Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY SU­SAN MACCAL­LUM-WHIT­COMB

“Farewell to Nova Sco­tia,” the prov­ince’s oft-recorded un­of­fi­cial an­them, is a soul­ful folk song that bids adieu to this “sea-bound coast.” If you have been here be­fore, you al­ready un­der­stand why so many peo­ple “grieve to leave.” If not, it’s high time you were in­tro­duced to Nova Sco­tia’s charms.


The scenery alone can make you want to linger in­def­i­nitely. Con­nected to the rest of Canada by just a nar­row neck of land, Nova Sco­tia is es­sen­tially sur­rounded by wa­ter; and ev­ery stretch of its 7,600-km (4,722 mi.) coast­line prom­ises ad­ven­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties as well as oh-so-fresh seafood. Yet each also has its own dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter.

The Mi­nas Basin, for one, is a mag­net for mi­grat­ing shore­birds, hun­dreds of thou­sands of which de­scend each sum­mer to dine on its mud flats be­fore fly­ing to South Amer­ica. Nearby, the con­stant beat­ing of the Bay of Fundy tides un­cov­ers 300-mil­lion-year-old fos­sils in Jog­gins’ UNESCO-des­ig­nated cliffs. The South Shore, con­versely, is dot­ted with cen­turies-old towns and shel­tered coves once fre­quented by pri­va­teers; the East­ern Shore boasts pound­ing surf; and be­tween them is Hal­i­fax, home to one of the world’s largest nat­u­ral har­bours. Northum­ber­land Strait, mean­while, is notable for warm, sandy strands, whereas much of Cape Bre­ton is marked by loch-like in­lets and rocky high­lands that drop dra­mat­i­cally to the sea.

In­land, the ge­og­ra­phy is equally var­ied, which is why A-type va­ca­tion­ers can ex­plore the or­derly vine­yards of the agri­cul­tural heart­land and the won­drous wilds of the South­west Nova Bio­sphere Re­serve within a sin­gle day.


Like its scenery, Nova Sco­tia’s man-made at­trac­tions cover a broad range, from mu­se­ums to amuse­ment parks, art gal­leries to golf cour­ses. His­toric ones, how­ever, are es­pe­cially plen­ti­ful here be­cause the re­gion once played a cru­cial role in the im­pe­rial plans of both Bri­tish and French forces.

The star-shaped Hal­i­fax Citadel, for ex­am­ple, is a lit­eral high­light of any trip to the cap­i­tal city ( hal­i­fax­ci­tadel), and the metic­u­lously recre­ated Fortress of Louisbourg lures his­tory lovers north to Cape Bre­ton (www. The An­napo­lis Val­ley, which con­tains some of the con­ti­nent’s old­est Euro­pean set­tle­ments, has even more in store. Wit­ness Port-Royal, founded by the French in 1605, three years be­fore they es­tab­lished their base at Québec City (www.parkscanada.gc. ca/portroyal ); Fort Anne, a.k.a. “the most at­tacked site in Cana­dian his­tory,” orig­i­nally erected in 1629 as an An­glo coun­ter­bal­ance (­t­anne); and gor­geous Grand-Pré, where po­lit­i­cal­lyneu­tral Aca­di­ans were forced into ex­ile for re­fus­ing to pledge their al­le­giance to the Bri­tish crown in 1755 (www.parkscanada.­pre). All are na­tional his­toric sites, and Parks Canada is waiv­ing en­try fees to them in hon­our of Canada’s 150th birth­day.

Since so many ma­jor at­trac­tions here fall un­der the Parks Canada um­brella—and thereby qual­ify for com­pli­men­tary ad­mis­sion in 2017—the prov­ince of­fers vis­i­tors top value for their va­ca­tion dol­lar; and the fact that it’s a good buy is just one more rea­son why you’ll want to say “hello” to Nova Sco­tia.


In 2016, Bay Fer­ries rein­tro­duced The Cat: a high-speed cata­ma­ran that makes the cross­ing be­tween Port­land, Maine, and Yar­mouth in 5.5 hours (www.fer­ th­e­cat).

Last spring, WestJet’s re­gional car­rier, En­core, ex­panded into the U.S. and be­gan of­fer­ing direct daily flights be­tween Hal­i­fax and Bos­ton (­dex).

