Philipsburg.

The village of Philipsburg was established in 1784 by Empire Loyalists who moved to Canada from New York after the USA won her independence from the British. 

Two earlier attempts by the French to settle the area had been unsuccessful. The region was named St Armand by the French in 1748.

The Iroquois had villages here in the northernmost part of their territory, and they lived a settled and peaceful way of life. Across the lake were the Algonquians and some Abenakis, living in the southernmost reaches of their lands. 

  
The village was named after Philip Ruiter, a pioneer in the area.

The Canadian authorities were not keen to see settlement here because they felt it was too close to the American border. It’s easy to see why the settlers chose this place, though. 

  
Located on the shore of Lake Champlain among woods on rolling hills and rich earth for farming, Philipsburg offered plenty of opportunities for farming, hunting, fishing, and enjoying a pretty view of the lake from one’s front porch. 

  

Today, Philipsburg is still a pretty lakeshore village with those same opportunities, within easy reach of the Eastern Townships and the cities of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Montreal, as well as convenient access to the US state of Vermont via the border crossing at the Highgate Centre. 

I’ve had the privilege of calling Philipsburg home for only a short time, but I will always love this place. My mornings spent by the lake have been precious times of reflection and serenity, and part of my heart will always remain here. 

Accidentally shot…

A stone marker commemorating Margaret Vincent’s death is hidden on a back country road at Eccles Hill, near Frelighsburg, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. 

   

It reads “Margaret Vincent Accidentally shot by the Royal Fusiliers June 10, 1866.”

This dates to the time of the Fenian raids into Canada over the American border, which occurred throughout the 1860s. 

The Fenians were Irishmen who hated England and resented British domination over the Irish and their negligence during the Irish potato famine in the 1840s. Groups such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Fenian Brotherhood were formed in the 1850s, and it was these groups who surged over the border into Canada into areas such as Frelighsburg and St Armand. 

On June 7, 1866, hundreds of Fenian men crossed into Canada.

The only Canadian forces in the St Armand area were three companies of infantry, comprised largely of non-commissioned men and volunteers, under the command of Captain W Carter of HM 16th Regiment.

The alarm was raised: “The Fenians are coming!” Fearful farmers near the border tore up roads and railway lines, and abandoned homes and farms. 

Carter panicked and ordered his troops to withdraw. His troops never did forgive him for what they perceived as an act of impulsive cowardice. 

The Fenians held Pigeon Hill, Frelighsburg and St Armand. 

Mistaken for a Fenian, Margaret was a 71 year old deaf-mute who was shot when she failed to respond to an officer’s order.  Given her disability,  it’s no wonder she didn’t follow the Fusiliers’ orders.  Even so, she probably didn’t look much like an angry, armed man with authority issues. 

The marker is really quite diplomatically phrased, given that Margaret was hardly a threat to anyone. She was shot in error, but not accidentally. 

 
Margaret Vincent’s grave is located up the hilly road at Pigeon Hill Cemetery.  The marker at Eccles Hill is maintained by the local community in honour of the elderly woman who died there so long ago.

The Islands of Lake Champlain, Vermont. 

Lake Champlain is North Anerica’s sixth-biggest lake. Within  the lake, on the Vermont/New York side of the Canadian border, lie a number of islands that were first seen by European eyes in 1609 when Samuel de Champlain led an exploratory expedition through the area. 

   
   
The islands are joined by bridges and a causeway which make touring the islands very easy.  The scenery is gorgeous, and there are lots of interesting places to explore. Tourists can explore military history, gourmet food and wine, walking or cycling paths, and number of towns seeking to attract tourists with different places to stay and things to do. 

On the Causeway to Grand Isle is an American flag and a monument to the victims of 9/11 and to the American veterans of foreign wars. 

   
   
From this point, you can look west and see the shoreline of New York State and the Adirondack Mountains, and you can look east and see the Vermont shoreline and mountains in the distance. Further north, the lake crosses the Canadian border into Quebec. 

