Being 20

In early February, 2015, I will be turning 70.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this milestone. I’m pretty sure 70 is not considered young or even middle-aged by anyone under, well, 70!

I’ve been living the senior, retired life for a few years now and it’s been pretty good. Free bus Wednesdays, discounts once a month at local drugstores (and you’ve got to believe we frequent pharmacies a lot these days), special status on VIA rail, and senior coffees at various cafes and bistros.

But my mind has been turning back to my childhood, my youth, and my middle years.


I turned 20. I was finally out of my teen-aged years but not quite, according to the law of the land in those days, an adult.

  • I was in my fourth year at university, studying arts and education.
  • I still lived at home with most of my brothers and sisters, and I used to run up the hill every day in my effort to get to class on time. Successful most of the time.
  • On weekends and in the summer, I had to be home by 10:30, and I was!
  • In May, I graduated with an education degree.
  • I was hired, by letter, to teach elementary school in Edmonton, Alberta, about 3,000 km (2,000 m) from my home in Nova Scotia.
  • I travelled by plane for the first time. Halifax – Edmonton.
  • I started teaching Grade 1.
  • I met my husband-to-be on September 19.
  • At Christmas time we drove from Edmonton to Fort Smith, NWT, to spend Christmas with John’s family.
  • On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) John and I decided to get married and go to Zambia, in Africa, to work as volunteers. (Our next anniversary will be our 49th.)

There were many changes in my life the year I was 20. I left home, travelled, and fell in love.

What could be more exciting than that?

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your day.

– Maureen


Farewell to Nova Scotia

I recently returned from a visit to Nova Scotia with my two youngest daughters.


We flew on Porter Airlines and we loved it. The plane was small, a Bombardier Dash-8 Q-400 which is a turbo-prop. Everyone associated with the airline was friendly and helpful. They have a neat service called Sky Check. You bring your carry-on bag to the door of the plane, someone takes it from you, gives you an ID stub and returns it to you as you get off the plane. No more endless waiting at the carousel to pick up your bags.


We arrived in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia and went to pick up our rental car from Enterprise, for the drive to Antigonish. The very nice young man offered us a choice of vehicles. We could have a Nissan Sentra, or…


Our weekend ride. A white Mustang convertible!

Our weekend ride. A white Mustang convertible!


Yes, we chose the Mustang! We were going back in style!


Monica driving the Mustang.

Monica driving the Mustang.


Carla in the front passenger seat.

Carla in the front passenger seat.


Yes, that means I was in the back but the ride was totally enjoyable.


We got to Antigonish after a wonderful seafood mean at The Dock Pub in New Glasgow.  We took a ride down Main Street which has changed somewhat from the 1960s. The buildings were basically the same but new modern trendy restaurants and gift shops were scattered among them.


One of the touristy stores on Main Street.

One of the touristy stores on Main Street.


The Made in Nova Scotia Store was a delight to browse in. There was jewellery made with local sea glass as well as a myriad of tartan items. After all, Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.


The next day we went to a few of the local beaches, where we lolled in the sand. Mahoney’s Beach was one of my old hang-outs.


Toes on the beach.

Toes on the beach.


We then drove along the Sunrise Trail and stopped at Cape George Lighthouse where we were lucky enough to spot whales playing in St. George’s Bay.


Whale watching.

Whale watching.




We stopped at Cribbon’s Point which is a beautiful fishing village.


Cribbon's Point.

Cribbon’s Point.


We also travelled to Cape Breton Island which is connected to mainland NS by the Canso Causeway. We stopped at a gorgeous sandy beach located in the small town of Port Hood. Later on, we drove to Mabou, CB, where I had spent a year at boarding school. This part of the trip was very emotional for me.


Carla and Monica couldn’t believe how peaceful it was there.


The church at Mabou, Cape Breton.

The church at Mabou, Cape Breton.


The convent at Mabou where I lived with 90 girls during my last year of high school.


St. Joseph's Convent, now a Retreat Centre.

St. Joseph’s Convent, now a Retreat Centre.


We had a tour of the building where I lived 54 years ago. It was basically the same and I admit I had tears when I thought of the happy times spent there. A lovely nun, Sister Catherine, gave us a tour of the building and I took a photo of the chapel, where I was usually the first one at Mass each morning. I know that being at Mabou with the wonderful sisters there strengthened my faith. That has stayed with me my whole life.


The chapel at Mabou.

The chapel at Mabou.


I told you Antigonish is a Scottish town, didn’t I? Here is my youngest daughter in our motel, The Claymore.


Monica with her new friend!

Monica with her new friend!


We visited The Wheel Restaurant where I hung out during my last two years at St.F.X. University in Antigonish. We had lunch at The Moonlight Restaurant which hasn’t changed one iota since 1965. We stopped at Arisaig Beach to see the unusual geology of that area. We took a long walk around Antigonish Landing, a protected wetlands area. We drove and walked on all the little back streets of the town that helped form me. We visited the Church, St. Ninian’s, and met some old friends there.


Brierly Brook, which runs through the centre of twon.

Brierly Brook, which runs through the centre of town.


What a trip! What a lot of new memories of Nova Scotia I have to think about on the long winter nights here in Ottawa.


