This past summer we vacationed on Grand Manan Island, a day's drive from our home in New England. As we were making our preparations to take off on vacation I had occasion to be asked where we were going. When I answered "Grand Manan Island", off the coast of New Brunswick, Canada, the reply every time was "Where is THAT?" After what I thought was a great geographic description just about everyone said, "Oh yeah. You mean Prince Edward Island".
In one sense this is fine with me - next to nobody will discover this beautiful place and we can enjoy its uncrowded charms at will. On the other hand it drives me crazy that such nearby geography apparently is completely unnoticed.
So here is a short primer on how to find your way to Grand Manan Island from the New England area:
1. Have a look at a map of eastern Canada. You will notice three provinces that either border the ocean or are surrounded by it. These are the Maritime Provinces. They are: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
2. Zero in on New Brunswick. It borders the state of Maine. Travel to eastern Maine through Bangor; continue east and cross into Canada at Calais/St. Stephen.
3. Continue east on the Trans Canada Highway a short distance, exiting at Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick.
4. Board the Grand Manan ferry and enjoy the crossing which takes about 1 1/2 hours. During the trip look for whales, porpoises and a wide variety of sea birds.
5. You have arrived! If you like stunning scenery, incredible birdwatching, hiking, photography, rock hunting and whale and puffin watches you are going to be very happy here.
The east side of the island is filled with beautiful coves and cottages that face the sea.
The west side is dominated by sheer cliffs - good for hiking trails but less so for inhabitants.
For a small island it has everything needed for a great vacation. Including few people. Hope I haven't blown that in my attempt to improve the geography education of New Englanders.