An Acadian Adventure

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An Acadian Adventure
Lynn C. Doyle
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AN ACADIAN ADVENTURE. BY LYNN C. DOYLE. WRITTEN FOR THE TRANSCRIPT. The Bay of Fundy, with its dense fogs, phenomenal tides and precipitous rockbound coast, has been the scene of many a thrilling adventure. Many stately ships have been dashed to pieces upon its treacherous reefs while the gallant sea-men who manned them lie entombed beneath the surging waters. To the lover of the wild and picturesque in nature, the scenery of its shores is peculiarly enticing. The surrounding country too, is rich in objects of historical interest. This was the land of Acadia, “home of the happy.” Here, in the early days, when French influence was paramount on the American continent, was founded Port Royal afterwards so famous in the Queen Anne war. Here were Grand Pre, the home of Evangeline, and Beausejour with its warlike associations; while the crumbling ruins of old forts and breastworks, with which the tourist meets in his peregrinations serve to indicate where once an Acadian hamlet nestled, and to remind him of those martial days when France and Britain struggled for supremacy in the New World. Thousands of tourists from Europe and the great American Republic annually visit this region to enjoy its beautiful scenery and to imbibe the invigorating breezes which blow from the “deep voiced neighboring ocean.” The country is easily accessible. Finely appointed steamers run from the principal New England ports touching at all the prominent points of interest along the coast. It is not the purpose of the writer to dwell upon the beauties of this region which now forms a part of the Canadian possessions, but to relate an incident which occurred while making a tour of the country accompanied by a number of friends during the autumn of 1897. Leaving Boston on the S. S. Roanoke, after an uneventful run we steamed into Halifax harbor. Here several days were spent in visiting the great naval dry-docks and the celebrated fortifications of that historic city. From Halifax we journeyed to Moncton, a thriving little town situated on the Petitcodiac River, whose chief attraction is the celebrated “Bore,” a wall of water eight feet in height, extending from bank to bank of the river, which at the flooding of the tide sweeps by the docks with almost incredible velocity. The daily press chronicles the time the wave is due, and as the hour approaches, crowds of citizens and visitors repair to the docks to gaze upon this phenomenon. While mingling with the throng upon the piers, we cultivated the acquaintance of Captain Robert Tipping, who subsequently proved to be an unique and loquacious character. His store of information was varied and inexhaustible, and a vivid imagination lent a charm to his narratives and supplied many items of local history that, perhaps, could not be verified by the veracious historian. Learning that we were bent upon pleasure and adventure, he informed us that moored to an adjoining pier was a staunch little craft of which he had the honor of being commander, and that for a trifling remuneration he would be delighted to have our companionship in a cruise along the shores of the Bay of Fundy. This proposition was agreeably entertained, and that evening found us comfortably installed on board of the good schooner “Pompey.” The following morning, with a fair wind and the ebb tide, we sailed down the river and out upon the broad expanse of the Bay of Fundy. It was a perfect day. Nature appeared to have excelled herself in the blending of the elements. The sun shone from a clear and cloudless sky, and a fresh breeze from the eastward rippled the surface of the water. From the deck of our little vessel, the scene was picturesque and inviting. On our right, towered the lofty and rugged heights of Shepody, its outlines sharply defined against the azure background. On the left, lay the bold and treacherous coast of Nova Scotia. As we proceeded, our voluble skipper entertained us with thrilling tales of the notorious freebooter, Captain Kidd, indicating as we passed, the bays in which in times of pursuit he sought a refuge, and the headlands where his booty is said to be secreted. Our skipper’s narratives were extremely interesting. He related with the earnestness of conviction, his belief that the pirate’s treasure was hidden somewhere on the shores of the Isle de Haute, which was the objective point of our present cruise. The tenacity with which this rough and untutored sailor clung to his convictions despite our arguments, and I’m afraid, unkind observations to the contrary, aroused in me a condition of interest bordering on excitement. That night as I lay in my narrow berth, visions of old specie and fabulous wealth concealed in massive chests encircled by great iron bands, and protected by formidable locks, floated before my eyes, and I fell asleep only to dream that these were truths and actualities. Early in the morning my slumbers were rudely interrupted by the rattling of the chain through the hawse pipe, and I went on deck to find our craft anchored some distance from an island which the captain informed me, was the celebrated Isle de Haute. After partaking of a somewhat primitive breakfast a landing was soon effected, and under the leadership of Captain Tipping our tour of exploration began. This island is situated five miles southwest of Cape Chignecto, and its area does not exceed two square miles. Its abrupt and precipitous banks rise to a height of one hundred feet above the tide line; from their base at low water, extends a smooth and sandy beach, which at high tide is completely submerged. In these waters an average or mean tide reaches a height of sixty feet. The only accessible point where the summit of the island could be reached lay directly opposite our anchorage. Here the tides from Chignecto Bay meet the swift currents flowing from the Minas Channel, and the action of the waters has thrown up a sandy bar which at low tide extends seaward a mile or more. At the base of the cliff from which this bar extends, and above the greatest elevation of the tide, is located a miniature lagoon or lake, the borders of which are honeycombed with excavations of the treasure seekers, — for the legends tell us that the pirate buried his booty “where two tides meet.” To those whose limbs were strong and supple, the task of climbing to the summit was comparatively easy, but to me, a victim of rheumatism, it appeared herculean. After some discussion, I induced my companions to proceed with their original project of exploring the interior of the island, leaving me to follow the bent of my own inclinations until their return. As I slowly pursued my solitary way along the beach, beneath overhanging cliffs, around whose summits myriads of gulls were screaming and wheeling in airy flight, I mentally contrasted my present stroll with that to which I was accustomed along the crowded thoroughfares of Boston. I was indeed far removed from the crowded mart and the busy haunts of men. The solitude was somewhat depressing, and not feeling inclined to further physical exertion I sat down upon the loose shingle at the base of a large rock of basaltic formation. While thus sitting, listless and abstracted, I began mechanically to scrape away the loose sand in a semi-circle before me with a piece of driftwood which I had utilized as a walking stick. (To be Continued.)