Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Golden Rules For Magdalen Islands Visitors"

In 1971, the Groupe CTMA ship Manic became the first 'roll-on-roll-off' car ferry to the Magdalen Islands, replacing the fondly remembered Lovat. It only took five hours to sail from Souris, PEI to Grindstone, Magdalen Islands, instead of the Lovat's two day sail from Pictou, Nova Scotia. With the Manic, there came an influx of visitors to the islands, at a time the islands was ill prepared to handle tourists. There were very little accommodations here and as the tourists were mostly the hippie backpacking who would spend as little as possible to have a nature holiday, there was little reason to put the expense into building accommodations.

Throughout the '70's, the visitors continued coming to the islands in greater numbers each summer. After only a couple of years, Groupe CTMA realized that the Manic was not going to be capable of transporting the inflated number of people wanting to come to the islands, so they purchased the larger drive-on - drive-off car ferry, the Lucy Maud Montgomery, from the Northumberland Strait Crossing to Prince Edward Island. It was during the late seventies, when the tourists far outnumbered the islanders.

The visitors tended to camp wherever they thought was a good place to put a tent. Sometimes it was on the beach where they neglected to take into account the August high tides or on top of the capes without account for the high southerly winds that took place. They would often end up stranded without shelter in the middle of the night in a raging rain storm or worse, a hurricane.

These people had no choice, they had to burden themselves on the nearest home for shelter, sometimes asking for room in the stable for the night. This was never the case, as Islanders are well know for their hospitality and their sheltered lives. They would take these people, complete strangers, into their homes, give them a hot meal and a warm bed, sometimes for days on end, because all the visitors belongings had blown away.

About this time, the Tourist Development Commission was created.

It was found that these hippie visitors would come without money, expecting to live off the land.... When they found that this was not that easy, they would swindle fishermen out of their days catches or housewives out of their pantry's. They would destroy entire wild berry patches, which were the only fruit available to islanders or dig up the clamming grounds indiscriminately, destroying much of the harvest and leaving the grounds worthless for many years. All of these foodstuffs were basic necessities to preserve for winter for the islanders existence.

Islanders were never used to people taking advantage of them. They never knew of people who could kill, murder at a thought. Islanders had been isolated from the world, until the Manic, entered their lives.

The Tourist Commission created a set of rules which they had printed out and given to tourists as they came to the island. The first day the 'Rules' were issued was March 12th, 1979. At the time, these rules made sense..., now they just seem hilarious.

Below is the translated version of the "Golden Rules for Visitors" as it was only wrote up in the French language. Below the translated version is the original French version of the rules.
Golden Rules for Visitors of the Magdalen Islands

Good day visitor friends, you are here on the planet of “small princes” that are Magdalen Islanders on their Archipelago. You are staying in a place of people with great hearts, who have spent three centuries making the islands a place where they can spend their lives.

You certainly desired to come here and have an agreeable stay, if not, you would not have imposed on yourself, the fatigue of sailing and all the expense to come to our place.

You came to be welcomed, then it will be necessary to respect the “Gold Rules for Visitors” that we bring to your attention:

- go and stay only on property where someone of authority has given permission. All the wave terrains of the islands are the private property, except the dunes, which are public property. Take note, cependant that the automobile circulation is forbidden on the beaches and that beach fires must be authorized by the municipalities;

- fraternize with islanders which you will quickly discover likeableness and generosity. Cultivate these natural qualities of your hosts, don’t abuse it too much. The strawberries and clams don’t jump by themselves into bottles;

-you have reason to believe that the fish are abundant, but they don’t jump into the boats, just the same. A man must rise very early in the morning to make his living, by going fishing. Pay him a reasonable price, he is not Santa Claus!;

- you can observe the life habits of Magdalen Islanders, which seem particular, they are the heritage of three centuries of struggle, countering the natural elements impitoyables and countering the isolation; try to understand with reproach;

- you want to amuse yourself by staying in the large natural garden that are on the islands; enjoy yourself but, remember that everything that is here in place in nature has put many years to establish itself. If you intervene on the extremely fragile lands, it will take many generations to repair the damage that you will leave. A tree cut down for to warm yourself or to place your tent on will be an invitation to the wind to cut a furrow of destruction in the neighbouring forest;

- you find that the people here are slow to furnish you with services that you’re waiting for. Remember that the people here know still to wait for the tides. Cast anchor, calm your nerves, profit from the delays and contemplate what it is that you came to see.

