A Travellerspoint blog

History abounds in Atlantic Canada

The past two days have been cloudy and rainy on Cape Breton Island and in Nova Scotia, but the sun came out to bid us farewell today. During our second day on Cape Breton Island we visited a Miners' Museum near Sydney and the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. The Cape Breton Miners' Museum was very interesting. This area has a long and rich history of coal mining. We took an underground tour of the Ocean Deeps Colliery and were actually guided deep below the earth's surface into a mine with its dark, narrow and low shafts. Despite my short height, I still had to bend over in places. I have a new appreciation for miners. We then travelled to Louisbourg. The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest historical reconstruction project in North America. Here we met characters in costume and learned more about the history. Visit this website for more info: http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/index.aspx. My raincoat came in handy that day as it was raining all day. From there we drove down to Antigonish to stay at a B & B for the night.

The following day we made our way back to Halifax where we were spending that night at Dalhousie University. We stopped at a maple sugar farm on the way for a tour. We also toured the Alexander Keiths Brewery in downtown Halifax. The brewery was founded in 1820 and has a rich history. Of course there were also free beer samples! And it made my day when I was asked for my ID! Later in the evening Ruth and I went out for a last supper. We went to Murphy's along the harborfront.

Today we went for a leisurely breakfast before heading to the airport to check our flights. I now head to southern Ontario for a family wedding this weekend before finally making my way home to the Prairies. I've had a great time exploring Atlantic Canada. Thanks for reading! And stay tuned for my next adventure!

Posted by tfalk 10:16 Comments (1)

Cruisin' the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton

Today we took a long scenic drive along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The trail is approximately 300 kilometres and is in a rough circular shape. We left our B & B in Port Hawkesbury early this morning after hearing about the threat of rain. However, I'm pleased to report that it didn't rain at all today. Rain would have made the drive more difficult. It already tested my driving skills as we had to maneuver around sharp curves, and up and down steep mountains. The drive reminded me of the California Pacific Coast Highway, which I had the pleasure of driving last year. We stopped at several artisan shops along the drive. Most of these shops were just plunked down on the side of the road and weren't even in a town. We also drove through the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Before we started down the trail, we stopped in Baddeck at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site and Museum. Bell is most famous for inventing the telephone. (Makes me think of that Reba McEntire song, Why Haven't I Heard From You: Back in 1876 an ol' boy named Bell Invented a contraption that we know so well By the 1950's they were in everybody's home As a crazy little thing they call the telephone).

Yesterday, we took a ferry from PEI back to Nova Scotia and then drove down to Port Hawkesbury for the night. But not before spending the morning at the Singing Sands beach. We needed some beach time. The UV index was high and despite only lying under the hot rays for about two hours and applying sunscreen, I still turned as red as a lobster in places (on my stomach especially which had been a pasty white). What was awesome about this beach is that the sand actually sang - true to its name! When you walked on it, it made a noise.

The day before we were also in PEI. We toured the Cows Creamery where we learned how they made their delicious ice cream and of course got samples. They also make fun, original T-shirts that are a spoof of real things such as MooTube instead of YouTube. Check out their website: http://www.cows.ca/. Later in the day we went sailing around Charlottetown. It was my first time sailing. It was a beautiful evening to be out on the water. The excursion was made even more exciting after we discovered we were sailing with Anne of Green Gables! The young lady who plays Anne in the PEI musical was sailing with us. There were only eight of us on the boat. We had seen the musical the day before and recognized her.

So far, I've enjoyed my time in PEI the most. On the ferry trip back to Nova Scotia a lady from Tourism PEI asked if I could participate in a short survey on my time in PEI. I agreed and we had a nice long chat. I had only good things to say about the province. Ruth and I have been really impressed with the Tourism Information Centres and employees in all three Maritime provinces. The employees are very friendly and are full of information. I was told before coming here that the people are friendly and welcoming, and that has definitely been the case. We've met and talked with many locals and other tourists and everyone has been friendly.

