A winter trip a long time ago

Today the Canso Causeway blocks ice flows from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Pans of ice shunted back and forth through the Strait of Canso.

It was the middle of March 1946. We were on our way to the Canadian-American border. We spent that winter living at my grandparents’ place in South West Margaree. It was necessary for my mother and I to return to the border to renew our passports.

The weather was cold and the roads were horrible, with very little pavement as we know them nowadays. Today the trip to the border is on four-lane highways almost all the way. We chugged along in our 1936 Buick, my father driving.

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For some reason we went to the border at the Vanceboro, Maine-MacAdam, New Brunswick crossing. What I mostly remember about that town was trains shunting back and forth all night. Our passports were stamped. The next day we started back.

We made a stop in Truro to pick up 50-day-old chicks at Brays Nursery. They were in a large flat rectangular box on the back seat of the car with me and they chirped all the way to Mulgrave.

There was no causeway in those days and large pans of ice moved back and forth with the changing tides causing havoc for the ferries. There seemed to be more of the “big ice” then than nowadays and it would last longer into the spring season. Needless to say, the ferries were not crossing.

We had to take a room in a small hotel on the main street. What do we do with the chicks? Cover the box with coats and sneak them past the front desk of the hotel. Slide them under the bed, uncover them, where they would be comfortable but not too warm. Everybody settled in for the night and slept well. The first light of dawn was a different story. The chirping started, quiet at first and then much louder. Time to get moving.

The ferries were running and we made the crossing. Except for bad roads and winter weather, the whole trip was otherwise uneventful. The chicks had a fine coop waiting for them in Margaree and they all grew up to be healthy full grown roosters.

We never lost one in spite of the tough winter conditions Cape Breton threw at us in those days.