I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in my experience, most Canadians seem to think nothing of rising at the crack of dawn, or even earlier, hopping in the car, and driving enormous distances in a day. We’re quite sanguine about watching the road roll under our wheels for hours and hours.
Maybe it’s because we live in such a big country. And for those of us from the east coast, making the long trek back home most summers is, well, part of summer. It’s a Maritimer thing. The Maritimes has historically been less industrial and less wealthy than “Upper Canada,” has offered fewer job opportunities than “out west,” especially during the oil boom, and this has often resulted in the young seeking their livelihood elsewhere, and families being scattered far and wide. My Mum and my older brother live in New Brunswick, I have a sister in Ontario, and a sister and a brother in Alberta. And Hubby and I have been making the thousand kilometre drive home at least once every year since we’ve been together. That’s a lot of highway driving, folks. And as the song goes, “highway driving, it’ll get you down, but it’ll get you home.”
highway before dawn.
Up and on the road before dawn.


This year was no exception. We left in the dark with mugs of tea to sustain us until we stopped for breakfast the other side of Montreal. All the way through Quebec and into New Brunswick, the sun shone in a blue sky. We ate our packed lunch, stopped occasionally for coffee, and what the Tour de France commentators euphemistically call a “nature break,” and thought what a great day for driving. We were pleased to see once more the rolling potato fields in Victoria County where my grandparents were both born. And where my grandmother Sullivan persuaded my grandfather that his future lay with her… and not with potato farming. Ha. She could be very persuasive, my grandmother.

highway, blue sky, and farmers fields
The highway through the part of  New Brunswick we call “up country.”


Once home in Fredericton, Hubby golfed and fished for brook trout, I walked the trail along the Saint John River most days, and spent time with my mum. Hubby and I managed a couple of early morning bike rides together. In the shot below, we paused so as not to startle the mother deer and two fawns who had bounded onto the trail in front of us.


Three deer on the trail.
One morning after my walk I strolled down to the farmers’ ferry, which has long transported farmers over to Sugar Island to cut hay or harvest crops. It seems that Sugar Island has a long history. In my research this afternoon, I was surprised to find quite a few historical references to Sugar Island on the net, including records relating to some legal confusion over its ownership in 1797, whether or not the island had been part of an earlier land grant from the crown, and whether the later grant to a United Empire Loyalist family was legal or constituted theft. Ha. Not surprisingly there is no mention of how the original grant blithely ceded land belonging to the Maliseet First Nations. You can see a map of Sugar Island here and maybe even locate the ferry and my Mum’s house across the road, if your eyes are sharp. That morning after my walk, I sat in the unlocked wheelhouse for a bit and remembered my (very) brief early career as part-time ferry operator, when during the busy summer months, either my step-brother or I would spell my stepfather off, so he could go up to the house for lunch or supper.
a cable ferry grounded on shore
The farmers’ ferry with Sugar Island in the distance
In the middle of our stay down east, Hubby and I made a side-trip to Saint Andrews By-the-Sea, on Passamaquoddy Bay. Saint Andrews was founded in 1783 by United Empire Loyalists, and it’s still very much a colonial town. Apparently thirteen of its streets are named after the children of King George III and his wife Charlotte.
a Victorian brick post office building
Up to the 1930s, Saint Andrews was a popular and exclusive destination for rich tourists who arrived on the overnight trains from Boston and Montreal, hoping to escape the summer heat. If they didn’t own one of the large shingled summer homes in town, they stayed at the Algonquin Resort which was built in 1889.
historic, half-timbered Algonquin Resort
The Algonquin Resort, built in 1889.
And while we’re not as well-heeled as those early visitors, we stayed there too. The recently refurbished hotel is beautiful, and no longer the bastion of wealthy and snobby come-from-aways as was its reputation when I was a kid. This is a shot, below, of the “gallery” off the lobby area. We loved that each night when we returned from dinner it was lively with families playing board games, and one night a very young guest playing the piano.
long gallery of a historic hotel
This is the veranda where I took tea one afternoon when Hubby went for a swim and a whirlpool.
a veranda of a hotel with several rocking chairs
While in Saint Andrews we were able to spend some time with my niece, Rebecca, and her husband who moved to Saint Andrews a few years ago. Beki works at the Algonquin as an event planner, and it was lovely to see her looking professional and all grown up.
We weren’t in town for long, but we did a lot of walking while we were there, and managed to squeeze in a bike ride along the shore. We strolled the downtown, poking about in small shops. I even tracked down an old friend with whom I worked in the 1980s here in Ottawa. I’d mentioned over dinner our first night that I used to work with a girl from Saint Andrews who had moved back home, and John, Beki’s husband, said that my friend ran a shop on Water Street. I love how in small towns everybody knows everybody.
sidewalk cafe with three ladies drinking coffee
The Lumberjack Cafe on Water Street
Colourful shop interior
Colourful shelves in the Crocker Hill Store
canon and view of harbour in Saint Andrews
View of the harbour and downtown from the old Blockhouse, built during the war of 1812
view of shore with the tide out
The view from our bikes, up along the shore
I adore Saint Andrews. It’s sleepy and charming and utterly satisfying. And what I love best about it are the houses. Like this one below which we passed on our amble downtown from the hotel.
Shingled cottage with open windows
Or this one decorated with a plethora of flowerpots.
Beautiful colonial house decorated with many flower pots


