Thursday, Aug. 29th, 1901.
In the Land of Evangeline.
A correspondent of the "New York Mail and Express," who hides his exuberant genius under the modest initials "F.A.C." has been writing of Nova Scotia, or at least of such part of it as may be seen along the line of the Dominion Atlantic Railway. To the ordinary inhabitant of the country, who only sees things as they are, his conclusions are often amusing, and at times startling. Witness his opening paragraph:
Up in Nova Scotia there is a train called the "Flying Bluenose," which runs between Yarmouth and Halifax. The adjective is used adversely, because, in all the province there is nothing else that flies or hurries. It is a lazy, sleepy, happy-go-lucky land, where men are satisfied with a modest competence turned up from the sea. Why a people who must fight the rigors of a long winter are not more enterprising is a problem for the ethnologist.
To the inhabitant of the Annapolis or Cornwallis Valley the information that he is satisfied with a "modest" or other "competence turned up from the sea, " will come in the light of a revelation. He does not know the exigencies of space writing, nor the proneness of writers of this sort to build their work on purely conventional lines. There is a tradition among men of his class that all Nova Scotians are fishermen, and it is easier for him to allude to them as such than to acquire knowledge or exhibit intelligence. This peculiarity occurs again in the allusion to the "rigors of a long winter." It is a matter of conventional traditions that the Nova Scotian climate consists principally of winter, and the correspondent cannot get beyond the tradition.
As for the "laziness" and "sleepiness" that excite his wonder, if not his admiration, he himself furnishes the key to their discovery a little further on.
At first the tourist rebels against it. He wants to be told to "Hurry up!" and "Gwan there!"
The life of a space writer is not all roses. On his celerity may depend his sustenance. The sight of people who can take their time and yet manage to exist in comfort is a novel one to him, and he is astonished and perhaps envious.
But the list of marvels is not yet exhausted. He finds people not mere common people, but even hotel proprietors who "do not want only the strangers money." "The Bluenose," he says, "likes to talk." He will even stop working to talk. To the overdriven New Yorker this is indeed phenomenal.
Those of us who are acquainted with the irrepressible bumptiousness of the average American newspaper man will read the following in an entirely different light from that in which it was written:
A driver at Wolfville was taking a party of tourists through the country of the Acadians, which Longfellow immortalized, and which, by the way, he never visited. The horses started out bravely, then trotted lazily, and finally dropped into a walk.
The driver ventured a comment or two on the weather and finally entered into his passengers conversation.
"I thought you were our driver." Said one of them pointedly.
"Im a gentleman first," quoth the driver.
One is tempted to smile at the child-like simplicity of the Wolfville man who thought he could rebuke a journalistic tourist by anything so indirect as this. He the tourist, that is would simply not understand it.
It is with a feeling of thankfulness that we find our tourist getting better as his journey proceeds. He finds it pleasant to be away from the rush and drive of the great city, from the influence of the dollar mark, and concludes with the following happy combination of compliment and truth.
Altogether, the peninsula is partly Acadian and entirely Arcadia. From Yarmouth to Halifax, through Digby and Wolfville, the tourist drifts, slowly, lazily, happily. The world seems to him good, whether he be sailing Yarmouth harbor, skirting the shore of Annapolis Basin, or loitering in the shadow of old Blomidon. He looks down into Gaspereau Valley and vows that never was there a more beautiful picture.