Pilgrimage – Day 1

Date: Friday, September 10, 2021

Note: No time to proof so likely lots of errors. Janet has taken of the role of proof reader so I’ll have them fixed eventually.

Today is the beginning of a Pilgrimage to Montreal with my three sons: Adam, Christopher, and Drew. Originally we were all flying on Flair Airlines on Friday, September 10th at 4:25 pm and returning to Halifax on Sunday, September 12th at 6:45 pm. `

Drew became concerned that flying now with the Delta virus might be more risk than necessary and suggested he drive to Montreal and meet us. His job at Shakespeare by the Sea is the Studio training program and if he came into contact with COVID, it would impact running the upcoming programs.

As well, my plan was to be Montreal for the weekend of September 10 -12, fly home, and head out by car on September 14th to make my way to Toronto over a couple of days. The folks I worked with back in the 1970s at Pinecrest Came gather every fall near the camp to reminisce. Even though I’ve always been welcome, I’ve never gone in the past. This seemed the right year to attend and reconnect with people I haven’t seen for over 45 years.

Although no one would stop me, the family was concerned about me making this long driving trip. Drew offered to go with me as an alternative driver. As we thought it through, it seemed more sensible that I drive with him from the get-go and we just continue on after Montreal. So our weekend pilgrimage took of a new itinerary.

  • Sep 10 – Depart Halifax by car. Pick up Adam and Chris at the airport in Montreal around 6:00 pm.
  • Sep 11 – Visit Saint Joseph’s Oratory in the morning and then enjoy Montreal.
  • Sep 12 – Enjoy Montreal and drop Adam and Chris at the airport for a flight home. See Tanner Shantz in the evening.
  • Sep 13 – Enjoy Montreal
  • Sep 14 – Depart Montreal for Ottawa. Lunch in Byward Market. Family birthday party for Michael at Carolyn Leahy’s home where we’ll stay for the night. Meet Dyan Tufts for a catch-up around 8:00 pm in The Glebe at a craft brewery. The Leahys are Janet’s cousins on her Mother’s side and Dyan Tufts is a long-time friend and colleague from Dalhousie. She also purchased a Second Wind shirt so I’ll deliver that.
  • Sep 15 – Depart Ottawa for Peterborough with a stop at the UA Outlet in Kanata. Connect with Owen Stan for the night in Peterborough.
  • Sep 16 – Depart Peterborough for Toronto. I have an AirBnB booked for two days and plan to spend the time with Ryan Zaldin. Drew and I do have a reservation at the Barbarian Steak House at 5:00 pm which we’ve been to during his time time as the Etobicoke School for the Arts and then Ryerson. I met Ryan as a student at Dalhousie and we’ve had an important relationship since that time. I have a Second Wind shirt to deliver to him.
  • Sep 17 – Enjoy Toronto with Ryan.
  • Sep 18 – Depart Toronto for Torrance where I’ll meet my cohort from Pinecrest for a 12:30 lunch at the Clear Lake Brewing Company. We will look to head to Go Home Lake to boat out to the cottages at 4:30 pm. Dinner will be at around 8:00 pm.
  • Sep 19 – Depart Go Home Lake to pick up Drew in Toronto and drive to Québec City to check into an AirBnB for Sunday and Monday nights.
  • Sep 20 – Enjoy Québec City.
  • Sep 21 – Depart Québec City for home in Halifax.

On Saturday, we plan to visit Saint Joseph’s Oratory and experience the spirituality of this remarkable basilica so I can thank God for holding my hand throughout the challenge of my cancer and filling me with the courage I needed to live every day to the fullest. All my important life decisions, and those I make today, are directed by the moral compass God blessed me with from day one. I expect this to be an emotional moving moment. Should it is God’s wish to extend my life, I will use this time to continue with my goal of making my cancer experience the most important “teachable moment” of my life.

Saint Joseph can be seen as the saint of everyday life, to whom one turns for help with both minor worries and at life-defining moments. Saint Brother André had boundless trust in Saint Joseph, his friend and guide. His dream was to build on Mount Royal a chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph — an oratory for prayer to him. Crowds soon flocked to the place.

Following Brother André’s recommendation, the great saint is invoked here because, according to him, “He lets no one fall by the wayside.” Traditionally, one confides to the care of Saint Joseph issues related to family, work, health, death and material needs. Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, founded in 1904, is the largest shrine in the world dedicated to him. (From the web site)

Drew and I departed Halifax around 4:00 am. Our goal was to be in Montreal in time to meet Adam and Chris at the airport when their flight arrives later in the afternoon. It was a good plan but we encountered a lot of rain in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It cleared up around Edmundson so it was clear sailing after that. It did slow us down more than expected. There was also the little matter that their arrival was projected to be 17:10 and in my mind I translated that to 7:10 pm. Had I not made that mistake, we would have left Halifax around 2:00 am but that’s now water under the bridge.

Just before Woodstock, at Exit 191, we did make a stop at the ever-popular Murray’s for Brunch lunch and fuel. It was good to have a break from driving in the rain for a while. The English Muffin with an egg is a treat that is just the right size for me.

I planned to get setup in the AirBnB in Montreal first and then head to the airport. However, with the rain, the stop at Murray’s, and the traffic in Montreal, we went right to the airport. It was pretty crowded in the car with all our luggage and four adult bodies but it all worked out.

Like everywhere we are throughout Canada, there was a lot of construction in Montreal, so the route the GPS gave us to the AirBnB didn’t work out as we hoped. Chris and Drew decided to use Google maps as an alternative which worked out well so we eventually got to our destination, checked in, unloaded the car, and got some food. The boys headed to a Vietnamese restaurant for take-out. This was a first for me. I had a spring roll with a flavour of black liquorish. It was quite pleasant.

I needed to have a nap. The boys decided to go to a Comedy Show not far from the AirBnb. It was in a theatre located in the original Montreal Forum. That old rink has been converted to a Mall with many services, stores, and venues.

It was a good day and we all sleep well.

There are many adventures to come on this Pilgrimage/Road Trip.

As always, thanks for continuing as important support pillars in my life. I hope you enjoy my ramblings about this Pilgrimage to Montreal and road trip. It is really wonderful being with my sons. I thank God for helping me enjoy this precious moment. Once this road trip is in my six, I’ll have to start planning an event with my daughters Meredith and Melanie.

Peace, Love, and Laughter

7 Replies to “Pilgrimage – Day 1”

  1. What a great trip, Phil! I will be thinking of you and your sons, especially, on Oct. 11 when you are due to be at St. Joseph’s Oratory.

    But on your way home from Quebec City, try to stop at the Shrine of St. Anne-de-Beaupre. It is only about 20 miles east of QC, and is a beautiful basilica in a lovely village, and has a long history in the Canadian Catholic Church of healings and miracles.


    1. Correction! I listed the month as October throughout this post. I have since corrected all those to September. We visited Saint Joseph’s Oratory Basilica this morning. I said several prayers and Chris had Oil we used when lighting candles. My heart and soul are powerfully enriched and this is an experience I will cherish throughout the rest of my life.

      Cheers, Phil

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