Peggy’s Cove is one of those impossibly photogenic places. You know the type–quaint clapboard houses nestled on the rocky shore, weathered boats snugged up against the dock, colourful buoys and netting lying carelessly on the ground. I picture the townsfolk rising each morning and hurrying to stage the area before the tourists hordes arrive.
It’s a working town I’m told. All those boats ply the sea for a living. Forget the twee shops with Peggy’s Cove paraphernalia, the folks who live here year-round can’t survive on the tourist trade. They fish and live in tiny little houses heated by heaps of wood you see surrounding most places in Nova Scotia.
Our plan (such as it is) is to circumnavigate the coast of Nova Scotia ending up in The Bay of Fundy, which we know only as the place with those weird rock formations and a tide that rises hundreds of feet each day. (Editor’s note: the Dame is given to wild fits of imagination, Fundy tides average around 46 feet.)
We end up in Lunenburg, which, sorry Peggy, has our vote for the most photogenic town we’ve seen. It’s also on the UNESCO heritage list. (Take that Peggy!) Oh, and it’s home to the Bluenose II, that iconic, multi-sailed wooden racing yacht on the Canuck dime. The original was built and launched from Lunenburg in 1921.
Our first order of business is to hire a carriage to take us around. The town is so old-school they still use horse and buggy. (Editor’s note – the Dame exaggerates, there is one horse and buggy for tourists.)
The problem with horses is they have needs that can’t wait. Our sojourn is delayed as George, our good- natured equine engine, feels the earth move, so to speak, and plops down a steaming mound of recycled hay as our group of six giggles in the carriage behind him. A further delay ensues as our human guide whips out a shovel and black garbage bag to hide the evidence.
Load lightened we move on, past former sea captains houses topped with widow’s walks, where fretting wives would gaze out to sea waiting for the ships to come home. George patiently clomps up and down the streets, so used to the route that he automatically stops at a large water barrel placed in case he needs a pick me up.
Lunenburgians take the UNESCO label seriously. Houses in designated areas have plaques that outline the pedigree of the home–who lived there, what they did for a living and the year the house was built. The circa 1700s houses, with their brilliant colours, impeccable trim and window treatments, shamefully look better than the Meanderer’s circa 1980’s abode. The only designation our Kaleden house is getting is least likely to be sold by a drive-by.
Lunenburg golf course beckons from across the Bay. An interesting course if you like hitting balls blindly over hills while waiting for golfers from other tees to hit across your fairway. The one lane track leading to the course makes for an interesting game of chicken on the way to the clubhouse. The views of town across the bay make up for the inconvenience. Oh, and it has a cannon on the course in case we get attacked on the ninth hole.
Taking our leave , we head around the coast and make a side trip to Shelburne, settled by British Loyalists after the American Revolution, along with a large contingent of blacks who fled the U.S. in search of a better life Surprise, surprise, the land they were given was sub-standard to that given to white Loyalists.
Unlike Lunenburg, Shelburne has a “down on its heels” feel to it. The historic waterfront is well-kept but almost deserted when we arrive on a sunny weekday. This leads to the inevitable ice-cream stop, because as you know, sunny day equals ice cream. My new favourite is vanilla with salted caramel and licorice swirls with almonds. Shelburne, I think I love you. (Editor’s note – The Dame’s love is fleeting.)
Gorged with dairy, we finish the day in Yarmouth, not to be confused with Dartmouth which is across the Bay from Halifax. Yarmouth’s claim to fame is lobster fishing and a ferry to Maine.
Our campground, about 12k outside town, is weekend home to half the population of the surrounding area, and their cousins and in-laws. We are literally the only non-Nova Scotians in the park. They are a friendly bunch, inviting us to join a game of ring toss which appears to involve throwing metal washers into containers and drinking copious amounts of the beverage of your choice. The winner is determined by whoever is standing at the end of the game. (Editor’s note – all participants safely left the playing field after the game)
The Dude’s insatiable appetite for all things scallop, leads us to Digby, self-proclaimed scallop capital of Canada. It’s also the gateway to the Bay of Fundy, of the aforementioned tides of doom.
We arrive at the end of the long weekend and the Wharf Rat Rally, Canada’s answer to Sturgess, a massive mélange of motorcycle enthusiasts billed as Canada’s largest two-wheeled party. Given the number of bikes we passed on our way in, it lived up to its billing. Boomers with expensive topped out Harleys, trikers with grandma on the back, serious bearded riders with sleeve tats, posers with sleek foreign bikes, designer sunglasses and harness boots and biker club wannabee’s, leather jackets emblazoned with logos vaguely hinting at a Sons of Anarchy vibe, roared past on their way back to civilian life.
Digby campground overlooks a peninsula where we get our first look at the impact of the tides here. Every six hours the tide goes out leaving a barren landscape of sand and waterlogged plants. How anything survives in the salt water is amazing.
A day trip down the peninsula to Brier Island gives us a taste of the fickleness of coastal weather. We start out in a mixed bag of cloud and sun and end up at the ferry to the island in a thick pea soup fog and temperature drop of over 10 degrees. Turning tail we head back to Digby.
The Dude, who has never met a nap he didn’t like to take, decides to sit out a day trip to Annapolis Royal, which is fine with The Dog, who has never met a car ride he didn’t want to take. Our first leg of the day trip is a photo-op at the Point Prim lighthouse, which in my mind is secondary to the wild rock formations which surround the place.
Photos snapped, sniffing and leg-lifting over (for The Dog, to be clear) we head up coast to Annapolis. Of all the cities/towns we’ve visited with military backgrounds, this town has the historic cred. Attacked thirteen times throughout its tumultuous history, it has morphed into a peaceful quaint little town. The remnants of Fort Anne and its earthen walls are all that remains. Oh and the cannons, can’t forget the cannons.
Next….The real Bay of Fundy and the Incident….