Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Back to Nova Scotia

Again, another very smooth crossing and we drove off the ferry around 9.30am and whilst still in the North Sydney area, found two more cemeteries and photographed some missing war graves. Next we found our way to our B&B and enjoyed a very nice overnight stay, with the hostess, Cheryl, telling us next morning of an attempted murder which took place at her home two years prior. A newly married widow (in her 70s) chose the B&B to finish off her fourth husband – rather ineptly if you ask me as she had already served several years for ‘accidentally driving over her second husband TWICE!  If you’re a murder mystery fan, just google ‘Black Widow and Chambers B&B’ for the full story. Cheryl had us in fits of laughter though and made this stop one of our favourites.

Leaving Nova Scotia, we travelled by a coastal route along the southern coast eventually arriving at Dartmouth where we had accommodation for a few days. This is ‘just up the road’ from Halifax and so not far to go for the essential site-seeing of this part of Nova Scotia.
First day was a day of discovery in Halifax. We found our way to the Fairview Cemetery to view the graves of the Titanic victims – there is such a lot of them and they are all arranged on a gentle curved slope. Of course there are is a steady stream of coaches continually bringing sightseers so at times there are quite a lot of people moving amongst the memorial stones.
Next we found our way to the harbour right down the hillside and through the narrow one-way streets that are such an irritation when you’re not sure about finding your way in a strange city. The popular harbourside is along the boardwalk with the inevitable fast-food booths, and it is there that the excellent Maritime Museum is sited. It is well worth a visit, as much of the history of this region is sea based, and so very important to the lives of people who live here. A short feature film told the dreadful story of the Halifax disaster – when a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives, was involved in a collision with a Norwegian vessel in December 1917. The result was a cataclysmic explosion that devastated Halifax. Over 2,000 people died, 9,000 were injured and a tsunami created by the blast wiped out the physical community of Mi'kmaq First Nations people that had lived nearby. The museum has a separate exhibition on the ill-fated Titanic – as you would imagine. Halifax was the nearest port to the disaster and it is where the both the survivors and the recovered victims were brought.

At lunchtime we decided it was now or never to try the popular ‘poutine’. It consists of a dish of fries, topped off with cheese curds and then gravy over the lot. We not very bravely decided that we’d order a small dish of this delicacy (!) to share and with some iced tea, took our meal to the picnic tables by the waterside. Perhaps it was a good thing that we met a holidaying English couple to chat with while we ate.  Must say poutine is not really to our taste – but it certainly is to a vast majority of Canadians.

We took a day trip out of Halifax along the coast to Peggy’s Cove which is touted in the brochures as picture perfect with a wonderful lighthouse. Well, we've certainly seen our share of lighthouses on this trip – especially so in the Maritimes (those provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland) nevertheless we found Peggy’s Cove quite picturesque despite (once again) coachloads of tourists. It has a vast rocky area right by the sea with a white lighthouse beautifully positioned to warn ships. These lighthouses nowadays are not so essential given the widespread use of the GPS, but the structures remain and are very picturesque and a reminder of the days when expert navigation was a talent at which a lot of seafarers were not very proficient.

We couldn't leave Halifax without visiting the amazing Halifax Citadel (Fort George) perched solidly high up on a hilltop in the heart of the city. We arrived on the day that 75 years ago Canada entered into the fray of WW2 and many of those ‘manning’ the citadel were dressed in period wartime uniforms instead of the usual full Scottish dress of the 78th Highlanders. Peter got talking to one ‘soldier’ and found out that he was a re-enactor – and of all things, his forte was as an Australian Light horseman! He was most interested to learn that my grandfather was in the 13th Light Horse.

We also visited the Canadian Immigration Museum sited in the very building that so many immigrants passed through on their way to a new life in this country. It is Canada's version of Ellis Island, and is well worth a visit.

Leaving Halifax we drove across Nova Scotia to the north coast and checked into a B&B in Digby for two nights. During our stay here we drove along the coast to Annapolis Royal, a pretty coastal town first settled by the French in 1605 and in nearby Port Royal there is a beautiful (1939/40) reconstruction (by retired shipbuilders) of the original French fort. 

Before leaving, we visited the Moose River Rug Hooking Centre. I have been intrigued by the popularity of this unknown craft (to me) especially in the Maritimes which had originated in pioneer days when burlap (hessian) sacks were reused as the base of floor rugs and strips of old clothing or fabrics were hooked through to easily make quite beautiful - but cheap - floor coverings. The centre we visited certainly opened my eyes to this craft and it seems to be almost as popular here as quilting.

In this area there is also a tidal powered generating station taking advantage of the incredibly high tides in the Bay of Fundy. In fact you can literally see the rise of the incoming tide - it is so rapid.

This small town is from where we boarded another ferry to travel in grey, rainy weather back to New Brunswick. We drove across the province finally coming back to Quebec Province – our final  stop.

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