. Only a dike separated the pit from the waters of Lake Champlain. Within the pit two sets of precisely laid railroad tracks were set in parallel. These four rails were supported by a special bed of ties, designed to support the load of the ship and carriage upon which the vessel would travel. Rails and carriage in place, the dike was breached to allow the pit to flood over the tracks and carriage. Ticonderoga was then brought into the lagoon, afloat over the now submerged structures. With extreme care and precision the waters were pumped out after the dike was restored. Any failure to accurately center the ship would have been disastrous. The ship came to rest only a quarter inch off center, at which point her hull was welded to the carriage.

Due to her extreme size and weight the move could only occur over frozen ground. Tracks were set and removed as she moved across farms, forest and fields. Utilities had to be temporarily rerouted as she passed, and at one point a temporary trestle had to be constructed so she could pass over an active rail line. The move and restoration of the Ticonderoga stands as one of the most significant achievements of its kind, certainly on par with the recovery of King Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose. Here is a link to that “tale”:

“The Mary Rose”

Ticonderoga achieved the status in 1960 as a National Historic Site. Virtually the entire ship is open to the public.

From the engine room and crew quarters,

To the Captain’s quarters and Pilot House.

Primarily engaged for day-sailing, there were only 5 staterooms.

The dining room, passenger promenade deck, and grand staircase were all of the highest order and finish.

Ticonderoga was a “walking beam” side wheel steam driven ship, a 19th Century design. Her two huge boilers, kept fed by two men shoveling from 28 tons of onboard coal, could propel her at a top speed of over 20 mph. Sheconsuming coal at the rate of two tons per hour.

The Shelburne Museum ranks as one of our finest “on-the-fly” finds. We hope to return some day to finish our tour of this remarkable museum.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. Our campground for the nights of January 26 and 27 was Vermont’s Allis State Park. Named after Wallace Steele Allis (1859-1935), he donated his farm atop Bear Hill to the State in 1928 to preserve its beauty for the benefit of future generations. Allis State Park was Vermont’s second State Park, and was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.

Prominent in the Park is a 6 story fire tower once used by the US Forest Service to spot forest fires.

It is open for the those daring enough to climb its near open staircase. The reward is an amazing view that in the far distance even includes New Hampshire’s highest peak, 6,288 foot Mount Washington.

Another benefit was cell coverage that helped me to upload some of these images.

Below are manicured picnic grounds, a 1930’s era shelter, and to our surprise and delight a storyboard of pages taken from the cutest of children’s tales.

We happily shared our campfire each night with one of the Park Rangers, David on the first night and Ashland on the second. I can’t express how satisfying and rewarding it is to share such time in passing with new friends.

On the morning of June 26th it was time to break our camp at Vermont’s DAR State Park and head to the next stop, Vermont’s Allis State Park. We were presented with 2 routes, one a winding mountain transit, and the other skirting the mountains and passing near Vermont’s main population centers of Burlington and Montpelier, its Capitol.

Neither route exceeded 100 miles in distance, but while longer than driving the mountains the more urban journey was shorter in duration. “Urban” is a relative term since the State’s population is less than 650,000, with Burlington the largest city at 45,000 and Montpelier at less than 10,000. We elected to take the longer/quicker route.

As we approached the town of Shelburne (pop. 7,700) we observed a large tract of manicured lawn with an interesting and diverse accumulation of buildings. What really caught my eye though was the view of a pilot house and smoke stack of a huge ship located on the grounds, over 2 miles from Lake Champlain.

We pulled over to consult “Mr. Google”. We learned that before us was the world-class Shelburne Museum. Spread over 45 acres, it features 22 gardens, over 150,000 displays set within 39 historic buildings, a significant collection of art, and the 220 foot long SS Ticonderoga. Our plans for an early arrival at our next destination were abandoned. We sought out breakfast in town and then proceeded to the Museum.

Tickets, good for two days, were $23 each, a slight “old person” discount from the standard fare of $25. We soon regretted that we only had the afternoon to dedicate to the Museum. To do it justice one should plan on either a very full day or two more relaxed ones.

We barely saw half of what the Shelburne had to offer, focusing on the more prominent exhibits. Even though I sought to be judicious with my camera I ended the tour having taken well over 100 pictures. These I have reduced to less than 100, but it became clear to me that these could not be presented in a single post. Therefore, this post will focus upon the general grounds, lightly touching upon various elements. The post that will follow will examine two remarkable exhibits, the Circus Building, Carousel, and the steam ship Ticonderoga.

First stop was the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education.

Within were seasonal exhibits drawn from the Museum’s extensive archives.

A 10 minute 1980 video by Howardena Pindell titled “Free, White, and 21” was a captivating look at one Black woman’s experience with racism. Watching it was a profound experience in which she presents face on only, vignettes of her early years, her education years (Yale post graduate), and her professional life. In counterpoint she wears a blond wig and white nylon stocking over her head to present the “White view” of her experiences.

Here is a link to this remarkable video:

Next we visited the round Shaker Barn.

An amazingly efficient design, the center of the barn was a silo. Livestock were penned inside around the circumference of the mid-level, facing the silo which provided their feed. Dung dropped to the lowest level where it could be easily collected and used as fertilizer. The upper level was for storage of implements and equipment.

Today this structure contains a significant collection of 19th Century horse drawn vehicles. Just a few that we saw were the above stage coach,

Elegant carriage,

Hearse, with wheels and also displaying the undercarriage sled gear for winter use,

And sleighs.

One building housed a collection of early American firearms, more art than weapons.

Another building was arranged to present a hunting trophy lodge.

There was a train station and related buildings which included replicas of the earliest locomotives.

The restored 1915 “Locomotive 220” has served many dignitaries, including US Presidents Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

There is a General Store,

A Town Square,

A 19th Century slate stone jail,

A horseshoe barn,

A covered bridge,

More Art, featuring Winslow Homer and Grandma Moses to name just two.

An entire house dedicated to duck decoys. Sounds boring but it was not!

The Shelburne Museum was founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), a pioneering collector of American Folk Art.

She was an heiress to the Havemeyer fortune, her father being the founder and President of the American Sugar Refining Company which controlled virtually all sugar commerce in America.

The Shelburne Museum reminds one of the creation of Crystal Bridges by the Walton family, founders of Walmart, only the Shelburne is grander in scope.

My next post will continue the presentation of the Shelburne Museum, but with focus upon the Circus Building, Carousel, and the steamship Ticonderoga.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. During our stay at Vermont’s DAR State Park we toured the nearby John Strong Mansion.

A couple of insights that we came away with are worth sharing.

In this image there is a dome lid wood box located beneath the antique “Pie Safe”.

Boxes like this served 3 purposes: Storage of bread, as an infant’s cradle, and also as an infant’s burial casket.

Displayed in the kitchen were devices used to make yarn from wool and flax.

This small 4 arm device is called a “Weasel”. It was used to wind yarn, 6 feet at a turn. Within it is a counting mechanism.

It takes precisely 40 turns to create a skein of yarn at which point the counting mechanism makes a loud “pop” sound… Thus the origin of “Pop goes the Weasel”!