There is always a heavy feeling of nostalgia when I visit my sister and brother-in-law’s – Janice and John Terry – cottage, located off the Sunrise Trail, in Brule Corner, roughly halfway between River John and Tatamagouche.
For those who really know the area, the dirt road that leads to their cottage, and a few paces later the Northumberland Strait, is the continuation of Hwy. 326, which goes through Denmark and Earltown, before connecting onto the 311 and continuing into North River and, eventually, back to our hometown of Truro, where Janice, John and pretty much the rest of my family still lives.
I joined a lot of my family there last Sunday, the day before Labour Day, as we celebrated the birthday of Wes; Janice and John’s grandson, the son of my niece Blair and her husband Derrick.
I arrived ahead of most, so I took the opportunity to head down to the beach and allow the nostalgia to wash over me, like the quick-moving tide, which happened to be full at that point. It comes from the fact that not only have my sister and brother-in-law owned the little-piece-of-heaven property – like so many in our beautiful province – since 1985, but that our family’s association with the location goes back even further, as we camped there it seemed like every summer, back in the late 70s and early 80s, when I was kid.
Only cottages now, it was a busy campground then, and we would set-up our hard-top trailer, and later a screen-tent, early in July; and there it would remain, until school was right around the corner.
Return trips to Truro would be made for ball games, laundry, groceries and the like, and, if it was one of those lucky days, the driver – dad more often than not – would stop at the Fundy Dairy Bar in North River for ice cream.
The dairy bar, well-known in the area then and well-remembered now, seemed to have more flavours than the population of North River, and if you batted .300 as far as stops – three out of every 10 trips – like a hitter, that would be a good average for the summer.
So many great memories of those lazy summer days and nights, just going back-and-forth from the beach to our camp site, long games of catch or cards, visiting the recreation hall where there were pool tables and a TV (a much bigger deal back then of course), or spending whatever change could be spared at the service station store on the nearby highway.
Food seemed to taste better, drinks colder and more quenching … and it’s still that way.
A couple of outstanding memories for me include the soundtrack of those days; a P.E.I. radio station, which calls letters I, unfortunately, don’t recall, that played the best list of oldies – songs like the White Plains’ My Baby Loves Loovin or Edison Lighthouse’s Love Grows – which seemed to go perfect with the sunshine and long-days.
I remember distinctly our family dog – Sachie – starting to pant and move around the confines of our vehicle excitedly, as he realized (or smelled) that we were headed to the beach. He would start in Upper North River and by Earltown was ready to jump out of the car; the Labrador in him couldn’t wait to get to the water.
Nightly camp fires always finished out the day and the best of those included, after the marshmallows were gone and some family members turned in for night, sitting there, nursing a Coke and listening to the Red Sox game on the radio which dad always seemed to be able to find. Ned Martin or Ken Coleman calling the action; the exploits of Lynn, Rice and Yaz, while I gazed at the bright stars, endlessly dotting the night sky.
The structure Janice and John bought and have done a lot of work to over the years was actually an old farm house where the owners of the campground would live, as they ran their summer family-business.
Amongst the first pieces of business was putting in a bathroom to replace the outhouse set-up, and mowing, basically, a hayfield, adjacent to the house. John chuckled when recalling the thought of that work – something about an old van sinking into the soft ground, when used like a make-shift tractor.
“There was a connection,” Janice said. “I think the family started staying over here when I was about to start university; I was in Grade 12, so I probably stayed home and worked. But, yes, definitely a connection here that, really, goes way back.”
Janice added, while she didn’t spend a lot of time in the area during those camping days, she did as a younger teenager; at a friend’s cottage just up the road, in a space known as the ‘horseshoe.’
So the connection goes way back … and will go way forward; with a cottage and land that only grows in appeal each year. And, of course, a beautiful Nova Scotia coastline that isn’t going anywhere.