Saturday, April 7, 2012

Which Reminds Me...

While I was writing the post about the touring Blue Train in South Africa, I was reminded of an old friend.

MV Abegweit then...

...and now, sans the brass and mirrored doors from the lounge

I have traveled in luxury in one of the most surprising places. Prince Edward Island, Canada's smallest province, is separated from the mainland by Northumberland Strait. When I lived there you accessed the Island by ferry.  One of the working ferries was an old girl called Abegweit.  

The MV Abegweit was an icebreaking railway, vehicle, and passenger ferries which operated across the Abegweit Passage of Northumberland Strait, connecting Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick. It was dismantled in India in 2004. 
The word Abegweit is derived from the Mi'kmaq word for Prince Edward Island, Epekwit'k, meaning "cradled (or cradle) on the waves."

There were two Abegweit. The one I'm talking about is the original. We all called her The Abby and she was put into service in 1947. She was replete with brass fittings and art deco fixtures, some of which were removed and installed in the new, modern Abegweit (now a pile of scrap metal). She had a curving staircase with oak railings and leather seating. She looked like an old sow on the outside, but on the inside she was gracious. There was an air of opulence about her that I was reminded of when I saw the Titanic recreated in James Cameron's movie. 

Abegweit was retired in the early 1980's and eventually sold and 'recommissioned' as a floating restaurant owned by the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago. When I get back to Chicago, I am going to go see her.

Access to PEI is now via the Confederation Bridge. In spite of being held captive to the ferry schedule for years, replacing the ferries with a bridge caused the Island to lose a little bit of character, I think. Just a tiny bit.


The 8 mile long, not opulent, not classy, but serviceable Confederation Bridge

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