A rainy morning kneecapped our goal of riding bikes to Cavendish and back from Chris and Margo’s place in Rusticoville, so we quickly formulated a more-than-adequate plan B. I waited for a break in the drizzle and rode to North Rustico – a quick and lovely 2.5 kilometre trek – and met Chris at work. He had agreed to lend us his van for the day so we could boot around Charlottetown without being burdened with our bulky RV.
“I’ll be done work at five o’clock,” he told me. “Just meet me back here around then.
“The van is outside in the parking lot,” he continued. “It’s open and the keys are in it.” I go out there and of course the guy has all of his musical equipment sitting in the back. His bass, amp, speaker cabs, everything; all packed up and ready for stealin’. Gotta love good old low-crime PEI. “Oh, I lock it when I go to Charlottetown,” Chris assured me. I promised him that we’d keep it locked up tight once we hit the big city.
And hit it we did! I nestled my bike in amongst Chris’ gear and zipped back to the house to pick up m’lady and off to Prince Edward Island’s capital city went we. Still firmly in tourist mode we went straight to Charlottetown’s info centre. M’lady picked through the brochures while I perused some local arts and crafts that were on display. I became overly enamoured with a ceramic piggy bank in the shape of one of PEI’s famous potatoes. What an absurd item! It looked like a kid from a school for the ungifted tried to make a brown Easter egg and failed miserably. I couldn’t walk out the door without one.
We began our sightseeing with a walk up Great George Street – which itself is a National Historic Site – but our primary interest was finding something to eat. We stopped into the first donair shop we could find (which didn’t take very long at all; east coasters love their donairs) but they were only serving pizza for the lunch rush and wouldn’t be making donairs for another hour. Damn! Back on the sidewalk I was scanning the horizon for another donair shop when I heard my named being called, a strange sensation indeed considering I was over a thousand kilometres from home.
I turned around and whattya know, if it wasn’t Dmayne, a well-known Charlottetown socialite whom I’d met six years earlier just a block from the very spot we were standing.
“Hey Todd, how’s it going?” he asked with the same welcoming smile he always wore. “We’re doing great, Dave,” I responded, before quickly pivoting to the salient point. “Do you know where I can find a donair around here?”
“It’s good to see you man!” he exclaimed, giving me a hug. “What brings you to Charlottetown?”
“Uh Dave, about that donair shop?” First things first.
“Well, there’s one right behind you,” he replied unhelpfully, “but they only have pizza right now.
“There’s another place around the corner,” he continued, “but it closed down not too long ago.” He looked up and down the street, scratching his head. “There’s also a place back that way, but it closed down too.”
With no donairs in our immediate future I somehow swallowed my desire for folded sweet meat – an act of will that was as pleasant as it was filling – and managed to turn my attention to our quick sidewalk chat. Dmayne invited us to a party that evening that sounded like a great time and soon left us to continue our search for sustenance. To keep it fast and cheap we hit a nearby Tim Horton’s outlet (Timmies are even more common than donair shops in the east), which was a pretty big disappointment. We should have gone for a couple of slices of pizza after all.
After lunch we did the full tourist romp of Charlottetown, including stops at the Confederation Centre and a tour through their excellent (and free) art gallery, a look inside the big church in the middle of town, and of course Province House, home of the 1864 meetings that marked the birth of Canada. I picked up a poster of Canada’s most famous not-famous historical photo: the twenty-five delegates of the Charlottetown Conference posing on the front steps of Province House, and though I put the poster in a cheap frame several years ago it has yet to make it onto one of my walls.
Nice city, that Charlottetown. It’s a bustling little minitropolis with some darn fine architecture, a heck of a lot of history, and nothing but good people (though their donair offerings could use a boost). We topped off our self-guided city tour with a stop at a local brew pub and were headed back Rustico-way well in time to meet Chris at the end of his workday.
That evening the four of us decided to have dinner and then go to the party Dmayne had told us about. Good plan, but what to eat? We were all hungry enough for a major feed so we decided to go to locally-renowned Fisherman’s Wharf, home of the sixty-foot all-you-can-swallow buffet. I alone ate about three fishermen, and once we were all stuffed to the gills we went back to Chris and Margo’s place and sat ourselves down into chairs that were utterly unwilling to let us back up. Except when it came to pouring more drinks I suppose, but even that took all the effort any of us could muster. But somehow we managed, again and again and again.
The bottom line is that we never made it to the party, but no matter. We had a great night drinking and laughing and couldn’t imagine a better time than that, and when we’d had all the fun we could find it was a simple hobble out to the driveway for another deep sleep in the ocean air.