David Allan-Petale and his wife Carmen while on a their trip in Canada.
CORNWALL, Ontario - When David Allan-Petale and his wife Carmen decided that part of their 'round-the-world trip would include a jaunt through Canada, they had no idea Cornwall would become a focal point of their journey.
Last year they had to hunker down in the back of their van in the Canadian Tire parking lot on Ninth Street after getting taken for a ride by a dodgy used car salesman in Toronto.
The couple had broken down on Highway 401 after it was discovered that dirty water, not coolant, was flowing through their minivan.
"We bought a car in Toronto and headed out to Montreal, but half way along things went badly wrong with the engine and our newly purchased car broke down," said Allan-Petale in an email to local officials, including city councillors. "I managed to nurse it to Cornwall, a town I had never heard of and hoped would have a mechanic."
The couple toured downtown, ate in local restaurants and soaked up all Cornwall had to offer.
"It struck us that of any place in Canada to break down, Cornwall was the best," said Allan-Petale. "Friendly, generous people, beautiful buildings and nature, all of which combined to get us back on our tires and continue our journey."
The couple's email to Cornwall has been reproduced below.
And here is a link to a blog they wrote about their experience.
From: David Petale
Subject: Thanks Cornwall, you saved our vacation!
I'm an Australian travelling the world with my wife and by sheer coincidence we went SCUBA diving on the Caribbean island of Dominica with two lovely ladies from Cornwall.
Meeting them brought a huge smile to our faces because Cornwall quite literally saved our world trip from extinction last year.
In 2013 we arrived in Canada for a month long trip from Toronto to Quebec City, then on down to the USA for 6 months across that vast land.
We bought a car in Toronto and headed out to Montreal, but half way along things went badly wrong with the engine and our newly purchased car broke down. I managed to nurse it to Cornwall, a town I had never heard of and hoped would have a mechanic.
It turned out to have so much more. We wrote a blog about it: http://double-barrelledtravel.com/our-worst-day-of-travel-ever/
It was very late so we booked the van in for a service at Canadian Tire the next day and decided to sleep in the back of the car. The staff there were very generous, helpful and understanding and did much to calm us down. They gave us permission to park the van outside the store so we could have security and get the machine in as early as possible. They even gave us a big discount on the repairs (phew!)
We then headed out to find some dinner but had no idea where we were. But a young couple noticed our distress and pointed us in the right direction toward a pub and pizzeria. We had a great meal, a few drinks to steady the nerves and walked around the beautiful historic street there.
After an uncomfortable night we headed out for breakfast and went to lovely family run restaurant while we waited for the car to be fixed. We then spent several hours in the library where the staff generously set us up with internet and offered tea and sympathy for our plight. Around lunch time we went down to the St. Lawrence and sat by the banks of the river, admiring the view and relaxing.
It struck us that of any place in Canada to break down, Cornwall was the best! Friendly, generous people, beautiful buildings and nature, all of which combined to get us back on our tires and continue our journey.
Before we drove away we proudly pinned 'Choose Cornwall' badges on our backpacks that were given to us by the library staff. When we return to Canada we will be sure to visit Cornwall again, this time with a more reliable car!