My Cape Breton Passport

Posted on May 3, 2014 under Storytelling with no comments yet

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The day they dismantled the toll booths at the Causeway



I recently dusted off my Cape Breton passport.  If you think becoming a Canadian citizen is demanding, just try and prove your roots in order to be considered a Cape Bretoner … or a reasonable facsimile.

In order for me to pass the screening process to become a columnist for this paper, I had to present my credentials.  Tarbish player?  Musician?  Writer?  Hockey player?  I have tried my hand at all of these things but they are hardly “passport worthy”.  So let’s get right to the heart of the matter: “What’s yer father’s name?”

My father’s name was Peter Donald MacDonald, otherwise known in these parts as “P.D.”  He was born in St. Peter’s, Richmond County, and his forefathers were from Soldier’s Cove.  My great grandparents are buried at Barra’s Head.  So half of my DNA is totally legit.  By the way, when researching our family tree, my brother Don (to his chagrin) discovered that there were eighteen men answering to John MacDonald in Soldiers Cove at one point in time.  Quite an unimaginative bunch when it came to doling out names.

My father was one of the pioneers of the Credit Union movement along with John MacPhee.  The MacPhee house, up where St.Rita’s used to be, was my home away from home.

I have passed through Industrial Cape Breton many times over the years.  I am happy to report that I never passed out while spending time there … not for lack of trying on a few occasions.  Over the years I spent time learning about Cape Breton culture at fine establishments like Smooth Herman’s and the Campus pub on Charlotte Street that used to be on the campus of Xavier College.

I was a hockey player and made several trips to Sydney and Glace Bay during high school and Junior B days.  One more than one occasion, I had my face rubbed into the wire mesh at the rink in The Bay.  And that was even before we got on the ice.  Now that was a tough place to play.  Sydney Academy was always a power house and our nemesis at the high school level.

I also played a lot of golf back then and took part in the Road Builders tournament in Lingan for a number of years.  We also travelled to Seaview to play in inter-club tournaments.  The hospitality was always first rate.

I have been to the Sanitary Dairy and attended the “Rise andFollies” at the Savoy Theatre.  Are you getting the picture?

I also developed lifelong friendships with some of the nicest people you can imagine.  I hope some of my old girl friends from the Sydney area have moved out to Fort McMurray and won’t write letters to the editor protesting my reappearance in God’s country.  They tried to drive me out … but I’m back.

If I could turn back the hands of time, I would stop by Glebe Avenue and have a visit with Frank and Iris.  I would savor a piece of the best apple pie in the whole world and play a hand of Olympic crib with Frank.

My only regret is that I don’t get to show my passport to attendants at a toll booth at the Causeway.

( Thanks to the Port Hastings Historical Society for the photo )





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