Friday, 3 February 2017

Afternoon Tea on the Canadian East Coast

In August 2016, my family's summer trip took place. Where to? The East Coast of our beautiful country of Canada! We had been to Nova Scotia together before along with my aunt, uncle, and cousins (on my Dad's side) to visit my great-aunt (also on my Dad's side) who lived there when my brother and I and our cousins were little kids. Of course, we mostly visited with my great-aunt while we were there and my brother and I don't remember everything anyway because we were so young so we decided to go back to visit Nova Scotia but also to visit some of the other provinces too. We ended up visiting the province of Prince Edward Island and we also visited Campobello Island which is located in New Brunswick and is right next to the state of Maine.

We ended up camping in parks and campgrounds most of the way and did many tourist activities. One of my favourite things that we did, besides the Anne of Green Gables attractions that I experienced, was going for afternoon tea in each of the provinces that we visited. What follows are descriptions of all of our lovely afternoon tea experiences on the Canadian East Coast. I hope you enjoy and consider visiting the East Coast to have some lovely afternoon tea experiences of your own.

Afternoon tea at Dalvay-by-the-Sea:

On Prince Edward Island, we went for afternoon tea at Dalvay-by-the-Sea. It is a national historic site protected by Parks Canada and it is located in Prince Edward Island National Park. My Mom had read about the afternoon tea that you can go for at Dalvay-by-the-Sea and we were all interested since we all love tea. We had to book a reservation ahead of time (we only booked it 1 or 2 days ahead) and it cost $100 since we were a group of four people. Our table was beside a window with a view of Dalvay Lake. We each got to choose a type of tea and were brought small individual tea pots with our chosen tea flavours. Two stacked plate display towers full of light snacks and goodies were placed on the table with enough for each person to have one of everything. There were some savoury lunch items on the bottom plate followed by desserts on the other two plates. Since these were all finger foods, I remember thinking that I could eat everything but all of the small items really get quite filling after a while. The room had other tables where other people enjoyed their tea and snacks. The building itself was beautiful both inside and out and we made sure to explore a bit before we left.

Rita's Tea Room:

In Nova Scotia, we went to Rita's Tea Room in Big Pond on Cape Breton Island. Rita MacNeil was a famous Canadian singer. She bought an old schoolhouse to convert into a house for herself in her hometown of Big Pond, Cape Breton Island and would invite her audiences to stop by for tea if they were ever in the area. So many people took her up on the offer that she decided to convert her home into a tea room. Visiting Rita's Tea Room was very special to me since I am a big fan of Rita MacNeil who unfortunately passed away in 2013. I knew that this was one of the places that we absolutely, without a question, had to go to during our East Coast trip. When I first stepped inside, I instantly felt a feeling of coziness and friendliness. We looked at the lovely museum section all about Rita's life and achievements before sitting down at a table. My Dad and brother ordered tea and lunch items while my Mom and I shared The Old School House Strings which included enough tea for two along with a plate of small desserts. The tea was Rita's Tea Room Blend and we made sure to buy a box for ourselves and a box for my grandma in the small gift shop. I also made sure to buy a Rita tea cup, identical to the tea cups used at Rita's Tea Room, because I had promised myself that I would buy one. The two ladies that we encountered who were working there were so wonderful and there was just so much warmth and happiness in that beautiful place.

Tea with Eleanor in Roosevelt Campobello International Park:

In New Brunswick, we attended the Tea with Eleanor program in Roosevelt Campobello International Park on Campobello Island. When we visited the park's visitor centre, planning on visiting the Roosevelt cottage that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt owned and stayed at with their family which is free to visit, we found out about the free Tea with Eleanor program and decided to participate in it. We were given tickets and later made our way over to the Wells-Shober Cottage when it was time for the tea to start. We were part of a whole group of people participating in the program and we all went into a room that had several tables with chairs. On one wall, there were photos of Eleanor and on another were copies of some of her My Day newspaper columns. My family had a table all to ourselves and everyone in the group enjoyed tea and cookies while listening to two lovely ladies tell us all about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt. They explained that the reason that this program was set up was because Eleanor Roosevelt always had afternoon tea every day with her family and it was very important to her. Afterwards, we got to see some rooms of the cottage that were set up with old furniture before heading over to see the Roosevelt cottage which has its rooms set up to closely resemble what it looked like in 1920.

After this trip, I absolutely adore the idea of afternoon tea. Stopping in the afternoon and taking a break from everything in order to drink tea and maybe have some light snacks just seems good for you, even if it's just a solo afternoon tea just for you. For one thing, taking breaks is healthy. Working on something for too long can become stressful or tiring. Drinking tea and just concentrating on that really makes you focus on the present moment and helps you relax. Of course, if there are other people, then it becomes social and I know that even I need to be social once in a while even though I'm an introvert and am fine being on my own. I've had afternoon teas of my own with family once in a while but I'm thinking that I might need to do it more often. It just feels right, especially for a tea drinker like myself.


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