A Week on Pelee Island

Astri David Hayley Winery

I have officially ended my first seven days of living on Pelee Island, Ontario, and I have already gathered enough stories for several articles. However I will attempt to condense the experience into one simple piece.While I write, I am currently sitting outside enjoying the mild night that followed an incredibly hot day. The residents couldn’t be more accurate about the colloquial moniker, The Canadian Keys. The evenings here are phenomenal, the Island itself seems to exhale and relax after the near overwhelming days of bustling, wide-eyed tourists and 10+ hours of  customer service. While enjoying the refreshing breeze tonight, I can hear something large moving through the woods neighbouring my property, yet I don’t feel threatened, everything here seems to live together in a harmony of sorts.

 

The animal kingdom is ever-present here, whether it be the never-ending songs of the many birds inhabiting or passing through Pelee, the delicate and ornate butterflies that stop in on the island during the summer, or the unexpected foxes and snakes that dart around just barely within your field of vision. Many of these creatures are rare or endangered as well, making the sightings that much more wondrous.

The people who help run the Island also bring a rare charm to the community. Vivacious eccentrics that run knick-boutiques and animated young adults that man the winery are some of the most memorable faces you will come across while visiting here. The best of the crew, to which I may be biased, would definitely be the Explore Pelee team. Two unique young women led by a determined entrepreneur comprise the company and they live and teach with a passion that is nothing short of inspiring. I couldn’t be happier to find myself where I am now.

Even the structures here have a je ne sais quoi that characterize this bizarre paradise. After an initial quick interview I was shown to a strange old house that I was told I could stay in during the course of my time with Explore Pelee. My new co-worker and roommate, Astri, referred to it as the “Funhouse”; when we pulled into the driveway it was obvious why. A wasps’ nest hangs in the front door that you have to duck and run quickly under as to not get stung, should you survive the dive through the threshold, you are presented a large dining room that sinks in the middle. The shape of the sinking house is reminiscent of Pelee itself; topographically, the Island is shaped like a teacup, 2/3rds rest below lake-level. Furthering the carnival funhouse ambience is the left side of the stairs to the upper floor of the home that slant downwards, causing a somewhat confounding experience navigating to bed in the pitch dark.

 

However, my living experience, while it is perfect for me, is not like the experiences tourists can have here. There are many cottages, campgrounds, and bed & breakfasts available on Pelee Island for all budgets. Historical homes, lived in by early settlers and quarrymen have been renovated and revamped for the modern family or group of friends looking for an incomparable getaway. New homes have been built with no luxuries spared, ranging from rustic to regal. Regardless of personal taste, there truly is something for everyone here.

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