Trans Canada By Norton

Canada coast to coast on a 1961 Norton 500 Featherbed Twin.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It is time, now, to close down Nortontranscanada.
If you want to read the trip blog, do note that it is in reverse order - thefirst entry is the most recent. Also please let me remind you that blogs from earlier months can also be found in the "Archive" section. (When you open the blog, look at the words that appear on the right hand side of the screen and follow them down to the bottom for "archive"). In fact this Canada trip starts with the May archive.
And now, as a gesture of farewell, and at the risk of being accused of preaching, I would like to copy you with some timeless wisdom. This is "The Medicine Wheel", given to us by David Mowat of Alderville First Nations, Rice Lake, Southern Ontario.
Of all the teachings we receive this one is the most important.
Nothing belongs to you, of what there is, and of what you take, you must share.
If the legends fall silent, who will teach our children our ways?
If the very old remember, the very young will listen.

The environment is forever growing and is forever giving
and is not for us to own or manipulate.
The word is like a stone, when you throw it into a lake:
it has a ripple effect through the whole of creation.
Three principal teachings that the creator gave us to know:
to be kind above all, to be honest in all things, to share what we have,
and if we do these things correctly, then that is where we gain our strength.
I think of the centre of the medicine wheel as the circle of children,
because they are the centre of our world and everything we do
with them is going to reflect back to us because they are going to
grow up one day and will take care of us.
The teachings of sweetgrass: every blade of grass on its own isn't strong,
like people, every one of us working on his own isn't as strong as when we work together,
so when we bring those blades of grass together and put them in a braid,
we have something very strong, a rope that cannot be broken.
That is what happens when we work together: we have a strong community.
The three parts of the sweetgrass braid represent love, respect and honour.
These are the ways that we are taught to treat other people,
and those are the ways that we are taught to treat ourselves,
that we can give those ways to those outside of ourselves too.
Sweetgrass represents the braid of mother earth. Each section is kindness,
the sharing and the honesty, and these you braid together.
If I want love, respect and honour to be extended in the world around me,
it has to start at home. If I show these, the next group affected is my family, and
as they see my example, they can follow, and show love, respect and honour too.
As we have more families in the community living this way
we move toward having a nation, and beyond a nation,
a place where love, respect and honour can be extended one to another.
The medicine wheel teaches us that mind, body, spirit and emotions
are the whole person that we are.
We are spritually-based, natural people of the earth, and in order for our children to know where they are going, they must know who they are as aboriginal people.
People cannot maintain their spiritual roots and connections with the past
if the physical world they live in does not also sustain these roots.
Take a line an bend it and it becomes a circle
complete by itself with no beginning and no end
where the ancient and the emerging
the real and the imagined curve into one direction
to form a whole.
A little time, just enough, not everything.
In the midst of a land without silence
you have to make a place for yourself.
Be ready to see, listen, to understand.
The wisdom and eloquence of my father I pass on to my children
so they too acquire faith, courage, generosity, understanding
and knowledge in the proper way of life.
When considering your plans or deeds, do not just think how they will affect you or your children, who are the first generation .
Consider also the seventh generation, whose rights are as great as yours.
And with that, to our readers, thank you for staying with us during our ride.
Nortontranscanada is now closing down.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Here's an attempt at more piccies:

Injuns! Thunder Bay

Lakeside Loo, Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Ontario Norton Owners Club: Nuala + Peter, Vice-pres, to Whom she is not even married!

Meanwhile, this is where Where Nuala's husband, Garry, is at work:

South Ontario Thunderstorm, Viewed from Petrol Station, 5 minutes after sunshine.

Ottawa Norton Owners to the Rescue - Gregg de-bugging the Dommi

Village in Quebec

Dancing dolls at Phil and Barbara's B&B in Acadia

Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island

Breakfast with Norton, Dining room of wayside inn in Prince Edward island

Pictou! As well as having houses that looked like they came straight from Scotland, Pictou also has a reproduction ship. 100 or so Scottish persons sailed on the original version from Loch Broom to Pictou in the years following the Prince Charlie rebellion. As for the ship, I would not sail across the Tyne in such a thing, let alone the Atlantic, with or without Scottish persons.

But if you come from Loch Broom, maybe you see things differently. Someone had the idea of buying up a lump of virgin Nova Scotia (virgin apart from the local inhabitants - the MicMak - but as they were not Scottish, they did not count), and selling it in little lumps at a better price to said residents of Loch Broom, along with the promise of provender for a full season.

