Travel Through Canada on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Canada on a Harley (27/8/01 - 25/9/01)
Distance 5400 km (257750 km to 263150 km)

This is part of the Seventh section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from the .U.S.A. or read our previous visit to Canada
 

28/8/01 Duluth and a five minute border crossing back to Canada just before Thunder Bay where we had another exciting finish to the day. A young woman backed quickly out from the roadside across our line of traffic to the other side of the road. Not seeing us she hit a virtually stationary bike a glancing blow to the crash bars and front mudguard. Not wishing to involve her insurance company or the police she agreed to pay a $500 Canadian immediate settlement and we stayed in a hotel for the night as compensation. The cost to repair a newer motorcycle would have been much greater, but as it was just another "war wound", or memory, we were happy to accept the settlement. The police here much more conciliatory than their American counterparts yesterday, simply recording details and departing.

29/8/01 We have been travelling pretty hard since mid June when our children came to visit. Socializing, travelling with other people, so we sat in our hotel room virtually all day watching television, booking in for another night and putting the feet up.

30/8/01 There are tens of thousands of lakes across northern U.S.A. and Southern Canada, out on the prairies and in the treed hills to the east. These lakes, mostly formed by glaciers of the last ice age, show just how cold this area was then. Beautiful shallow colourful to deep sided rugged lakes. Today back into the treed hills in a remote lightly inhabited area continuing along the shores of Lake Superior.

31/8/01 The small communities of this region have open garbage dumps. Gated but unfenced, black bears wander in to rummage through human garbage. When there is not enough food or the bears are getting desperate leading up to winter they come into town and raid bird feeders and dog food bowls. Caught, tagged, and released they are given two opportunities to change their ways before they are shot. Many are shot each year. People complain they are dangerous. People don't fence their garbage. We didn't hear of this problem on the west coast where there seems to be more bear awareness.

1/9/01 Autumn officially but the trees in this Canada Shield area have been changing colours for a while. A hard granite rocky area between Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes cleaned of all top soil by the last glacier. A harsh cold area influenced by the two water bodies. Mining and logging the real industries with tourism up and coming. This end of the summer Labour Day weekend, the last chance to get out before winter sports. Everything is packed out and we have to camp next to an ethnic group partying till late into the next morning. It still amazes me this lack of respect for others in close quarters living, a cultural difference.

2/9/01 Parry Sound, at the edge of the 30,000 islands area. The warm day attracting sailing and motor boats, canoes and jet skis and even a few swimmers. A provincial park but really a playground for the masses. These great lakes are connected by locks and canals to the Atlantic Ocean allowing for small pleasure craft to motor safe waters along with large cargo ships carrying timber, wheat and minerals.Niagra Falls

3/9/01 We arrive at Niagara Falls, the last day of the holiday weekend. Just a couple in the thousands today or 14 million annually to look at them. Grander from the Canadian side, the water flowing towards this country, the falls divided by an island, each country claiming their section. The falls just the reason for coming. The other attractions try to make people stay. Ripley's, waxworks, Guinness records, theme parks, marine park, casino, horror house, they are all here in side-show alley, neon lights dazzling and competing with the changing colours of the floodlit falls at night. The flow of water over the falls controlled, the seasonal surges removed to generate electricity. The erosion used to be about a metre a year cutting back up the valley but it has been reduced to about a metre every 30 years by steadying the flow, ensuring the tourists will have a reason to come here into the future.

4/9/01 As with many neighbours and neighbouring countries there is no love lost between Canada and the U.S.A.. Thrust into a position of having to deal between big and small, a sometimes forcing and reluctant acceptance, a not wanting to antagonize the larger country, a reluctant servitude can result. Many Canadians seem acceptors of their position, choosing to register their anger on visiting Americans who seem only slightly niggled by their small brothers. Riding along and hopping between the two borders as outsiders its easy to feel the underlying tension.

