THE BAY OF FUNDY – Tides, Towns & Tranquility

The fourth and final installment of our Canada’s Ocean Playground Series explores the extraordinary Bay of Fundy region, which is a body of water that lies between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on Canada’s East Coast. The Bay of Fundy is so large that it even touches the state of Maine in the United States.  It is known for its historic background, extremely high tides, amazing shellfish, outstanding whale-watching experiences, and phenomenal fossil and rock-hounding experiences. Some of the best places to eat, play and stay are along the Fundy shoreline.

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We can’t continue our journey to explore the best of small-town Nova Scotia around the Bay of Fundy, without stepping back in time as our story of the Fundy Basin begins about 200 million years ago in the early Jurassic period when all the land on earth was part of a supercontinent called Pangaea. At that time what is now known as the Maritimes, was situated near the Earth’s equator and had a warm tropical climate with lush vegetation before the continental drift reshaped the world to what it is today.

Municipality of the District of Clare (Meteghan, Saulnierville & Weymouth)

We start our adventure around the Bay of Fundy in Meteghan. Located along the main highway and the Meteghan River, is the impressive A.F. Thériault & Sons shipyard and drydock. It is one of the largest privately owned boatyards in Atlantic Canada, with buildings dating from World War I. Since 1938, the shipyard has built over a thousand vessels from working boats to luxury pleasure yachts.  One of the hidden gems of the area is the St. Benoni waterfalls which are located approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) north of Meteghan River bridge. Make a right turn on Placide Comeau Road and watch for signs leading to St. Benoni bridge where you can see breathtaking waterfalls. Head back to Placide Comeau Road and turn right until you come to a dead-end, then turn left toward Bangor, don’t worry you are still in Nova Scotia, not Maine.  Here you can visit the Bangor Sawmill Museum which is a restored 19th-century water-powered turbine lumber sawmill on the Meteghan River; and one of the last functioning mills of this kind in North America.  As you can see we have been promoting green and sustainable energy for a long time in Nova Scotia.

As we head up the shoreline on Highway 101, we will get to Saulnierville, a rural Acadian fishing community. Saulnierville was founded in 1785 by six settlers of Acadian families named Saulnier, hence the name of the community. Here you will find the French Shore’s largest fish processing plant, Comeau Sea Foods, which has been in operation since 1946. Also located in Saulnierville is the Sacré Cœur (Sacred Heart) Church. Scaré Cœur is one of the oldest churches in the region. This beautiful landmark has magnificent stained-glass windows and a gold accented altar built in 1879 by local carpenters and tradesmen showcasing their amazing skills.

If you are building an appetite, then you have a couple of exceptional dining options.  La Cuisine Robicheau is, in our opinion, the best homestyle seafood restaurant in Southwest Nova Scotia, serving delicious local seafood and Acadian cuisine since 2012.  If gourmet poutines and burgers are your thing, then you need to try the Ptit Robicheau Take Out. They’re accommodating to people with dietary restrictions, as they also have many vegetarian and vegan options, and they always use fresh local ingredients.

If you are looking to stay in the area for a night or two then Cabane d’Horizon offers stunning and uniquely designed luxury “sea-can” cabins. Cabane d’Horizon offers big city luxury amenities by the shore of a small tranquil village. They have a great selection of delicious local food at the customer’s convenience, with all the privacy and comfort of a high-end hotel making your stay a truly unique eat, play and stay experience.

We are continuing our way up Highway 101 to Weymouth, where there are many things to do in and around the picturesque and historic village.  There are hiking trails, canoeing, kayaking, and many other outdoor activities to enjoy. We recommend heading to Sissiboo Landing, which is a travel information and cultural centre that provides information about the five unique cultures that founded the village. Sissiboo Landing is located in the heart of the village, overlooking the beautiful Sissiboo River. The staff will direct and advise visitors on their journey of discovery and exploration in this unique region of the province.  You can learn about the hardships of early Black Loyalists and Mi’kmaq First Nations, see photos of the amazing Electric City of New France, and discover the role of Acadians and United Empire Loyalists in the settling of the region. Sissiboo Landing is a must-stop for any visitor, history buff, or genealogy enthusiast.

In late July and August throughout the Municipality of Clare, the Festival Acadien de Clare is held, which is the oldest Acadian festival in the world. It is a cultural festival like no other in the province, attracting thousands of people every year. Everywhere there are people in traditional Acadian dress with parades and events to celebrate the Acadian culture that this area is famous for.