As we walked, I commenced a game I always play when I visit small places I love. Which house would be my house if I moved here tomorrow? Maybe this one on a bluff overlooking the blockhouse?

Rustic cottage on a bluff
Or one of these cottages leading down to the wharf?
row of cottages with harbour in the background
Yes, those are all lovely. But my favourite is definitely this colourful cottage below. You can see the harbour from the back garden. I imagine a bedroom under the eaves, a wood stove in the small kitchen, and sitting with Hubby on that wooden bench, sipping wine, watching the sunset, and waiting for the water to boil for the lobster.
yellow cottage with green tri.
My house, if I moved there tomorrow.
But we could not linger for long in lovely Saint Andrews. We had to get back to Fredericton. We’d a special birthday to celebrate. My mum turned 90. She had forbidden us to throw a party. But there would be cake, and lots of family and neighbours dropping in to chat and wish her well. We bought her a new computer and a TV for her birthday. But I think the best gift she received was from her favourite used book seller, a gift card for a lifetime of free reading, from Gus. Mum was tickled.
And then it was time to go. Because as much as Hubby and I love to go home, we were anxious to get home. Back to our own home, if you follow me. And I think that as much as Mum loved to see us come, she would be happy to be the master of her own home again.
We had another beautiful day for the long road back to Ottawa. That’s a view, below, of the St Lawrence River in Quebec, Isle d’Orleans, and the hills of the south shore in the distance.
Isle d'Orleans from the highway on the north shore of the St Lawrence River
The small towns and villages of this part of Quebec are lovely, maybe another time we’d stop there to break up our trip. But for today, we pressed on. Because while hi-i-i-way driving can get us down sometimes, it always gets us home. And as I said, we were anxious to get home.
Funnily enough, as I write this post, my sister and her husband who live in Calgary, are packing up a very large truck, hitching their car to the back of it, and hitting the open road. Heading back east, to Ontario. Calgary to Toronto, with a stop in Thunder Bay to visit old friends. Over 3400 km, 35 hours of driving according to Google maps. That’s a lot of highway driving. I hope they don’t let it get them down, before it gets them to their new home.
How about you, my friends, do you do a lot of highway driving?
Linking up with:  Saturday Share over at Not Dressed as Lamb and Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine’s Corner.



