Frantic in the Atlantic – July 2, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Hi there –

Well, I’m not really frantic, just excited because we finally rounded the corner in west Nova Scotia and we are now on the Atlantic Ocean!

We headed out of Annapolis Royal ready to make great progress along the coast. But . . . being Saturday and July 1st, there seemed to be a garage sale every 30 feet (10 metres). The Lady started getting all twitchy again and the Man KNEW he was going to have to stop at least once.

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Bear River, NS

We took a little diversion up to Bear River because the Man heard that the town was quite unusual. It has been called the Switzerland of Nova Scotia because of the farms built on very hilly land. The town is more than 2 miles (3 kilometres) up the Bear River and yet is still very much influenced by the Fundy tides. Originally a shipbuilding town in the early 1800’s, many of the houses on the main street are built on stilts over the river. When we were there the tide was out so the buildings were standing about 20 feet (6 metres) above the ground. At the info center the girl there showed us photos taken last week during a very high tide and the water was right at the floorboards of the same buildings.

In its heyday more than 150 ships including one tall ship was built at the town. Now all you can see is crumbling wharves.

The other thing we saw there was the Legion Garage Sale so guess where the Lady headed. It filled the street in front of the building and two rooms inside! The Man was pretty patient except he kept mumbling words like “ticky-tacky, junk, mothballs, etc. . . “. He told me that he has come to realize that garage sale treasures look just the same on the East Coast as they do on the West Coast as they do in the middle of the country. The Lady was thrilled to bits though and bought a few lovely knick-knacks.

We left there and made it about 3 miles (5 kilometres) when the Lady decided she was feeling peckish and sure enough she spotted another garage sale, this time with a Strawberry Tea attached. So . . . we stopped again and dug through more stuff and then tried to get into the Tea but found the whole town (all thirty of them) was also trying to do the same so we couldn’t get in.

The Man had to admit that garage sales are great places to meet the locals and get advice on sights to see.

We were told we MUST see Digby Neck which is a thin 37 mile (60 kilometre) spit with two small islands at the end which are reached by a ferry to each. The drive was very beautiful, mostly through scrubby spruce and bog land. On one side of us was the Bay of Fundy and on the other the Annapolis Basin. All along the coast were very small fishing villages. The sky was cloudless but with a strong wind so the colours were crisp and clear.

Looking across to Long Island.  Note the tidal currents in the channel.

At the end of the spit we could look across at Long Island, a 15 minute ferry ride. An incredible current was flowing through the channel making the ferry work hard with each crossing.

Long Island has a couple of small towns and the last island, Brier Island, has one town. All of them are very non-commercial, ‘untouched’ working fishing towns. At the very end of Brier Island you can see where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bay of Fundy. After a week of seeing the red murky waters of the Bay of Fundy it was good to see the clear blue Atlantic waters.

Digby Sunset

Digby Sunset

We had to backtrack the 37 miles (60 kilometres) back to Digby but it was worth the extra time we took. Digby is another well preserved fishing town and we enjoyed walking the waterfront there.

This morning we headed out on a very rainy day. We were in an area of many small towns with not a lot of highlights so we actually made some progress. The first stop was at Church Point where between 1903 and 1905 the largest wooden church in Canada was built, 190 feet (58 metres) long and 134 feet (41 metres) wide with a 184 foot (56 metre) spire.

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The local priest hired an illiterate local parishioner to do the building. Because of the large size of the church and the high winds in the area it was necessary to overbuild the structure using massive timbers and masses of rocks to anchor the steeple. It was an amazing engineering feat and quite an impressive sight.

The day before, someone told us about the man hired to paint the ceiling. He just arrived at the church and told the priest that he was an artist. Though he had some talent, he needed a drink or two to give him courage to go up the very high scaffold. While some of the paintings had a religious theme, others really didn’t and it seems he just painted what he wanted.

We left there and lo and behold – the Lady spotted ANOTHER garage sale. Not only that, she found ANOTHER old travelling trunk that she couldn’t live without. So now I’m sharing the supposedly ’empty’ back seat with the trunk. It’s not too bad though cause I’m turning it into my bedroom for the motels with a ‘NO SHEEP’ policy. The Man is really hoping that the Lady is shopped out.

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Shelburne, Nova Scotia

After that we made it safety to Shelburne on the south coast with a strong gale blowing off the Atlantic. Shelburne is another amazing old town. Settled in 1778 by Loyalists from New York, it is a beautiful natural harbour. Many, many restored buildings. More drooling going on – disgusting!

Well, it’s getting late here so that’s it for tonight.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

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Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Nova Scotia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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