I have to mention the unique bed and breakfast we're staying in tonight. We're at the Annfield Manor near Sydney on Cape Breton Island. It's a 28-room historic mansion built in 1893. Our bedroom is on the third floor and there's even a small floor (fourth) floor above us. And there's a basement. It's amazing. We've stayed in some great places throughout the trip.

Tomorrow we'll spend another day in Cape Breton before heading back down to the Halifax area. Our trip comes to a close on Friday. Thanks for reading. And don't forget to check out the travel pics I posted. I'll try to post more soon.

Posted by tfalk 17:06 Comments (0)

Red dirt and red hair in PEI

We devoted today to Anne of Green Gables. We spent last night at a motel in New London, Prince Edward Island (PEI), which is the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery, who is one of Canada's most famous authors and the creator of Anne of Green Gables. This morning we toured the home where Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in 1874. We then drove to nearby Cavendish where we walked on the red sand of Cavendish Beach. From there we drove to Avonlea Village also in Cavendish. Here we toured the Anne of Green Gables museums and interacted with the characters from the book. We even played dress up - we became Anne Shirley donning everything from the red pig tails to the white bloomers. From there we drove to the capital city of Charlottetown to take in the Anne of Green Gables Musical. We had great seats and the music was excellent.

The town of Cavendish reminded me of Wisconsin Dells, which my family has visited a few times - it's a bit of a tourist trap. There's probably more tourists than locals, especially in the summer. The three main industries in PEI are tourism, agriculture and fisheries. Speaking of agriculture, I've seen a variety of crops during our travels including lots of potatoes (PEI is known for its potatoes), some corn and wheat and even a few canola fields. I've seen more agriculture during my two days in PEI than I did during my entire time in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Coming from the Prairies where it takes awhile to get anywhere, we had to adjust to the small size of PEI. The island is so small that it only takes a short time to get anywhere. After crossing the famous Confederation Bridge yesterday at the bottom of the island we managed to travel to the top of the island (to New London) in about 20 minutes. And the trip from Cavendish to Charlottetown took us about 30 minutes. When we leave PEI on Monday we'll take the ferry across from Wood Islands to Nova Scotia, which is an approximately 75 minute trip. And you only pay a toll when you leave the island - I guess they don't want people to leave! Every person counts in PEI. The province's population is approximately 141,000.

Going back a couple days - We spent some time exploring the city of Moncton, New Brunswick before we ventured up the Acadian coast on a scenic drive with our destination being the city of Miramichi. In Miramichi we stayed at a quaint B & B with more friendly hosts. This coastal area is home to many French-speaking people so I've been able to practice my French a bit (this area is also very close to Quebec). We also visited a museum where we learned the history of the Acadian people in Canada. Unfortunately we've run into rain the past two days, but overall we can't complain about the weather we're having on the trip.

We're spending the next two days in PEI before we return to Nova Scotia for the last leg of our trip. While in PEI we're staying in the University of PEI dorms. That's all for now.

Posted by tfalk 17:13 Comments (1)

Off the beaten path in New Brunswick

Yesterday, after a three hour ferry ride across the Bay of Fundy from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, we arrived in Saint John. We drove downtown (or as they call it, uptown) and found ourselves surrounded by scores of other tourists. Turns out we just happened to be in Saint John the day a huge cruise ship stopped in from New York. Apparently this happens frequently in Saint John. We walked around the downtown area visiting various shops, farmers' market etc. We then drove to the popular Reversing Falls in Saint John where the water literally flows in one direction at one time of the day and reverses direction at another time of the day. Check out this website for more info: http://www.new-brunswick.net/Saint_John/reversingfalls/reversing.html It was quite remarkable to see. In the afternoon we also drove out to the nearby town of Hampton at the recommendation of a tour guide we spoke with. There we found a cute gift shop, market and greenhouse. The place also had numerous flavors of ice cream so we had to indulge. Ice cream has become almost a daily treat. And it's a great way to beat the heat. So far the weather has been good to us - warm and sunny most days with temperatures in the 20 to 30 Celcius range.

