Travel Guide to Canada

NOVA SCOTIA

SAY “HELLO”

- 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.

SENSATIONA­L SCENERY

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.

MUST-SEE SITES

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 (www.parkscanad­a.gc.ca/ halifaxcit­adel), and the meticulous­ly recreated Fortress of Louisbourg lures history lovers north to Cape Breton (www. parkscanad­a.gc.ca/louisbourg). 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 (www.parkscanad­a.gc.ca/fortanne); 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. gc.ca/grandpre). 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.

WHAT’S NEW?

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.ferries.ca/ thecat).

Last spring, WestJet’s regional carrier, Encore, expanded into the U.S. and began offering direct daily flights between Halifax and Boston (www.westjet.com/en-ca/index).

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

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

Golf Digest, officially opened to the public last year (www.cabotlinks.com/golf/ cabot-cliffs).

In late July, a fleet of tall ships arrives in the capital to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday (www.sailtraini­nginternat­ional.org /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 centre.ca).

CITY LIGHTS

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.destinatio­nhalifax.com).

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 (www.cbrm.ns.ca).

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

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.

HERITAGE AND CULTURE

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.gaeliccoll­ege.edu), raise a glass at the continent’s first single malt whisky distillery (www.glenora distillery.com), 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.

QUICK FACT

THE PROVINCE’S WINE INDUSTRY HAS A LONG HISTORY; CHAMPLAIN PLANTED THE

FIRST GRAPEVINES HERE IN 1611.

After all, events like Festival acadien de Clare (www.festivalac­adiendecla­re.ca ) and the Musique de la Baie concert series (www.yarmouthan­dacadiansh­ores.com/en/ 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 scotia.com/explore/culture/mikmaqcult­ure), while contributi­ons made by new arrivals are celebrated at the moving Canadian Museum of Immigratio­n at

Pier 21 (www.pier21.ca).

MUST SEE, MUST DO

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.tasteofnov­ascotia.com).

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

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

reconstruc­tion (www.parkscanad­a.gc.ca/ 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.peggyscove­region.com).

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 (www.novascotia­culinarytr­ails.com).

Remember the Great War. WWI was raging 100 years ago, and the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site commemorat­es it through themed exhibits (www.parks canada.gc.ca/halifaxcit­adel).

SCENIC DRIVES

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.

FAMILY FUN

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 (maritimemu­seum.novascotia. ca), the Canadian Museum of Immigratio­n at Pier 21 (www.pier21.ca), plus the new, hands-on Discovery Centre (www.thediscove­rycentre.ca). When hunger hits, refuel at the Halifax

Seaport Farmers’ Market (www.halifax farmersmar­ket.com).

 ??  ?? SPECIAL EVENTS JUNE
• PRIVATEER DAYS, LIVERPOOL
JUNE – JULY
• ROYAL NOVA SCOTIA INTERNATIO­NAL
TATTOO, HALIFAX
• STAN ROGERS FOLK FESTIVAL, CANSO JULY
• ANTIGONISH HIGHLAND GAMES • HALIFAX PRIDE FESTIVAL
• PICTOU LOBSTER CARNIVAL
• TD HALIFAX...
SPECIAL EVENTS JUNE • PRIVATEER DAYS, LIVERPOOL JUNE – JULY • ROYAL NOVA SCOTIA INTERNATIO­NAL TATTOO, HALIFAX • STAN ROGERS FOLK FESTIVAL, CANSO JULY • ANTIGONISH HIGHLAND GAMES • HALIFAX PRIDE FESTIVAL • PICTOU LOBSTER CARNIVAL • TD HALIFAX...
 ??  ?? PEGGY'S COVE • SHUTTERSTO­CK/MEUNIERD
PEGGY'S COVE • SHUTTERSTO­CK/MEUNIERD
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? SKYLINE TRAIL, CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDS • SHUTTERSTO­CK/JUSTEK16
949,500
Halifax
www.Novascotia.com
Halifax Stanfield
Internatio­nal Airport,
35 km (22 mi.) from downtown
SKYLINE TRAIL, CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDS • SHUTTERSTO­CK/JUSTEK16 949,500 Halifax www.Novascotia.com Halifax Stanfield Internatio­nal Airport, 35 km (22 mi.) from downtown

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