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40 thoughts on “Hi-i-i-way Drivin’ … It’ll Get You Home”

  1. Beautiful post ,with lots of nice photos-I have opened about five windows of Canada's geography,trying to comprehend your travel. It is huge and beautiful
    We are a very small country-going for my Adriatic sea vacation is about 4-5 hours drive-it is a "serious "highway drive :-)and I'm considering to change it for something more close to Zagreb),like going to the coffee for you (to Dubrovnik it would take,I think,7-8 hours-I was almost always flying there). So,I think,for me is a good thing to be here,where I am 🙂
    When I was a child,we used to travel by car (but,there were no highways than),visiting everything from Bosnia,Serbia,Kosovo and Macedonia,to the lake of Ohrid near the border of Albania. I like to wake up early and start,but only my father was the driver like that-I hate to be ready myself and than wait and wait…..for the start
    Having your family (mother!)far away ,naturally,changes everything! I like the Maritimes (through your eyes)

    1. I love hearing you speak of places like Zagreb and Dubrovnik which I've never seen. I'd love to see your part of world, must get Hubby to put it on our list.

  2. I did enjoy that post Sue . It's an area I don't know anything about & you've set me off exploring via the net . Some similarities – that cycle track is very like our local dog walking bridle path , we even have the same deer . Love that your mum got a new computer for her 90th ( what a woman ) & I think we'd all love that present from Gus . Canada seems ideal for those long drives & when we were fly driving in the US we would set off at the crack of dawn & drive for hours on those beautiful long , empty roads . Not quite the same for us on our trips to Scotland . Our favourite place takes about eight hours with ' dog comfort breaks ' & the first half of that is pretty crowded . All good scenery but I wish everyone else would stay home 🙂
    I'd like to hear more of Dotteressa's travels too , she must have some tales to tell .
    Wendy in York

    1. Empty highways are the best kind of highways to drive, aren't they? We usually hit quite a lot of traffic as we near Montreal, but we've found a new route which is much less popular. Actually we prefer narrow twisty roads… but when we need to get somewhere quickly the highway is best… although not nearly as interesting.

  3. I live on a small island. A 20 minute drive (the longest usually one does to get from A to B) fazes most. Certainly fazes me! So you can imagine how reading your delightful post got me in a tizwaz when I read of long drives, stopping just for coffee and natural breaks. I felt myself falling asleep at your wheel! Just how do you keep awake?!

    1. Ha. Falling asleep… now that can be a problem. Hubby loves to drive and usually does 5-8 hours at a time before I take over. Which is a good thing because I always fall asleep in the first two hours of our trip. Partly due to the early hour, partly because I can't keep my eyes open in a gently rocking vehicle… car, trick, canoe… whatever.

  4. Hi Sue
    Love your post as I've not been to the East. Coast….yet! What great bday gifts to your Mother. Keeping her connected and enjoying the big screen and a lifetime of reading….awesome!
    For the past 5 years hubby and I drive "out west" to Nelson, BC. from Ontario. We are skiers and very excited to start our season. We head out mid December and drive for 5 days. Each morning as we start our drive at "O Dark Early " we listen to Van Morrison sing "Bright Side of the Road". Every morning on route…it's our road warrior song. I may even crack a smile before coffee!! We drive the Canadian route and you can bet we know where every Tim's is along the way!!
    Robin T 🙂

    1. Ha. That comment about the Tim's made me laugh. We're the same with MacDonalds… for the coffee, not necessarily for the food. We know every single one all the way through Quebec and New Brunswick. Your driving ritual sounds wonderful. But about that "Canadian route"… last time we drove out west we marveled at how long it took just to get around the top of Lake Superior. That is one ginormous lake!

    2. Ontario and the beautiful Lake Superior is 2 days and then smooth sailing across!! This route adds extra hours to the drive. We weigh our options before we start….winter weather plays a big part and the US dollar….and wifi for me!! Really … it's all about the wifi!!! 🙂
      Have a fab day!