So the Scots duly arrived to find no provender, and nothing but trees (and the occasional MicMak). Having never seen a tree, they were baffled. But somone (maybe the Mic-Mak, who sound really nice ?) showed them how to make log houses, and how to get maple syprup from Maple trees - and so most of them got through the first winter, and thus became Maple Syrup eating Canadians, and Mc.Mic-Mak. But even that has not stopped them squirling and hooting, or playing fiddledy-dee music on little violins.
The minor road we took to a B&B near Halifax airport turned out to be a delight - morning a bit less hot - road surface mostly good - real sweeping bends - bits for farmland, forest and little white wooden houses. Not spectacular country, just very "homey". What motorycling is about.

And today we delivered the Norton to the docks at Halifax. I told the girl at Shenker we'd drop it off on the 23rd. So she sent a message saying she'd booked it on a boat on the 24'th, with latest delivery date for the bike the TWENTIETH. As for Schenker UK, I have still to ascertain when, how and from whom I collect the bike at home.

But this, folks is the end of NORTONTRANSCANADA.

She did all but the 15 miles or so in the U-Hail-It truck at Ottawa under her own steam. Breakdowns were 2 but the causes very minor (the diagnosis difficult, though). Fuel consumption was 70 mpg plus all the way, cruising at 100 km/hour. Tyres held out for the whole trip, but 2 chains consumed due to the heat, dust, gravel and mud, hail, and lightning. But everywhere the nicest people you could hope to meet. We dont know how many miles we covered but it must be more than 5000. We are nearer to home than we are to where we started from. And Lizzie looks a bit wan but is still smiling.

As for next year's trans-Siberia run - its off. I think we have seen enough fir trees, now.

From here on we are non-Norton but will spend a couple of extra days in the maritime provinces. If you are a motorcyclist, this is the end of the trip. If you are Canadian, how can we express our thanks?

TTFN from John and Lizzie

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Wow! Can it be that our last report was from Tracadie-Sheila?

Legs of this journey are getting shorter and shorter - - - from Tracadie-Sheila we went to a hot National Park called Coutchiboujiac or similar, where we walked onto some barrier islands where the Candaians were sunning themselves on the beach - then along the shore to where we could rent a canoe, and we paddled around happily, but aimlessly for a bit.

Then on to Bouctouche - still Acadian territory - for a B&B with sea views, and another gargantuan seafood Fest.

Next Day real HEATTTTT! - and on to the Confederation bridge - what must be about 15-20 miles of road on legs that takes you to Prince Edward Island. It was actually cool on the bridge, which was wonderful, because the ride was becoming an ordeal.

PEI looked lovely - all little farms and fields, and we ended up at an inn on the cycle track that goes round much of the island. A happy, idiosyncratic place! When asked where we should put the Norton, he said "put it in the resaturant after the customers have left". So next morning we came down to see people at little tables, eating breakfast with the Norton in their middle.

I picked up a lady called Leslie - or maybe she picked me up - but very soon she had picked up both of us. She was happily cycling the island, and ended up joining us for dinner, and the happy landlord said she was welcome to put up her tent on the lawn.

A day off took us on rented cycles to a fishing harbour. But with the thermometer at about 33-34 C (upper 80's F), AND humidity, the ride back became an ordeal. Showers, liquid and BEER!!!

Today the ferry to Nova Scotia and here we are, on Loch Broom, at Pictou, with many stone built Scottish houses straight out of the Borders. Tonight there is a folk music fest, and, to honour Neddie Rispin, we will go and listen to them going "Fiddledy - dee! Twiddledy-dee!".

By the way, the Acadians also make celtic type music! It must be catching.

One more leg to Halifax - about 100 miles - and that's it for the Norton. She gets to go home, but we stay on a few days in the Maritimes.

Heat is a real problem. Temperatures are in the 30's centigrade. Local motorcyclists ride around on their Harleys and Harley lookalikes, in nothing but a t-shirt, shorts, no gloves and a small open faced helmet. In fact some of the helmets look like plastic Yamulkas, like the Chief Rabbi wears - or the pope for that matter.

Of course we have full face, flip-front helmets, leather gloves, boots, and padded jackets and trousers. In theory if you leave zips a bit open, some breeze blows through, but at certain temperatures this simply does not cool you.

I asked one of the Harley riders what happens of he falls off - and he said, "We dont think about that!"

