Fredericton to Saint John (then Dominion Atlantic Railway), Published 15 September 1942There is no doubt about it a trip by car down the Saint John River valley is something worth doing. We wound through orchards and past pleasant farms, we skirted pretty and at times spectacular country, and at last came upon the rolling ramparts of the river, down near Grand , Lakes. Here I paused to take color movies. Most entrancing shot was when a bough of rosy apples by turns eclipsing and revealing the lakes, as the breeze blew the apples to and fro across my lens. The river itself was purling toward the sea, and terraced on the other banks were mosaics of land running up to the sky. But behind the apples extended a vista of land and water, as the strips of land gloriously and irregularly divided up the stretches of water.
Here is one place where the Saint John River deserves the extravagant title of Rhine of America, and here for sure the tourist can feast his eyes. But the foggy fingers of Fundy were already fumbling their way in across the landscape, and a short while later, the sunny day was gone, and like motorized ghosts, we haunted the highway, and sped past other grey wraiths all the way in to Saint John.
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All I saw of Saint John is what you would expect I could see in the fog. I went up to the Reversible Falls to show them to the family, but I could not prove to them that the falls reversed, even with the water "falling up" because there was no evidence that the river did not normally run that way. You could not see 300 feet in either direction, and so one of the wonders of the world looked like nothing whatever because of Fundy's foggy whims.
Still in a world of grey, we went out of Saint John next morning on the Princess Helene. At somewhat reduced speed, but moving along fairly well nevertheless, we swung out into nothing, and through this opacity we sailed for over two hours. Then suddenly, dramatically, and thrillingly, the fog rolled away, and there just ahead of us, lay the coast of Nova Scotia. There was Digby Gap. there was Digby town beyond, and up and down the coast were high bluffs. It was wonderful to see all the bright colors again after two days, and I leveled in the dozen shades of green, the blue of the sky and water, and the bright flecks of color bespangling the in-between landscape. What a dull, dreary, dismal place a foggy world is.
Digby is an interesting spot on any count. First of all. there are the incredible tides of 50 feet, that leave a whole wharf high and dry and a quarter mile from the sea at the ebb. Then there are the drying fish, the aroma of which assails the nostrils, and of which we shall say no more. Again, there is The Pines, a beautiful hotel nestling up on the side of the seashore, amid the tall conifers. But above all, there is the Dominion Atlantic Railway. In going aboard this maritime adjunct of the Canadian Pacific, I was riding my 73rd railway. Those who have stuck bravely to this column for the last decade or more know what a new railway means in my life.
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The Dominion Atlantic used to paint their engines red, and give them names as well as numbers. But this practice seems to be abandoned for the war. Only concession to the environment is a crest of Evangeline on the tenders of the engines. Formerly, you could expect a D.A.R. engine to have its own number. Now the Canadian Pacific re-stencil their engines D.A.R. but keep the old C.P.R. numbers. Thus we had 556 double-heading us ahead of 502 out of Digby, and then later we got 2551 at Kentville. I remember seeing 2551 in Winnipeg running on No. 1 in the old days, and I was glad to greet my old friend, even if in the Maritimes.
The run along the D.A.R. from Digby is nothing short of enchanting, as the train winds in and out of the little bays, and twists along the tortuous shore line. For a long time you follow this gradually dwindling arm of the sea. and then as it disappears you give your attention to the apple trees. I should think that, mile for mile, the Annapolis Valley is the best part of Nova Scotia.
I was interested in seeing the little shrine of Evangeline at Grand Pre, although they have let the trees grow so tall now that it is hard to see much from the train. It was at Grand Pre that Sir Robert Borden was born, probably a more important person to Canada than Evangeline was.
Just as the Japanese worship Fujiyama, so do many Nova Scotians make of Blomidon some sort of shrine. Therefore I considered myself lucky to be able to identify Blomidon. rising above the muddy flats of Minas Basin far over to the west. Aloof, towering over the countryside, it is a magnificent monument that nature has thrown up above the tidal ooze of this bay. The train waited an endless time at Windsor, stopping right in the middle of the mam street. Then we got to Halifax as best we could.