Ron Stern | Global Gumshoe
Scottish immigrants were among the first to settle in this coastal region of Nova Scotia. Today, the shores of Northumberland have retained much of their heritage, reflected in the lives and small businesses of its residents. From Halifax to Pugwash, you will find sandy beaches, historic sites, farms and vineyards, fresh cuisine and genuine hospitality.
Here is a short list of things to see and do:
With all the history in Halifax, you might be tempted to spend all of your time taking in the sights. Some of the best include the Citadel National Historic Site, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Canada’s National Immigration Museum at Pier 21. The latter, where a million immigrants passed through from 1928 – 1971, is sometimes compared to Ellis Island.
Right off the highway, near the town of Truro is the 40-foot statue of Glooscap. This imposing figure is dedicated to the Mi’kmaw. While here, visit the Glooscap Heritage Center and its displays, exhibits and gift shop celebrating the culture of the Mi’kmaw people.
Victoria Park is a 400-acre wooded oasis in the center of town. Take the time to hike up some of the easy trails to see wildlife, a river gorge and two waterfalls amid lush trees and foliage.
Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown is home to a family-run sugar farm producing several varieties of some of the best maple syrup on the planet — from mild and buttery to rich and flavorful. This little-known gem is quite the destination for locals who come to enjoy a hearty buffet like the Sugar Moon Classic, featuring all-you-can-eat whole grain, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, baked beans and sausage (16 CAD).
This charming little town has some wonderful little boutiques, retail shops and eateries. For a must do dinner, make a reservation at Gabrieau’s Bistro. Chef Mark Gabrieau is passionate about food and wine and will serve you a multi-course dinner that will be a truly unforgettable experience.
Route 337 out of Antigonish will provide a scenic route along the coast to your next stop: Cape George with some gorgeous scenery and photo ops, including the 360-foot tall, red and white Cape George Lighthouse.
At the waterfront area is the Hector Heritage Quay. Here, you will find a full-sized replica of the sailing vessel, the Hector, as well as a multi-story interactive center.
The history of the Hector is quite fascinating. In 1700s Scotland, life was not looking good for tenant farmers. Landowners were raising rates and Scottish clans ended up losing to the British in the bloody Battle of Culloden.
With the promise of land in the New World, 189 people boarded the Hector for an arduous journey to Pictou. In spite of disease (smallpox), crowded conditions and many other hardships, the Scots landed in this area and slowly established themselves in Nova Scotia. Today, you can tour their museum and the Hector to get a glimpse into a long lost world.
If you like lavender, you don’t have to travel to the south of France to find it. Take Route 6 for a 15-mintue ride to the Seafoam Lavender Farm along the Northumberland Strait.
The Belt family decided to try their hand at growing this crop against the inhospitable conditions of northern Nova Scotia. Despite losing up to 30 percent of their crop each year, they have been successfully providing tours, growing many different species of lavender and creating a variety of products made from the plant’s essential oil.
The Train Station Inn was the dream of Jimmy LeFresne who bought the abandoned property and converted it into a country inn. Today he has nine converted railroad cars, including a dining car, gift shop and restaurant. The rooms are equipped with seating areas, bath and showers, televisions, and all the charm and ambiance of a bygone era.
Before you depart the Train Station Inn, have breakfast in what was formerly the men’s waiting area. Back in the day, the two sexes were divided, reportedly owing to the fact that men liked to smoke and use spittoons and coarse language. In fact, certain train conductors, specially trained in how to properly speak to women, wore a unique button to let the fairer sex know that these were the best people to ask for assistance.
There are many other things to see in this area, including quite a few roadside stands offering everything from fish and chips to ice cream. In addition to that, however, you will discover the true warmth and hospitality of the Nova Scotian people. This combination will make any trip one worthy of remembrance.
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