Before we began the Points East Coastal Drive we had one stop to make – Belfast Mini Mills. Betty had done some research and discovered this wool factory that she wanted to see. So off we went with Wayne and Rudi in tow – not exactly their area of interest but they didn’t have anything else to do! Turns out that it is an amazing endeavour, built by a grandfather & grandmother, handed off to Mom and Dad and is now being run by grandchildren and great grandchildren. Years ago Grandma decided they should build a machine capable of washing, dying, spinning, weaving & carding wool. So she gave the order to Grandpa and off he goes to the shed and after a bit of tinkering comes up with what they still use today to take wool from various animals and process it to the point of sale. Wayne and Rudi were fascinated! They gave us a tour of the very intricate machines and explained the functionality of each one – from this is where we wash the wool when it comes in, to this is where we put our labels on the finished product. I know, I know……….it doesn’t sound very exciting but you’ll just have to trust us on this one – it is!!! They now sell these machines all over the world and have a one year backlog (waitlist) for people or communities to get one. A community in Peru purchased one years ago and they now employee dozens of people at their mill – in an area that otherwise would have zero employment. It really is neat. They will take wool from anywhere and anything (as long as it is between 2.5” and 6” long) and make yarn out of it. They have a very rare breed of muskox that they process – sells for $120.00 a ball. It is soft and 10 times warmer wool. Thanks Betty for taking us somewhere we would never have gone!
After a thorough investigation of this cottage industry we went back to our trailers, loaded them up and headed out on the Point East Coastal Drive. This drive goes, you guessed it, east and is our first look at PEI countryside. In three minutes we had seen more agriculture than we had seen in all of Newfoundland! Potato plants are blooming, fields of hay are swaying in the breeze and bright yellow canola offers a cheery welcome to the island. It is beautiful.
The lighthouse at Point Prim had come highly recommended so off we went to check that out. The extremely chatty shopkeeper there actually owned and operated one of the Belfast Mini Mills on his farm as his real job and he sang the praises of both the mill and the family that built it. This fellow used to have an office job in Toronto but now loves his life selling wool, volunteering at the lighthouse and living on PEI.
Our destination for the day was Souris, a small town with a big beach. The beach is well known for sea glass and Betty wanted to see what treasures were buried there. It was another gorgeous day so under Betty’s tutelage we wandered the beach for an hour or so and she came away with a pocket full of sea glass in various shades, shapes and sizes. There were a dozen other folks searching with their noses pointing to the sand. There was even a gift shop with a very enthusiastic pair of ladies only too happy to explain the joys of sea glass. Wayne was more interested in the ice cream shop next door but he politely listened to the virtues of wearing a sea glass necklace, earrings, etc. It is so popular here (sea glass, not ice cream!) there is a weekend festival the end of July which attracts hordes of sea glassers or whatever you call them. We stopped a chatted with one lady who was picking up teeny little pieces – she had made a map of PEI using just these tiny flecks of sea glass. THAT would be a lot of work. She should take up pickleball and then she wouldn’t have so much time on her hands!!!