Young Chronicles X: Prince Edward Island to Newfoundland

The following excerpts are from my journal from hitchhiking across Canada in 1983, heading out east from Toronto to Newfoundland and then back across to British Columbia.

Day Nine Mileage 1345-1507 (Includes PEI-Nova Scotia Ferry)

Ride One (Cavendish to Hunters River) Ford Granada. Nice old farmer. Talked about weather, bugs, gas, cars and tourist season.

Ride Two (Hunters River to Charlottetown) Beat-up brown pick-up. Sailing fanatic. Said that the “Hey Hey” song originated in Chicago.

Ride Three (Charlottetown to Georgetown turnoff) Old Chevy. Older woman with daughter and son. Many stories of getting out of the jailhouse.

Ride Four (Georgetown turnoff to Harbour Island Ferry Terminal) Sports car. A continual interrupter who talked about drugs, including snorting coke and shrooms in the school yard.

Ride Five (Caribou Island N.S. to Westville) Old green two-door. John Lennon look-a-like and attractive girlfriend.

Ride Six (Westville to Port Hawksbury) Company van. Terry, a native of St. John’s, an oil rig inspector. Very little conversation.

Ride Seven (Port Hawksbury to North Sydney, Ferry to Newfoundland) White Cougar. Clive on his way home to Newfoundland from Toronto. Very tired. Did some weaving and shoulder sliding. Prefers female hitchhikers “because you never know”.

I learned the following Newfie expressions from Clive on the ferry: Proper Ting (affirming a proposed action), Mare (tomorrow) and Nipper (mosquito). Ferry cost: $10

Day Ten Mileage 1507-2207 (Includes Newfoundland Ferry)

Ride One (Portes-Aux-Basques to Grand Falls) This terrain, flat and deserted, is much better suited to Clive’s wild style of driving.

Ride Two (Grand Falls to Clarenville) Old manual pick-up, slow on the upgrades. Very friendly moose hunter. Average moose gives 1000 pounds of meat. Stories of the Screwdriver Murders. Belief in capital punishment.

Ride Three (Clarenville to St. John’s with a stopover at Finney’s Pond) Small white pickup. Will and Bob. Very friendly guys took me fishing in mostly frozen pond. Bobby appeared in the film Orca. Will loved junk food. Truck couldn’t make it back up the hill. We had to leave the truck behind and hitchhike together to St. John’s with a drunk van driver who nearly had several accidents on the drive.

Young Chronicles IX: Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island

I spent three days on Cavendish Beach, PEI in early June 1983, eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I wrote the following at the conclusion:

Solitude is a necessary state that all should experience for some extended period of time. It must also be noted that man should not be in this state for too long lest he lose his sanity. Man is an insecure beast. So be it. Not only is he dependent on other men but also on external imaginary forces. It is man’s brooding mind that entrances him upon such a state. .

The fact that we are aware of our existence does not prove our existence; it only clarifies our insecurities. Does a bird brood upon its existence? Nay. It is because it has no reason to, as it concentrates its attention on the day-to-day. Man, in his comfortable and unnatural state, is cursed with his awareness. He cannot enjoy life as it is because he worries for the future. And so do I.

This I write to my future wife. The skies may cloud, the seas roughen, the days grow dark, but we will walk upon the crimson dunes of time (sic) together with the swallow at the glimmer of first light. Let us dig in our footholds together.

Remember: I ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Young Chronicles V: To Prince Edward Island

Three years after going up into Northern Ontario with my school, I went on a family car trip to Prince Edward Island. It was 1974. I kept another chronicle, this one with post cards glued in. I threw that out long ago but still have a few notes.

Mom said, “One of you kids will have to come in the front seat.” So we were quiet the rest of the way.

Deadline: We are halfway to Montreal from Kingston and I just saw an old train station! End of Deadline.

Martha came out to where we were and picked up an Ajax bottle and a stick and started whamming the Ajax bottle with the stick. Soon me and Bobby went back and caught smelt. Of course we threw them back. Martha thought we ate them.

We were arriving in Charlottetown and we never got there because we never got the right course. Well, we were turning around and dad backed the car right into a ditch and there was a house right there. The man came out and told us about more accidents that have happened there. Soon the tow truck pulled us out of the ditch. It was probably easy.

It rained so-so-so-so hard that you could barely see through the windshield. It was raining so hard, some cars had to stop. But my dad kept going.

The next day, I woke up with the dog on my bed and the door was open! Well, I had breakfast.

Canada’s Soul: On Being Alone

While camping on Prince Edward Island at Cavendish Beach for two days in 1983, I reflected on “being alone”:

Solitude is a necessary state, that I feel that all men should experience for some intended period of time. But also, it must be noted that man should not be in this state for too long a period, lest he lose his sanity.20161203_180038

Man is an insecure beast – so be it. The fact that we are aware of our existence does not prove our existence. It only clarifies our insecurities. Man in his comfortable and unnatural state has time to reflect on more than the today. Man cannot enjoy life as it is, because he worries of the future. And so do I.

