Any day which begins with a sighting of ospreys is bound to be good. Outside of Peterborough we spotted several of the large nests on platforms which had been affixed to telephone poles on the rural highways south of town. Our wildlife views can't compare with those of our earlier trips on An osprey in the nest the Canadian coasts -- perhaps it is the season, or we are traveling mid-day more often, but we have been limited to squirrels and the occasional woodchuck. And plenty of cows, which don't count. On the other hand, we have seen more than our share of meadows filled with wildflowers.
CFB Trenton is headquarters of the Canadian air force. As we approached the town we watched young pilots in gliders being towed over the farm fields for their early lessons in flight, while a prop-driven cargo plane made touch and go passes nearby. The military museum, run by volunteers, is concentrating its efforts on restoring a World War II Haviland bomber which was found at the bottom of a Norwegian lake. The effort has progressed far enough to allow visitors close looks at some of the wiring and fuselage details. A collection of Canadian warplanes fills the outdoor grounds. This is a pleasant stop for aviation buffs. We could have spent many more hours inside learning of the service and exploits of Canadian airmen.
We should note, parenthetically, that the Canadian Forces have dwindled considerably since World War II, and despite their well-publicized service as U.N. peacekeepers, Canada is no longer a modern military power. Perhaps that's what Canadians desire, but is it what's best for their country? If the Canadians do not defend themselves with a modern armed force, they have a superpower neighbor who will, and that may not be good for either country.
Belleville and the surrounding territory, from Prince Edward County bordering Lake Ontario to the beginnings of the St. Lawrence River east of Kingston, are the center of Loyalist Country. Those who fought on the side of the English or supported the monarchy during the Revolution could not and would not remain in the United States. About half of the 70,000 Loyalists evacuated from the U.S. ended up in Nova Scotia or in these Haviland bomber restoration reaches of what was then called Upper Canada. For the most part they had to start from scratch as new colonists. They fought the U.S. again in the War of 1812, and the presence of the English-speaking Loyalists balanced the French speakers in Quebec.
The Loyalists were an important force in Canadian history. Since many of the 19th century immigrants to Canada came from European countries other than England, it was the Loyalist heritage which ensured Canada's continued status in the British Empire and present membership in the British Commonwealth. As an independent country, however, Canada receives immigrants from all over the world, and her ethnic ties to England are slowly weakening.
Ontario Highway 33 is known as the Loyalist Parkway, and it passes by many two-hundred-year-old buildings. It is thus a popular vacation trip for Canadians of English ancestry, but the old United Empire Loyalist organization is but a shadow of its former self. Instead Loyalist has become somewhat of a catchword for local businesses, so one encounters Loyalist towns, motels, restaurants, gift shops, even hair salons and groceries.
Almost an island in Lake Ontario, Prince Edward County itself is peaceful, with rolling hills, more meadows filled with yellow, white and blue wildflowers, hayfields, and cattle. The farm houses could be a hundred or more years old -- we have the feeling that time stands still here. Hay Bay Methodist Church The little towns dotting the countryside have also preserved their main streets, where the stores are now more likely to be antique galleries than hardward or grocery stores. Picton is especially charming. Bed and breakfast inns and tea rooms abound.
We took the free Glenora ferry towards Kingston, stopping at Hay Bay to see an old wooden frame building -- the oldest Methodist Church in Canada. It has been lovingly restored and maintained, its plain architecture and interior furnishings demonstrating the serious approach of early Methodists to their religious ceremonies.
We are now sufficiently accustomed to the changeable Ontario weather to appreciate the sunny days, when the weathered barns, fields and crops are brilliant under a blue sky. In fact, the locals tell us it has been an unusually cool, wet summer. Since they are disappointed, we tactfully refrain from pointing out that a cool, wet summer was precisely what we had in mind when we decided to tour Ontario!