"True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth."
I Timothy 6:6 (NLT)
December of 1955 we left college and drove a 1940 Olds 700 miles from Wollaston, Massachusetts, to Rosebank, Prince Edward Island, for Christmas. Fred and I were newly engaged and he wanted me to experience an old fashioned Canadian Christmas at his childhood home.
Fred took a short cut through the dense Maine woods. The roads were covered with ice and snow. There were no street lights, no houses, and no towns for miles. I was already apprehensive and it didn't help when the windshield defroster quit working and then we had a flat tire. Fred did have a spare, but no jack. We hadn't seen a single car on this desolate road, but miraculously one appeared. The driver stopped and had a jack.
Hours later we reached the dock at Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, but we'd missed the last ferry. There was no other way to get to the Island as this was long before the "Confederation Bridge" was erected. That bridge now joins the eastern Canadian provinces of PEI and New Brunswick. This curved ten mile bridge is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water. Little did I know then that Fred would write the words and the music for the song: "The Wonder of the World: The Confederation Bridge" and would get to sing it at the grand opening of this bridge in 1997.
But now our car is in line with dozens of others waiting for the first ferry in the morning. I pull the blanket closer around us as we prepare to wait through the night. During this time Fred proudly tells me about the ferry, called the "Abegweit". He explains that "she is an icebreaking, railway, vehicle, and passenger ferry." "In fact", he adds, "We're told she is the most powerful icebreaker in the world. However I dream of the day when a bridge will connect Prince Edward Island with the rest of the world. I often feel isolated. I never got off the Island until I was a teenager and went with a youth group to Pine Island, New Brunswick.
Morning finally came and I was amazed to see railroad cars being driven onto the lower deck of this ferry as we drove up a ramp onto a higher deck where the cars were parked. Fred explains that there is room on board for "950 passengers and 60 cars in addition to the railway cars." We left our car and went to the top deck where we could get some breakfast and watch the ferry cross the Northumberland Strait connecting Cape Tormentine to Port Borden, Prince Edward Island.
We reached Fred's homestead in Rosebank by noon. The next morning we awoke to a falling snow. After breakfast Fred said with a smile, "Get on your warmest clothes, we're going to go out and cut down a Christmas tree." He hitched his favorite horse, Bill, to their one-horse open sleigh and helped me in. I felt I was experiencing a fairy tale as we glided over the brook and through the grove of spruce trees on their 200 acre farm looking for the perfect Christmas tree. This fairyland of trees was glistening as sunlight fell on the freshly fallen snow. It reminded me of a Currier and Ives Christmas card.