Also, in the area nestled in the trees along the shore of Sissiboo River is a relaxing and comfortable glamping experience known as the Sissiboo River Retreat. Offering 4-season geodesic domes, it gives you all the thrills of the glamping, the beauty of nature, and if you so desire, the serenity of being unplugged. The Sissiboo River Retreat is a magical place. In the winter, the riverside hills are covered with crystalline snow and winter wildlife. In the summer, you’ll find delicate wildflowers and an abundance of beautiful wild animals.  It is a great place to discover nature and yourself.

 

Digby Neck and Islands Segment

We continue our journey up the 101 and exit onto Highway 217 to explore Digby Neck and Islands that are situated between St. Marys Bay and the vast Bay of Fundy.  You will travel on Digby Neck and Islands Scenic Dr until East Ferry, where you will catch the ferry across the Petit Passage to Tiverton on Long Island and continue on Highway 217 to Freeport. From there you will catch your second ferry across the Grand Passage to Westport on Brier Island. 

Once on Brier Island, you will be amazed at the long list of activities that this small island offers. It is a beloved place in Nova Scotia, especially to those who visit the island every year.  During your stay, we recommend spending a few nights at the newly expanded and renovated Brier Island Lodge which is perched atop the cliffs of Brier Island. Brier Island Lodge overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the Grand Passage.  Here you’ll find comfortable, spacious oceanfront accommodations that make the perfect base camp for exploring all the island has to offer from whale watching, to exploring the many beaches and coves, to viewing wildlife and rockhound.  

A large portion of Brier Island is a nature preserve administered by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, helping to protect plants and maintain biodiversity. The Island’s micro-climate allows for a proliferation of unique and rare plant varieties.

Brier Island also offers year-round fun for the thrill seekersAlthough the Island is a very calm and peaceful place during the spring, summer, and fall, once late September and October roll around the Island transforms into an exciting place with mysterious fog shrouding the tempest winds. Truly a beautiful site that draws Storm Watchers from all over the globe.

But Brier Island is more than just nature, it is also about innovation. Sustainable Marine has powered up its tidal energy power system as the Grand Passage system is the first to deliver in-stream tidal electricity to bring power to the grid not just in Nova Scotia, but all of Canada.

The Island consists of a Basalt rock formation with columns of basalt on the southern shore while the north shore features dolomite with veins of quartz and agate.

On your way back to the mainland, make sure to check out the famous Balancing Rock that is located on Long Island, just outside of Tiverton. It provides a well-marked trail leading to the edge of St. Mary’s Bay where this spectacular vista and natural wonder attracts the attention of thousands of visitors each year.

 

Digby (Town)

Heading back to the mainland on Highway 217 we head to Digby, which was formally settled and surveyed as a town in June 1783 by the United Empire Loyalists under the leadership of Sir Robert Digby, hence the name.

Throughout the 19th century, the town developed a sizable shipping fleet. One famous Digby vessel was the brigantine Dei Gratia, which discovered the famous mystery ship Mary Celeste that was adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores Islands. The Mary Celeste was discovered on December 4, 1872.  This is an intriguing story because the ship was found in dishevelled but seaworthy condition under partial sail with the lifeboat missing. The last entry in the ship’s log was dated ten days earlier. The Mary Celeste left New York City for Genoa on November 7 and was still amply provisioned when found. Her cargo of alcohol was intact, and the captain’s and crew’s personal belongings were undisturbed. None of those who had been on board were ever seen or heard from again and the mystery has never been solved but residents will be happy to share the stories regarding the fate of those on board that have been passed on over the years.

Tourism has played an important role in Digby since the start of the 20th century, beginning with the establishment of railway and steamship links. This opened the town and surrounding communities as an-easy-to-reach destination for larger urban centres in eastern North America.  

The town to this day has a year-round ferry service that crosses the beautiful Bay of Fundy between Digby and Saint John, New Brunswick offering travellers the opportunity to relax on the full-service ferry while enjoying spectacular views of the bay.

The town is home to a large scallop and lobster fishing fleet. It is known worldwide for their famous Digby scallops, an eating experience that is a must if coming to Nova Scotia. The annual Scallop Days Festival is the longest-running festival in the Digby area. The festival is a celebration of scallops, the scallop fishing industry, and the people who brave the seas to harvest them.  It is held the first week of August and brings the fishing and tourism industries together to showcase the town’s history, heritage, and its amazing shellfish to locals and tourists. 

Digby is also the home to the annual Lobster Bash celebration in early July to promote the Lobster Industry in Sou’West Nova Scotia. There is lots to see and do, but more importantly, eat during this event.

Digby has become the destination of the largest motorcycle rally in Atlantic Canada, the annual Wharf Rat Rally which is held over Labour Day long weekend. Over the past two decades, this event has attracted close to 50,000 people and 25,000 motorcycles to the area.

