A library assistant at the Mississauga Library, Craig Rowland, will be presenting a program in late April about his 23 day stay last autumn on Tristan da Cunha. Mr. Rowland has selected a couple hundred photos out of the thousands he took to accompany his presentation.
Rowland has traveled to many places that are far off the beaten tourist routes, but Tristan may be one of the most difficult to get to. He had to go to Cape Town and book passage on a polar research ship, the S.A. Agulhas II, which carries a crew of 100, plus 50 scientists and up to 10 tourists. There is no airport on Tristan, so every visitor arrives after a week long voyage halfway across the South Atlantic Ocean.
He stayed with a Tristan host family since there are no hotels or tourist facilities. He is quoted in an article about his trip in the Mississauga, Ontario, newspaper as writing in his journal that “last night there was a full moon on Tristan. I had not appreciated the beauty of a full moon until I saw the glowing white orb over Tristan.” He was clearly taken by the peaceful loneliness of the island.
He explained to the reporter that the Tristanians have access to two TV channels, ITV and the BBC. About 80 percent of the economy of the island is based on fishing. There are about 260 people living there who share 7 family names. The only ships that visit are various research vessels and fishing boats. His presentation will involve more than just pretty pictures—he will focus on what life is really like on the remote island.
He said that he picked up his interest in travel while he was still quite young from studying the National Geographic Atlas of the World in the adult department of the Mississauga Central Library on Saturday mornings. As he pored over the atlas, he said he “felt like a child genius being allowed onto the second floor.” He continued that he was particularly “fascinated by the micro-nations in particular. I’d look at the pages of islands and of the Pacific Ocean, which looked as if it was scattered with atolls of fingernail clippings.”
For those unable to attend his presentation, he posts detailed journals of his trip, including many interesting observations and quite effective photos, on his blog. For instance, his detailed description of his friendship with some descendants of Allan Crawford, posted to the blog on Nov. 27, 2013, is especially worthwhile.
Crawford was an Englishman who happened to accompany a Norwegian scientific expedition to the island in late 1937 and early 1938. Rowland was able to purchase in Cape Town an autographed copy of Crawford’s book Tristan da Cunha and the Roaring Forties, so he quotes to good effect Crawford’s experiences and compares them with his own adventure 75 years later.
Mr. Rowland will present his talk, “A Journey to Tristan da Cunha,” from 7:00 to 8:30 on April 29 in the Mississauga Central Library, Classroom 3. Registration is required, though admission is free. People in the Toronto metropolitan area interested in this fascinating peaceful society will need to call 905-615-3500 to register.