Shubhra Krishan finds serenity sprinkled all over Prince Rupert Island, British Columbia, Canada
It is almost the end of the world, and I am happy. Standing here, who wouldn’t be?
At the foot of the Pacific Ocean, Canada’s Prince Rupert Island is a jewel of a place, crowned by gleaming snow peaks. Alaska is a soft whisper away. For miles all around, there is nothing but open road and blue sky.
Just two hours ago, I was in the midst of a bustling city—Vancouver. But from the whirring wings of the Hawk Air Bombardier that lifted me off, to the soft ripples beneath the ferry that deposited me here, the noise slowly fell away, and peace took over.
The morning is still young, and diaphanous mist hovers like a tentative lover on the bosom of the island, dipping lightly down for a kiss when the breeze nudges it.
My host Bruce Wishart, a handsome Canadian with a complexion that owes its glow to these wonderfully moist environs, straightaway whisks me off on a tour of the tiny town. The SUV curves lazily around the ribboned roads, sliding past spacious homes that are now basking in gentle sunshine.
We stop to gaze at some towering totem poles erected by the Tsimshian people who lived here thousands of years ago. For those who need their fix of history, there’s plenty here, beginning with the story of Charles Melville Hayes who had grand plans for this island, but went tragically down with the Titanic. Incredible as it seems today, Prince Rupert was one of North America’s most populous regions before the Europeans made contact.
At one point, we screech to a halt, barely avoiding hitting a majestic creature that lopes artfully away. “Deer!” I exclaim, filled with childlike excitement at my first spotting of wildlife. My host arches an amused eyebrow, and tells me that for all its endearing looks, the deer is actually a bane for the residents of the island. It likes to steal into their manicured lawns and nibble on lovingly nurtured leaves, leading to much frustration. Makes me realise how relative the term ‘stress’ can be.
“For lunch, I am taking you to a very special place,” Bruce promises. ‘Special’ actually turns out to be one of my life’s most memorable meals. We drive to the edge of the water, and into the charmingly named Cow Bay Café. On the day’s menu are the region’s favourite dishes, starring salmon and halibut. I am vegetarian, so I opt for a lasagna featuring spinach and pumpkin. In response to my hesitant query that the pumpkin might impart a sweetness to my meal, the restaurant’s petite owner hurries out of the kitchen. Her name is Adrienne Johnston, and she is originally from—hold your breath—Pune, India! She is anxious to explain how she will boil the lasagna to make sure its sweet quotient goes down. Soon, I am delving into the world’s most luscious lasagna—this alone is worth coming back to the island for!
Come twilight, and we zoom off for another drive. Just a few miles from the island, on a slight incline, we cross a string of lovely bungalows, much larger than those on the island, and majestic in their isolation. These, I am told, belong to those who find even Prince Rupert too ‘noisy’ for their liking. All I can say is, imagine these men and women on a trip to Delhi or Mumbai!
After a relaxing hour in the hotel, I step out for a spot of shopping. Right across the street is a massive quaint store stacked with things of almost all description. Books, records, antiques, furniture, coins…the owner, a hearty Canadian, informs me that he only sells some of the stuff in here—“The rest is for myself,” he says, a mischievous twinkle in his sea-blue eyes.
Dinner is at the beautiful Crest hotel, where Chef Willy Beaudry’s experienced hand dishes up an exquisite spread. Savouring my wood-fired pizza, watching a majestic cruise liner lay anchor for the night, I realise:
who needs a meditation camp? This, right here, is bliss!
Shop at: Home Work craft store on Cow Bay Road, an Aladdin’s cave of unusual treasures.
Dine at: The Cow Bay Cafe, overlooking the harbour
Stay at: Crest Hotel www.cresthotel.bc.ca
Must Do: Salmon fishing, whale watching and bear watching
Must See: North Pacific Cannery Museum, established in 1889, and almost completely intact.
Read more about Prince Rupert and get travel deals here: www.hellobc.com/prince-rupert.aspx