The Hal­i­fax Dis­till­ing Com­pany and Guys­bor­ough’s Authen­tic Sea­coast Dis­tillery give vis­i­tors two more ways to wet their whis­tle (www.hal­i­faxdis­till­ingco. ca,­then­tic­sea­coast­dis­

Cape Bre­ton’s Cabot Cliffs, named 2015’s best new course in North Amer­ica by

Golf Digest, of­fi­cially opened to the pub­lic last year ( cabot-cliffs).

In late July, a fleet of tall ships ar­rives in the cap­i­tal to help cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th birth­day (www.sail­train­ing­in­ter­na­ /events/2017-canada-150-tall-ships-re­gatta).

The Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre’s new larger lo­ca­tion —fea­tur­ing five themed gal­leries—gives fam­i­lies an added in­cen­tive to visit the Hal­i­fax wa­ter­front (www.thedis­cov­ery cen­


If you need an ur­ban fix, Hal­i­fax is the place to go. Al­though this is At­lantic Canada’s largest, most cos­mopoli­tan city, its tourist cen­tre is con­ve­niently com­pact, and most ma­jor at­trac­tions—the Hal­i­fax Citadel, the His­toric Prop­er­ties, the Mar­itime Mu­seum of the At­lantic and the Cana­dian Mu­seum of Im­mi­gra­tion at Pier 21 among them—are all within blocks of its huge nat­u­ral har­bour. Tempt­ing shop­ping, din­ing, and nightlife op­tions are close at hand as well. Af­ter strolling around the bustling wa­ter­front board­walk, you can take a leisurely har­bour cruise or fol­low the lo­cals’ lead and hop a com­muter ferry for a quick cross-har­bour trip (www.des­ti­na­tion­hal­i­

Syd­ney, tech­ni­cally part of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, is Nova Sco­tia’s only other ur­ban cen­tre. Lo­cated on the Is­land’s east coast, it has its own wa­ter­front board­walk and a smat­ter­ing of her­itage build­ings. More­over, it makes a handy base for ex­plor­ing at­trac­tions in nearby Glace Bay, in­clud­ing the Mar­coni Na­tional His­toric Site which is ded­i­cated to the Ital­ian ra­dio pioneer who es­tab­lished a transat­lantic mes­sag­ing sta­tion there in 1902, and the Cape Bre­ton Min­ers’ Mu­seum where you can don a hard hat and de­scend into a coal mine. The Fortress of Louisbourg Na­tional His­toric Site is 45 min­utes away by car (


Nova Sco­tia has been dubbed “Canada’s Ocean Play­ground,” and since you’re never more than 67 km (42 mi.) from a coast, en­joy­ing on-the-wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties is easy. Boat­ing is a top draw, which is no sur­prise con­sid­er­ing op­tions in­clude sail­ing on Bras d’Or Lake, a stun­ning in­land sea, and pad­dling in Ke­jimku­jik Na­tional Park and Na­tional His­toric Site—re­trac­ing routes Na­tive Mi’kmaq used for thou­sands of years. Scuba div­ing and deepsea fish­ing are also pop­u­lar; ditto for surf­ing, a fun if some­what frigid al­ter­na­tive on the East­ern Shore. Look­ing for some­thing truly unique? You can ex­pe­ri­ence the rush of raft­ing on the Shube­nacadie River, where a tidal bore whips up big waves.

Land­lub­bers, of course, needn’t feel left out. Choices for bik­ers and hik­ers abound. The for­mer love to pedal on the 119-km (74-mi.) Rum Run­ners Trail con­nect­ing Hal­i­fax and Lunen­burg; while Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Park, which alone has 26 trails, is an ideal place for the lat­ter to lace up their boots. If golf is your game, world-class cour­ses span the prov­ince. Stand­outs range from tra­di­tional favourites like High­lands Links and Fox Harb’r Golf Re­sort, to new stars like Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, ac­claimed sis­ter cour­ses.