A great place to call home while in the area is Smiths Cove Cottages. The cottages are seated high on a sunny slope overlooking the Annapolis Basin and Smith’s Cove.  Each of their 15 cottages offer all the amenities to be your home away from home.  In addition to providing comforting, community-minded lodging and campgrounds for everyone, they have bonfires, dog-sitting and an amazing 20×40 heated swimming pool that is ideal for those hot summer days. Smiths Cove Cottages is a perfect place to relax after a day of exploring the many attractions that can be found in the area.

 

Annapolis Royal

For our next stop, we follow the shoreline on Highway #1 to Annapolis Royal, where it feels as though you have stepped back in time. Stroll through a designated National Historic District of quaint tree-lined streets peppered with heritage homes, the Fort Anne National Historic Site, which was the site of several forts dating back to the early 17th century and the beautiful Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, the oldest formal gardens in North America.

Annapolis Royal has one of the highest concentrations of heritage buildings in Canada (135 and counting). The town of Annapolis Royal contains an unusual treasure of heritage buildings, including the oldest wooden frame buildings in Canada. The charm of this small sea-side town that is deeply steeped in history and tradition will leave you wanting to extend your Annapolis Royal vacation.

Idyllically situated between mountain and sea, Annapolis Royal offers a stunning waterfront shopping area, an enviable selection of restaurants and cafes like the Sissiboo Coffee Roaster where they curate ethically sourced beans and roast them with precision and care. Their warm and charming cafe fosters a unique coffee culture that reflects their commitment to quality, sustainability, and the transformative power of great coffee to enrich local communities and economies.  If you love coffee as much as we do, then you must check them out in either Annapolis Royal or at their main location in Bear River. 

 

Middleton & Greenwood

After getting fully caffeinated it is back on Highway #1 to Middleton. Adjacent to Town Hall on Commercial Street, you will find one of only three known Water Clocks in North America.  There are roughly 20 water clocks on display worldwide.  Developed as early as 1400 BC by the Babylonians, the water clock was created to replace the inaccurate sundial and it is an interesting piece of timekeeping history.

When it is time to grab something to eat you can’t go wrong with Angie’s Family Restaurant. It offers a very friendly atmosphere, home-cooked meals with good portions, great taste and fair prices.  They live up to their slogan, “Come as friends, leave as family,” so if you are in the area, be sure to check them out!

Just a hop, skip and jump up Highway #1 is Greenwood. Here you find The Greenwood Military Aviation Museum which is located on CFB Greenwood. The base began its life in 1942 as RAF Station Greenwood, and in July 1944 it became RCAF Station Greenwood. Following the Unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968 the base became CFB Greenwood. Since its inception the collection has grown to encompass a large array of aircrafts from throughout the RCAF’s history. It includes 15 aircrafts and is highlighted by its Avro Lancaster, one of only 17 remaining in the world and one of only three to have flown sorties over continental Europe. Making it a must-stop for history and aviation enthusiasts alike.

Continuing up Highway #1 towards Aylesford you will find the Oaklawn Farm Zoo. The zoo is located in Millville, just south of the village of Aylesford. It opened in 1984 and is family-owned and operated. The 50-acre zoo boasts the largest display of Big Cats and Primates in Eastern Canada including a wide diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles, and a large variety of endangered and threatened species of exotic, native, and domestic breeds of animals.

The zoo offers an interactive experience for the entire family as children can feed corn to some of the animals (notably the deer and goats). But the excitement happens when it is feeding time for the big cats and bears. Feeding time is a very popular zoo attraction because the handlers enter the enclosures of these large animals and will hand feed them meat that is collected from local farms and surrounding areas, offering an experience that will not soon be forgotten.

Each year in early August, thousands of music lovers head to Aylesford for the Fox Mountain Country Music Festival. This music festival features country music legends, rising stars, and local acts, making for an unforgettable summer weekend of country music, dancing, lots of after-hours campsite jam sessions, as well as food and drink vendors. You will have everything you need to make the festival extra fun for the weekend as you join thousands of country music fans at Fox Mountain!

 

Kentville

After an exciting visit to Aylesford, it is time to jump back on Highway #1 to Kentville. What was once an Acadian farming town, Kentville has since emerged as the business centre of Kings County, located in the heart of the Annapolis Valley. Kentville offers many business services, activities, festivals and ‘must stop’ locations. 

One of those ‘must stop’ locations is the CentreStage Theatre. Since its inception, the theatre has provided the Valley with not only excellent productions, but also an outlet for the creative talents of its citizens for almost 40 years. As a result, the theatre has garnered a large and dedicated following among the members of the theatre-going public. CentreStage produces eight different plays a year, each of them running for six consecutive weekends on Friday and Saturday evenings.  During the run of each show, provision has been made for several matinee performances, giving you ample opportunity to take in the mix of comedies, mystery thrillers, musicals, and warm-hearted dramas.  They also offer theatre camps for children, which typically results in a production that is presented to the general public. 