We packed this whole experience into one long weekend!


I hope you enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane. I think we should all do this, at least in our hearts.


Go visit Nova Scotia some day. Its beautiful scenery and its friendly residents will steal your heart.


Have a great day and remember to leave a comment.










Going Home

I’m going home!


“There by the sea it stands,

The home that sheltered all my dreams…”

(From a poem, written by my father, George Brasset.)


I was born and raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

When I was 20, I left my seaside home and over the decades that followed, I fulfilled many of the dreams that were nurtured there. I explored the world, living in Africa, the US, and nearly every province in Canada. I married and had four wonderful daughters who in turn gave us eight amazing grandchildren.

On my next birthday, I will be 70 and I am thrilled to say I am going back to NS for a visit. I am being accompanied on this short trip by my two youngest daughters, Carla, and Monica.

My heart is full as I contemplate seeing the home where I used to live, and visiting the many beaches where I spent so many happy days in the summers.

I am looking forward to showing my daughters where I went to school, where I went to university (St. F.X.) and the beautiful St. Ninian’s cathedral where I was baptized, confirmed, and was married.

I want to show them the streets where my friends and cousins lived and the store where my father worked.

They say this trip is for me and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Even if it rains every day that we are there, I don’t mind.

Because I am going home!!!


Thank you for reading and have a fabulous day. – Maureen


10 Things I Love About Canada

I have lived in Canada for all of my life except for two years in Zambia as a newlywed and two years in the Chicago area in my mid forties.  People who criticize their country are all around us but I think it is time for a little praise.

  1. Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia is my home and will always be in my heart.  Life is slower there and people take time to get to know you.  There is nowhere in Nova Scotia that is more than 50 miles from the ocean.  This is where I swam when I was a child.  Not very busy, is it? 
    Grandpa”s Beach near Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
  2. Quebec.  I love that we have a province where French is the main language.  My Dad was French Canadian but he never taught us to speak French.  All four of our daughters speak French and are very much at home in Quebec.  Our grandchildren are learning it as well and seem very comfortable giving a presentation in French at school.
  3. My daughter Carla took this photo last spring while walking in the Bois Franc in Montreal.

     3.  Manitoba.  We lived in Winnipeg for six years and we loved our time there.  It is “big sky country” and is so beautiful.  There are a lot of wheat farms in Manitoba and it is a treat to see huge fields of it waving in the wind.  We discovered one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Winnipeg while we lived  there and we visited often.  Now my nephew and his family live in Manitoba.  This photo came from him.

    Grand Beach, Lake Winnipeg. Around 10:30 p.m.

  4.  Alberta.  I met my husband in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta.  Many of his brothers and sisters still live in the province.  There are flat, fertile farms and high, majestic mountains. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful and the two national parks, Jasper and Banff are known around the world for the wildlife and the scenery.
  5. British Columbia.  Vancouver held the recent Winter Olympics and is an amazing city with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.  It also has my grandson, Emil, who lives on Burnaby Mountain.  I have three brothers and a sister who live in BC.  as well. Vancouver Island is full of natural beauty, lakes, mountains, and wildlife.  Watch for bears!
  6. The North.  My hubby is from the Northwest Territories, which lies north of  the 60th parallel.  When I first visited there, it was -50F and the sun rose around 10:00 a.m. and set around 2:30 p.m.  In the summer it is the opposite.  It never really gets dark at all for a few weeks. The Wood Buffalo Park is there and I even saw a couple of those huge animals when I was visiting there. 

    Spectacular scenery in the Northwest Territories. Courtesy our niece, Sue.


  7.  I love our health care system.  My grandson, who is hearing impaired, has had eight surgeries.  His family had to pay nothing for any of them.  He has two cochlear implants.  Each surgery costs between $45,000 and $125,000.  Cost to the family – zero!  There are sometimes waiting periods but it is really nothing.  My friend’s husband recently had a heart attack.  Within hours he had an MRI,Cat Scan, Echo Cardiogram and any test he needed.  Cost to the family – nothing.  The peace of mind it brings is priceless.
  8. I love our winter sports and activities (and the summer ones as well).  There is nowhere that is far from the countryside and all towns have a hockey or ice skating rink.  There is skiing, downhill and cross-country.  Skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

    My granddaughter, Brynn, skiing last winter, in Ottawa.

  9. Ontario.  Niagara Falls.  Canada’s Wonderland.  Ontario Place.  Rideau Canal.  Algonquin Park.  Sandbanks.  Houses of Parliament.  Queen’s Park.  The Blue Jays.  The Senators.  The Maple Leafs.  The Tiger Cats.  The Argonauts.  Lake Ontario.  Lake Huron.  Lake Superior.  Lake of the Woods.  I could go on and on.
  10. We are a country that is welcoming and supportive of people in need.  Refugees have always been able to find a home here.  We are quick to offer assistance to the victims of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, and other natural and man-made disasters.  We are tolerant and allow others to be themselves and teach our children acceptance. 

Canada is a great place to live.  I am sure those of my readers who live in other countries could write about their particular homeland.  I’d like to hear from you about what you love about your country.  Maybe I’ll visit your part of the world one day.