 

It’s no surprise, then, that Isle La Motte, South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, Valcour and the remaining islands all served as important vantage points in battles between American and Canadian/British forces during the War of 1812. 

If for no other reason, the Islands are well worth a visit just because it’s a really pretty drive along the lake shore. 

   
   

Trans-Canada Highway.

Heading from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, we found ourselves on the Trans-Canada Highway. For some reason which escapes me, I thought that ran much further  north. 

Then it dawned on me.

I am further north than I have ever been. And yesterday, I was further east than I have ever been. 

So, as we drove along, I started singing Gene Pitney’s “Trans-Canada Highway, take me home…” because my brain-pod had immediately started playing it as soon as I saw the sign. 

There was a moment of awkwardness when I realised Sean had not heard the song before, but then I kept singing it anyway. That’s how I roll. 

We crossed into New Brunswick, bypassed Moncton, and headed to Port Elgin. Once there, we headed over the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. 

We headed for Charlottetown and found ourselves on the Trans-Canada, yet again. 

  
Three provinces in one day. Not bad for an Aussie maple leaf, adrift on the wind!

Peggy’s Cove.

I’ve seen Peggy’s Cove in photographs and books many times, so it was an obvious addition to my bucket list for my visit to Canada. 

We set out this morning from Halifax in misty rain, but it didn’t dampen my spirits. I observed that moody skies and a bit of rain kind of suited this part of Nova Scotia, although I’m not really sure why. 

We stopped at some picturesque places along the way, enjoying the scenery provided by little bays and inlets and the vivid Autumn colours of the trees along the road.  Little white churches, boats, rustic cabins, ponds and rocky outcrops provided stimulus for plenty of conversation as we drove. 

 As we drove into Peggy’s Cove there were so many delightful things to see that it was hard to know where to start.  

We almost overlooked a stunning view over the Atlantic Ocean, but I was so glad Sean noticed that there was something at the end of the Visitor Centre car park. It was a bench, perfectly placed for contemplation. 

  

We turned our attention to the village itself, situated right on the cove. It’s incredibly pretty. Piers, boats, and typically maritime buildings combine to create a gorgeous view.  It’s quite serene, despite the presence of numerous tourists and the cars and buses in which they arrived.


We proceeded up the hill to Peggy’s Point Lighthouse. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the lighthouse stands stark and white, capped with emphatic red, against the natural environment. 

 

It is yet another magnificent view in this most beautiful place. Peggy’s Cove is highly memorable, and definitely worth the drive. 
  

War of 1812.

I’ve had a few posts lately related to the War of 1812, so I thought I’d explain what it was all about for the benefit of anyone who is wondering. 

The War of 1812 happened because the Americans decided they wanted to remove the British from the entirety of the North American continent.  As a bonus, Canada would become part of the USA, and nobody there would ever spell correctly again. 

 
Neither Britain not Canada liked that idea, so they fought back and they won. 

This means that Canada remained as part of the British commonwealth, and continued on America’s cooler, friendlier younger brother. 

You’re welcome. 

Stop… in the name of Ontario…

It’s not unusual in Ontario to see a cross intersection with four-way stop signs. 

That’s right.

Everyone has to stop, look at each other, smile, and say, “After you…” before proceeding on their way.

The first car to arrive gets to drive off first. In the rare event that you arrive in a dead heat, the driver to the left gets to go first.  This makes me wonder, though… if the drivers are across the intersection from one another, are they not technically on each other’s left?  I can just picture an “Ontario Stand Off”.

Driver A: “After you…”

Driver B: “No, after you…”

Driver A: “No, really, after you…” and so on. 

In theory, this could continue for some time, given how nice and polite Canadians generally are. 
On reflection, I can see why this has not been attempted in Australia. 

Niagara Falls: Canada v America. 

When. I posted some of my pictures from the Clifton Hill entertainment area near Niagara Falls, Ontario, one of my American relatives posted a response saying that he really appreciated the American decision to make the area surrounding the falls a national park so that the area would not become commercialised, as the Canadian side of the falls had done. 