In June, Kentville hosts the Devil’s Half Acre Motorcycle Rally.  The event takes its name from a popular nickname for Kentville in the early 1900s. The event offers many activities that are open to everyone, not just motorcyclists. However, the bulk of the activities are aimed at bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts.  Kentville is also well known for its Pumpkin People Festival which sees the pumpkin people coming back to life and making their way from the fields to the streets every October. Each year offers a new theme and lots of fun activities for the whole family.

 

Wolfville

Just up the highway you will find Wolfville. Located in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, Wolfville is known for its picturesque setting and being home to Acadia University. It is also a center of agriculture, with many local farms producing wine, cider, and other products. The town is a popular tourist destination, with many visitors coming to explore the shops that line its main street and the area’s wineries and cideries, along with the natural beauty of this region.

Each September festival goers make their way to Wolfville for the Deep Roots Music Festival. The festival is a celebration of acoustic, traditional, and contemporary folk music with both paid and free performances over the three-day festival.

There is a lot to do, so if you are looking to extend that day trip to the Annapolis Valley for a few extra days then the Old Orchard Inn is the perfect place for you to rejuvenate after a day of exploring. Relax at their full-service Spa, indoor pool, and sauna or simply take in the sun, sea air and panoramic view on their amazing patio sundeck. Dinner at the Old Orchard Inn is truly a special experience with scenic views of the coastal shoreline. Begin your meal with one of their delectable appetizers, such as their pan-seared scallops.  For your main course, choose from a variety of mouthwatering options, including locally sourced steaks, fresh seafood, and vegetarian dishes. Trust us, you want to save room for dessert! 

The cozy and comfortable rooms at the Old Orchard Inn are designed to provide you with a relaxing home away from home, complete with all the modern amenities you need, and a staff dedicated to making your stay a truly unforgettable experience.

 

Windsor

Just a short drive up Highway 101 you find the Town of Windsor.  This town and surrounding area known as West Hants Regional Municipality, punch well above its weight class.  For starters, it is the birthplace of ice hockey.  Long before the NHL and sold-out arena, hockey was a game that children from Windsor had adapted to play on Long Pond. This pond is proclaimed by some as the “Cradle of Hockey”, located at the farm of Howard Dill. Now some two hundred years later, hockey is more than Canada’s national winter sport, it’s our national passion. A passion that is celebrated in late January or early February with the annual Long Pond Heritage Hockey Classic.  Windsor is also the home to the Stannus Street Rink, which is a former ice hockey arena, considered the oldest in Canada, having been built in 1897. If you want to learn more about hockey then check out the Windsor Hockey Heritage Museum where you can view artifacts from the game’s early beginnings like wooden pucks, hand-made one-piece hockey sticks carved by the Mi’kmaq natives, stock skates and world-famous Starr skates – as well as early forms of protective equipment. 

If history is your thing, you should check out Fort Edward a National Historic Site of Canada.  The British built the fort to help prevent the Acadian Exodus from the region. The Fort is most famous for the role it played both in the Expulsion of the Acadians (1755) and in protecting the city of Halifax from a land assault during the American Revolution. 

The Dill Farm is not just famous for hockey, it is also the home of the World’s Largest Pumpkin Variety.  The “Dill’s Atlantic Giant” was developed and patented by 4-time World Champion grower, the late Howard Dill, affectionately known as “The Pumpkin King.”  Dill’s trademark variety has produced specimens weighing over 1600lbs and he is a previous Guinness World Record holder. During August and September, free tours are offered of the pumpkin patch, but October is a visual treat! Pumpkins in all shapes and sizes adorn the family farm and many displays are set up for unique picture-taking opportunities.

Established in 1765, the Hants County Exhibition Grounds are home to North America’s oldest Agricultural Fair – the Hants County Exhibition. The Exhibition, which takes place in September of every year, is two full weekends jam-packed with many events including horse jumping, tractor pulls, cattle show, many 4H events and of course, carnival rides and attractions.

Ski Martock and Ontree Fun & Adventure Park take outside activities to the next level all year long for those looking to get out into nature.

All these activities can build up an appetite, but you are in luck as the Hole in the Wall is a quaint, upscale restaurant with a weekly changing menu. Plus, once a month they offer a Destination Dining Experience with the Feature Menu including a specific destination around the world.  In addition to their eight indoor dining tables, they also have a semi-enclosed patio (with heaters) that is open from May to mid-October.  

