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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Saint Awesome (aka Saint John, Canada) and its dancing lobsters stole my heart!

Weirdly enough….This Texas girl has no idea what to do with Canadian weather. Sailing into port on the Carnival Sunshine was unremarkable…why? You ask? Well, the fog was so thick that you could not see anything past the ship, not the water, not the dock, not anything. Yes…it was this weird floating sensation with no visible horizon, waterline, or otherwise. Once we disembarked we walked into the Saint John port, and right away I was pretty impressed. The terminal was fairly modern, well secured, extremely clean and nice-smelling, and had police officials at every turn. We were immediately greeted by local volunteers who showered us with maps and recommendations of how best to enjoy their town. We opted to take the free, self-guided “Loyalist Trail”, which traces the footsteps of the Saint John founders, some 40,000 British subjects who fled persecution during the American Revolution. The happy Canadians provided us with an easy to follow map that started at the County Courthouse built in 1825, and took us past Steamers Lobster Company, which advertises to the cruise ship crowd with two VERY friendly people sized, walking, waving, dancing lobsters who will not take no for an answer when they want to give you a hug! The walk takes you in a nice little circle through the historic area of Saint John, and included 20 sites, with the Old Burial Ground in King’s Square and Trinity Church by far being our favorites. The Old Burial Ground’s oldest tombstone dates to 1784, Conradt Hendricks, and the entire cemetery is quite a peaceful, serene location situated on a rolling hill, immaculately kept, with lighted walkways and ornate iron gates that easily take you back into time. Even with the rainy, chill in the air it was a pleasant walk thru the stones and on the meandering paths. I was especially taken aback by how green it all was even in the hottest part of summer! (C’mon, I’m used to everything in Texas being dead and brown by July 1st!) The moss growing on the markers and the trees made me feel like I had stepped into a novel somewhere in a far away place. King’s Square, which runs right next to the burial ground, is a quaint little park with sidewalks laid out in the Union Jack pattern straight from the British flag. Numerous benches, gazebos, and places to sit and chat, along with the cool breeze and 65 degree weather, made this spot just about perfect for taking a break. Well, until a happy, dancing lobster comes along encouraging you to visit his namesake seafood place for lunch. My personal favorite spot in Saint John was Trinity Anglican Church. The original wooden structure built on this spot in 1791, was replaced by the grand Gothic Revival beauty there today in 1880, after the Great Fire of 1877 burned the original. It still displays the Royal Coat of Arms of the House of Hanover, from the reign of King George I, who became King of England in 1714. The coat of arms was “rescued” from Boston’s Council Chamber by Colonel Edward Winslow during the American Revolution (and was again rescued during the Great Fire of 1877). This gorgeous church demands attention as it sits as a beacon at the top of the hill overlooking the Bay of Fundy. The interior is no less regal with granite pillars, exquisitely detailed black ash woodwork and gilded carvings, stained glass windows, porcelain figure of Queen Victoria, and most prominently, the Royal Coat of Arms. There was also a very nice indoor mall, boutique-style stores, city market, as well as many places we did not see. I loved its historic charm which really allowed us to see firsthand what happened to the people on “the other side of the war”. As wonderful and fun as it is to show my children their American history roots in places like New York and Boston, I feel it very important to also show them that there were also real live people on the other side, who didn’t win the war, who lost their homes and family members, and who were forced to flee to an unknown far away place to attempt to rebuild their lives. I can’t say enough positive things about the welcoming spirit of every Canadian we met, the very noticeable cleanliness everywhere, and the laid back vibe of this small town, which the locals dubbed “Saint Awesome . I am very much a loyal and proud American, but I cannot help but be a bit jealous of Canada’s perfect July temperatures and those oh so very happy dancing, hugging lobsters. (You just can’t get either one of those anywhere near Texas!)

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