I agreed with him. It’s lovely that there is parkland surrounding the falls area, and that people are encouraged to enjoy the natural beauty of the falls. There is a small wooded area where one cat watch the squirrels and chipmunks play, and monuments to various historical events and figures that are significant to the area. It’s really very nice indeed. 

On reflection, though, the two sides are not so different. On both sides, people can enjoy the scenery without directly encountering any kind of commercialism. There is parkland for sitting, having a picnic, or just taking some time out. On both sides, without walking too far, people can find a gift shop, a casino, and various other opportunities for dining and retail therapy. Both casinos and their advertising are quite visible from the falls. Both sides have a Hard Rock Cafe, and I have visited and eaten in each of them. Both are excellent. Both sides run a cruise on the river that takes people right up close to the falls to witness their power and grandeur face to face. Both sides are fantastic, and I encourage everyone to visit both so that their experience of Niagara Falls is complete. 

 Clifton Hill is actually several blocks’ walk from the falls themselves, and doesn’t overwhelm one’s perception of Niagara Falls as one of the world’s natural wonders at all. You can visit Niagara Falls, CA, without going anywhere near there. There is lots of fun to be had at Clifton Hill if one is so inclined, and it’s also possible to enjoy the sights and sounds of the area without spending any extra money. Yes, it’s commercialised to a greater degree than the area surrounding the falls in New York State, but there is commercialism on both sides. 

When it all boils down about which “side” is better, my decision isn’t based on opportunities for dining, gambling or any other entertainment. It’s quite simple, really. The view from the American side is impressive, but nowhere near as stunning as it is on the Canadian side. Even the American side of the falls looks better from Canada.  

 

  

I declare Canada the winner, eh. 

The Challenges of Aussie Cookery in Canada. 

Today Sean and Jenn are hosting a pot luck supper for their family and friends to “meet the Aussie”.  I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone. 

My contribution will be two classic Australian desserts: I’m making a pavlova and a chocolate ripple cake. 

Yesterday we went shopping for ingredients. 

Challenge #1: There are no chocolate ripple biscuits in Canadian stores.
Solution: I have substituted chocolate chip brownie cookies instead. They are a bit softer, but given the premise that the nature of the dessert is that tje biscuits soften in the cream, that should not be an issue.

Challenge #2: There are no Peppermint Crisp bars in Canadian stores. I always top my choc ripple cakes with a smashed up Peppermint Crisp.
Solution: Grated Aero Peppermint bar. It’s chocolate and mint. It works. All good.

  

Challenge #3: My pavlova recipe calls for cornstarch. I am corn sensitive, in a nasty coeliac/volcanic/cramping/wanting to die kind of way. At home, we use a wheaten cornstarch whicj solves that problem. BUT
Challenge #4: We have a gluten intolerant person also coming today.  Same coeliac/volcanic issues. 
Solution:  I found potato starch in the store, which has the same fine, silky texture as corn starch.
I was very relieved when beating the meringue mixture that it looked exactly like my pavlova meringue batter usually does with the wheaten or corn starch. The meringue stiffened up beautifully. So far, so good.

Once in the oven, it did exactly what it was meant to. It rose, it spread and it got all nice and crisp. 

  

How good does that look? It’s just about cooked. Almost there… 

  

Alright! It looks perfect. 

Challenge #4: You have no idea how hard it was to find passionfruit here. Seriously.
When I did find some, the checkout chick didnt know what they were and had to call for a code.
Somewhat incredulous, I smiled and waited patiently. At least the folks who are here today will get to try something iconically Australian, the way it’s meant to be.

Wins all round. Yay!

Houston #2

While I was in Canada, one of the things I wanted to see was a Mountie.
That didn’t happen.

Today in Houston, I saw a mounted policeman.
He had another policeman mind his horse while he went into a building. When he came out, he got back on his horse and calmly rode down the street.

This chain of events made me happy, even though he wasn’t a Canadian Mountie.