Canada’s East Coast offers a colourful collection of maritime moments. Prince Edward Island adores red lobster, Newfoundland gushes over the majestic whale and New Brunswick thrills over the awe inspiring tides which ebb and flow each day in the Bay of Fundy.
This summer I enjoyed a week long road trip through rural Nova Scotia and realized, “this may be the one province in the region that has it all!” Visitors here enjoy urban rhythms in Halifax, playful Humpbacks in the Bay of Fundy, feast on tables brimming with local lobster, oysters and clams and indulge in sweet vino sips while visiting Atlantic Canada’s premiere wineries. If you’re planning your first visit to the East Coast and are looking to “taste a little bit of everything,” enjoy the essentials on a road trip of Nova Scotia.
During my rural romp in Nova Scotia I stayed at two properties that stood out as top notch spots worthy of booking into an itinerary. White Point Lodge is a popular resort for families in the summer, located on the provinces Southern Shore. Originally built as a hunting and fishing lodge in 1928, today visitors enjoy a rustic ambience set against the backdrop of a 1km long white sand beach which overlooks the Atlantic. White Point has a total of 105 guest rooms ranging from oceanfront cottages, cozy lodge rooms to lakeside retreats.
Oenophiles sipping their way through Nova Scotia’s premiere wine region should book themselves an antique adorned suite at the historic Blomindon Inn in Wolfville. The property is a tastefully restored sea captain’s mansion originally built during Nova Scotia’s sailing glory days. Guests look forward to enjoying rest and relaxation after a long day of winery hopping at this grandiose English manor which tips its hat to the 19th century’s Victorian era.
Sips & Nibbles
In Lunenburg lunch al fresco at new hot spot the Fish Shack. Enjoy a feast with brilliant views of the Atlantic from White Point Beach Resort’s Elliot’s Restaurant. After strolling through Shelburne’s picture perfect village enjoy a Swiss inspired lunch at Charlotte Lane Cafe. Join the locals for live music and a hearty supper at Ye Olde Argyler Lodge. Head to Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound for an unforgettable seafood lunch. Finish your journey by raising a glass of bubbly at Luckett Vineyard’s Crush Pad Bistro.
Peggy’s Cove is a small rural community located on the eastern shore of St. Margarets Bay. It is one of Canada’s most photographed architectural icons and easy to fit into a Nova Scotia itinerary as it is a short one hour drive from Halifax. The graceful Peggy’s Point Lighthouse sits high upon smooth wave-worn granite and in the summer months fills with flocks of camera happy photographers. The tiny harbour below is a masterpiece of seasoned fish sheds and colourful fishing boats which are dotted amongst a handful of cute shops where artisans sell locally produced arts and crafts.
Uncover the secrets of quaint Lunenburg via bubbly 7th generation Lunenburger Shelah Allen who runs Lunenburg Walking Tours. Her hour-long Essentials Tour explores Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ideal for history and architecture buffs, Shelah offers a humorous, personal narrative dotted with anecdotes that have been passed down through her family over the years. Take Note: Lunenburg Walking Tours is the only operator with guaranteed access to St John’s Anglican Church and the Lunenburg Academy grounds. Consider yourself a VIP with a key to the city!
Ironworks is a micro-distillery located in the old port of Lunenburg which takes its name from the 1893 heritage building which it calls home: a marine blacksmith’s shop that once produced ironworks for the shipbuilding trade. Pierre Guevremont and Lynne MacKay launched Nova Scotia’s first micro-distillery in 2009 and today produce the provinces most celebrated spirits. Pop by for a visit and you’ll have the opportunity to sip through: vodka created by hand using Annapolis Valley apples, award winning Bluenose Black Rum, apple brandy, pear eaux de vie and a line of liqueur’s inspired by the local harvest (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, cranberry and rhubarb).
Not to be missed in Lunenburg is the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic where visitors get up-close-and-personal with the towns seafood and seafaring history. Included in the museum pass is access to the working wharf where you can explore retired fishing schooners, chat with their captains and feel the creatures of the sea in “the touch tank.” Finish your visit by gazing up at the infamous Bluenose II while learning how to shuck your own scallop!
Kejimkujik was first established as a National Park in 1968, being recognized for its old growth forest, rare wildlife and traditional Mi’kmaq waterways. The park took its name from Kejimkujik Lake, which is a Mi’kmaq word believed to mean “tired muscles,” a reference to the effort it took to canoe across the lake. Keji’s canoe routes had been used by native inhabitants for thousands of years as they traveled between the the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Coast. They also made their mark while on those journeys, leaving stone carvings, or petroglyphs, on large boulders. These Mi’kmaq petroglyphs can be seen on guided tours and contain images of traditional Mi’kmaq life.
Oyster Farm in Yarmouth
Hop on a fishing boat just outside of Yarmouth with friendly captain and enjoy a tour and tasting of Eel Lake Oyster Farm. Guests putter up the lake to explore the habitat of the Ruisseau oyster and learn how they are grown. In the waters of Eel Lake more than one million oysters can be found. It takes three years for the average oyster to reach market size. The tour ends on dry land where fresh oysters are served up on the deck as delicious duo: on the half shell topped with refreshing cucumber ice and bbq’d with brie and crispy bacon!
Whale Watching on Bay of Fundy
I’ve been on whaling expeditions in British Columbia, Ecuador, Iceland, South Africa and New Zealand and “the show” I experienced in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy wins top prize! I hopped on a 3 hour tour with Petit Passage Whale Watch which departs each day from the East Ferry on the Digby Neck. Our entire boat was in fit of gleeful hysterics (and so was our guide, which really goes to show how unique our experience was) when two friendly Humpback whales rolled around in the ocean, slapping their fins and poking up out of the water to say hello. Coming face-to-face with the worlds largest mammal, an unforgettable moment!
Annapolis Royal is a beautiful little community that was originally inhabited by the Mi’kmaq before it became home in 1605 to some of North America’s earliest European settlers. Be sure to visit on the weekend and stroll yourself down St. George Street, one of the oldest streets in North America, and visit the always bustling Famers Market. The Annapolis Royal area has gained a reputation as a vibrant centre for cultural activity, and over the years it has become a magnet for visual artists, craftspeople, performers and writers. The well-preserved heritage buildings such as Fort Anne and Port Royal National Historic Site, make up one of the loveliest streetscapes in the country.
The Annapolis Valley Wine Country
No trip to Nova Scotia is complete without a visit to the province’s premiere viticulture region, The Annapolis Valley. I had the opportunity to visit the province’s newest winery, Planter’s Ridge which is housed in a newly renovated 150 year-old heritage timber frame barn. The vineyard is planted on the sandy-clay slopes of a ridge overlooking Wellington Dyke which offers visitors stunning views from the winery’s sun drenched patio.