We arrived in the Magdalens on a stormy, grey day, but when it came time to leave for Souris PEI it was crisp, clear and beautiful, with a gentle breeze. Just right for a ferry trip.
The ferry owners market the boat as the CTMA Traversier
an even more boring name than the CTMA Vacancier
that brought us from Montreal. That's the big name on the side of the boat. But it's actually registered as the MS Madeleine and is a more typical ferry set-up than the Vacancier. We queued in multiple lanes at the Cap-aux-Meules terminal, drove into the stern of the ferry and were waved into position by the crew. Our reservation was checked before we joined the queue, but what was unusual was that we did not pay until we got on board and queued for the cashier.
On board and waiting to get under way we watched the Ivan-Quinn, the ferry to Entry Island
, depart on its 7:30 am sailing. With this great weather we wished we'd stayed on The Islands another day and taken the trip to Entry Island.
We noticed a cruise ship approaching from out to sea, but as we got under way and left the harbour we could see that she had stopped about a kilometre out and was dropping anchor, and the crew were launching her tenders. The harbour at Cap-aux-Meules is not very large and easily filled by the three CTMA ferries.
This was the MS Marco Polo, on a cruise from Liverpool around the Canadian Maritimes and as far up the Saint Lawrence as Montreal. In fact she was one of the ships we had passed in the night near Quebec City as she headed upstream and we were heading downstream on the Montreal to Cap-aux-Meules ferry.
The first part of our trip seemed like a tribute to Entry Island as our route curled around the north, east and south of the island. The west side of the island was comparatively flat with houses sprinkled sparingly all over. The east side rose fairly high, but was smoothly covered in bumps, and ended in some imposing cliffs. The distant shore of PEI was soon visible on the horizon, but the cliffs of Entry Island remained the main feature for much of our journey.
Eventually the aptly named East Point on PEI started to take shape. From a few miles offseore the line of surf seemed as visible a feature as the lighthouse and cliffs. Here waves converge from three directions, resulting in a lot of interaction and surf. Plenty of ships have floundered around this cape, and the lighthouse continues in operation.
Once past the cape we tracked parallel to the coast, enjoying PEI's famous red cliffsthough having just come from the Magdalens we were rather used to them. Souris was first visible from the large potato and fish processing plants. The lighthouse then marked the end of the red cliffs and the start of the harbour. On the skyline the red sandstone St Mary's Church looked down over the town and harbour. The ferry reversed into its dock and we disembarked and headed to our B&B; just yards from the harbour entrance it was very convenient, but did not offer much more.
The town of Souris was quiet, but the people were very friendly to us; this is how it was for all of PEI. The name Sourisreally does come from the French for "mouse", due to several plagues of field mice in the early Acadian days.
It's always fun to see things from both sides, so after a late lunch we drove straight up to East Point to look out over the sea we had just passed through. From the cliffs the waves really did seem to be coming from three different directions. We were able to visit the lighthouse and climb to the top. It now functions as a small museum and is in a process of renovation. Well worth the few dollars and few minutes.
This was my second visit to PEI, and my third different ferry crossing. In July 1989 we arrived at Wood Islands on the ferry from Caribou
. A week later we left, crossing the Northumberland Strait on the ferry from Borden to Cape Tormentine
, which is no longer in operation having been replaced by the Confederation Bridge.