The Many Charms of Nova Scotia

By Barbara Angelakis, Epoch Times Contributor
September 22, 2017 Updated: October 3, 2017

The province of Nova Scotia is located at the far eastern tip of Canada on a bit of land that stretches into the Atlantic Ocean like a giant prehistoric fish with its tail and top fin extended to maximize mass. Part of Atlantic Canada along with New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, charming seaside villages, and delicious foods and wines—a veritable cornucopia of attractions for all ages and interests to enjoy.

We began our visit on the Northumberland Shore in the north-central part of the island at a hidden gem of a resort called Fox Harb’r. This exclusive, secluded luxury resort offered every amenity one could wish for, including a private airfield, world-class golf, award-winning spa, and gourmet kitchen.

Lighthouse at Fox Harb'r. (Manos Angelakis)
Lighthouse at Fox Harb’r. (Manos Angelakis)

Hall’s Harbour

After days of extreme pampering, we bade farewell to Fox Harb’r and went in search of the authentic Nova Scotia. We headed southwest to the charming seaside village of Hall’s Harbour, a perfect spot to watch the famous tidal surge at the Bay of Fundy, known for the highest tides in the world. We arrived early, at low tide, to see the fishing boats stranded on the harbour bottom, and stayed until the rising tide—as much as an inch a minute—lifted the stranded boats to the 40-foot-high watermark.

This requires patience, since the phenomenon takes several hours to complete. But for us, time was well spent eating world-renowned Bay of Fundy lobster at Lobster in the Rough, all the while watching the tide rise and taking pictures of the ever-changing scene.

A boat rests on the harbour bottom at low tide in Hall's Harbour. (Manos Angelakis)
A boat rests on the harbour bottom at low tide in Hall’s Harbour. (Manos Angelakis)

Grand-Pré National Historic Site

Next stop was Grand-Pré National Historic Site, one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nova Scotia. Here we learned the tragic story of the Acadians (French Huguenots seeking religious freedom in the new world) who settled in the Grand-Prè area beginning in 1682. They developed unique fishing and farming methods in a semi-autonomous community, relying heavily on the Mi’kmaq Indigenous population with which they developed a peaceful, symbiotic relationship.

In 1755, just before the start of the Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain, the Acadians refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the British Crown, not wanting to take sides. As a consequence, they were forcibly deported as a security risk under appalling conditions in which families were separated, and many didn’t survive. You can visit the museum and view the graphically depicted story of the deportation and subsequent return, the memorial church, and the site’s magnificent landscaped gardens.

The memorial church at Grand-Pré National Historic Site. (Manos Angelakis)
The memorial church at Grand-Pré National Historic Site. (Manos Angelakis)

Lunenburg

On to the seafaring town of Lunenburg, a throwback to an earlier age with its colourful waterfront, horse-drawn sightseeing buggy rides, narrow winding streets, and pastel-coloured clapboard houses on steep hills rising up from the harbour.

Originally, Lunenburg’s Victorian (early 19th century) and earlier 18th-century houses were conservatively coloured. But some years ago, a young whipper-snapper chose to paint his newly acquired home a bright colour—much to the consternation of the locals. Other young homeowners followed suit and after much ado, Lunenburg has become as famous for its cheerfully coloured Victorian homes as for its lobster rolls.

Lunenberg's colourful houses. (Manos Angelakis)
Lunenburg’s colourful houses. (Manos Angelakis)

A good way to experience the town is by taking one of the many tours offered; we opted for a walking tour with Essential Lunenburg Tours.

Kerriann, our bubbly guide, is an 8th-generation local and can document her ancestry back to 1776—on both sides! She could also dish the dirt and clued us in to the local gossip circa 18th & 19th century. What fun!

Lunenburg has a dual history of rum-running and shipbuilding, and Old Town Lunenburg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also home to Nova Scotia’s famous racing schooner, Bluenose II (featured on the Canadian ten-cent piece), which was in-harbour when we visited. One morning, as we enjoyed a leisurely alfresco breakfast overlooking the harbour, we watched long lines of enthusiastic tourists queuing up for a ride.

One of the joys of Nova Scotia for us was the consistently fresh, cooked-to-order, locally sourced, deliciously prepared food we found at every meal. Regardless of the ambience of the restaurant, the food was always outstanding.

You can’t have food without drink, so to honour Lunenberg’s rum-running history we stopped at Ironworks Distillery, a family-owned and -operated boutique distillery that makes vodka and liqueurs from locally grown fruit. Ironworks is housed in an 1892 marine blacksmith’s building; hence the name.

Ironworks Distillery in Lunenberg is housed in an 1892 marine blacksmith's building. (Manos Angelakis)
Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg is housed in an 1892 marine blacksmith’s building. (Manos Angelakis)

Peggy’s Cove

Mahone Bay, an artists’ haven, is another charming community filled with craft shops and wonderful eateries that we passed along Route 3 as we made our way to the iconic coastal village of Peggy’s Cove.

This tiny harbour just below the lighthouse is one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada. The day we were there was stunning, with an amazing blue sky, artistically drawn white puffy clouds, and massive boulders polished by sea and wind making a stark, graphic statement against the splashing waves.

We pulled ourselves away from the dazzling scene and continued to Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital city, for our flight home.

More information:

Tourism Nova Scotia: www.novascotia.com

Fox Harb’r Resort: www.foxharbr.com

Bluenose II anchored in Lunenberg. (Manos Angelakis)
Bluenose II anchored in Lunenburg. (Manos Angelakis)
Nova Scotia is famous for its lobsters. (Manos Angelakis)
Nova Scotia is famous for its lobsters. (Manos Angelakis)
Oysters on the half-shell. (Manos Angelakis)
Oysters on the half-shell. (Manos Angelakis)

Barbara Angelakis is a seasoned international traveler and award-winning writer based in the New York City area. To read more of her articles and adventures visit LuxuryWeb Magazine at luxuryweb.com

Correction: A previous version of this article classified Nova Scotia incorrectly. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

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