5/9/01 We crossed to the U.S. side of the border to view the falls from that angle. As we needed to complete immigration papers again a $US 6.00 fee each was charged, even though we had a visa. User use, user pays country. Usually included in the airline ticket the cost is hidden and as long as the entry card is valid a visitor can flip in and out of the country. We hope this entry payment is not contagious. Everywhere else the entry cost is covered in the visa. But here two different departments, two different fees. While in the US, near Buffalo, where Dunlop make their motorcycle tyres, we took the opportunity to replace our rear tyre. Supplied and fitted free by Dunlop, with Freewheeling Cycle who fitted the tyre, gave us a great deal on two new helmets. Our old star studded ones, marked by over 250,000 km's of hard wear, collapsed foam and rubbed straps had seen their last.Our accommodation in this magnificent heritage building, now a backpackers

6/9/01 That common of common colds, incurable, has descended on me. Not feeling like travelling we stayed near our 1860's era Victorian mansion that has been home for the last few days. Many similar buildings dot the Niagara River's edge, left over from their hey day this one is now a backpackers and being slowly, lovingly restored with all the furniture and trimmings of the time. Not having the ensuites and Jacuzzis to attract honeymooners they rely on class and antiquity, with a little style. In brilliant autumn sunshine we revisited the Falls watching the tourists more than the tumbling water. From all over the world people diverse in religion and cultures mingle. A muslim woman with just eye slits showing visible flesh passes a man dressed only in shorts, on roller blades.

7/9/01 I never thought that buying a new helmet would also get us a new motorcycle. All the squeaks, rattles and clunkings seem to disappear with the new lid. However our speedometer seems always to read slow in Canada. Travelling at the usual 5-10% above the speed limit we overtake nothing and everything overtakes us. Canada's restrictive speed limits of 90 km/hr on most roads and 100 km/hr on divided highways seem to be overruled by the motorists who travel at a more usual speed about 10-20 km/hr faster. They slow down where they know the police are, speeding up afterwards. Few seem to get a ticket unless zooming and weaving. Expressway to Kingston today.

8/9/01 This city of Canada's first parliament seemed to have been left behind until tourists discovered it a few years back. At the confluence of some great waterways with islands offshore everyone seems to have water frontage, at least in summer, ice frontage in winter. The local limestone has been used in many buildings including the old penitentiary, still in use and housing a fascinating museum of old and modern escapes, escape attempts, riots, punishments, cells and confiscated contra band. The ingenuity of man with time on his hands is fascinating. The improvisation with almost no tools or raw materials equally as interesting. Crystal radios, bolt guns, hand guns, knives, smuggling methods all in the collection.

9/9/01 We crossed that seemingly invisible border between English speaking and French speaking Canada. That divisive dividing line. Where the road signs were in English in British Columbia, both English and French in provinces in between and are now only in French in Quebec. Our picture of an English speaking North America incorrect. The predominantly French definitely here in architecture, art, mannerisms and attitudes. Quebec City tonight.Quebec City

10/9/01 The worlds tallest, biggest, widest, highest, deepest is all in North America if you believe the literature. From the biggest bison statue to the longest salmon. Quebec City is the the "only walled city in North America," or the "most northerly walled city in the world." Not needing either label it is indeed full of magnificent architecture and history. Every second structure historic, and all within a 5 km wall. The unusual draws the unusual. Young people with nose, nipple and tongue rings, multi coloured hair, oversized clothes mixed and matched to be different. Old cities seem to generate artists whose work flows into their personality. Its amazing how much sameness comes from the need to be different.

11/9/01 911, the world stopped as America was struck by the worst terrorist attacks in the world's history. We all lost a piece of humanity today.

12/9/01 Even today it's hard to concentrate on any other event in the world. Everything else takes a back seat till the enormity is digested. We left Quebec City still heading east in a colder day, along the Gaspe peninsula, then down to Campbellton.

13/9/01 New Brunswick and back to a mix of English and French languages. The reputation of the Maritimes friendliness obvious everywhere with people striking up conversations with us at every opportunity. The stark coastal scenery beautiful as we simply move through the region.

14/9/01 Coastal villages of French architecture and turn of the century mansions. Fishing for lobsters and crabs the main local industries. Each of the dozens of bays along the coast have the long wide lobster boats waiting. The season almost over and the boats readying to be lifted out of the water before it freezes.

