Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Rita MacNeil, known as Cape Breton's first lady of song, died last night from complications of surgery — she was 68.

I am dedicating this post to my family and the Beach family. Years ago, together we took a road trip to the East Coast of Canada. The two families required two cars involving much switching of seats and beds. It was one of the most memorable trips we ever did with young kids. At the time, I was insistent that we see one of the remaining working light houses in Nova Scotia. My own two were of the age where this was just another of Mum's crazy ideas. As we drove to the coast in the failing light, a song came on the radio and to me it was just a bit of magic as so much of our East Coast is connected with fabulous music. To this day, there are still "mocking" comments made from the "backbenchers", but now I'm sure they have remembered.

Today, one of our most renowned Canadian artists passed away. As I played this youtube prior to posting, I remembered that trip so well, and the impact of going down in the mines. I hope my kids do too.


  1. It was not that the song just happened to come on the radio - it was a tape that was being played continuously the whole time we were in Nova Scotia. And we weren't allowed to talk because talking was interfering with Rita. So we were stuck in a car with Rita McNeil blasting for 3 days visiting multiple lighthouses and we weren't allowed to talk the whole time. It was torture. But I will admit that it was memorable.

  2. For some reason the only things I remember were the Beach Boys and Anne of Green Gables. Oh and losing my ten dollar bill out the window. I think someone got yelled at for walking on some lawn of some sorts too. That's all I got.
    Just goes to show, might as well just take your kids to Denny's and tell them it's France cause they ain't gonna remember it anyways. On the flip side, as opposed to Jane, I don't wake up in cold sweats with Working Man going through my head on repeat. I guess she was just a little too old for the Denny's trick. I sure dodged that bullet.
    I'm glad you have fond memories of the trip mom. In actuality it was great to be able to do things like that, regardless of the recollection capacity of my fledgling brain.

  3. Jane. As always we can count on your memory to get things straight. It WAS a tape! I had completely forgotten. That was such a good idea. I'm surprised you didn't mention losing "Cubby" :) What a memorable time.

  4. Gordon. Indeed the Beach Boys with Help me Rhonda arms in air was a highlight. The $10 incident was on another memorable trip to Red Pine. Uncle Chuck will never forgive Dad for giving you another bill to quiet the car :) You see, you and your sister always resent the time we spent with Mark and Shelley in Europe, but I'm sure THEY remember their trips with us:) Think we'll all go on a Disney Cruise next.

  5. Really Jane, did you say you didn't talk? Strangely enough I can't recall that. It seems to me you and Lo were frequently in the same vehicle and chatting and belting out various tunes, admittedly not Rita's.
    And Gord, I believe that was a twenty dollar bill, and as you were quite devastated over the loss and always the good child, you were quickly reimbursed. Did we actually go to Denny's? Could that have been our very own Beach Boy Greg in trouble over a misstep?
    As opposed to Jane's cold sweats, I still get the shivers when I hear Working Man.
    That was indeed a great trip made all the more memorable because of our four wonderful offspring and of course Rita.

  6. Perhaps this is why Greg became a lawyer! Always a good debater he was:) "Where's the juice??"

  7. It wasn't walking on a lawn, it was Greg walking on a wall in Quebec City. And speaking of Quebec, remember how someone got it into their head that Quebec was full of churches, and that we'd meet at the first church that we saw after crossing the Quebec border? This was before cell phones, so trying to arrange our meet-ups was quite a challenge.

    I remember there was ultimately some confusion as to whether we were going to meet at the first church or the first restaurant, and everyone drove around for a while before we finally met at something like a Denny's.

    Remember the only tourist attractions in New Brunswick - the magnetic hill and that bay where the tide comes in really fast? Almost as good as space mountain. And we did a scenic drive of the Cabot Trail and all the kids got these little ceramic figurines at one of the gift shops along the way.

    We tried to swim in the ocean but it was freezing and full of jellyfish, so instead we went and saw more forts. It's like the whole place was covered in FORTS and LIGHTHOUSES and PUFFINS!! And That damn Rita McNeil tape seemed to be the only one ever in the stereo - that's why we had to keep switching cars!!! To keep our sanity!!

  8. LOL. Yes Jane it was my idea to meet at the first church across the border. AND the first thing was a church, but at the time, Charles heard restaurant. This explains why to this day Helen does all the driving. He can still be found in many a church parking lot when we try to meet for dinner. You have to admit that Louisbourg was and is one of the better forts! I can see that our mission was accomplished, you really do remember it all.

  9. Ah yes, and remember that one classic motel, which really had that MOTEL FEEL, with the hammock beds, the cows behind (mooing)and the motorcycles out front (revving) and people sitting outside the doors in basket weave chairs (snoring)???
    Yes those were great times, and Larry had to call home to say that he was extending his vacation because we just didn't want to leave!

  10. Gosh...
    I feel like I am eavesdropping on a private conversation...
    I have nothing to add...but...
    "Here's to the memories"...
    Great times...

  11. I have been patiently waiting all day for The Professor to weigh in and must admit to a wee bit of disappointment that his opinion is not yet present. Since he had a different "version" of a certain Gettysburg trip, once upon a time, (I am sure his exact words to me were "Do you want to hear what really happened?") I am curious as to his memory of this obviously oh-so-memorable trip. And as for dear Rita, I was most saddened to learn of her passing.

  12. The Professor said he cried when he saw the youtube of Rita. He had to submit an exam today, so just couldn't get caught up in the banter. I'm sure he'll have something to say in the morning:)

    He was cheered tonight to know that our kids actually do recount memories of our various trips.

    I love Rita. So sad.

  13. Love it! Ya know, there's just nothing like a family road trip and that "bonding" experience, is there?


  14. I am reading your memories while listening to Rita and smiling. I don't know Rita, but boy do I know Gordon Lightfoot!!!Driving for his concert...and hours be woken up the next morning and do it all over again...for like ten days was like Gordon Lightfoot Woodstock or something. I too was not allowed to talk. Somebody!!!(can't imagine who?) sang and sang and sang all the way there and all the way home. Be thankful Jane and Gordon that YOU had a second car!!! No escape vehicle for Mark and I Gordon auntie Leslie!!! And, possibly a couple of egg salad sandwiches.

    1. Shelley! You neglected to mention that this was in SWITZERLAND at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival! Leonard Cohen was also there. Now that you are back in Canada, I should hope you'd know a tune of two of Gord's! Just feel lucky that you live in Ottawa or I'd be dragging you to his annual concerts...even now! Lovely to hear from you my dear....all those memories in the Denny's of France :)