Saint John, 1999
My father wanted to visit his remaining family in New Brunswick before he
lost any more of them. He'd meant to go the previous year, but couldn't make
it due to work commitments, and his eldest brother had passed away. This time,
he made it out in the winter, when his land scaping business was in a low period.
I decided that it had been far too long since I'd made a familial visit and I
arranged to meet him in Saint John. Next time, someone remind me why it's a bad
idea to travel in Canada in winter? Toronto had just dug out from under a huge
snowstorm and I was a touch leery about heading east just then, but it was my
only chance, and a seat sale at an opportune moment sealed the decision.
I left from work, taking a taxi down Airport Road to Pearson (which of course
took forever) where I attempted to check in at the Air Canada Shuttle counter.
For some reason the clerk had difficulties dealing with my pre paid ticket -
they kept wanting to charge me more money. I finally managed to weasel a bording
pass out of them but then the security guy must have been new also. He was
quite confused by the concept of steel toed combat boots. So I sat and waited
for my 4:20pm flight. And read. And waited. And kept a nervous eye on the
departure time. They'd already rebooked me on this flight since the 3:20 one
had been cancelled due to the storm. At 4:15, they delayed it to 5:15, and
at 5pm, it was delayed again to 6:15pm. Since I had to catch a connecting
flight via Montreal, I put myself on Standby for the 5:30 flight. I boared
with problems, but then de-icing took until 6:20. I confirmed with the flight
attendant that I'd miss my flight to St. John and was fretting the whole
flight. We landed in Montreal at 7:25 and I found out that my flight to
St. John had been cancelled anyways, but I had to stand in yet another line
to get my ticket for the next day. They were nice enough to give me a voucher
for a hotel and dinner that night and rebooked me on the 6:30am flight.
It should be noted that I am not a morning person, but I realised that I'd
already wasted a day getting to NB. I called Dad, gave him the info, and
caught the shuttle to the hotel.
Dinner was okay, a fairly standard buffet. Eating alone but for the other
storm lost passengers was a bit eerie. I considered taking a cab downtown
to go to the Sphinx or something but decided that was pushing it a bit
too much. Just took a nice long bath and relaxed. The hotel was right by
the airport, and it was set up with the rooms around the circumference of
a circle. My room, of course, was at the far side, with no way to cut across
the diameter (in summer I suppose you could thread your way through the pool
area, but it was closed off).
Up at the forsaken hour of 5:30 and I checked out and stumbled to the shuttle
to get to my gate. After the fiascos of the previous day, I kept a close eye
on the departure notice, but since it was such a short flight, they didn't
post information until 10 minutes before departure time. Finally, it did appear
and they had us walk out onto the apron to board the plane. Lots of turbulence
on the way to Fredericton, but they fed us a bit. But on takeoff from Fredericton,
crosswinds caught us and we were screeching sideways as we were accelerating
for lift off. I don't think I relaxed until we bumped down again in St. John.
I spotted my Aunt Rita right away and Dad was right behind her. I came far too
close to crying all over him in relief. Rita drove us to her house and settled
me in the spare bedroom. She then earned my undying gratitude by feeding me
lobster and tea. All was right with my world again.
We then drove over to visit with their other sister, Sister Therese, a retired
nun, living at Mary Crest in a beautiful setting. The building had gorgeous
high ceilings and she gave us a brief tour before we settled in the common
room for a chat. I took this time to grill them all about their childhood and
to get some filling out of the family tree that I'm working on. I found out
that my last name used to be pronounced Wedge since that used to be a coin
denomination. Stories of their childhood pets were told and I took some pictures
after Dad and I bonded over fixing Rita's glasses.
We left before supper, and Rita made us salmon and baked potatoes for supper.
I took a nap while they went to church. Two more relatives found us at this
point, their sister and brother, Rose and Francois. Yes it was a large family,
why do you ask? :) We made a few phone calls to get in touch with Leo's kids,
the brother who had passed away recently, and arranged to go visit tomorrow.
We then went out bowling, and I got to try candlepin bowling again (ten thin
pins, no clearing between balls, and the balls are about the size of 5 pin
balls). Good clean mayhem.
Dad woke me up in the morning, bring back memories of childhood and visits home
at Xmas. Showered and ate breakfast (freezer jam is the stuff of the gods).
Got a few more references for the family tree, then packed up all my stuff
so we could go straight to the airport after getting back from Black's Harbour.
Dropped in to Rose and Francois' place to say goodbye (they have a very cool
claw footed bathtub). Rose came with us to visit with Leo's family. I took
lots of pictures of the cousins that I hadn't seen in ages, and grabbed all
the email addresses that I could. We had too leave far too early in order
to get me back to St. John and my plane. Stopped for a quick bite to eat at
Tim Horton's, then dropped Rose off and headed to the airport. On the way there
I decided to call Emery (Rita's husband) on Dad's cellphone to check if my
godparents had called or anything, and it turned out that they were there!
Emery drove them all to the airport to meet up with us, though it was hard only
getting to see them for 10 minutes or so while I waited to board. Before they
showed up, I made a quick call to Cass in Fredericton to say hi.
Surprisingly, I had a quiet flight to Montreal and my flight was on time for
Back to my diary page.