Annapolis Royal, NS
After leaving Elm River, we had a pleasant drive to Annapolis Royal. En-route, Pat and I stopped at Grand-Pre’ National Historic Site. The Acadians migrated from western France in the 1630s. The territory they settled became known as Acadia. Due to the extreme tides of the Bay of Fundy, the Acadians used a system of dikes with one-way valves that allowed the seawater to flow out with the tide, but would prevent it from returning. Eventually the land was drained of seawater and the rich soil that remained was able to be cultivated. This rich land allowed the Acadians to grow a variety of crops for consumption and trading.
Unfortunately after all of this work, the French were driven out by the English. Over the many years, the French and British were engaged in one conflict after another. The Acadians remained neutral, but the British did not trust them and, between 1755 and 1762, thousands of Acadians were forcibly removed by the British and deported from the region. Some were returned to France, others relocated along the eastern seaboard of the American colonies. The largest group settled parts of Louisiana, and are now known as Cajins. In 1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published his poem, “Evangeline: A Tale of Acadia.” Evangeline, more than a fictitious character, became a symbol of the history of the Deportation and an example of the resiliency of the Acadian people.
The Historic Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a 13-acre replica of the agricultural landscape of diking and desalination.
We camped at the Oceanfront Cove Campground, a beautiful, terraced campground overlooking the Bay of Fundy.
On Tuesday June 20th, we took a bus to Port Royal to visit a reconstruction of a 17th century French compound. In 1604, the French sent an expedition to the Port Royal region to establish a trading center. The compound we visited was the second compound created by the 1604 expedition; the first was on Saint Croix Island and was inhabitable during the harsh winters. In 1605, on the advice of Samuel de Champlain, they settled at Port Royal. The settlers traded with the local Mi’Kmaq (pronounced Mic Mah) tribe and developed a strong relationship with them. In the 1607, the expedition lost its financial backing and returned to France. When they returned in 1614, they found their habitat in ruins and returned to France. In 1939, Parks Canada rebuilt the habitat as a historical site.
From Port Royal we drove to Annapolis Royal to visit Fort Anne. Annapolis Royal was originally known to the Mi’kmaq as Nme”juaqhnek, the “place of bountiful fish.” In the 1600s and 1700s it was settled and contested by both the French and British. It was initially settled by the British with Scottish settlers in 1621. The Scots were evicted after a treaty in 1632 and replaced by French colonists from La Havre in 1636. From then on the community traded hands between the French and the British. Annapolis Royal was the capital of Nova Scotia until it moved to Halifax in 1749. After the Revolutionary War, slaves who had fought for the British in exchange for their freedom settled in the region. Today Fort Anne is a National Historic Site.
The highlight of our visit was lunch at the Sachsen Café and Restaurant. Here we were treated to a traditional German meal, we had authentic schnitzel with potato salad and sauerkraut. The food was great and Heidi and Dieter Claussing, the owners, told us all about the history of the place.
After lunch, we toured Annapolis Historic Gardens.
The next day, Wednesday, we were on our own and Pat and I decided to hike a trail nearby to the campground. It was an interesting hike with a nice waterfall, rocky beach, and nice views of the ocean. During our hike we came across a memorial to the crew of a fishing boat that sunk with all hands in the nearby waters. It seemed like an appropriate place for such a memorial and showed the high esteem in which the crew was held.
Our next drive was a short 94 miles to the town of Lunenburg. We took our time leaving the campground and stopped at the Kejimkujik National Park. We were able to park at the Visitor Center and picked up a map of hiking routes. We hiked to a waterfall and explored other parts of the park. While on the trail we ran into Randy and Kathleen, another couple from our caravan who are also avid hikers. After focusing on kayaking in the Bay of Fundy, hiking was a nice break in the routine.
We arrived at Lunenburg and stayed at the Board of Trade campground. We had a brief orientation by the campground staff and they told us about a self-guided walking tour of the town. We picked up a copy and walked to few blocks into town. It was an architectural tour and we enjoyed seeing the variety of homes and other buildings and reading about their history.
The next day, we had the option of visiting Mahone Bay and Blue Rocks. After doing some online research, we decided that kayaking in the Blue Rocks area would be fun. After a quick breakfast we made the short drive to Blue Rocks. Rather than just visit the Blue Rocks, we decided to see them up close and personal. “Pleasant Paddling” allowed us to use their launching ramp. We launched about 9:30. It was a somewhat clear day, but the fog was coming in. The water was calm, a definite change from the Bay of Fundy. There were homes and fishing shacks along the shore we used as landmarks. As we paddled the fog became thicker. We paddled past a lighthouse (that was NOT operational) and headed north through the small rocky reefs. We thought we might see some seals basking in the sun, but the fog put an end to that hope. As we headed back the fog made it difficult to see any landmarks, but we didn’t get lost.
We were able to see many seagulls, some geese, a cormorant drying its wings, and a blue heron. The water was amazingly clear.
After about 2 ½ hours on the water and 6 ½ miles, we arrived back at the small harbor at Blue Rocks.