The Spitfire Arms Alehouse, affectionately known as The Pub, is Windsor’s most spacious and accommodating watering hole and family restaurant combo. The Pub offers unique public and private dining experiences, thoughtfully created seasonal menus, and locally sourced meat, produce, spirits, ciders, and beers. The Pub offers something for everyone: a warm, cozy atmosphere in the main dining room, a friendly welcome plus a seasonal patio designed for enjoying cold brews while soaking in the sun.  Don’t worry, they can also accommodate groups of larger sizes so whether you are looking for drinks with friends at the bar stools, a private dining experience or a corporate event, they have you covered with their large or small event rooms.

Looking to make it a long weekend getaway or extend your stay in Windsor? Book a stay at the Clockmaker’s Inn which is a Registered Provincial Heritage Property located in the heart of the town.  This elegant Victorian Inn combines romantic historic accommodations with modern amenities.  Relax in one of their eight unique, nostalgic, and well-appointed guest rooms and suites that feature period furnishings, original woodwork, and private baths.  Each suite has an air-jet tub, a fireplace, a kitchenette, and a living room with a pull-out couch. All rooms and suites are air-conditioned in the summer and well-heated in the winter.

 

Noel Shore

Now that we are rested up, we continue our journey through the province’s Noel Shore where the Guinness Book of World Records lists Burntcoat Head Park as the site of the highest tides on earth with an amazing tide of 21.6 metres (71 feet) which occurred in October 1869.  It caused extensive destruction to ports and communities, much of which was attributed to a two-meter storm surge created by the Saxby Gale, a tropical cyclone. The storm coincided with a perigean spring tide that caused waves to breach the dykes protecting low-lying farmland in the Minas Basin and the Tantramar Marshes, sending ocean waters surging far inland.  At low tide, you can walk the ocean floor at Burntcoat Head Park and marvel at the beautiful seascapes sculpted by the tides.  

At high tide, just up Route 215 which is the amazing Shubenacadie River and the only place in the world where you can experience the tidal phenomena known as tidal bore rafting. As the water from the Bay of Fundy gets funneled into the shallow Shubenacadie River, it channels to create a surge of water. The front wave of this surge is known as the Tidal Bore. There are very few places in the world that have a tidal bore and even fewer that can compare in size! After the tidal bore goes by, the river reverses direction and starts flowing inland at nearly 30km/hr. It is because of the huge volume of water forcing its way into the shallow waters that creates our rapids ranging from 4-12ft standing waves!  Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures is a family-run premium rafting company. Their focus is on your safety and giving you the very best adventure experience possible. No paddling is required as your experienced guide navigates the waters on custom zodiacs. Just hold on and enjoy the thrill of this ultimate epic adventure, twice daily, every day from May until late October.

For those readers who are history buffs, the village of Maitland in the Noel Shore area is Nova Scotia’s first Heritage Conservation District. Here, the stately Lawrence House Museum shares the area’s incredible shipbuilding past. The nearby Frieze and Roy General Store has been serving the community since 1839, that is 28 years before Confederation, making the general store older than the country it calls home and the oldest in Canada. During the 1800s and 1900s, the 184-year-old store was the center of shipping, shipbuilding, and trading on the Bay of Fundy and Shubenacadie Canal and yes, it is still open so check it out.

 

Truro

Crossing the Shubenacadie River on Route 236 towards Truro, offers spectacular views of the bay and the rural countryside as you make your way to the Hub Town looking for more places to eat, play, and stay.  Truro offers something for everyone with big-city amenities and small-town charm.  For those longing to explore the outdoors, Truro has the beautiful Victoria Park. A beloved place for the locals, it is a natural woodland park that spans 3,000 acres and is located only minutes from downtown. The extensive trail system winds through natural gorges, waterfalls, tall trees, and inspiring look-offs. 

The park offers visitors endless recreational, cultural, and leisure opportunities. These include hiking, photography, birdwatching, picnics, family gatherings, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, swimming, baseball, cultural events, live music, tennis, cycling, and if you missed leg day you can challenge yourself with a 175-step climb to the top of Jacob’s Ladder. 

Truro’s Fundy Discovery Site is one of the most convenient and accessible places to experience the incredible tidal phenomena of Canada’s Bay of Fundy.   At predicted times twice daily, the Cobequid Bay meets the Salmon River offering a natural demonstration of the extremity of Fundy’s renowned tides as the tidal bore’s tumbling wavefront moves upstream in a river, announcing the arrival of an incoming tide.

