Confederation Trail Map
Couple cycles province from tip to tip while here for UPEI graduation
May 10 was my daughter’s graduation from UPEI. Kind of a big deal as she achieved first class standing, so I thought I would make the big trip from Alberta to attend the event. I decided to make it an even bigger deal and proposed to my daughter that we bike the Island from tip to tip in the three days before graduation. She agreed, mostly to humour me.
Although I had visited P.E.I. before, our bike trip afforded me an impression of the people and scenery that could be just the perspective of a naive CFA, nevertheless I’d like to reflect upon and share our adventure.
On our first day we enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Pilot House with a most delightful Island couple. We then ignored the snowstorm and walked to Outer Limit Sports, where our new friend Brett patiently and professionally fit us with a couple of terrific bikes that would be our sole mode of transportation from Tignish to Elmira. The snow stopped and the sun peeked through the clouds on our way to the northwest tip. Our shuttle driver, George, became an unofficial tour guide of the Island as he showed us the sights on the way to Tignish and gave us invaluable advice about where to stay and what route to take on our bike adventure.
The Murphy House in Tignish proved to be the first of three outstanding accommodations. Our hosts Louise and Peter were the first but by far not the only ones to sincerely promise that if we ran into any trouble at all, they would immediately come to our rescue. When I remarked on all the offers of assistance to my daughter, she assured me that the offers were not made because it was a dangerous trip, it was just the Island Way — to think of the welfare of others and to offer help and old-fashioned kindness when the opportunity presented itself.
It was exhilarating as we discovered the sights, sounds and smells of P.E.I. They were way more intense from the seat of a bike than from the seat of a motorized vehicle. At every bend there was a new vista: we loved the tiny communities, and the yellow, purple, teal and red wood-sided Anne of Green Gables houses.
We made it to Summerside despite the frigid weather, and rode the Confederation Trail when we could, although snow banks forced us off regularly. We were warmly welcomed at Reed’s Willow Green Farms in Summerside with 91 kms under our belt.
Just after Margate we learned that P.E.I. is certainly not flat. The first six hills we took as a fun challenge, but the next 30 or 40 were a real test for our legs. But the views around Clinton were breathtaking, forcing us to take welcome stops to view the contrast of the green hills, the blue water and the red earth. Several foxes added to the magnificent scenery of the day, but never were we so glad to see the Trailside Inn that marked the end of a very challenging Day 2.
We arrived at the Trailside Inn in Mount Stewart only to find out it was still closed for the season and there were no other places open. After a moment of pure despair, we decided to phone the number that was posted on the window.
To our relief someone (the owner, Pat) answered and told us that Theresa would be there shortly with a key for one of the rooms. After biking 110 kms of P.E.I. hills, we were ever so thankful to have Theresa leave what she was doing to open up a room for us at the historic Trailside. Just another example of the hospitable and trusting nature of Islanders.
One of my daughter’s coaches at UPEI joined us for Day 3 with a great breakfast that came all the way from Beanz in Charlottetown. We rode along red fields with the deep blue ocean for a backdrop. Along the trail we met unassuming, humble fishermen and farmers who only added to our favourable impression of the quintessential Islander. The weather was perfect on Day 3 — sunny and calm.
We spotted several majestic eagles along the north side and too quickly, the windmills in the distance led us to Elmira. We met our goal of biking the Island from tip to tip — and enjoyed every minute of it.
This letter is just a huge shout out to P.E.I. We could not have had a more enjoyable adventure and our fond memories will last a lifetime. We didn’t visit P.E.I., we experienced P.E.I. We will try to bring some P.E.I. values back home.
That is — we will try to be kinder, we’ll slow down and be less ostentatious and individualistic. Thank you P.E.I., for embracing two Albertans and showing us the Island Way.
By Kirsten Newman (commentary)
Kirsten Newman is the mother of UPEI graduate Nakita Newman of New Sarepta, Alta., who played three seasons with the women’s Panthers basketball team.