Living in Cape Spencer, New Brunswick during the early 1970’s was an adventure in how to be creative for a young teenager. The remoteness of the little rock one hundred feet above sea level made it impossible to ‘have a life’ (as we say today), outside of school. It really wasn’t accessible to most people as the final three miles to get to the place was all dirt road.
There were three little white houses in Cape Spencer. These were provided by the government for the families who were hired to take care of the ‘light at Cape Spencer’, as it was called. The houses were comfortable three bedroom homes with a livingroom, fairly spacious kitchen and a pantry – yes, a pantry. They set high at the top of the hill and there was a wonderful view of the ocean (when it was not fogged in). In the winter we would tobaggan down the hill at breakneck speed, and we would be hauled up again by our neighbour, who owned a snowmobile. That’s how high the hill was for us. It was absolutely scary, if you decided to drive down. Sometimes if there were a small patch of ice, you imagined yourself gliding soundlessly into the ocean, never to be heard from again.
My dad would say that on a really clear day on the Bay of Fundy, that he could see people picking apples in Digby (Nova Scotia), across the bay about thee hours by ferry. He said it with such fervence that it made me laugh and wonder if he actually believed it – for I never did. My eyesight was not that good – and I have great eyesight to this day!
When we went to school, each family took turns taking us to the schoolbus as it couldn’t come to the Cape. We had a meeting spot at te end of the dirt road where it met up with pavement. This means that the day started very early and ended after a long time. Dark to dark, basically.
I would use my time at school strategically, as I had a library card for the public library and had permission to leave the school grounds to go and scout the book shelves weekly. Part of my survival kit was a stack of books secured and read throughout the weekend. It created places for me to travel, explore and think about all without leaving my bedroom.
The other weekend highlight for me was Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday evening. My parents would invariably host a card game and I would be left to my own devices – so the rabbit ears were propped and CBC was turned on ( we had two channels – lucky, I know!) to the familiar tune for the evening. Some fun snacks and Mom’s Famous Molasses Cookies and I was set! It was a great night when the Montreal Canadiens were playing – love that team – even now.
I also had the great privilege to be driven to church in the city. Many good people in the nearby village helped me in those days as I was passionate about my attendance at church.
This would conclude a pretty much typical, but great weekend in my world as a young teen. We were remote, but cozy. It was Dad, Mom and Me – and it was part of the best time in my life.