The awaited solstice
This time of the year you wish nature’s weather was like a disposable mattress; the spring is hopeless, heave it out for a new one and enjoy a whole new world of comfort.
However, nature being what it is means our spring has been one for the books - miserably cold.
Well, there’s always next year, right?
Nevertheless, it’s June 21, and being the summer solstice it’s the longest day of the year and gives us hope that some heat will come to us, some day, soon.
Meanwhile, the heat of spring has been felt in places such as Ottawa. Its spring was not entirely a bed of roses, but they have had nights that you could lie in bed with the windows wide open and enjoy the best of what mother nature has to offer.
This week our temperatures will struggle to meet 20 degrees while in Ottawa they will hover the mid 20s range. That good weather should make its Ribfest on Sparks Street June 20-24 more than tolerable.
Sparks Street is a wondrous four city block designated as a year-round pedestrian mall. Its trees, plants, flowers, and outdoor restaurants make the walk a pleasure especially with no vehicles to bother you at all, mentally or physically.
A September Ribfest I attended a few years ago had me impressed with the rigs selling BBQ ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and roasted potatoes in a carnival like atmosphere. However, I was even more impressed with the cheerful, relaxed looking people of all ages and nationalities enjoying life as it should be. A model of civility and peacefulness for the world to imitate.
June 21 means it’s National Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly National Aboriginal Day) which was first proclaimed by Governor General Romeo LeBlanc on June 21, 1996. The use of Indigenous has its origins with a UN resolution of Sept 13, 2007 and it has rapidly taken over as the name associated with First Nations people in Canada.
A Western Canada First Nation Band member whom I met in Ottawa at a convention calls himself a Red Indian. My card says “Status Indian”. Indian as a name was fine by grandfather Louie John; thus, fine by me.
As for Newfoundland’s Red Indian heritage, Qalipu First Nation requested three years ago that the Town of Grand FallsWindsor use the original and official name of the sports field on Cromer Avenue. Finally, 51 years later, the field’s sign now is — Shanawdithit Centennial Park. Better late than never.
Summer means it’s the high season for tourism; an important industry worldwide including Newfoundland and Labrador which in 2017 had 553,000 visitors who spent an estimated $575 million.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia last year had 2.43 million tourists with estimates of $2.7 billion in spending. And tiny Prince Edward Island hit its usual average of 1.5 million tourists with 1 million of them staying at least one night. The tourism dollar value for the P.E.I. economy is near the $450 million range.
Our nearby provinces break the million tourist barrier quite easily. Why can’t we break that million visitors glass ceiling? The extra costs to come here by either by air and or sea are no doubt a barrier.
The ferry to here is not a cheap run. The tab (round trip) for two seniors and a regular vehicle is $405 for a day crossing and $695 for a night crossing with a cabin (no meals included for either run). Regular adult and children fares make a day or night crossing even more expensive.
Unless you live near either ferry port, a day crossing will more than likely mean you will have to pay to stay in a nearby
hotel in order to be in the lineup for boarding. Thus, it’s going to be over $700 for a return trip, one way or another.
Meanwhile, you will need deeper pockets for the Argentia run as the tab (round trip) for two seniors and a regular vehicle is $1,115 — cabin included, no meals. Again, regular adult and children fares mean an even more costly trip.
Thus, two adventurous tourists from Ontario or Vermont, rather than come here, might very well stay in Nova Scotia or mosey over to P.E.I. where a return trip is $78 by ferry and $47 by the Confederation Bridge.
As well, choices of accommodations and meals in Newfoundland and Labrador are not as competitive as our mainland neighbours. Plus, gas prices here are 12-14 cents a litre more expensive.
As for day time travel on the Gulf, ferry runs that begin almost at noon are a step backwards compared to days of the Smallwood and Caribou. Both of those ferries had earlier day sailings which meant travellers arriving in either port had extra hours of daylight driving before the need to bed down for the night.
Just as the summer solstice gives us hope for better days ahead, maybe some day Marine Atlantic’s fares and sailing times will make living or visiting here a tad more tolerable.
Even if we only have a spring every now and then.