PRETTY PEGGY

SIX GER­MAN FISH­ER­MEN AND THEIR FAM­I­LIES ESTAB­LISHED THIS PIC­TURE-PER­FECT TOWN IN THE EARLY 1800S. IT’S CHANGED LIT­TLE SINCE.

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | ESCAPE - WORDS: SHIRLEY SINCLAIR

No one alive to­day re­ally knows who Peggy was. But one thing is cer­tain, she must have been beau­ti­ful. That’s ob­vi­ous to any­one vis­it­ing the tiny part of Canada’s Mar­itime Prov­inces named in her hon­our.

If ever a place could lure some­one across the other side of the globe as a must-see town to visit, this is it.

Im­ages of the quin­tes­sen­tial Cana­dian fish­ing com­mu­nity known as Peggy’s Cove burst with colour and charm on the in­ter­net and from the pages of travel books. And for once, the re­al­ity lives up to the hype.

That’s why hordes of sum­mer daytrip­pers come in their cars and tour coaches to get to know “Peggy” bet­ter – to meet the lo­cals, to rock-hop the mas­sive gran­ite boul­ders left by the last ice age, or cap­ture her light­house im­age in per­fect light with a pink and pur­ple sky af­ter sun­set.

On the walk from the Nova Sco­tia Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre carpark, the story of Peggy’s Cove un­folds.

Red, blue and green ves­sels – big and small with names such as Har­bour Mist, Hunger and Thirst, Prov­i­dence I, Miss Peggy’s Cove

and Rev­er­ence – lie at an­chor, mir­rored in the calm wa­ters they sit in.

Gabled-roof homes ap­pear with ex­te­ri­ors rang­ing from bright bur­gundy, teal, and ma­roon to more re­served lemon, beige and corn­flour blue.

Weathered grey boat­sheds by the small docks con­trast with masses of wild­flow­ers and green­ery grow­ing around gran­ite boul­ders that seem to have popped up like mush­rooms out of the earth.

Vis­i­tors eat lob­ster rolls while sit­ting in vi­brantly painted set­tlers’ chairs, look­ing out over the nar­row in­let to the pound­ing waves.

Yel­low and blue lob­ster crates are piled high on docks scat­tered with nets and fish­ing line. An old wooden boat, left out in the el­e­ments, has the paint­work of the name

Free­dom ’55 peel­ing away.

And from afar, the tourist “ants” scam­per around the light­house and rocky shoul­der.

Six Ger­man fish­er­men and their fam­i­lies estab­lished the town in the early 1800s.

It’s changed lit­tle since that time. An in­for­ma­tion board ex­plains to vis­i­tors that in the early days, these fam­i­lies caught had­dock, cod and pol­lock, which they brought to shore and cleaned, split and salted to pre­serve for ship­ment around the world.

The mouth of the cove was made eas­ier to nav­i­gate in the early 1900s by blast­ing with dy­na­mite to clear the area of large rocks. The large chunks were wrapped in chains and towed by two boats to shore as the tide came in.

As fish pop­u­la­tions be­gan to de­cline to­wards the end of the 20th cen­tury, sev­eral fam­i­lies banded to­gether to sus­tain the vil­lage’s liveli­hood and the way of life that had been ex­ist­ing for gen­er­a­tions.

While they op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently, they work to­gether where pos­si­ble to con­tinue the tra­di­tion and pro­tect their liveli­hoods.

Mack­erel, bluefin tuna and lob­ster make up the bulk of catches these days.

The Cape Is­land boats are now made from fi­bre­glass rather than wood, and pow­ered by en­gines in­stead of sails and oars.

And chas­ing and find­ing their catch is made eas­ier with state-of-the-art nav­i­ga­tional aids.

Tourism be­gan to over­take fish­ing in eco­nomic im­por­tance to Peggy’s Cove af­ter World War II.

The main at­trac­tion is Peggy’s Point Light­house, built in 1915 and one of Canada’s most-pho­tographed.

Hours peel away here while be­ing en­ter­tained by the power of the sea at the nat­u­ral am­phithe­atre of gran­ite, worn smooth by the pound­ing waves, and in

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