One local rider had his pretty little blonde daughter on the luxury arm chair at the back of his huge Honda Gold Wing. She did have a full face helmet, but apart from that, the standard t-shirt and shorts, plus "flip-flops" on her feet. While looking at her, horrid visions of her rose before my eyes - sliding down the road on her naked skin. I had to blink and swallow hard to shake myself out of it.

But what do you do? Lizzie is actually feeling the heat more than I am, but for both of us, the tour is ending as a mad dash for shelter from the sun. We have met this problem before, in Spain and France. Does anyone make really effective protective clothing and helmets designed for heat? Which maybe you could coverwith some kind of Plastic outer, if rain were to strike? In our touring over the years heat has been much more of a problem than cold. But this is hotter than most places we have been - or maybe it is the humidity.

Anyhow we are fine, this place is pretty, and Lizzie is planning our next B&B's.

Sorry, no pics. We must try to find a way of extracting some from Lizzie's Camera.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tracadie-Sheila! That's where we are! In Acadia with the Acadians!

Progress has slowed right back! You can reach Halifax in 4-5 hours from here, but we plan to take 4-5 days, 'cos the bike does not need to be delivered to the shipping agent yet - --

Last 2 days at Pointe-Verte - at the beach B&B of Philip and Barbara - being fed lobsters and things - Philip another Acadian.

Acadians? These are French Canadians, but not the Quebec ones - these are different ones. All sorts of people got caught in the backwash of the British History we learned at school, and of the backwash we learned nothing. So just listen to this -

In sixteen-something French people settled in the general area of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The forests were full of game - the sea abounded in fish - the indians were friendly and helped them - in fact sometimes married them. And they though they had found Arcadia. Only they spelt it wrongly!

Well, the Brits and the French kept having wars and the Acadians (l'Acadie) kept getting told, first they were French , then the British, then vice versa - so they decided to tell the authorites they were neutral -they just wanted to farm, fish, and maybe marry Indians.

Which was fine until the war that preceded the Napoleonic wars, when the British decided these French speakers at the strategic mouth of the St Lawrence were a security hazard and demanded they take an oath of allegiance. The Acadians said "A palgue on both your houses and we will have none of it!" So they got deported. Some into the 13 colonies - which later became the USA - some to New Orleans, where they became the Cajuns, still living there today - some back to France, and some went and hid in French Quebec, or in the woods. Then the British, having cleared out all these French speakers, captured Quebec and got themsleves thousands of new French!

The run up to the Amercan war of Independence was starting. Citizens in the 13 states who were loyal to the crown were being run out of town (a bit like Bosnia without the murder) - and the British Government settled a lot of them in the Acadians' old properties. Other loyalist refugees went elsewhere in Canada.

The American war of Independence duly arrived, and, once over, the whole business of Acadians was forgotten, and nobody gave a damn, so Acadians started to drift back again, and settled in unpopulated areas of New Brunswick, along the coast, and some back in Nova Scotia, farming and fishing.

And here they we found them along about 150 miles of coast. Talking French, displaying their own Acadian flag - along with those of Canada and New Brunswick - but welcoming, hospitable, and happy. Making the whole thing into a big party. We suspect they could teach the surly Quebec politicians a thing or two about making a culture fun for everybody. (Sorry to meddle in politics!)

This area IS fun!

We've a Happy B&B here - bike still running, though WE have a few aches and pains! Blue sea, fishing boats, lobsters, scallops -

And if you want a couple of days off, spoiled at a gourmet B&B, with excursions and bird watching, lool up

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

One more province down! We have leftQuebec and are now in New Brunswick, at a "First Nations"place, no less (PC for Indians) - anyhow they offer internet access to passers-by which is great!

Time is now UK minus 4 hours -so we are East of USA and still heading East!

Quebec! - the City is really pretty, with a big "old town" which looks like something out of Europe - and walled cities like this must be really rare in North America. Eating out and lifestyle are distinctly French influenced and most enjoyable. Only Canadian wine prices are twice ours, and by the time the restaurants have doubled that price, it gets really crazy - but the locals buy the stuff anyhow.

We lost Trish and Winn, who went from Quebec back to Atlanta, where Delta lost their baggage, which they now seem to do on every flight.

