It’s hard to pass up a chance to get out on the waters of the North Shore of PEI. Recently, we noticed a brand new boat tour company that had launched out of Stanley Bridge called DogBoat Adventures. We instantly loved their logo and the fact that the company is named based on the owners love of his own dog – Gilbert. We contacted Dan at DogBoat Adventures to see if he’d be willing to partner up and offer a promotion where we’d get to go on a tour with Bella. He wrote back in excitement at the idea and offered to take some more people for a cruise along the North Shore.
When most people start to plan their trip to PEI, they look right to the North Shore. The North Shore features a lot of the Anne of Green Gables attractions in combination with the tremendous scenery. In the past, Kate and I have been able to explore a lot of the North Shore from Darnley to Cavendish to Rustico but it’s always been by land. If you’re on the Island driving Routes 20 and 6 can be fantastic but does seeing the North Shore by boat get any better? Previous to this past weekend, we had no idea but boy, were we surprised.
Sunday morning rolled around and we got prepared to leave Jellystone for Stanley Bridge where DogBoat Adventures sails out of. Bella dressed up accordingly by putting on her pink bandana. We were saddened that we hadn’t previously thought to get her a blue and white naval bandana. Next time, right?
Arriving in Stanley Bridge
Once we arrived at the Stanley Bridge pier, we excitedly met up with the rest of our group who would be cruising the waterways with us. Dan then came up from the boat to introduce himself before leading us to his gorgeous boat. The boat is named the Gilboat after Dan’s dog Gilbert which you have to love. It’s a lot of pressure coming up with a witty but good name for your boat and we love that Dan named his boat after his pup. Immediately, when you first set eyes on the Gilboat, you’re impressed with the boat. I wondered specifically what kind of boat it was. It appeared to be a hybrid of a pontoon boat and a speed boat. Dan explained that the boat has an M-shaped hull and that essentially it is a hybrid boat which is perfect for cruising the waterways of the North Shore.
The History of Stanley Bridge
After a brief safety introduction, Dan fired up the boat and we were pulling out into the Stanley River. As soon as Dan started up the boat, Bella got a bit nervous. She hates loud noises like motors. She specifically hates lawnmowers – almost as much as she hates Paris Frances. Overall, although she didn’t 100% like the boat motor, she was ok with it and periodically would walk throughout the boat getting some head scratches from everyone on board.
As we were pulling out slowly into the Stanley River, Dan went over some of the local history which was quite interesting. Before Stanley Bridge was called Stanley Bridge it was called Fyfe’s Ferry named after William Fyfe who had set up small ferry system in the area to transport carriages from one part of the area to another a short distance away.
Back in the day, Dan explained that Stanley Bridge was a booming spot for ship building. He informed us that there were roughly 244 300-tonne schooners built back when there were five shipyards in the area.
Celebrity Encounters on the Stanley River
Cruising down the Stanley River you can see a lot of beautiful homes/cottages that dot the shoreline. Some are tiny little cabins that you can tell have been passed on for generations. Others are massive “summer homes” built by some very wealthy people. Dan told us a story about how the day before we boated with him that he had to help another boater out along the river. He didn’t know it at the time but later found out that guy was Dion Phaneuf – former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and now a member of the Ottawa Senators. Dion and his wife Elisha Cuthbert have a home in New London where they spend a lot of their summer and was even the spot where they tied the knot a couple of years back.
Whales in the Stanley River?
As we turned around and cruised back towards Stanley Bridge and onwards to French River, Dan and I shared a conversation about whether or not many whales make their way into this area. It was probably 4 years ago that my parents were visiting the area and I was driving them thru Stanley Bridge when I could see a big splash in the water. It was a whale, but I couldn’t tell what kind. As soon as I asked Dan if they had any whales in the area he mentioned this exact occurrence and said that the whale was very, very lost. The constantly changing channel system of the Stanley River makes it hard to navigate for boaters, let alone whales. Speaking of the channel system, Dan informed us that the channel system changes so much that it causes many boaters to frequently bottom out in the shallow waters. During this past lobster season, the channels changed twice on the local fishermen which I assume can be quite frustrating.
Continuing our ride up the Stanley River we neared the magnificent white shaded sand dunes. It’s quite a sight to see as you slowly approach them. The sand dunes, much like the channels of the river, are always changing due to weather and human contact. You could see some areas of the dunes where the weather had essentially punched a hole through the dunes. Erosion is constantly an issue with the dunes. Dan informed me that there were some locals that have done some work around the dunes in hopes of protecting them from the elements to ensure they’re around for a much longer period of time. I hope the dunes stay protected because they are a beautiful sight.
A Historic Lighthouse
After a short trip up the channel, we were now approaching an area by the New London Lighthouse. We had recently seen this lighthouse during the first part of our Lighthouse Tour. The lighthouse was beautiful from land but equally, if not more beautiful from the water. Dan told us how PEI’s first female lighthouse keeper was at the New London Lighthouse.* Her name was Maisie Adams and she took over the duties of lighthouse keeper after her husband George passed away. Dan also explained that during World War II the lighthouse would go through blackout periods to confuse enemy submarines that were believed to be in the area.
*A quick search after the tour confirmed that Maisie was not only PEI’s first female lighthouse keeper, she was the only female lighthouse keeper on the Island. She was also the first female lighthouse keeper in all of Canada.
Continuing on through the channel, we entered the mouth of the French River where there were plenty of beautiful Great Blue Herons standing still while stalking their lunchtime snacks. Herons are one of my favourite birds and being able to see them up close from the boat while they were hunting was an amazing sight. We continued on down the river into the village of French River which is quite picturesque and a haven for photographers.
After turning around, we departed French River with a looming decision. Dan had asked us whether or not we wanted to head back in at this point or if we wanted to beach the boat at the dunes and get off for 10-15 minutes. Of course, we all agreed that hitting the beach was not only the best decision, it was the only decision. After Dan quickly beached and anchored the boat, we all gladly hopped off and hit the sand. The sand was super soft but almost too soft, as at times if you stood in place for too long you would slowly start to sink. It’s no wonder the dunes are so volatile to both weather and human contact.
At the point where we were standing, Dan said that if we continued to walk East along the dunes, two hours later we would be at Cavendish Beach. If you’re ever feeling adventurous and in need of some good exercise, this would be the place to have a nice, long walk. After snapping some group pictures with the dunes offering up a nice backdrop, we were back in the boat and on our way back to Stanley Bridge.
Once the quick trip back to Stanley Bridge was complete, we thanked Dan for the wonderful tour with DogBoat Adventures. Each one of us on board had a fantastic time. I instantly wanted to buy my own boat so that I could constantly explore the waterways. I then realized that would be a terrible idea. The local fishermen and boaters would constantly have to help me out. This means I’ll have to leave the boating up to the professionals like Dan, as you should too!
Special DogBoat Adventures Offer For YOU!
The next time you’re on the North Shore in the Stanley Bridge/Cavendish area hit up DogBoat Adventures and take a wonderful afternoon or sunset tour with Dan. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. To help twist your arm a little bit more, we’re going to help get you 10% off of your next booking with DogBoat Adventures. When booking, simply reference the promo code: FTC.
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