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By Heather Greenwood Davis

Canada 150

Off the shores of North

Vancouver Island, tourists are

reaping the rewards of a

renewed commitment

to ocean giants.

Canada 150

48 • Vacations


Fall 2017

On board, Seabourn Quest continues

downriver, steaming into the Gulf of St.

Lawrence, calling at the quaint, historic

Îles-de-la-Madeleine. A collection of

islands in the centre of the Gulf, the

Magdalen Islands (or “Maggies”),

as they’re known in English, offer

few trees, but a surfeit of charm.

Traditionally sustained by fishing

– lobster, crab, scallops, haddock –

tourism has lately become a primary

industry, with visitors flocking here in

the summer months to visit the island’s

smokehouse and raw-milk fromagerie,

taking photos of the small, tidy homes

painted in every hue imaginable. And

while the summer rush had subsided,

Les Pas Perdus, a funky bar, restaurant

and art gallery in the heart of Cap-aux-

Meules, the islands’ main town, was

packed, mostly with locals.

Over lunch at Les Pas Perdus, owner

Sébastien Cummings points out that

the mayor, councillors, bankers and

other prominent residents, all gather

here for noontime sustenance,

noting that they serve the freshest

food available. A former backpacker

hangout, the place has morphed into

a relatively upscale place, where you

can enjoy quality food and island

microbrews, and listen to local music –

jam sessions among musical residents

develop, ad hoc, all the time.

I can see the allure of staying, but again,

I have to go. Soon I’m back on the ship,

and heading south. On Cape Breton,

where we pull ashore next to a giant

fiddle in Sydney, the island’s principal city,

a kaleidoscope of colours awaits again.

Signing onto a tour of the island, I wind

through some of the most stunning

foliage I have ever seen, with my guide

congratulating me for my good timing.

“Last week, it wasn’t like this at all,” he

says. “And next week, if we get a good

wind, it will all be gone.” I see signs in

Gaelic – the old Scots language is still

spoken here – perhaps even more so

than in Scotland, and my eyes widen as

we make our way onto the heights of

the famed Cabot Trail. There, we snap

photos like madmen, failing, despite the

best filters and settings, to capture the

full extent of the beauty.

And again, we set sail. Many more

pleasures await: Climbing the historic

hillside streets of Saint John in New

Brunswick; smelling the salt-fresh air

as it whips across the starboard side;

sitting on my suite’s balcony, watching

the daylight wane over the golden-hued

sea, the waters matching what I had

just seen on land. But, for now, I am

content to savour all that I’ve seen and

heard. The pigments may pass away,

once a season. But these memories will

last a very long time.