Looking to keep the fun outside while you are in Truro? You must check out the Riverbreeze Farm, as they host many events throughout the year between June and November.  In June, Riverbreeze kicks off summer with their Baby Animal Days, where you can visit with lots of different baby farm animals including lambs, goats, bunnies and more. In July things get a little more serious at Riverbreeze with Hell’s 1/2 Acre Motorsports Weekend which include a demolition derby, FMX Motocross events, Truck and Tractor Pull for those looking to put a little more horsepower and dirt into the trip to Truro.  The Beer, BBQ & Music Fest replaces the roars of trucks and tractors with crowds singing and some of the best artists performing on stage, in the middle of their cornfield. It doesn’t get any more country than that.  August and September are some of the most beautiful times on the farm. Riverbreeze’s Sunflower & Zinnia Festival offers the perfect place to take beautiful family pictures, a unique and gorgeous date experience or maybe the perfect place to pop the question as you are surrounded in fields of colourful flowers. Take advantage of the amazing photo opportunities as you enjoy a relaxing and peaceful day at the farm.  Come September and October you can get lost in their inspired Cornmaze and pick a pumpkin as a Fall tradition. There are over 20 attractions to enjoy on the farm!  Music isn’t the only event at Riverbreeze that offers a screaming good time.  Every October you can enjoy 4 Haunted Houses and 2 Haunted Mazes for 8 Nights of Terror. But remember, this is a scary event and not open to children under 10 years of age so keep that in mind when making your plans.

Remember that good BBQ is not just for festivals as Roadside Willies Smokehouse & Bar in the neighboring village of Bible Hill serves all your smokehouse favorites up in a friendly, unpretentious setting, perfect for getting messy with some BBQ. Whether stopping by to unwind with your favorite beverage or savoring a full-course meal with family and friends, Roadside Willies offers something for everyone with incredible salads, appetizers, sandwiches, fresh local seafood, pastas, gourmet pizza and so much more. 

Truro’s Rath Eastlink Community Centre better known as the RECC is a multi-purpose sporting facility that is home to the MHL’s Truro Bearcats. It features an NHL-sized arena, a competition-sized swimming pool, a water slide, a fitness centre, and a rock climbing wall.  The RECC is also the host to many concerts and world-class events like the upcoming World Junior A Challenge. Taking place from December 10th to 17th, 2023 the greatest showcase of talent in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) will descend upon Truro with two Canadian teams: Canada East (NOJHL, OJHL, CCHL, LJHAAAQ, MHL) and Canada West (AJHL, SJHL, MJHL, SIJHL) battling for hockey glory against three international contenders, Sweden, Slovakia, and the United States.  If you are a hockey fan this is one event that you do not want to miss.

A great home for your time in Truro is the Inn on Prince. Conveniently located in the heart of the Hub Town with easy access roadways to the surrounding areas. It has everything you need whether you’re just passing through town, on business, or staying for a while to enjoy nearby attractions, events or festivals. Relax after a busy day of meetings or exploring and make a splash in their heated indoor pool then dine in at the on-site restaurant, lounge, and seasonal patio. Whether it be a casual meeting with friends or a celebratory dinner, Bistro on Prince is the perfect spot for all occasions. Don’t forget to stop by in the morning for your complimentary hot buffet breakfast to get you ready for the day wherever it takes you.

Located in the hamlet of Wentworth in the Wentworth Valley about 48 km (30 mi) northwest of Truro, is Ski Wentworth. A Canadian alpine ski hill in Nova Scotia’s Cobequid Hills. It is the largest alpine ski facility in Nova Scotia, having a 248-metre (815 ft) vertical difference offering four seasons of activity and boasting some of the most varied and challenging ski and mountain bike terrains in the Maritime Provinces.  Whether you are skiing, biking, hiking, or snowshoeing with 4 lifts, 20+ alpine trails, 3 terrain parks, ski/snowboard cross, there are a variety of trails that will challenge anyone from beginner to expert.

 

Economy & Five Islands

Our travels take us along the Bay of Fundy shoreline on The Glooscap Trail Nova Scotia Trunk 4 West then merge onto Trunk 2 through Masstown. Here you will find the Masstown Market. A family owned and operated business that began as a farm-gate operation in the spring of 1969. Over fifty years later it has grown to become a local landmark including Butler Shop and Creamery, thanks to their tradition of quality foods, great selection, and friendly service. We would highly recommend stopping in for a quick meal, supplies, snacks, or an ice cream before heading on to Great Village and Bass River. Bass River was the home of furniture manufacturer Dominion Chair Company, which was founded in 1890 and became one of Colchester County’s major industries. The company sold chairs across Canada and to places such as the Caribbean, South America, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.  It employed between 40 to 70 workers at any one time from the late 19th century to February 1989, when fire destroyed most of the company’s operating facilities that never reopened. 

