It is almost the end of the world, and I am happy. Standing here, who wouldn’t be?
At the foot of the Pacific Ocean, Canada’s Prince Rupert Island is a jewel of a place,
crowned by gleaming snow peaks. Alaska is a soft whisper away. For miles all around,
there is nothing but open road and blue sky.
Just two hours ago, I was in the midst of a bustling city—Vancouver. But from the
whirring wings of the Hawk Air Bombardier that lifted me off, to the soft ripples beneath
the ferry that deposited me here, the noise slowly fell away, and peace took over.
The morning is still young, and diaphanous mist hovers like a tentative lover on the
bosom of the island, dipping lightly down for a kiss when the breeze nudges it.
My host Bruce Wishart, a handsome Canadian with a complexion that owes its glow to
these wonderfully moist environs, straightaway whisks me off on a tour of the tiny town.
The SUV curves lazily around the ribboned roads, sliding past spacious homes that are
now basking in gentle sunshine.
We stop to gaze at some towering totem poles erected by the Tsimshian people who
lived here thousands of years ago. For those who need their fix of history, there’s plenty
here, beginning with the story of Charles Melville Hayes who had grand plans for this
island, but went tragically down with the Titanic. Incredible as it seems today, Prince
Rupert was one of North America’s most populous regions before the Europeans made
At one point, we screech to a halt, barely avoiding hitting a majestic creature that lopes
artfully away. “Deer!” I exclaim, filled with childlike excitement at my first spotting of
wildlife. My host arches an amused eyebrow, and tells me that for all its endearing
looks, the deer is actually a bane for the residents of the island. It likes to steal into their
manicured lawns and nibble on lovingly nurtured leaves, leading to much frustration.
Makes me realise how relative the term ‘stress’ can be.
“For lunch, I am taking you to a very special place,” Bruce promises. ‘Special’ actually
turns out to be one of my life’s most memorable meals. We drive to the edge of the
water, and into the charmingly named Cow Bay Café.
On the day’s menu are the
region’s favourite dishes, starring salmon and halibut. I am vegetarian, so I opt for a
lasagna featuring spinach and pumpkin. In response to my hesitant query that the
pumpkin might impart a sweetness to my meal, the restaurant’s petite owner hurries out
of the kitchen.
Her name is Adrienne Johnston, and she is originally from—hold your
breath—Pune, India! She is anxious to explain how she will boil the lasagna to make
sure its sweet quotient goes down. Soon, I am delving into the world’s most luscious
lasagna—this alone is worth coming back to the island for!