Nova Sco­tia is Latin for “New Scot­land” and de­scen­dants of its Scot­tish set­tlers make much of that con­nec­tion—par­tic­u­larly on Cape Bre­ton Is­land, where you can take a class or buy a kilt at North Amer­ica’s only Gaelic col­lege (www.gaelic­col­, raise a glass at the con­ti­nent’s first sin­gle malt whisky dis­tillery (www.glenora dis­, tour the Celtic Mu­sic In­ter­pre­tive Cen­tre (www.celtic­mu­s­ic­cen­tre. com), then dance your feet off at one of the sum­mer ceilidhs (tra­di­tional Gaelic-in­flected par­ties) held Is­land-wide. The prov­ince, how­ever, isn’t en­tirely draped in tar­tan.




Af­ter all, events like Fes­ti­val aca­dien de Clare (www.fes­ti­vala­ca­di­en­de­ ) and the Musique de la Baie con­cert se­ries (www.yarmouthanda­ca­di­an­ things-to-do/view/musique-de-la-baie ) are tune­ful tes­ta­ments to the strength of fran­co­phone cul­ture here. Mi’kmaq com­mu­ni­ties carry on the le­gacy of this land’s orig­i­nal res­i­dents through pow­wows and other spe­cial pro­grams (www.nova sco­­plore/cul­ture/mik­maq­cul­ture), while con­tri­bu­tions made by new ar­rivals are cel­e­brated at the mov­ing Cana­dian Mu­seum of Im­mi­gra­tion at

Pier 21 (


Feast on fresh seafood. Lob­ster . . . scal­lops . . . salmon: from wa­ter­front shacks and road­side fast food restau­rants to fine din­ing rooms, you’ll find seafood top­ping menus ev­ery­where (www.tas­te­ofno­vas­co­

Ogle Lunen­burg’s Old Town. Hun­dreds of well-pre­served her­itage build­ings have earned this pretty port com­mu­nity’s down­town core recog­ni­tion from UNESCO (www.ex­plore­lunen­

Ex­plore the Fortress of Louisbourg Na­tional His­toric Site. Turn back time to the mid-18th cen­tury at North Amer­ica’s largest his­tor­i­cal

re­con­struc­tion ( louisbourg).

Snap a pic­ture at Peggy’s Cove. It’s al­most oblig­a­tory to visit this sea­side ham­let where one of the world’s most iconic light­houses sits atop a slab of wave-blasted rock (www.peg­gyscov­ere­

Fol­low the Good Cheer Trail. On the first win­ery, cidery, craft brew­ery and dis­tillery trail of its kind in Canada, you can sip bev­er­ages from 35-plus lo­cal pro­duc­ers (­vas­co­ti­a­c­uli­nary­

Re­mem­ber the Great War. WWI was rag­ing 100 years ago, and the Hal­i­fax Citadel Na­tional His­toric Site com­mem­o­rates it through themed ex­hibits (www.parks­i­fax­ci­tadel).


The Cabot Trail de­liv­ers one of the most dra­matic drives any­where. The 300-km (186-mi.) road runs straight through Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Park and, in places, rises and falls like a roller coaster as it fol­lows the At­lantic coast. Hug­ging the South Shore for 339 km (211 mi.), the Light­house Route boasts over 20 postcard-per­fect bea­cons, in­clud­ing those at Peggy’s Cove and Cape Forchu. Charm­ing towns like Ma­hone Bay and Lunen­burg make ideal stopovers.

The 291-km (181-mi.) Evan­ge­line Trail— less po­et­i­cally known as High­way 101—con­nects Yar­mouth and Mount Uni­acke. Named for Longfel­low’s tragic nar­ra­tive, Evan­ge­line: A Tale of Acadie, it show­cases the scenery that in­spired his set­ting.


An­i­mated by buskers, glass­blow­ers and tour-boat op­er­a­tors, Hal­i­fax’s work­ing wa­ter­front has proven kid ap­peal. Along it lies the Mar­itime Mu­seum of the At­lantic (mar­itimemu­­vas­co­tia. ca), the Cana­dian Mu­seum of Im­mi­gra­tion at Pier 21 (, plus the new, hands-on Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre (www.thedis­cov­erycen­ When hunger hits, re­fuel at the Hal­i­fax

Sea­port Farm­ers’ Mar­ket (www.hal­i­fax farm­ers­mar­



SKY­LINE TRAIL, CAPE BRE­TON HIGH­LANDS • SHUTTERSTOCK/JUSTEK16 949,500 Hal­i­fax www.No­vas­co­ Hal­i­fax Stan­field In­ter­na­tional Air­port, 35 km (22 mi.) from down­town

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