I hitchhiked from Prince Edward Island to the North Sydney, the ferry terminus to Newfoundland, seven rides in all, the last driver who told me that he preferred female hitchhikers because “you never know what might happen.”20161203_175640

Canada’s Soul: Halifax to Cavendish, PEI

After a night in Halifax, I continued east. June 7, 1983, Ride One: Halifax to Bedford, NS (Brown Cadillac) Middle-aged man, “Fuckin’ Toronto.”

Ride Two: Bedford to Fall River (Department of Nova Scotia Transportation truck) Big hippy with red headband.

Ride Three: Fall River to Amherst (Blue Trans Am) Al Smith took me to his cabin where he expressed his belief in the sanctity of human life, a wish for people of different cultural differences to get along and a love for “big tits” (which he illustrated by showing his collection of porn in the woodshed).imag2131

June 8: Ride One: Amherst to Carelton, PEI (Blue Custom Deluxe truck) Dwayne claimed to have been in 19 separate car accidents, one where he killed “an old lady”.

Ride Two: Carleton to Charlottetown (Red Oldsmobile) Driver tried to live in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax, but it was a “no go”.

Stayed in Charlottetown for the day where I visited a cemetery and was told by a friendly middle-aged woman in heavy makeup: “It’s the oldest cemetery around. It ain’t got no name.”

June 9: After four rides and a 2-mile walk, I arrived at a campground where I bought supplies (jars of peanut butter and jam, loaf of bread, package of cookies and case of lemonade for $8.39) and stayed on the beach for two days.20161203_175845


Obsession III: Rocks

I picked up my first rock with purpose in the summer of 1983. IMAG2547I was sitting beside the road in Prince Edward Island on a hitch-hiking journey across Canada when I saw this rock and decided I should keep a memento from each province. I continued to collect sporadically over the years. IMAG2559It became ingrained in me when I hiked the mountain trails around Vancouver, beginning in the early 1990s, bringing a rock home every time.

Crown Mountain, British Columbia

Crown Mountain, British Columbia

I don’t know where all of the rocks are from, although a few do stand out.

Hot Springs Cove, Vancouver Island

Hot Springs Cove, Vancouver Island

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Rasafa, Syria

Rasafa, Syria

John Street, New York City

John Street, New York City

The collection continues to grow, maybe around 400 now. IMAG2567More space is needed. IMAG2539I just have to get my partner to agree.

Moosonee bog blog

It’s taken me a couple of years and some prodding, but I’ve come to realize that I just might be a blogger. This blog will focus on the development of my current novel, The Bad Side, as it ferments from third to fourth and fifth drafts and also offer some elements of research that go into the background of this work as well as into the back of my head. It is hard to separate the two – the writing and self – as one depends so much on the other. It’s not such a clear thing, but it is deep and real.

My interest in writing began when I was in Grade 4. I went to a progressive school,The Institute of Child Study in Toronto, which allowed for a lot of lateral learning including a two-week school trip in May up to the remote town of Moosonee on the shores of Hudson Bay in Northern Ontario. We visited many things along the way, including an abandoned mine shaft in Cobalt, a paper mill in Iroquois Falls and even stayed in a hotel where there was drunken fight. “There was a bad fight in our hotel. So the cops had to come and sent 2 men away because they were hurting a lady. When the 2 men left, the room was a mess. Bottles were on the floor and the bed was torn apart.” Early on in the trip, I decided to write a daily journal. The teachers were impressed with my initiative and made all the other kids do it as well. While this did not make me the most popular kid on the trip, it made me weirdly content. The journey made more sense to me when I had written it down. “In Cochrane, we went to an agricultural farm. We saw cows first and one cow went to the bathroom on her baby. It looked like a hairdo.” For the last leg of our journey, we took a train (“The Ontario Northland”) through hundreds of miles of bog to Moosonee. “We have been on the train for 4 hours, 45 minutes. I have seen 2 moose, 7 rabbits and the trip isn’t that exiting (sic).” I even added a picture.

You can see why I stuck with the words and not the drawings.

The following summer, I went on a family driving trip from Toronto to Prince Edward Island. I asked my parents to buy me a journal for my musings (although I doubt I used that word), and they decided to get one for my brother and sister too. My sister never got into it, instead just listing what she ate for each meal – usually peanut butter sandwiches – while my brother did as little as he could. I didn’t get their reticence. How crazy could they be? This was fun. This was what made the trip something real. “There was a storm before we had lunch and it was very bad in Charlottetown. It blew over around six trailers, 100 trees, three barns and injured a good many people. Then I looked up to where we were going  and there was a giant cloud as dark as midnight. Well, we went straight into it to get back to our cabins. And then it started to rain so-so-so-so hard that you couldn’t see through the windshield. You could only see about 10 yards it was raining so hard. Some cars had to stop, but we…” The next page has been lost.  I think we made it.

Anyway, my point is that I have always liked the idea of creating a stream of ideas with a sense or coherence, a direction, but not with the end so clearly in sight. I’m hoping this blog will help me make sense to you as well as make it all seem as real as those ‘exiting’ moments going through the bogs to Moosonee.