  5. Great post – I think the Canadian psyche is shaped by the vastness of the space in which we live – we can't help but be humbled by it. As for road-trips, when I was a child we drove, every summer, from Montreal to Los Angeles (4500 km) so my father could teach summer school at UCLA. My brother and I had nothing to amuse us on the 6-day journey but Pez dispensers and tic-tac-toe. Now, as an adult, my husband and I make the 1000 km drive from our home in North Carolina to our other home in Ottawa at least twice a year. We load up on healthy snacks and hits from the 60's and 70's and sing along, nonstop, for 13 hours. Gotta love the highway.

  6. Beautiful pictures, and happy birthday to your mum!

    Our niece went to med school in England and ended up marrying a fellow student and staying in England afterward. Her husband, the first time he came back to Ontario with her for a visit, was staggered by the distances we would drive in one shot (all within Ontario) to visit family. I think his first visit involved a 450-km drive for a fairly brief family get-together, and it was a much longer road trip than he was accustomed to, having grown up in England.

    We have a daughter who lives about two hours' drive away from us, a son who is about eight hours away (in your neck of the woods, actually), and another son in Calgary. One daughter still left at home — who knows where she will end up. Lots of time on the hi-i-i-way for us (though more often just a drive to the airport to visit the Calgary son). — Denise L.

    1. I don't blame you about the Calgary trip… much better to fly! Although one year we took the train from Toronto to Edmonton, our first time sleeping on a train, and it was great fun.

    2. Leslie in Oregon

      I took six cross-Canada trips on the Canadian National route, stopping on the last one (Montreal-Vancouver) to visit my grandparents in Alberta. I loved those trips, but I understand that much of what I loved about them is no more.

      Did I understand correctly that your sister moving from Calgary to Ontario? Will she and her husband live close to you? How long did she live in Calgary? Did she and her family explore the glories of Banff, Jasper and Waterton National Parks while they lived in Calgary? Why did they decide to move back east? (I hope that none of those questions are intrusive; the reasons people live where they live, and the reasons they move, are fascinating.) Best wishes to them.

      Your meanderings in New Brunswick are very interesting…thank you for telling us about them, Leslie

  7. We used to make that long trip across the whole of Canada often. We've moved several times from Quebec to BC, to Albert to Ontario, back to BC, Montreal and finally Ontario again. Travelling with crap cars, a dog, several birds and all of our plants in the back seat of a Jetta with a bad alternator. Oh those were the days!

    Now though I'm quite happy to hop on a plane for the trips back west to see family and friends. Sure it's a whole lot less adventure but also less stress.

    Loved seeing your photos. My girlfriend used to live in PEI and we often made trips out to see her stopping in New Brunswick along the way.

    One of my favourite places in Canada to visit is Newfoundland. Such rugged beauty.


    1. Wow… that's a lot of moving, Suzanne. I've never travelled with a don and birds.. but I have with a crap car. My girlfriend and I lost our muffler somewhere in the darkness between Edmundston and Grand Falls one year. When we arrived home we sounded like we were driving a huge truck we made so much noise:)

  8. Husband and I just finished a 2,400 mile road trip that encompassed a family reunion, knocking off 5 more states, and the total eclipse! We're both used to long road trips – he's from PEI and I was a Navy brat, so lots of driving to get anywhere during our childhooods.

  9. I love seeing and hearing about your time in St. Andrews. A few generations ago my family had the Shiretown Inn in St. Andrews. I went there as a child from Massachusetts. On another note, now that we see you have family here in Calgary, when are you coming out here for a visit and a HHITW get together? I'd love to meet up.

    1. I've heard of the Shiretown Inn. Small world, eh? When I get out to Calgary to visit my brother (which I've been threatening for years) I'll definitely let you know.

  10. I'm originally an Ontario gal so I grew up with the driving thing, and fresh water shores instead of the ocean. I clearly recall the hypnotic effects of Hwy 401. There were no billboards allowed – I haven't been back in quite a while, maybe it's changed. I enjoyed road trips to Florida because I-95 had all kinds of billboards, "FIREWORKS Ahead" being one that made Canadian boys/men giddy.
    I enjoyed the journey you've shared here. Thank you.

