One thing I did not imagine myself doing during this cross-Canada musical tour was trying out my hand at excavation in St. Ours, Québec. I was impressed that Francis could make this kind of activity possible and knew that it would put Adam one step closer to his dream of personally operating large machinery. Upon seeing Adam shift detritus amongst mountains of rocky debris, I was instantly brought back to a childhood past time of moving piles of dirt from one side of the playground to another. Before I knew it, I was in the cab of the great machine myself shifting larger piles of dirt in an even bigger playground, with Francis, Adam and Miranda standing a good distance back, cheering me on.
Later on, after we had parked ourselves at Kendall’s apartment on the Plateau in Montreal, I went to work booking us a place to stay in Halifax. I settled on an historic inn called the Waverley, with beautiful stained glass windows and a history of guests that included Oscar Wilde and P.T. Barnum, among others. The place was half price because the building was under construction (a phenomenon we had also come across in Toronto when we blew all our train tips on a night at the Royal York). By the by, if you are looking for deals on accommodation and want to stay somewhere you normally couldn’t afford, I suggest researching what’s currently under construction. However, be prepared for the occasional catch. For instance, the deal they were offering at the historic Waverly Inn was only valid as long as you paid in Mexican Pesos.
After having had such an incredible time with wonderful friends in Montreal, it was somewhat of a crash to arrive in Halifax where we knew absolutely no one and had no plans. Our feelings of abject disorientation were kindly delayed a few hours by an extraordinarily generous and entertaining fellow named Sandy, the nephew of a friend of mine from Vancouver. I had never before met Sandy, yet all the same, he volunteered to pick us up from the train station upon arrival and take us on a detailed tour of Halifax. Our tour came complete with a history of Halifax’s many ghost stories; including ghoulish tales about the very inn we were staying in. Sandy then treated us to a delicious lobster dinner along the Halifax boardwalk. Fortunately this dinner included a ‘how to’ lesson, as the lobster arrived on the plate boiled and whole with a large tin bucket of complicated looking utensils and plastic bibs (presumably to avoid the splattering of buttery lobster juices all over our elegant performance attire). Elated by this lovely encounter, we went to sleep in our haunted inn contented, and woke up preparing ourselves for a merry romp in Canada’s maritimes.
Our show in Halifax introduced us to many wonderful musicians, and a cool house where the open mic community is made welcome in a kind of ‘underground venue’ sort of way. (This is where a fellow musician kindly opened a bottle of wine for me with a drill gun, after drilling a few holes in his own coconut, as mentioned in a previous post). The only problem with this particular show was that other than the awesome musicians and the lovely lady of the house (who were all excellent people), there was only one audience member, which Adam and I, a mere duo from Vancouver who knew not a soul in Halifax, had somehow managed to bring…
Enter Micheline stage left; a spirited 70 year old Quebecois energy healer and mystic, who loves music, and enjoys saying “mother f**ker”. Micheline was most certainly Halifax’s greatest gift to us. We went all over town and beyond with Micheline…we saw live music, we saw Peggy’s Cove, we saw PEI. Micheline had rented a car and drove us from Halifax to PEI and back in one day, after a night of little sleep and amidst a veritable monsoon of horizontal Halifax rain. Unfortunately, Micheline was the only one insured to drive her rental car…fortunately Micheline loves to drive. She handled the car as if she’d recently been selected to represent Quebec in the next Formula 1 event for seniors. Micheline was in short, a champion and the only gift we could give in return, besides our sunny dispositions, was to hook up her iPod to the bluetooth sound system in the car. This made Micheline immeasurably happy and any increase in her speed was usually proportionate to how well she liked whatever song was playing at any given moment.
We traversed PEI in a circuit…over the bridge on the way there and ferry on the way back (an excellent suggestion of Sandy’s). With Micheline’s expert driving skills we drove up the ramp onto the ferry just as it was pulling away from the dock. This was incredibly lucky for all of us, as we were eagerly heading towards a Nova Scotia farm before night fall to visit friends Megan and Rob, a couple of fantastic people I had not seen in 12 years. We met when they were living on Saturna Island at the well-known West coast folk artist Ferron’s place, where my father happened to be living part time as well.
Meg and Rob met while cycling across Canada, which they did with a group devoted to spreading awareness about climate change in the early 2000’s. They now live on a shared farm outside Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, and we’re excited to return in early October to play a show in their barn.
I couldn’t stop saying the word and still can’t. In the backseat of Micheline’s rental car, finally starting to relax after a tough few days in Halifax and many a sleepless night, it brought me a great deal of comfort to say, or even shout this new word at random intervals. Adam quietly concluded that I had finally lost my mind. Micheline either:
1 – didn’t notice
2 – politely pretended it wasn’t happening
3 – had decided long ago that this kind of behaviour was apparently normal for me.
We arrived back at the Waverley Inn just before midnight then all headed back to the Halifax train station at 10am the next morning. Adam and I played a station set gearing up for another musical journey back to Montreal, where we would begin a period of time that saw us perform 19 shows in about 10 days….