Nova Scotia is a province that I have always wanted to visit. Growing up in British Columbia and seeing pictures of the East Coast of Canada, I could hardly believe that it is the same country. Nova Scotia, or Nouvelle Ecosse means New Scotland – and as I saw in Halifax, the cultural ties to Britain are very close and it gets more prevalent when you venture away from the city.
We left Halifax for the Southern Shore with a stop in Lunenberg, which is probably the most well known Nova Scotian town, and I suspect a stop on every tourist itinerary. I always remember reading the young adult book The Ghost of Lunenberg Manor by Eric Wilson, and feeling as though the town described in the story was a long way where I was from.
We took the windy coast road to Lunenberg and I can honestly say that it is some of the loveliest countryside with some of the loveliest towns I have ever seen. I have been to Cape Cod in Massachusetts many times, and this area of Canada is exactly like New England, but without the crowding and lines of cars that you can get in America during summer. The houses are beautiful, and the towns are quaint, with artist studios and cafes aplenty, along with stunning views of the ocean.
Lunenberg itself is famed for being a UNESCO heritage site, with British and Nordic architecture mixing together. The town itself is small, but there are numerous restaurants and pubs to visit, which was good, because for most of our stay, there was an eerie fog and mist shrouding the streets which seemed to roll in at night. Perhaps it was the Ghost of Lunenberg Manor…
After a few days on the South Shore, we then headed to Annapolis Royal on the North Shore of Nova Scotia, where we were met with an equally stunning area, full of history (there’s an old British fort right in the middle of the town). This part of the province is known for it’s farms and the whole area is surrounded by countryside producing fruits and vegetables in the short summer season. It’s also where we started to see the remnants of French settlement – many people fly the Acadian flag outside their houses, and speak French.
As much as what we’ve seen in rural Nova Scotia has been stunning, it has been a little bit of a struggle to adapt to the slowness of life here. Living for so long in London, we’ve been accustomed to businesses being open all hours. In Nova Scotia, cafes and shops routinely close at 3 or 4 pm and in a lot of places things aren’t open at all. It’s very strange to be in such lovely towns, and find the streets are empty after 6pm. I’m not complaining – it’s so nice to have the roads clear and to not be crowded about, but it’s very jarring when you are used to hustle and bustle!
We’ll be heading to Cape Breton next, which sounds as though it is the most sparsely populated part of the province with an even slower pace of life. Better take a packed lunch (and dinner).