Though the factory no longer operates in Bass River, you can still visit the Dominion Chair General Store. Built in 1890, the store continues to operate with a variety of food, drinks, and old Dominion furniture to view.

Just a short drive up the trail is That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm which is a traditional Dutch-style farmhouse and farm containing Nova Scotia’s Original Artisan Cheesemakers with their mouth-watering flavour of cheeses made and sold on the premises.  You can see the cheese-making process through a window, but best of all you can sample all kinds of Gouda cheese. Plus, lots of different sausages that are locally made. Don’t leave without trying the Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese and Smoked Gouda.

They also have an Animal and Nature Park where you can feed and pet the animals (pigs, goats, donkeys, emu, cattle…) while enjoying a picturesque hike through the extensive grounds with garden and woodland nature discovery trails and a spectacular view of the bay.

It is a neat little place just off the highway that is definitely worth the trip. It is a must-stop destination for the cheese, interaction with the animals, and the view.

As we continue West on Trunk 2, we head towards Economy and Five Islands, named after five small islands – Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle. Located just off the coast, the islands are visible as you drive along the shore. Five Islands is home to the Five Islands Provincial Park, one of Nova Scotia’s premiere outdoor destinations.  Situated 24 km (15 mi) east of Parrsboro, the park features 90-metre (300-ft.) sea cliffs overlooking the world’s highest tides. It is a spectacular setting for camping and has many opportunities that abound for hiking, beachcombing, rock collecting, and clam digging. But check tide times as a precaution before walking on the mud flats as the Fundy tides rise very quickly. Red Head Trail offers four of the best views of the islands and the basin. You can enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the west side of Economy Mountain with 5.2 km (3.2 mi) of tracked trails, which are marked and mapped. Although there are no facilities or services offered in the winter months, the park is open for winter recreational activities. The park road is normally plowed to the parking lot near the start of the Economy Mountain Trail.

 

Parrsboro

We continue our journey West on Trunk 2 to Parrsboro, a small town located on the Minas Basin. Parrsboro is known for its rich history, beautiful natural surroundings, and cultural attractions.  Parrsboro thrived in the mid-19th century as the hub of a string of shipbuilding communities from Economy to Advocate collectively known as the “Parrsboro Shore”.  In its peak years of the 1890s, over 1646 ships arrived and departed annually from Parrsboro.

Throughout the late 19th century and first four decades of the twentieth century, Parrsboro saw daily ferry service across the Minas Basin to the Annapolis Valley ports of Kingsport and Wolfville. The 13th and final vessel in this service, was the MV Kipawo, one of Canada’s longest-serving ferries.  In 1982, the Kipawo Heritage Society was successful in securing the Kipawo’s return to Parrsboro from the rocky shores of Newfoundland, where she was cast by time in a state of disrepair. The society aimed to restore the Kipawo into a floating cultural centre, capable of housing live theatre productions, art shows, and Maritime heritage displays.  Now permanently beached on the western shore of Parrsboro Harbour it was incorporated into the Ship’s Company Theatre performance centre when founded in 1984 after a museum proposal fell through. The theatre company features live productions of Canadian works, with an emphasis on new works from Maritime writers each year from July to October. It often commissions its own productions, and a number have been remounted in other theatres across Canada.  In 2004 an extensive expansion of the theatre’s facilities saw a large performance hall built with the MV Kipawo being fully enclosed in the outdoor lobby.

Just a few steps away from the world’s highest tides and The Ship’s Company Theatre you will find The Maple Inn, which is a charming and elegant Victorian mansion that was built in 1893.  The Inn consists of two beautifully restored century-old houses joined together and furnished with period antiques. The Maple Inn offers guests eight delightful bed and breakfast units and an old-fashioned verandah to relax and enjoy the fresh sea air. During your stay, enjoy a walk in Parrsboro where you can find unique shops, restaurants, and attractions, such as the Fundy Geological Museum which features exhibits on the area’s geology and paleontology. Less than 10 minutes down the road is the Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum which offers a unique experience of the incredible history and vistas of the Parrsboro Shore. Be sure to include museum tours as part of your stay in Parrsboro. 

