Island Living

Kingsville is especially blessed. Due to repairs taking place on the Leamington dock, the ferry to Pelee Island is docking in Kingsville for the whole summer. At 8:00 o'clock this morning, as I was watering my plants, I could hear its horn signalling its first departure of the day. Normally the ferry only docks here during the month of August. What makes this summer particularly nice is that my husband and I can ride our bikes down to the dock, hop on the ferry, ride around the island until we lunch somewhere, then get home in plenty of time for dinner.

Pelee Island is very quaint, much like Ontario in the 50s. In other words, you make your own fun. There aren't any Tim Hortons, bank machines, or amusement parks and the only grocery store burnt down over the winter. Jane Christmas, a Toronto journalist, wrote a series of columns about it for The National Post when she spent a winter there recovering from a serious car accident and then turned the articles into the bestseller, The Pelee Project. She adeptly describes the culture shock in adapting to the laidback atmosphere of the island after her frenetic and often shallow existence in Toronto. A big night on the town is a community potluck dinner and movie in the Lions Hall. If you want to relax, Pelee Island is the place to do it. Margaret Atwood (Peggy to her friends) has a cottage there and hunters know the place for its fall pheasant shoot. The pheasants are bred on the island and then let loose in a very confused and complacent state. There's also quite a good summer theatre, a winery, and some bed and breakfasts and restaurants. Perfect place to cycle. For the most part the roads are paved and cut quietly through lush fields. Rather expensive cottages share a gorgeous sand beach. We try to get over at least once a year but there are a surprisingly large number of local people who have never been. I would compare it to a visit to P.E.I. without the travel stress. And the lobster, unfortunately. But it does have awesome lake perch.

Island living does take a certain type of person and there are lots of those in the recent release of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Guernsey is a British island tucked up near the coast of France. One of the perks of living there is that you don't pay income tax. During the second world war, when this story takes place, it was occupied by the Germans and residents were reduced to making pies out of potato peels because Churchill refused to let the Red Cross drop off food and the Germans confiscated everything edible on the island. The book offers charming character studies, a little intrigue and a little romance, but mostly it focuses on the people and how they survived with grace and no small amount of humour.