Heat!! HEATTTT!!! 30+ degrees - and hiding in air condioned buildings in the afternoon! And then we went on up the banks of the St Lawrence to L'isle Verte. Actuly this is a village opposite the island of that name, which is said to be very peaceful, and popular with bird-watchers.

our biker-friendly B&B host and hostess were Patrice and Danielle - not French Canadian but real French-French, from Lorraine - who offered to rustle up an evening meal for us and in no time at all turned out a superb French Repas, apperetif, wine, and a most ejnoyable evening.

If you want a winter holiday with a difference, well, Patrice does guided snowmobile tours! These things are serious - a week's tour could take you 1500 kilometres - all through back country trails. Its all inclusive - you only need to bring your own balaclava (Face mask thing). He collects you, does the accommodation en route, arranges all the gear, gives you a training course, and if you want to some ice fishing, or dog sleigh driving, that can be arranged too. Groups over 5, but he could probably fit you in a smaller number with another group. These machines will do the ton on a frozen lake! Great for hooligans! Only problem is language - Patrice speaks no English though Danielle speaks some - however with an enthusiast like Patrice, a bit of Dog French will communicate fine.

Yesterday temperature down to about 10-12c with continuous rain. The countryside would have been lovely with better weather. Today pretty run down to the coast, and here we are.

French Canada -in some ways the spice in the Canadian mix - everyone has been friendly - but then there are the ridiculous politics - which somehow dont equate with the generally friendly atmosphere.

Off for a two day rest a little way down the coast.

See thee

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Now in Quebec City!

Vignette from Montreal.
Coming into town I lost Lizzie and she lost me - I had map and mobile phone. She had u-haul-it van and was headed for the u-haul-it depot, and was following me when I lost her. Then I lost myself.

Finding myself on a road, facing into the sun at around 2 p.m., I concluded I was heading roughtly South. A passer-by asked if I was lost. I said, `Well, at least I know I am heading South
`No, he said, you are heading North
`Well,`` I asked`, ``why am I facing into the sun`!
`But this is Montreal!`he repied - - -

(Fortunately Lizzie and I eventually met up at the u-haul-it depot. She, accompanied by a man she had picked up - - -)

Ammeter on bike shook itself apart yesterday. The one we fit in Winnipeg because the previous one had shaken itself apart. So we are now on ammeter 3 - the one David lent me back in Winnipeg. You would think after over 50 years Lucas would have learned how to make an ammeter that lasts over 3000 miles.

Quebec fun - everyone outside in the evenings - cafes`, people watching etc.

Off to see where we beat the French in 18th century, thus ending up with Canada and not having a clue what to do with it - - - bit like Bush in Baghdad, but less scary cos the Canadians are so nice
See thee

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Having duly dynamited the previous internet cafe, here I am again!

Montreal - in the throes of a jazz festival and the World cup - with French, Italian and Portugese flags everywhere and music blaring out of a few complete city blocks. Though if the music is jazz, my name is Johan Sebastian Bach. I particularly liked the gipsy violin a few minutes back though.

We arrived, saved by the Ottawa Norton owners, who rushed to the aid of a sick motorcycle which had completed the last 20 miles into town in the back of a u-haul-it van. Within 5 minutes of our arrival at our B&B, three of them arrived armed with spares, and electrical testing equipment of all kinds.

We had a fit of misfiring a few days back - then the bike ran superbly for another 300 miles or so, including a huge thunderstorm where it did not miss a beat. But the misfire became terminal about 100 miles short of Ottawa. My guardian angel is a wonderful fellow, though. In the whole of Canada, we came to a halt so close to a motel we could push the bike to the door.

The only thing that seemed to produce an inprovement is draining off a bit of fuel out of the carburettor - yielding about 50 yards of riding before the misfire returned. Oh, and it worked morning and evening, but would start misfiring at 11 a.m. precisely. Al the ususual tests - alternative coil, condenser/capacitor, points, carburettor strip-down, drain fuel and look for water etc etc.

Well the Ottawa lot condemned my spare condensor/capacitor and fit another to the bike, off a Honda. And we got to Montreal without further trouble - me riding and Lizzie following behind in the U-haul-it van .

Country pastoral, and all deciduous trees now.

Winn and Trisha are with us for a couple of days.


Sorry, folks. This bloody internet cafe in Montreal has just automatically wiped out the nice blog I wrote you, and, since Lizzie, Trish and Winn are waiting I must go - BUT we have reached Montreal, and thanks to the Ottawa Norton owners, our saviours, the Norton is running. I will publish this before they wipe it again - and I would love to dynamite this internet cafe.

Love from us and infinte thanks to Ottawa Norton owners.