Craig and I recently spent a week in Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Although there is a CAT Ferry which travels from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, we decided to drive up to New Brunswick so we could explore the countryside, and from there planned to take the 2-hour ferry to Nova Scotia.
As we headed north, we were aware of an increase in the pine and spruce trees lining the highway. New Brunswick is known for its woodlands, mountains and the Bay of Fundy, known for extreme tides and whale-watching. The extreme tides wash an abundance of fish into the Bay of Fundy, attracting the whales. We spent the first night in the port city of St. John and had dinner at one of the restaurants bordering the long-standing St. John City Market.
The next morning, we went to Fallsview Park so we could see the Reversing Falls, where the tide changes average 40-50 feet and the rapids flow backwards at high tide. It would have been a whitewater kayaker’s dream! On our trip to the ferry landing, we also stopped at the Irving Nature Park and hiked along the shoreline underneath the evergreens on woodchip paths.
The Maritimes are known for their seafood – lobsters, plump sea scallops, succulent oysters, mussels, halibut, haddock and cod. The ferry from St. John deposited us in Digby, the scallop capital of the world! Our bed and breakfast overlooked the harbor and the scallop boat fishing fleet! It was a short walk into town where we sampled some superb restaurants. We also drove down Digby Neck to a beach where whale sightings were common but failed to see any.
From Digby, we drove south to Kejimkujik National Park which is also a National Historic Site. The National and Provincial Park systems in Canada are very well maintained with great visitor centers, camping and calendars of events. Keji (“Ked-gi”) was the site of early Mi’kmaq Natives. Kejimkujik is a Mi’kmaq word meaning “tired muscles” and may refer to the hard work of trapping and catching fish in fishing weirs in the rivers. The Mi’kmaqs had dwelled in the area for thousands of years, built birch bark canoes and made weirs of stone or wood to dam the rivers and divert the fish. When we went hiking, we saw a lot of first growth hemlock trees.
We spent the next two nights at a B&B in Lunenburg, a colorful fishing village on the South Shore of Nova Scotia originally settled by Germans. The Maritime Museum there was fantastic and gave us a good glimpse of the seafaring trades. We met a very interesting “Old Salt,” a former scallop boat captain who explained exactly how the scallops were “raked” from the sea beds and gave us a step by step procedure for making his favorite recipe from salt cod!
Our final destination was Prince Edward Island, where we stayed at Shaw’s Hotel in Beckley Beach on the North Shore. Shaw’s is an old country Inn built in the 1800’s and is still run by the same family! It was truly luxurious and only a half mile to the beach – miles of red sandstone dunes. The restaurant menu was amazing! PEI mussels are my favorite & I was not disappointed. It was a nice finish for our second honeymoon!
We both wish we’d had longer to explore Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital, and Cape Breton, but we will save that for another trip.