Mark is scared to death.
As we get closer to retirement, I’ve been focusing on possible places we could retire to. Unfortunately, unless something drastic changes, it isn’t likely we’ll be able to afford to stay in British Columbia, where the average home price in our area is $375,000.
This is not what Mark wants to hear. His family has lived in Chilliwack, British Columbia since the 1930’s after his grandmother sold the family farm on the Saskatchewan prairie.
I always thought like Mark. Having spent most of my life in British Columbia among the mountains, I never could foresee living elsewhere – until 2005 when we traveled to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to research my mother’s Melanson, Acadian family history.
New Brunswick was pretty in its own way and it was great seeing it as we drove through, but there was something primal tugging at me in Nova Scotia. Each of the Acadian sites we visited tugged at me more and more.
I had this strange feeling of ‘welcome home’, which was bolstered by the odd coincidences we experienced, the people we met and the places we discovered. One of the weird coincidences was my being disappointed in how little there was in my family’s pioneer ‘Melanson Settlement’ site.
All my life I’d heard my mother talk about the dike systems devised by the Acadians to drain the land on the ocean front and create some of the most fertile farmland anywhere. We were never able to find an example of the aboiteau (dike valves) that were used – not at Grand Pré museum, nor at the Melanson Settlement site or anywhere else. Yet, that very day, on our way after seeing the Melanson Settlement and being very disappointed, we happened upon a non-descript little house with a sign out front, “North Hills Museum.” We decided to stop and check it out. It seemed like the usual home refurbished to look as it had centuries before with period furnishings, art, utensils, dishware, etc. We did, however, strike up a conversation with the woman working there and upon mentioning our disappointment in the Melanson Settlement and not being able to find an aboiteau, she said, “We have an aboiteau stored here, ready to be archived and put on display.” I couldn’t believe it and my mind raced as she led us to a back barn being used as a storage shed – and there was the aboiteau. From one angle it looked like a log, but looking up from the open end, the valve could be seen and it was easy to imagine it in operation. This and other odd coincidences such as the graveyard tour at Fort Anne being led by Alan Melanson, another direct Melanson descendant, led to my feeling like we were expected and welcomed.
Since this trip to Nova Scotia and my resulting love of the area, I’ve been checking out properties there and have seen some amazing, waterfront acreages with heritage homes for $100,000 or less. This would be ideal for our retirement budget. Every time I show Mark one of these, I can see the panic in his eyes.
Over the last few years, I’ve been noticing the wonderfully charming, quaint commercials being produced by Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. Each time, I feel so sorry that we never ventured that far while visiting the east coast on our genealogical quest. There’s something about the charm and hominess of these ads that invokes the same kind of ‘Welcome Home’ feeling and I mentioned to Mark that it might be smart to consider retiring there as well. The bonus there is that the rugged waterfront, high cliffs and jagged rocks are somewhat reminiscent of our Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. Again, I immediately saw panic in Mark’s eyes.
After this experience, I truly believe there is an innate tie between us and the homeland of our ancestors. I’d never seen Nova Scotia before and have no explanation for the deep draw and connection I experienced.
I still wonder at the ads produced by Newfoundland and Labrador tourism and have placed the videos of my favorites below.
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Videos
Most Easterly Point