With these conditions, and these conditions only, you are welcome to the islands, and your stay will be most agreeable.

If not, you will quickly be identified as a troubled holiday-maker, an importune and you will be treated with consequence. “You will be better then to take the next ferry or the next plane and return to where you came from. We don’t want that, but then truly not, that some days of abuse and of in conscience: pirates three centuries of heritage.

You are ready to play the game!... Welcome then and good stay...

Tourist Development Commission
of the Magdalen Islands
G. Carbonneau

Régles d’or du visiteur aux Iles~de~la~Madeleine

Bonjour ami visiteur, tu es ici sur la planète des “petits princes” que sont les Madelinots sur leur archipel. Tu es en séjour chez des gens au grand coeur qui ont mis trois siècles a faire des Iles un milieu de vie qui leur convient.

Tu désires certainement vivre ice un séjour des plus AGREABLES, sinon tu ne te serais pas imposé toute cette fatigue et toutes ces dépenses pour venir chez nous.

Tu tiens à être le BIENVENU, alors il te faudra respecter les “REGLES D’OR DU VISITEUR” que nous portons à ton attention:

- tu passes et séjournees seulement sur les propriétées où on aura eu la gentillesse de t’autoriser à le faire. Tous les terrains vagues des Iles sont des propriétés privées sauf les dunes qui sont des propriétés publiques. Prends note cependant que la circulation automobile est interdite sur les plages et que les feux de plage doivent être autorisés par the municipalitiés;

- tu fraterniseras avec des Madinots don’t tu découvriras rapidement l’affabilité et la générosité. Cultive ces qualités naturelles de tes hôtes, n’en abuse pas trop. Les fraises et les palourdes ne sautent pas toutes seules dans les pots;

- tu as raison de croire que le poisson est abondant mais il ne saute pas dans les barques de lui-même. Un homme s’est levé tôt au petit matin pour gagner sa vie en allant le pêcher. Payer’le lui un prix raisonnable, il n’est pas le Père Noel!;

- tu pourras observer chez les Madelinots des habitudes de vie qui leur sont particulières, elles sont l’héritage de trois siècles de lutte contre des éléments naturels implitoyables et contre l’isolement; essaie de les comprends sons les leur reprocher;

- Tu veux t’amuser a vivre dans l’immense jardin nature que sont les Iles; régale- toi mais, rappelle-toi que tout ce qui est ici en place dans la nature a mis plusieurs années à s’établir. Si tu interviens sur ce milieu extrêmement fragile, il faudra plusieurs générations pour réparer la plaie que tu y auras laissée. Un abre coupé pour te réchauffer ou faire place a ta tente sera une invitation au vent à tracer un sillon de destruction dans la forêt voisine;

- tu trouves que les gens d’ici son lents a te fournir le services que tu attends. Rappelle-toi que les gens d’ici savent encore attendre la marée. Jette l’ancre, calme te nerfs, profite des délais pour contempler ce qui t’entoure et que tu es venu voir.

A ces conditions, et à ces conditions seulement, tu es te BIENVENU aux Iles, et to séjour sera des plus agréables.

Sinon tu seras vite identifié conne un trouble-fête, un importun et tu seras traité en consequence. Tu ferais meiux alors de reprendre le prochain traversier ou le prochain avion et retourner d’où tu viens. On ne veut pas, bas alors vraiment pas, qu’en quelques jours d’abus et d’inconscience : pirates trois siècles d’héritage.

Tu es prêt a jouer le jeu!... BIENVENUE alors, et bon séjour...

Commission de Développement Touristique
Des Iles-de-la-Madeleine
G. Charbonneau


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