Discover miles of hiking trails, beaches and spectacular scenery along the Fundy Shore like Partridge Island located near the mouth of Parrsboro Harbour and the town of Parrsboro on the Minas Basin.  It attracts many visitors including sightseers, swimmers, photographers, hikers, and amateur geologists. Partridge Island is actually a peninsula that is connected to the mainland by a sandbar isthmus which according to local legend, was created during the Saxby Gale of 1869. The hiking trail to the top of the island offers scenic views of key landforms on the Minas Basin including Cape Blomidon, Cape Split and Cape Sharp. The nearby Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum contains artifacts and exhibits illustrating the history of the former village at Partridge Island, which dates from the 1770s.  Partridge Island is a favourite hunting ground for rockhounds because its ancient sandstone and basalt cliffs are steadily eroded by the fast-moving currents of the world’s highest tides. Rocks and debris worn away from its cliffs are dragged down the beach making it possible to find gemstones, exotic-looking zeolite minerals and fossils. Fossil hunters are warned, however, that although one or two loose specimens may be collected, Nova Scotia law requires that they be sent or taken to a museum for further study, and no fossils may be excavated from bedrock without a permit.

If you are looking for a more rustic experience the Riverview Cottages welcome both regular and new guests to experience their cottages that were built between the 1930s and the 1950s by the Atruim family. The cabins vary in sizes and amenities but maintain much of their original charm. Some offer wood stoves for chilly evenings, while others are insulated with electric heat.  All cabins are equipped with kitchenettes and have 2 burner hot plates, microwave, kettle, toaster, coffeemaker, fridge, pots, pans, dishes, and cutlery to make it your home away from home.

If you are looking to leave the cooking to someone else, you are in luck at the Harbour View Restaurant which is located right next to the main Pier in Parrsboro.  Their fried clams and scallops are absolutely delicious and some of the best I’ve ever had. They were big, and perfectly battered. That being said, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on the menu of this quaint little seafood ‘shack’ right on the beach on Parrsboro Harbour. It has two dining areas, both offering views of the beach. It’s also a great place for takeout to eat on the beach and enjoy the great harbour views, which include the Parrsboro Lighthouse. You can expect friendly service and reasonable prices. Trust me, you will want to save room for dessert.

 

Advocate Harbour

We finish our journey around the bay traveling on Nova Scotia Highway 209 from Parrsboro to Spencer’s Island with its beaches and historic lighthouse that dates to 1904. Recently granted permission by the Canadian Coast Guard to turn the light back on, the lighthouse is open to the public with pictures of the shipbuilding and shipbuilding artifacts on display.

We then make our way to Advocate Harbour, a small well-protected fishing harbour opening on the Bay of Fundy, which dries at low tide. The scenic Cape d’Or Lighthouse and Cape Chignecto Provincial Park attract tourists and hikers. Due to the extreme tidal range in this area, it is also a well-known sea kayaking destination. The coastal erosion creates sea stacks, caves, and arches, and a long rocky beach with large amounts of driftwood is popular with beachcombers. 

Back on the 209, you travel through the Raven Head Wilderness Area, which is 44 km of undeveloped coast along the Bay of Fundy, between Apple Head and Two Rivers. The area features fossil-bearing coastal cliffs, sheltered coves, beaches, small salt marshes, and coastal forest. It provides habitat for the endangered mainland moose and other sensitive species.

 

Joggins

The northern end of the wilderness area, near Ragged Reef Point, extends almost to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site and the associated, provincially designated Joggins Fossil Cliffs Protected Site.

Raven Head Wilderness Area is suitable for activities such as coastal hiking, beachcombing, and camping plus offers opportunities for geological research and interpretation in coordination with the Joggins Fossil Institute.

Long before Joggins was known for fossils, it was an established coal mining area. Its coal seams which are exposed along the shore of the Cumberland Basin were exploited as early as 1686 by local Acadian settlers, then by the British in 1715.

Joggins has been known for its fossils since the early 19th century. The fossils are found in the exposed Pennsylvanian coal seams in the cliffs that overlook the shore. The fossils consist mainly of ferns, prehistoric trees, and early sea life. The daily high tide erodes the cliffs, and the stone fossils fall out of the coal and are left on the shore when the tide recedes. Fossils have also been found in the area’s deep shaft mines and in drilling core samples hundreds of feet down. Joggins is one of the easiest places in the world to find early Pennsylvanian coal fossils. In 2008, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs were designated as a UNESCO natural heritage site. 

The Joggins Fossil Centre is the museum built on the fossil cliff to display the fossils with exhibits telling the geological history of the Joggins Cliffs, the history of scientific discovery at Joggins, and how area coal mining affected the community.

After a visit to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, the lighthouse at Cape d’Or, and Cape Chignecto Provincial Park we are back on to Route 242 through River Herbert, where you can stop at the River Hebert Tidal Bore Park and watch the changing of the tides from the shore. Or you can continue to Maccan where the Maccan Tidal Wetlands Park offers spectacular views of the tidal bore in the ever-changing Maccan River before getting on Route 302 and finishing our journey around the Bay of Fundy back in Amherst, where our Canada’s Ocean Playground Series began.

by Ryan Myson