2 October 2013: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

2 October 2013: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Anne of Green Gables and Tokyo

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

When you think of Stratford-upon-Avon, you think of a certain poet and playwright by the name of William Shakespeare.[whohit]-CHARLOTTETOWN-[/whohit]

We are talking apples and oranges …or jellyfish and lobsters here… but in certain circles around the world…in some of the most unlikely places…

Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island is not known for Queen Charlotte, not remembered for the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 that led the way to Canadian Confederation, and not thought of at all for almost anything else…except for the work of a relatively minor author named Lucy Maud Montgomery and a series of novels that begin in 1908 with “Anne of Green Gables.”

Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7801 Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7686

Charlottetown. Photos by Corey Sandler

But let’s start with the real place that is Prince Edward Island.

Charlottetown is the capital of Canada’s least-populated province, Prince Edward Island.

The city is the country’s smallest provincial capital, with a population of about 35,000.

(Canada’s three territories: Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories have smaller populations, but they are not provinces.)

Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7707 Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7715

Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7724 Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7686

Autumn in Charlottetown. Photos by Corey Sandler

The town was named in honor of Queen Charlotte, consort of King George III.

Charlotte (1744 to 1818) was a Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Queen of the United Kingdom.

Canada has produced some very notable authors, including Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow, the poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen,

Michael Ondaatje (“The English Patient”,) Margaret Atwood, (“The Handmaid’s Tale”,) Mordechai Richler (“The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,”,) and Robert Service (“The Cremation of Sam McGee”) among them.

But none have had the global impact of Lucy Maud Montgomery.

About 150,000 tourists visit Green Gables each year; in the peak months of July and August as many as 2,000 per day.

Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7782 Charlottetown SANDLER-BLOG 7778

On the day of our visit, two much larger (and spectacularly ugly) cruise ships were in the harbor. We came in by ship’s tender, threading our way to shore. Photos by Corey Sandler

There are some other businesses on the island: fishing, potato farming, and recreation.

But a large portion of the province’s income comes from tourism, and most of that is directly or indirectly related to Anne.

Which brings us to Japan.

“Anne of Green Gables” was translated into Japanese in 1952 and quickly adapted as one of the standard texts for teaching English in the nation’s schools.

There are Anne of Red Hair fan clubs all through Japan; one of them is the Buttercups.

There are major groups of fans in Europe, Australia, and China as well.

But only in Japan have they taken it to the level of idol-worship, comic books, refrigerator magnets, and wedding ceremonies.

In Japan, Anne is almost everywhere.

Why are the Japanese so fascinated with Anne?

It could be the beautiful pastoral settings of Prince Edward Island, something which connects with the Japanese appreciation of simple nature.

But as the writer Calvin Trillin observed in a 1996 essay in The New Yorker, it could also be a fascination by Japanese girls with this impossible creature Anne who is so un-Japanese:

feisty, independent, with a face full of freckles topped by a mane of red hair.

That is as much of an alien creature for the Japanese as Godzilla.

All photos copyright 2013 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a copy of an image, please contact me.

 

30 September 2013: Saguenay and La Baie, Quebec

Up the Saguenay River to La Baie, Ha! Ha!

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant SIlversea Cruises

Le Royaume du Saguenay, the Kingdom of Saguenay, is one of the most spectacular watery regions of lower Quebec.

Ha! Ha! Indeed.[whohit]-SAGUENAY-[/whohit]

I’m not making fun of the place. The local First Nations People called the cul-de-sac on one fork of the Saguenay River Ha! Ha!, which we believe means (en francais) a cul-de-sac. The English word is a bit harsh: dead end. But it is anything but dead.

Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7663 Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7661

In the park. Photos by Corey Sandler

The people of La Baie take great joy in the place where they live. Fishing, hunting, skiing, hockey, and greeting the occasional cruise ship that makes an excursion up the river. In 2013, about 20 made the tip, Silver Whisper among them.

In fact, we’ll do it three times this season, returning in a few weeks for a visit inbound from New York to Montreal and again coming back out.

Shhh…don’t tell anyone else or they’ll ruin the place.

Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7651 Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7626

Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7609 Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7639

In the park. Photos by Corey Sandler

The morning began as we made a left turn out of the Saint Lawrence near Tadoussac. There we were met by greeters in the river: a pod of beluga whales and a few minkes.

The Saguenay River extends about 100 kilometers or 62 miles in a deep fjord: about 500 to 600 meter high cliffs, and at least that much water beneath our keel.

The pale blue, almost white belugas were known to early mariners as “canaries of the sea” because of the high-pitched whistle they sometimes make. We instead whistled at them.

About two hours later, near Eternity Bay, we passed below Notre Dame du Saguenay, a statue of the Virgin Mary erected in the 1880s by a local salesman giving thanks for his successful escape from a plunge through the ice.

I was up on the Bridge giving commentary and then Captain Luigi Rutigliano executed a graceful full circle in the river in front of the statue as we played Ave Maria on the open decks.

At La Baie, the locals were out on the dock dancing, demonstrating arts, and shaking the hand of every passenger.

Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7674 Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7669

The Silver Whisper at the dock in La Baie. Photos by Corey Sandler

Saguenay SANDLER-BLOG 7616

The autumn sun lights the trees. Photos by Corey Sandler

 

I went with a group of guests to the National Park of Saguenay and we climbed on a fairly technical path up to a spectacular view of the river. Ha! Ha!