    1. Ha. I know what you mean. Our first time driving to Florida in 1986, Hubby and I were entertained but the plethora of billboards advertising "South of the Border." A mecca for those seeking tacky souvenirs! We couldn't resist stopping and it was a hoot.

  11. Yes, road trips. To me there is nothing like getting in the car and just going. My parents did that. When we go to France we always rent a car and and have a base. We check the map for the smallest roads and just go. Discovering the small villages, the markets where there are not as many tourists is the best. We have driven four hours to a lovely hill town just for lunch. The journey is as important as the destination. The food in these restaurants and bistros is usually outstanding as it's meant for the locals.

    I love St. Andrews, I have not been there for years.its great walking when the tide is out.


    1. We seek out the small roads too when we're not in a hurry to get to our destination. I think we've explored just about every back road in Eastern Ontario and many in the Maritimes. Wish we'd done more of that when we were in France… next time, I guess.

  12. Here in the UK our motorways are often very crowded and I dislike driving on them a great deal. But we have to use them if we are to get up and down the country without taking at least a day. However, the A roads are often wonderful and not as crowded. I live bang in the centre of Britain so London and Edinburgh are almost equidistant and the coast is only a couple of hours away whichever way we go. Your highways look glorious.

    1. Our highways here in Canada are pretty empty compared with yours, that is until you get close to Toronto, Montreal etc. When Hubby and I were in England we loved the small roads that were bordered by stone walls and the single track roads in northern Scotland. Took us a bit of time to figure out how to use a passing place. Once when we reached a passing place that was on the other side of the road and saw a car in the distance, we nipped into it, not realizing that we were to stop on our own side and let the oncoming car use the passing place on his side. We soon learned, though.

  13. I like your game of looking for "your" house. I play it, too, wherever I go. It is part of imagining a totally different life, in a strange city, in a small village or even in another country.

  14. Lovely pictures! We just did a looong road trip From W. Michigan stopping in Toronto, Kingston, Binghamton, NY and the Laurel Highlands of PA with a last night south of Cleveland coming back home. Then I turned around and drove to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and back with stops in Marquette and Houghton, then down to Warren Dunes (almost to Indiana) to drop off my daughter. It was a LOT of driving over the course of a month, but I really enjoyed it. What is summer for, really? 🙂 I also grew up in the wilderness (Michigan's UP) and we drove a lot to get anywhere. It's always an adventure!

  15. Love visiting new places vicariously or otherwise so I really enjoyed this post. Not much experience of long road trips never really needed to. Loved your mum's presents. So important to keep up with the times. Having read Gus in your recent reprise post I especially enjoyed his choice of gift. Sounds like a lovely visit. Iris

  16. You make me itch for a roadtrip. I used to pop all four kids in the car and drive the thousand miles (two days) to see family when my guy was out doing fieldwork in the summer. And then for a few years, I seemed to be driving one or the other of them to or from Banff, when they spent a gap year working in the hospitality industry there. We've done some road trips together, husband and I, when he was living in Ottawa for work, and we'd use that as a starting point for travel through Quebec or to the Maritimes. You're right — it's a pretty Canadian thing to do those long drives and not think much of it. . . .Especially if you have a destination as pretty as St. Andrews. If I ever get back that way, I'd love to stay where you did. It looks perfect!

    1. I can't imagine what popping four kids in a car would be like. Not to mention then driving a thousand km. You are an awesome woman, Frances!

  17. On road trips I try to keep it to 6 hours of driving a day and then make lots of stops. I just love the cute houses that you photographed, it really looks like such an idyllic and peaceful place. I really would like t o explore more of Canada. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

  18. Fredericton and Saint Andrews look beautiful! And ugh, driving 1000km doesn't sound fun at all. I've done a couple of road trips and while they're super convenient for sure, I'm not the biggest fan of all those hours in the car, all cramped up with nowhere to go. You guys clearly have far more stamina than I do! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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