Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sackville to Dorchester

Well, today we went for a walk with goats, and then spent the night in jail. Not what we expected when we woke up this morning. Let's back up a bit.

Between Sackville and Moncton the Great Trail follows roads, and stays relatively close to the Bay of Fundy. This presents two potential problems for the thru-hiker. One is that finding fresh water around the Bay of Fundy can be difficult, and the other is that stealth camping in open agricultural areas along roadways and in long stretches of privately owned properties can be a bit tricky. So, we decided to do a short day, and stay in the historic village of Dorchester.

The walk out of Sackville was on a hilly paved road with a moderate amount of traffic. As we climbed through the rural landscape we were given beautiful views back over the bay behind us. Many of the fields were home to beautiful horses who stopped their grazing to look up at us as we passed by.


The dark green of the conifers in the forested patches contrasted nicely with the reds, oranges, and yellows of the maples and other deciduous trees.

We also passed quite a few commercial blueberry fields that had turned a brilliant red. The sun set these fields aglow against a backdrop of dark clouds. Although we aren't used to the hills yet, the views were gorgeous.


The landscape also told another story as we walked, although we don't know the details. Many of the fields, laneways, and empty lots were filled with old cars, abandoned machinery, and other debris that were slowly disappearing into the grass. Some of the houses were in need of some TLC, and a few had been abandoned. It seemed like a region that had once prospered, but then fallen on harder times.


Once we turned southwest towards Dorchester we walked past lands belonging to the Dorchester Correctional Facility. This is a medium security federal penitentiary which can hold up to 392 inmates. The lands were beautiful, and some were farmed for hay. We hadn't expected the facility's grounds to be so extensive.

When we reached the village of Dorchester we were greeted by Shep, the world's largest Semipalmated Sandpiper! Apparently the body of the giant shorebird was carved from a single piece of wood, while the legs and bill were made of metal. Dorchester holds an annual Sandpiper Festival every July, and people come from all over the world to view the thousands of shorebirds that congregate in the Bay of Fundy near Johnson's Mills.


Dorchester is also the site of one of Canada's oldest provincial jails. It was built in 1875, and is now the only privately owned Death Row in Canada. Over 30 inmates were executed by hanging inside the building, and it is the site of Canada's last double hanging. Numerous studies of the paranormal have been conducted in the building, and it is believed to be haunted. It is open for tours year around, and we decided to stop by and check it out. The building is now run as an Airbnb, and this is where we are spending tonight.


For a sense of what some of the great available accommodations along the cell block are...

The owners are both extremely nice. Bill asked if we would like to accompany him to the beach when he took their three goats for a walk. When someone offers you a walk with goats how can you possibly refuse?


It was a beautiful walk along the cliffs and red mudflats of Shepody Bay, and Bill shared a lot of local history with us as we walked. We also had an interesting conversation about happiness, and where life can take us.


As we stood atop the cliffs, buffeted by the cool seabreeze, looking out across the stunningly beautiful red mud flats of the Bay of Fundy it certainly was a moment of happiness. This morning we never expected to walk with goats, or spend a night on jail!

As we fall asleep in our tiny cell, wondering just how haunted this place might be, and listening to the sound of water dripping, we are struck by contrasts. For one night we are kind-of experiencing what it was like to be incarcerated in a tiny cell. For the past five months we've had the luxury of wandering freely in the great outdoors. This tiny space is a powerful incentive not to fall fowl of the law!


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