Friday, November 18, 2011

Wandering Mystic Meditation From Charlottetown

As a Canadian, I must confess that when we think of taking a trip, we usually plan on going anywhere but our own country. We travel to the United States, Europe, Mexico, Aruba: someplace we deem to be hot, exotic, or fun. So, with this mindset, imagine my consternation as an eighteen-year-old when my parents told me we weren't only staying in Canada for our mandatory family vacation, but we were driving from our home just outside Toronto to Charlottetown Prince Edward Island. This meant two weeks of sitting in the car with my parents and two younger siblings, looking at things I considered boring. I almost declared mutiny right then and there.

At the time, all I knew about P.E.I. was that it was an island, Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery lived there, and they grew potatoes. Booooring. Now, looking back on that trip, I'm so glad we went. I was totally wrong in my entire way of thinking and my attitude. P.E.I. is one of the most magical places I've ever experienced. It feels removed from all the hustle and bustle of modern life. The beautiful beaches with sweeping red dunes are breathtaking. I remember spending time there with my siblings climbing over sand and watching waves. It was one of the few times we weren't fighting and arguing amongst ourselves. It was as if the very atmosphere of the island had infected us with the magic.

Everyone in Charlottetown seemed to genuinely love living there. People would bend over backwards to be kind to even the most obnoxious tourist. They all seemed to take the utmost pride in everything they did. I'd never tasted fish so fresh in mainland Ontario. I must have tried every kind possible, prepared in every way imaginable, and it was all perfect. Every bite was moist and flaky. I've not had anything remotely as good since.

The respect for history on the island is more than we have at home. While we plough over our farms to make room for even more houses and build tacky glass boxes onto beautiful century-old museums, they fight to conserve and protect every aspect of where they come from. From the height of their buildings preserving the view to their banning of billboards as an eyesore. From the loving protection of Green Gables to the yearly theatre festival bringing the arts to all.

Prince Edward Island is a gorgeous place that I definitely want to go back to with my own children. I know they may go kicking and screaming, just as I did. (Let's face it: they'll have come by that honestly.) But once there, I know they'll also fall under its spell. That tiny little province taught me to slow down and enjoy the view. It taught me to appreciate the little things. Plus, I'm still craving a good meal of maple glazed haddock. I can't seem to find a single place in my neck of the woods that gets this dish just right.

Alisse Lee Goldenberg lives in Toronto with her husband Brian, their triplets Joseph, Phillip and Hailey, plus their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian. She's a lifelong student of fantasy, folklore and fine arts. Her new novel is called The Strings of the Violin.


  1. PEI is a beautiful place... I've been there twice, and it's an astonishing place to come see.

  2. And it's a completely different pace of life. I'd love to go there again sometime.