Nova Scotia Review - Scenic Adventures

A visit to Nova Scotia, and its capital Halifax, is a step back in time; it is meeting people and families who for generations have relied on the earth and the sea . . . farmers, fisherman and artisans who have many poignant, sad and fascinating stories to tell about their bountiful and beloved Province. Some have moved away, only to return more committed to Nova Scotia’s future; others have remained  in small  fishing villages and on homesteads settled by ancestors who arrived as immigrants and were processed at the Halifax Immigration Center, an entry point similar to New York‘s Ellis Island.

On a recent visit to Canada’s smallest but most agriculturally rich province, I gathered a dream catcher of memories, tasted local dishes that were prepared with love and pride, and met a mix of creative, dedicated and endearing local characters and chefs.

United Airlines non-stop from Newark to Halifax lands two hours after take-off. Regis Dudley from Destination Halifax, who graciously organized my visit, is waiting to greet me as is a comfortable limo. We cross the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and arrive at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel where a spacious water view suite with fireplace, kitchen and two bathrooms is awaiting my arrival. General Manager Jeff Ransome is on hand to welcome me. 


On Saturday in A.M., Pam Wamback, travel media relations for NSTA, meets me in the Marriott lobby, and we are off on a scenic day’s adventure. First stop is Lunenburg, a World Heritage Site, historical port and ship building town on the South Shore. Its cod fish industry was a key factor in the development of Nova Scotia. Streets are lined with colorful and whimsically painted B & B’s, art galleries, restaurants, and eclectic handcraft shops. The Blacksmith Shop that once serviced the ship building trade, is now home to Ironworks, Nova Scotia’s award winning first micro-distillery, producing premium spirits from natural ingredients one batch at a time. 

Lunenburg Waterfront.

Shelah Allen, a fifth generation Lunenburg resident, leads me on one of her personal walking tours, pointing out Victorian, Federal, Georgian and Arts and Crafts architectural gems and sharing the town’s intriguing history, folklore and superstitions brought over from Europe. When the Germans settled in 1753 they sanctioned witchcraft, and Shelah has many stories to tell. She takes great pride in bringing visitors into St John’s Anglican Church, a National Heritage Site, founded in 1753. The painted star ceiling is said to depict where they were positioned the night Jesus was born. On display is the famous “Vinegar Bible”. She points out houses built with a “Lunenburg “bump” . . . a protruding 2nd floor windowed addition to the house where in Victorian times noisy ladies of leisure would sit to be seen and see what was going on up and down the street.

Lunenburg Town Hall

Mahone Bay, known as “the festival town”, is a tiny fishing village and artist enclave that has grown into a popular tourist attraction, thanks to its seasonal calendar of “not-to-be-missed festivals:

Mahone Bay Fun with Scarecrows

October, Scarecrow Festival, December Father Christmas, May, Mussel Festival and August, Pirate Festival.

Birdsall Worthington Pottery - Scarecrow


Fishermen Scarecrows


Red Riding Hood - Part of Festival

The fun began 10 years ago when the owner of Joanne’s Market started putting pumpkins on the roof of her store to attract tourists off season.

I am with Festival Scarecrows

Today’s Scarecrow Festival and this evening’s Pumpkin Walk is a favorite with families and kids.

Colorful Scarecrow at Keddys Landing


A Lady Scarecrow

After photographing dozens of character scarecrows, we head back to Halifax listening to “Eleven”, Celtic fiddler and piano player Troy Macgillivray’s 3rd solo album, a tribute to his Highland Heritage.


Blue Nose Sidecar side car

Bluenose Sidecar Tours offers unique and exhilarating personal tours around Halifax, and out to surrounding points of interest. Co-owner Vicki Gesner and I zip along the breathtakingly beautiful coastline, lined with maple trees ablaze with fall colors. Vicki pulls off the road into the White Sails Bakery and Deli driveway where owners Jacques and Carolyn entice us into sampling their homemade Newfie poutine stuffing and fresh - from- the- oven sugar pie.

Blue Rocks house

Our, next stop is a visit with Ivan Fraser: photographer, painter, children’s book writer and storyteller, whose world revolves around the legend of Peggy’s Cove, As legend has it, Margaret, later called Peggy, a survivor of a shipwreck was taken in by a local family and later married a fisherman. Ivan has turned his childhood homestead into a quaint antique filled museum shop, selling his paintings, books he wrote about Peggy and dolls his wife makes. A mural of Peggy’s Cove and Lighthouse is painted across the front of his house. One enters Ivan’s world by following him from room to room as he weaves stories about his childhood and Peggy . . . some real; others no doubt imagined. When bus tours stop to see and photograph the outside of his house, he runs out waving his arms like an actor greeting his fans.

Peggy's Cove, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

We continue on to Peggy’s Cove; a UNESCO World Heritage Site carved from glaciers. It is raining, but it doesn’t deter us from climbing the slippery rocks up to the lighthouse with the wind whipping our bodies and drenching our clothes. As a treat for braving the elements (and to dry out) Vicki takes me to the S.S. Atlantic Heritage Society Museum for tea and hot sticky buns. The SS Atlantic built by the same ship builder as the Titanic, crashed onto nearby rocks trying to reach Halifax and sunk in 1878 with 1,000 on board.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse DestinationHalifax_B.McWhirter

It has been an exhilarating and fun day and I am ready for a hot shower back in my suite at the Marriott.

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