"How many people live on Tancook?" I asked the ferry captain.
"A hunnert-tirty" he said. "Plus twenny-far more on Little Tancook Island."
When we arrived at "big" Tancook, it seemed most of the hunnert-tirty residents were there to meet passengers or pick up stuff unloaded by the big red crane on the ferry.
There is no store, gas station, or any business other than a small cafe on the Island. The cars there do not have licence plates, or presumably, insurance either.
So I tightened the strap on my bike helmet before we hit the road. All ten dirt kilometres of it. I wonder how many targets there are for the owner of this souped up Tancook chick magnet?
Despite the warm sunshine, Tancook Island had a chilly, eerie feel. We stopped at the top of a hill half way across the Island and explored the graveyard. The graves here date back to the late 1700's. There are dozens of sad little headstones from a smallpox outbreak in the 1870's. One family lost twelve children.
Walking through the whole graveyard, we counted only 7 different surnames on over 200 years of headstones. I began to hear echoes of duelling banjos (or maritime fiddles?)
Near the end of the road we rounded a bend and came across a black and white cat lying near a small red building. He stretched, sauntered over to us for a rub, and walked into the single room red shed. Then we saw the little sign over the open door: TANCOOK ISLAND MUSEUM. We followed him inside. Someone has collected antique tools, photographs, furniture and household items from Tancook, and gathered them here. There was a donation box for "money for the lights". Despite the bright day, it was dark inside, and the lights were on. The cat rubbed up against our ankles as we walked around the "exhibits".
About 50 metres past the museum we stopped to greet two men painting a barn. "Hello, what is the museum cat's name?" I asked.
"What cat?" one man said.
"The friendly black and white one, hanging around the museum just up the road," I explained.
They looked at each other, shrugged, and one answered, "I daown't naow any cat up theyah".
When we rode past the museum on our return to the ferry later, after our picnic lunch, we stopped and looked for our feline tour guide, but he (she?) had dissappeared.
It was a ghost kitty, I'm sure of it. Perhaps the beloved pet of one of the young children in the graveyard. Guarding the child's treasures now on display in the museum. A very fat, well fed ghost, I'll admit. But still.