15/9/01 Across the border to the bay of Fundy, into Nova Scotia. This bay produces the highest tides in the world at over 16 metres. The surrounding coast has only a metre of tide but with the oscillations of the bay water the same timing as the tides you get a rocking motion of the water. As the water rushes into the slowly narrowing neck of the bay it increases speed to 16 km/hr and can have a leading wave of a metre or more in height. Each day tourists watch this tide rush up the narrow rivers of the area taking less than an hour from low to high tide, but many more hours to return to low tide. Under floodlights we watched it arrive at 11 pm tonight.Tidal bore in the Bay of Fundy

16/9/01 The enthusiastic watched a free show of nature this morning from the Maitland bridge and and hour later the progress up the Salmon River near Truro. This seemingly slow moving front wave followed by fast flowing turbulent water fascinating. The young are back at school, the adolescents at college, their parents working hard, leaving us with the retired crowd or seven day vacationers catching holidays at the end of the season. Few backpackers venture here with expensive transport and many motorcycles have been put to bed for the oncoming winter. Campgrounds are closing with motels less than a month to go. We haven't seen long distance motorcycles travellers in a month and the enthusiastic invitations we received at the beginning of the season now gone. It is as if we have been left behind, everyone else moving on, south for the winter or hibernating.

17/9/01 Travel starts with a fear or caution of the unknown, looking for a broadening of experiences, moves quickly to an understanding that the people of the world are little different in what they want from life and are usually welcoming of others.Wood carved Harley-Davidson After travelling for a long while too much knowledge shows the worse side of humanity usually in the form of groups whether they be government, religious, terrorist or local mafia resulting in a feeling of hopelessness for the world and a desire to retract into one's own small world, shrinking it to a controllable, manageable size. To not fight against this will destroy the trip and perhaps the person. We moved on to Cape Bretton Island, one of Canada's most scenic coastal regions.

18/0/01 A dry but grey day did not show this area of Canada to its best. Still many tourists, but the usual hoards from the U.S.A. not coming since the World Trade Centre bombing a week ago. Inter continental travellers either delayed for days waiting for a flight to leave Canada or arriving a few days late. The fall colours still pastel with a few maple trees the colour of Canada's flag. Originally settled by the Scottish this area seems, in some ways, more Scottish than Scotland. We have seen this before where a remote local community wanting to maintain its original culture preserves it with enthusiasm not seen in the home country.Autumn colours

19/9/01 We were headed for Newfoundland but storm warnings are out for St. Johns and the ferry crossing rough. At the last minute with the uncertainty in this region we decide to regroup and headed back to Truro where we had found a comfortable affordable hotel and friendly locals. Unlike in Africa where the wars are constant and its only your personal danger in moving through the area, now it is a risk to the civilization of the world. People around us are quiet and contemplative, shelving big decisions, waiting for events to unfold. Planned holidays delayed, returning home early, particularly those from the U.S.A.

20/9/01 Dutch elm disease has taken its toll on many old trees in this region, but rather than just removing the dead ones Truro has carved statues in their trunks leaving the roots to anchor them where the great trees stood. A couple of dozen of these carved trunks are scattered through town. This town on the edge of tourism still retains its reality.

21/9/01 Still in Truro in autumn balmy weather. Resting, catching up on minor jobs, repairs to the motorcycle. People arrive daily to watch the tidal bore and leave for the next event in their lives. The hotel staff clean rooms awaiting toady's arrivals. The restaurant prepares the breakfasts and the cycle continues, at least till mid October when the hotel closes. The tidal bore continues to January when the winter freezes the river and bay.

22/9/01 It rained all day, heavily. Something the locals have been waiting for, virtually for years. But they need more. The water table very low after many years of below average rainfall. We hear much talk of global warming, some think it is causing more rain, others less rain, more cyclones, less hurricanes. Its probably just normal fluctuations.

23/9/01 We have just about overstayed our welcome here but find the comfort level hard to leave. The official North American autumn commenced half way between the summer and winter solstice or today.Low tide at the highest tide differential in the world The trees in my opinion starting to be past their best, bright colours but some are carpeting the ground now leaving bear branches. The small bushes also changing colours leaving a red carpet effect across some areas.

24/9/01 Finally left, rested, headed towards Saint John. The scenic coastal road, a renewed vigour in our mood, with sunshine, past Alma which also claims to have the largest tide in the world. More biggest, longest etc. in the world claims. Here at low tide boats sit on the mud well below the wharf they are tied to awaiting refloating on the next tide. Saint John is also effected by large tides with water rushing in and out between two headlands creating the famed reversing rapids and whirlpools, too violent here to raft.

25/9/01 Heavy morning fog spoilt any view of the coastline to the U.S.A. and a Calais border crossing.
 

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