Learning our Way on Panmure Island


When my husband and I decided to build our little dream home on Panmure Island, we knew we were in for a learning curve, but after retiring from busy careers in education and construction, we were ready for a gentler lifestyle.

The first thing we learned about our new home is the property had already been the proud residence of zombie-like mosquitoes, who are always awake, slow but vicious, and always hungry for blood.  Unfortunately, the second thing we learned is that mosquito repellent cannot be found in PEI after September 21st.  Last week when a neighbour came by and had an encounter of the zombie-mosquito-kind, she casually said, “Didn’t you know Panmure is the mosquito capital of the world?”  This conversation has quickly changed some of our design plans.  We had already built an open air gazebo, imagining sitting outside on soft summer evenings, sipping ice tea, watching the stars come out.  We are definitely rethinking that design.

Before building here, we knew that PEI personified the gentle, laid back island feel, but soon we discovered that it is also well organized and very efficient.  We are grateful at the speed PEI accomplishes bureaucratic tasks.  Our application to build our home here took 5 days, with the municipal officer apologizing for the delay.  Back home, it took almost 5 months, and Michael had to apologize to the municipal officer for me going off the deep end, while flailing a tear-stained topographical map.   The irony continues:  although our house approval here took only 5 days with little inspection required, our tiny mailbox approval took 3 weeks, with two personal inspections from a federal post office official.

Another lesson I have learned is to tune in daily to the weather network.  Unbeknownst to me, my first experience driving into Montague was on the brink of Hurricane Leslie.  One flat tire later, with the rain pelting down, I had the pleasure of experiencing the speedy and helpful service of George’s Deck Recovery.  Not only did he change my tire, but he delivered it to a shop to be repaired.  I arrived back at Panmure Island safe and sound, albeit with enough flapping tarps covering our unfinished house to take flight across St Mary’s Bay … but I had a warm feeling in my heart.

We have learned many new things in our short time here:  that Roger McLeod is the best natural resource a newcomer could ask for; that Pembroke Farm has nine different types of organic squash, and after a fun squash tasting event, that Sweet Meat was our favourite; that Rod’s free range eggs are worth the drive to Grandview, just don’t take Klondyke Rd 205  (pretty, but a perfect setting for a horror movie, perhaps a zombie one?); and that all local roads seem to lead to a Murray something-or-other:  Murray River North, Murray River, Murray Harbour.  We still have massive Murray confusion … but a visit to the Moore’s Lumber Mill is definitely worth the bewilderment.

I am clinging still to many “back-home-isms,” as I like to call them.  “Back home” there are few bugs.  “Back home” there are restaurants and art galleries open all year.  But … back home we never learned how to play Hearts at a neighbour’s house.  We were never delivered homemade tea biscuits.  And back home there were massive highways and vanishing beauty … whereas here, there is not a prettier sight than the curve before the causeway on Panmure Island, with St Mary’s Bay on your right and the ocean dunes on your left.  Just lately, when I come back from town, as I pass the Sand Bar Grill and start across that little stretch of road, I am beginning to get the feeling that I am definitely almost home.

Sharon Robson  (The Eastern Graphic Newspaper, Oct 2013)

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