With plans to spend next year travelling across Canada, we recently purchased a Mercedes Sprinter camper van. Earlier this month, we grabbed the chance for a ‘dummy run’. With our Casita travel trailer following on behind we hit the road, giving ourselves five days to drive 1200 miles to Whitby, Ontario.
I wouldn’t mind betting that we were the first to take this particular road trip. A Mercedes Sprinter camper van towing a travel trailer from Nova Scotia to Ontario. Nothing unusual there, you say, but picture this.
Rough roads for fine lace
A delicate wedding dress, in all its finery, laid on the bed with care, by the bride. Merely a foot away from the white lace was a 42” chainsaw mill, embedded with ten years of work grime. Rough roads bouncing the dress and throwing it dangerously close to the oily saw was not what the bride had in mind when she had entrusted us with the delivery of her dress Yup, I think it’s probably safe to say there hasn’t been another travel trailer making the trip with the same combination of cargo.
You may be asking why two people need a camper van as well as a travel trailer? Navigating on strange roads can certainly be a strain on even the best relationships and could result in the need for separate sleeping compartments. Luckily for us, John somehow manages to stay calm in stressful situations, so with the help of GPS, we weren’t on the road to divorce. No, our map had a wedding on it and the travel trailer was needed for guest accommodation.
Nothing is going to stop an 87-year-old Grandma attending her grandson’s wedding, not even the Atlantic Ocean. Our first destination was the arrival lounge of Toronto’s Pearson Airport to meet my mum.
But first, the journey. Day one of our trip ended at the Five Islands Provincial Campsite, passing through Bass River on the way.
A chairmaker visits Bass River
Bass River is famous for its chairs and a chairmaker is unlikely to drive through the village without stopping. Chairs and other furniture were made in the village from 1860-1989. Unfortunately, the company is equally well known for having its buildings destroyed by fire no less than 6 times. The factory was rebuilt 5 times until the final fire in 1989, brought an end to the furniture making. A small museum tells the story of the village.
The general store, ‘Dominion Chair’ serves as a social hub for the village and is worth stopping at. Here you’ll find groceries, hardware, gifts and, of course, furniture all crammed into the old, three-storied building with its steep stairs and wonky floors.
Just as a chairmaker will want to stop in a village famous for chairs, so too will a gardener want to stop at a Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden, near Edmundston, was the lure that pulled us off the highway in New Brunswick. Giant sculptures, comprised of succulent plants, greeted us at the entrance. The leafy gardener tending his neat rows of vegetables, with his hoe, was an incredible sight. It was hard to resist picking some of his purple kale for supper that night.
Remember that chainsaw? Since purchasing a bandsaw mill, John rarely uses his chainsaw mill so had decided it was time to sell it. Rather than send it by mail, we had made arrangements to deliver the saw to its new owner in Ottawa. Rush hour is probably not the best time to arrive in the country’s capital for the first time, especially when driving a 37’ rig. With the help of that GPS I mentioned earlier, we found our way to the designated spot in the city centre. Walmart allows RV’s to park overnight in their parking lots. While we’re not fans of the store we thought it would be an easy option for an overnight stop. Unfortunately, we had picked one of the few Walmarts in the country that don’t want RVs in their backyard! We were forced to continue on the road looking for an alternative.
Real coffee for breakfast
It was dark by the time we arrived in Perth, where we spotted the empty parking lot of the old shoe factory. The building has been resurrected for community use, with residential apartments, artists studios and a fairtrade coffee shop. With the promise of real coffee for breakfast, we pulled over. It had been a long day so after a quick supper, we hit the sack. It hadn’t been much more than about ten minutes before we heard the rumble.
A freight train coming down the track. A very long freight train that blew its whistle long and hard as it passed just a few yards behind us. Living in Bear River, I don’t hear a train very often and I was scared half to death by the vibrations that had me wondering if we had inadvertently parked on the rails. Thankfully we weren’t and after two more trains had passed by, we had a peaceful night and lived to enjoy our morning coffee.
Refuelled with caffeine we continued our journey. We stopped for the night on the shores of Lake Ontario before tackling the infamous 401 to Pearson Airport in Toronto. With my mum on board, we joined our son and his bride for a pre-wedding family supper and a fun day of wedding preparations.
The dress arrived safely, I’m happy to say. The bride looked beautiful with not a drop of oil to spoil the day!