We returned to the campground, got cleaned up and walked into town to meet our group at the Fisheries Museum of the Pacific. After some presentations from the museum staff, we explored the exhibits. I was familiar with the Atlantic fishing industry, but still learned quite a bit about the fishing of cod, halibut, and swordfish. I finally found out where the Fleming Cap was. The Grand Banks and Fleming Cap was the site where George Clooney and his fishing crew went down in the movie, “The Perfect Storm.”
While exploring the museum, I discovered that many Norwegians were at sea when the Germans invaded Norway in World War II. All Norwegian ships were directed to head to the nearest Allied port. In Lunenburg, they established the Norwegian Army Training Camp to train Norwegians to join the fight against Germany.
On Friday, June 24th, we had a very short drive, only 52 miles, to the Woodhaven Campground, north of Halifax. The next morning we boarded a bus with a guide to tour Halifax. She had a running commentary as we drove and we picked up a lot of anecdotal information about life in Nova Scotia’s capital city. Our first stop was the Fairvew Cemetery. This was significant because this is where many of the victim’s of the sinking of the Titanic are buried. One headstone was very interesting. If you remember from the movie, one gentleman dressed as a woman to get on board a lifeboat. That really happened, and apparently, he had such remorse he had a special headstone carved to honor one of the Titanic’s crew that had served him well. Of course, this act was a bit spoiled when he had his name also engraved on the stone so everyone would know he did it. Not exactly what I would call “selfless service!”
From the cemetery we drove to the Halifax Citadel, one of the defenses surrounding Halifax. The site had been well restored and was staffed by docents in period costumes. The docents conduct tours, changing of the guard, and firing of the “Noon Canon.” I enjoyed exploring the installation. It also houses the Army Museum that describes the history of Canadian forces serving their country in times of war and peace. They also had the Regimental Colors of the First Special Service Force, “The Devil’s Brigade,” a joint US and Canadian Army Unit that served in Italy and Southern France during World War II.
After touring the Citadel, we were dropped off at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. We had lunch on our own and Pat and I enjoyed lunch at The BG on the wharf. BG stands for Beer Garden. We had a pleasant meal and then headed back to meet the group at the Museum.
I love maritime history and I skipped the scheduled tour to start exploring on my own. The displays are a mix of military, industrial, and recreational maritime histories. The displays included the evolution of the Canadian Navy, the explosion of the ammunition ship, Mont Blanc, in Halifax Harbor, which killed 2,000 people, the commercial fishing industry, small craft, and others.
The next day, we took a bus into Halifax for lunch at the Prince George Hotel and to attend the Nova Scotia International Royal Tattoo. None of us knew a lot about the Tattoo, but we were all impressed – what a show! It centered around military bands and marching, featuring the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces, Vancouver Police Pipe Band, National Band of the Naval Reserve, 36 Canadian Brigade Group Band, Heeresmusikkorps Neubrandenburg from Germany, the Jordanian Armed Forces Band, and others. It was non-stop action. The people who choreographed and managed the performance were magicians, not a single mix-up in the whole show.
On Monday, June 27th, we had a free day. We joined with Randy and Kathleen to tour Peggy’s Cove and hike a trail in nearby Polly’s Cove. The weather was foggy, very foggy. Peggy’s Cove was just overflowing with tourists. Peggy’s Cove has a permanent population of forty people, but get thousands of visitors every year. It is a small fishing village, and commercial fishing is still on-going, but tourism is their number one industry. Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is a famous landmark for Nova Scotia.
After enjoying a picnic lunch at Peggy’s Cove, we made the short, two-kilometer drive to the trailhead. The trail was a typical trail until we got to the coast. From there we didn’t follow a defined trail as much as we went from one slate rock to another. Scrambling over the rocks like this was fun and a clear break from the norm. What a great hike!
North Sidney, NS
On Tuesday, June 28th, we made the longest drive of the caravan so far. We stayed at the Arm of Gold Campground. This was one of the nicest campgrounds we have been in. There were large, open sites, with full hook ups. The only thing lacking was some trees. There is a nice walking path with the fanciest outhouse I have ever seen. They also have a barn with a large meeting room on the top level and a lounge area, complete with two hot tubs (as you would find in a hot tub room in a hotel).
Wednesday morning we had a bus ride to the Fortress of Louisburg. As with many of the places we visited, Louisburg traded hands between the French and the British several times. The last time the British left, they burned every structure to the ground. Parks Canada has spent several million dollars to rebuild, not refurbish, but rebuild about one-fifth of the original fortress and town. What a trip back in time! Docents in period attire staff the fort and operate the shops, bakeries, and taverns in the town.
After a tour and wandering on our own we were able to enjoy lunch together at the L’Epee Royale. The “owner” greeted us as though we were in the 18th century and served a meal authentic to that period, including eating your entire meal with one large spoon.
The next morning we were up early and traveled in a convoy to the ferry terminal in North Sidney to travel to Newfoundland. It was quite the operation, we had prepped our vehicles to make sure we were in compliance with all regulations, such as no propane turned on, automated generator starters turned off, etc. We made sure our fuel tanks were full as prices were even higher in Newfoundland than in Nova Scotia, as if that was possible (sigh!). The crew did a great job of shoehorning our big rigs and commercial vehicles on board, and we hung out in the passenger lounge during the crossing.
Newfoundland, here we come!