Fable, myth or rich family history?

Getting the extended family together is becoming more cumbersome with each passing holiday or event.  With children and grandchildren being chauffeured around and dropped off at different sporting or social events, it is difficult to find time to all meet up.  That coupled with the fact that our family is scattered around the province.  Our time together is very valuable.

Having the family sit around one large table has always been part of our family festive dinner traditions.  While celebrating Easter this year, the grandkids piled up rows of card tables and attached them to the end of the dining room table stretching the tables across Grandma’s living room.  Mismatched chairs were scattered around the tables and family members pounced toward their usual spots.

Making the most of our time together, we shared memories, stories and relished on our history.  Some how we ended up on the topic of my favourite family story.

Hidden in a drawer upstairs was a copy of A Horse Called Farmer by Peter Cunnings.  While Grandma was dismissive and uninterested, my Dad was eager to read.  His eagerness deriving from his need to maintain a connection to his father (who passed away nearly 10 years ago).  The story which immortalized our Great, Great, Great Grandpa McLean.

Magdalen Islands


Welcome to the Magdalen Islands (Îles de la Madeleine) where the scenery is breathtaking, the camaraderie is abundant and the history is rich.  Within the archipelago sits an island known as Entry Island (Île d’Entrée).  This will become important later on!

On a farm in Entry Island lived a family and their horse.  They named the Horse Farmer.  In 1923, Richard McLean (Great, Great, Great Grandpa) sold this horse to Curtis Quinn after a night of cards.  Curtis Quinn resided on Grosse Île.  Grosse Île happened to be on the other end of the archipelago.

horse called farmer richard mclean

Every winter an ice bridge formed between Entry Island and Grosse Île.  After Farmer was sold, he was taken across this bridge and rode to his new home.

Farmer was extremely unhappy about his new master and living conditions.  So one day, he kicked and kicked at his gate until he broke it down, freeing himself.  Sprinting through the fields, he fled, never looking back.  Travelling along the Magdalen can be extremely dangerous and complicated, as travel typically includes a mix of land and water.

Farmer, determined to return home, began wandering in the direction of the McLean farm.  As the seasons changed, he made it to the location where the ice bridge once was, however it was gone.  Farmer swam nearly three kilometers from the end of Sandy Hook beach to the southern part of Entry Island (the low place). Persevering through the tumultuous conditions, he made it ashore and followed the scent and sounds of the McLean farm.

Farmer lived the remainder of his life on the McLean farm.

horse called farmer barn entry island

Farmer’s journey was nearly 70 km in length and included 3 km of ocean.  This story shows the importance of preserving, family and the strength of love.




Flying with a baby

Being avid travellers, we weren’t nervous about travelling with our six month old daughter.  After all, she is a good baby.  This will be a breeze, we laughed…however, we were wrong.

But in the end, it was completely worth the red face, sweating and nerve racking plane ride…it just wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be.

We skillfully packed up our Bugaboo travel bag, filling it with her stroller, her Bumbo chair and car seat base.  The Bugaboo travel bag is HUGE and is extremely easy to maneuver.  It  was  definitely worth the purchase.

Arriving at the airport, we searched for the baggage drop off area, since we had already checked in online.  The check in line was nearly 200 people long and looked like it would take hours to get through.  After asking a worker for assistance, we were informed that we still needed to wait in that line regardless of checking in online as they needed to verify our daughter.  I was shocked.  Not only did this process make zero sense, it was also a huge waste of time.  And time is precious when you’re travelling with a baby!

We found another worker willing to assist us and she directed us to the front of the line so we could drop our bags off.  It had been ages since we last travelled with checked bags, so we were unsure of the protocol.  They checked us in then directed us around the corner where we would be dropping all of our bags onto a large conveyor belt.  I’m so use to them putting our bags on the conveyor belt during check in.  But, I guess this has changed.  It was a little bit awkward weaving through the crowds, but overall, it really wasn’t that bad.

Another odd thing was the security process.  The machine directed us to put our passports in then stand for an awkward photo.  Well, this is fine, except when you swipe your passport the camera is ready for your photo, immediately.  Unaware that I had initially swiped my daughter’s passport, we scrambled to pull her out of her car seat and prop her in front of the screen.  The concept for this process is good, but the instructions definitely could have been better.

After holding her in front of the machine, trying to keep myself out of the photo, we were finally declined from this process and advised to see a representative.  It seemed like everyone with kids was sent on this route. People travelling with children probably should just go directly to the security representative, to save everyone the time and hassle of toying with the machine.

Once we made it to our gate, the waiting game was easy.  The Pearson airport has been renovated beautifully and offers many amenities. You can order your food and drinks from the comfort of your table using the tablet/ ipad.  Since our daughter hadn’t started crawling we were able to walk around with her in our arms.  She was able to take in all of the sights but not wander away from us.

The “early” boarding call confused us a little too.  The staff called upon the first class guests and then as they were helping them through, they offered guests travelling with children or those requiring extra assistance to board.  Well, it felt like people swarmed the gate at this time, making it very difficult to get through.  I’m still not sure if pre-boarding with a baby is advantageous or not.

Nervously, we anticipated the take off and prematurely gave our daughter her bottle.  I forgot how long it takes to taxi.  Luckily, she fell asleep and slept through the entire take off.  She woke up briefly, we gave her another bottle and then she fell asleep again.

The flight home wasn’t as smooth.  She cried for the first 30 minutes and nothing seemed to calm her down.  We received a lot of stares and glances from fellow passengers.  Which made me think…why are they giving us dirty looks?  It’s not like we’re pinching our daughter.  They’re the ones that can turn up their volume and enjoy the rest of the flight…while we’re the ones who are nervously trying to comfort an upset baby.

For our next flights we decided we wouldn’t worry about those around us as they’re out of our control.  So, if you’re sitting next to us on your next plane ride, just smile and put your headphones on.

Happy travels!