By LeRoy Peach – The Cape Breton Post
There was a buzz in the crowd at the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport Wednesday when our good friends the Frederiksens arrived from Ontario to take in the Celtic Colours festivities. This was their seventh visit to the No. 1 island in the Continental U.S.A. and Canada.
“The atmosphere was exciting, effervescent. You cannot manufacture that feeling in a crowd,” Michael Frederiksen said later. In fact, those waiting for loved ones made our friends feel like celebrities. In a sense that welcome defines the people here.
The Frederiksens have proven to be great ambassadors for this area over the years. However, this was the couple’s first visit during Celtic Colours — now in its 15th year — and they weren’t disappointed with the superb concerts held on the weekend in Port Hawkesbury and the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion. Since they were only down for five days, I wanted them to experience the bigger venues.
I was, however, particularly interested in learning why they keep coming back to our fair isle. Both Michael and Linda speak especially of the simple and elemental nature of the island.
“It’s a place where you can get in touch with your inner self,” Mike says.
That statement is akin to one I heard from a tourist last summer. He came to Port Morien and pronounced that when he visited Cape Breton, he felt fully alive. Part of that feeling is, of course, the opportunity to interact with others.
“There is an openness and warmth here which I really like,” Mike says.
Linda Frederiksen shares that sentiment.
Of course, landscape and culture usually come up when visitors come here. When the Frederiksens were here two years ago, I took them to Isle Madame and then to Dundee. Travelling across country to Baddeck, they were struck by the tremendous vistas provided by the Bras D’Or Lake — one in particular, the view down the Bra D’Or from the cliffs of Malagawatch, one of many Native place names that help to define Cape Breton. It left an indelible impression and emphasized for them the importance of touching the earth.
And then there is the cultural aspect. As my readers know, Mother Nature more than brushed us on Wednesday and Thursday past. I took Mike to vistas on the coast by Schooner Pond where he got his fill of the power of nature, where he saw how the sea is very much a part of our lives.
While they were here I talked with my friends about our way of life, and the pride in our heritage.
“Cape Bretoners know where they begin and leave off, who they are and certainly where they are from. It’s a culture, too, borne of struggle,” he added. Mike alluded especially to our miners and their tenacity.
I mentioned the wonderful Acadian population on the island, their sense of community, and their desire to survive. He said: “I remember especially going into the historical St. Peter’s Church in Cheticamp and seeing the Acadian flag draped between statues of St. Peter and St. Paul!”
The Frederiksens left for Ontario on Sunday vowing to return!
On another note, the Cow Bay Ceilidh takes place today at 7:30. Some tickets remain. Call Paulette at 737-5983. From 4-6.30 p.m. there will be a ham and scalloped potato dinner at St. John’s United Church. We’ll see you there.
LeRoy Peach lives in Port Morien and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears every two weeks in the Cape Breton Post.
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