Last night we stayed at a great B & B with a friendly couple as our hosts. We've decided it takes a certain kind of person to run a bed and breakfast - willing to open your home to strangers, full of local information and friendly.

Today was a busy day. We left Saint John and headed up the coast along the Bay of Fundy stopping first in the town of St. Martins where we saw the world famous Sea Caves and two covered bridges (and if you stand in just the right spot you can get them both in one photo). The community is also the gateway to the Fundy Trail, which we drove along stopping at several look out spots and walking on a suspended foot bridge. From there we ventured through Sussex, which is known as a farming community. So far I've seen very little agricultural activity in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Today, on our drive, we saw a few dairy farms, some cattle, some corn fields and pasture land (no other crops).

We drove through Fundy National Park, carrying on to Cape Enrage and finally the famous Hopewell Rocks. The curvy and hilly drive to Cape Enrage took us off the beaten path and proved to be worth it with spectacular views of the Bay of Fundy. Hopewell Rocks is a popular tourist destination with its magnificent rock formations. Here we walked on the ocean floor at low tide. Approximately six hours later during high tide you can sea kayak in the same location where you just walked - amazing! Here's a website with more info: http://www.thehopewellrocks.ca/ By the way, the Bay of Fundy is Canada's finalist in the global campaign to declare the new 7 wonders of nature. From there we drove to Moncton where we're spending the night at another B & B. Tomorrow we plan to check out the city of Moncton and start driving up the acadian coast of New Brunswick.

Thanks for reading and please share this travel blog with others. And please visit my other blog, http://ruralrouteramblings.wordpress.com/, which I update on a regular basis.

Posted by tfalk 18:22 Comments (2)

Whale sightings in the Bay of Fundy

Today I had one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ruth and I went whale watching in the Bay of Fundy, which is located between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. And not only did we see five humpback whales (three mothers and two babies) but at one point we were close enough to touch them! Two of them swam right beside the boat! They're huge! Whales are the largest mammals. It was an incredible experience - well worth the long drive down the Digby neck of Nova Scotia to Brier Island. The drive from the town of Digby to the bottom of the neck was about two hours plus two ferry crossings, which took extra time. From the town of Westport on Brier Island we ventured about eight miles into the Bay of Fundy with our tour guide Jamie to the area where we saw the whales. Of course I had my camera and captured proof of our whale sightings!

Earlier in the day we drove across the province, whick took about two hours, from Liverpool. We had stayed the night at a B & B in Liverpool. Our host was a very friendly lady, Karen Miller. As we travelled across the province we stopped briefly at the Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site.

Going back to Sunday, we left Halifax and took the scenic drive down to the famous Peggy's Cove where we saw the lighthouse and walked on the huge rocks. From there we continued south down the coast to the popular towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg where we walked up and down the streets visiting the cute shops and taking it all in. The town of Lunenburg is a World Heritage Site and is rich in history. There we also saw the famous Bluenose II ship, which is currently being restored, and toured the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. We also enjoyed dinner overlooking the haborfront at the Dockside restaurant.

With the help of my trusty GPS, who we've named Xavier, we've haven't yet got lost. But I fear that it's only a matter of time before he leads us astray. So far travelling in Nova Scotia has been very different than what I'm used to on the Prairies. There are no flat, wide open spaces. No golden wheat or bright yellow canola growing in fields along the highway. Just trees, trees and more trees. The narrow two lane highway was carved out of a lush green forest. I felt like I was in a car commercial as I maneuvered my way around the sharp curves.

We spend tonight in Digby and will leave early in the morning on the ferry to Saint John, New Brunswick. We've had a great time exploring Nova Scotia and will be back later in the trip. We're hoping New Brunswick is just as exciting. Stay tuned for more.

Posted by tfalk 18:14 Comments (0)

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