Winters aren’t what they used to be in Nova Scotia. At one time you could count on snow and ice…and plenty of it in March. But this year the March temperatures soared to an unprecedented 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) and a sudden urge to migrate surged in my soul.
Mind you it was only for a weekend and only an hour-and-a-half migration by motor vehicle. Nevertheless, it took us a world away, to the Bay of Fundy and the Annapolis Valley. I booked an overnight at the Silver Shoe B&B in the quaintly named town of Upper Canard (canard being French for duck if your high school French is a bit rusty).
Ensconced here my friend Amanda and I planned our activities which included a hike to the end of Cape Split, a moderate to difficult five hour round-trip hike depending on fitness and which trail chosen.
The reward is a view of the stark sea stacks and surging and swirling currents at the narrow point where the Fundy tides, the world’s highest, form currents that would suck a human down in a second, never to be seen again (hint: don’t plan on going for a swim).
Fossil hunters can check out Blue Beach in nearby Hantsport. Large areas of ancient sea bottom are exposed and you can see 200 million year old sand and mud ripples once again, briefly displayed.
Visitors frequently find petrified fronds of ancient trees, fish scales and a lucky few the jaws and needle-like teeth of ancient fish endemic to the area. Make sure you check out the tides or you may turn around and find that your avenue of escape is cut off by rising tides and shear cliffs. More than a few visitors have had a dunking or worse.
Hantsport is also the site of a docking facility for gypsum boats that ship out loads of the profuse deposits of what was once ancient sea life.
Visitors can choose to visit local vineyards such a Pete Luckett’s vineyard with its British call box perched in the middle of a field, or the granddaddy of Nova Scotia vineyards, Grand Pre Winery. Fine restaurants dot the Annapolis Valley and it’s not hard to find a delicious meal whether your taste runs to gourmet cuisine, fresh fried haddock or scallops and chips. We chose an al fresco lunch from the luscious fresh bread and homemade cheeses at the Foxhill Cheese House.
There’s also lots of fodder for antique hunters and we came away from in Grand Pre with two one-hundred year old Canadian National Railway lanterns used to guide trains before higher tech methods became available. I managed to get a scarce blue globed lantern while Amanda snapped up the amber one. There’s still a red one left for any railroad buffs in the area.
The Grand Pre National Historic Site was open with its great display of artifacts and attractive gardens, albeit denuded by the Maritime winter, as mild as it was. No sign of Evangeline or Gabriel was present though one could certainly feel the ambience of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow epic poem with Acadian dykes still in evidence everywhere, reclaiming fertile land from the sea for three centuries.
A short distance further takes you to Evangeline Beach, where somewhat over half the world’s semi-palmated sand pipers briefly gorge themselves in early August before continuing on their migration.
Though most attractions are at their peak in the summer, winter visitors to Sheffield Mills can enjoy the unprecedented sight of hundreds of eagles in January and February. Enjoying a free lunch as much as anyone, the locals provide a morning brunch for the eagles for several weeks…and they come in droves.
I could go on and on about the attractions in the Annapolis Valley…but why not come and explore for yourself?
If you go …
All Photos By George Burden – All Rights Reserved
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