about Nova Scotia, Canada, by reading Nova Scotia: The Southern Loop
& Lighthouse Trail by Jayne Condon, leisure traveler and WTA member.
It features all you'll need to know to plan your trip including how
to get there, objective information on places to stay, and eat, and
things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a summary of
the contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!
Nova Scotia- The
Southern Loop & Lighthouse Trail
Jayne Condon, Leisure Traveler and WTA Member
Sandy Point Lighthouse, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is the brightest of Canada’s
maritime jewels. Shaped like a moth, it hovers in the Atlantic Ocean
between New England and Newfoundland. Its bottom is aimed at Cape Cod,
which is the lower end of an ocean basin producing the most spectacular
tides on earth.
Getting there involves a number of choices.
If you fly from the US, most connections to Halifax are through Boston,
New York or Portland. Driving can take you through New England and New
Brunswick, the latter being connected to Nova Scotia by a spur of land
roughly corresponding to the moth’s wings. By boat – which also
carries cars – you can take a fast ferry from Bar Harbor, or a slower,
more conventional one from Portland, both to the port of Yarmouth. Since a
car is a must for self-touring and we like driving our own, we chose the
ferry; our preference was Portland, but we ended up catching it out of Bar
Harbor. With loading of the high speed "Cat" starting at 6:30
a.m., we opted to stay the night before at the Atlantic Oakes by the Sea
Hotel whose location next to the ferry was a plus.
Driving conditions are much the same in
Nova Scotia as in the States, although speed limits and signposts are in
kilometers. With the American dollar worth about $1.50 Canadian,
everything but gasoline costs less.
We headed north on the Evangeline Trail.
Passing Digby, the scallop capital of Canada, our first overnight in Nova
Scotia was at the charming Blomidon Inn, near Wolfville. After a walk
through this delightful little town we ended the day with a sumptuous
seafood dinner at the Inn.
The next morning we went shopping and one
of the sales ladies gave us some great tips on things to do, including the
Domaine De Grand Pre vineyard. Owned by a Swiss family, it includes a
wine shop, winery and a restaurant, Le Caveau, where we made dinner
reservations for that evening.
Our next stop was the "Look Off,"
the highest point above the Minas Basin with a view that goes on forever.
Then on to Cape Split, which binds the basin on its western end, and Scott’s
Bay, where the tidal "slosh" can rise and fall by almost 60 feet
every 12 and a half hours!
We arrived at Le Caveau early enough to
have a glass of wine in their open-air pergola and to take in the
vineyards, and the adjacent rich countryside. After dinner, we visited the
new press house to see the award-winning wine being made.
The next day, we set off on a trek
along the 17th century
Wolfville dykes - and our first view of a high tide on the Bay of Fundy.
From there we went to Port William and visited the 1812 Prescott House,
with well-tended grounds and gardens for relaxing.
At noon, we ventured to Hall’s Harbor for
an outdoor feast, where the smell of lobster mingled with the scents of
pine and sea wrack at low tide. From there, we went to Halliburton House
on Morris Street, a four-star inn at the heart of downtown Halifax and
within easy walking to the harbor.
Our fourth day in Canada began with a
90-minute cruise through Halifax harbor on the Christina Lynn, a
After lunch at the 250-year-old Waterfront
Warehouse, we spent the afternoon strolling through the town. Sites of
interest included St. Paul’s Anglican Church, at 250 the oldest
Protestant Church in Canada, and Alexander Keith’s original Brewery on
lower Water Street built in 1834. For dinner, Sweet Basil on upper Water
Street featured unusual fish and meat dishes in a casual atmosphere.
Our first stop the next day was the Halifax
Public Gardens, a Victorian gem of trees, statues and fountains in the
center of a lush and green city.
Next was the star-shaped Halifax
Citadel National Historic Site, with its ramparts, musketry gallery,
powder magazines, and garrison cells. Tours with members of the 78th
Highland Regiment include bagpipe serenades, the changing of the guard,
and the firing of muskets.
Later that morning we set out along the
Lighthouse Trail, passing the famous rocks of Peggy’s Cove and one of
the most photographed beacons in North America.
Further down the southern coast is Mahone
Bay, whose narrow streets house the studios and galleries of some of
Canada’s finest artist and artisans. Of special interest is the Amos
Pewter Shop, where visitors can watch the spinning of flat sticks on the
lathe and the polishing of nearly finished pieces to perfection.
Just a few more minutes down the Trail is
the beautiful and historic town of Lunenburg, with its colorful
waterfront, and captivating architecture radiating the flavor of the town’s
Swiss and German ancestry and its seafaring heritage. We settled in for
the evening at the Boscawen Inn/Mac Laughlin House, and enjoyed the
panoramic view over the harbor with our excellent dinner.
The next morning started with a carriage
ride with Basil, the owner of "A Trot in Time"(902-634-8917) and
his horse Bob. According to Basil, originally all of the waterfront
buildings were painted red as a guide to the fleet returning in the fog.
Touring the Fisheries Museum of the
Atlantic (902-634-4794), we boarded boats to chat with "Old
Salts" who had spent a lifetime fishing the Grand Banks, and saw
dozens of exhibits and displays. We lunched in the same building at the
Old Fish Factory Restaurant on the water’s edge. Later, after a trip to
dramatic Blue Rocks (just what it sounds like), we had dinner at the Lion
Inn B & B and Restaurant, with a casual atmosphere and good food and
The next morning we packed a picnic in our
hamper, and after a stop at Sommerville Beach, we journeyed to Sandy Point
Light House where we lunched at a picnic table and enjoyed one of the best
views of the trip, an artist’s dream.
Less than two hours later we arrived at
Cape Sable and Clark’s Harbour, the latter filled with colorful boats
and ship-building yards, crammed with stacks of lobster traps at every
That evening, we closed the loop on our
Nova Scotia adventure in Yarmouth. The next morning we boarded the Scotia
Prince, arriving eleven hours later in Portland. The daytime trip back
is a bit challenging because the Scotia Prince is configured
principally for nighttime travel. Comfortable seats are limited and
scattered throughout the boat. A day cabin is not a bad idea.
Because this trip is so popular,
hotel reservations for both Portland and Yarmouth should be made in
advance. The many hotels fill up fast, especially in peak summer months.
We also recommend that you contact the Tourist Bureau for your complete
guide to Nova Scotia, "Doer’s and Dreamer’s," by calling
This guidebook contains most of the information that you will need for
that perfect trip, including helpful information on applying for a tax
refund on purchases and hotel accommodations, which can exceed 15%. Visit
the Nova Scotia Details box (below) for further information.
Nova Scotia Details
Getting There, Places to Stay, Eat, and
Other Contact Information
By Air: Fly into Halifax, NS and definitely rent a car.
Check the many options with your
travel agent or on the Internet.
By Ferry: There are two good options:
Places To Stay
Bar Harbor, ME
Halliburton House Inn,
Halifax (on the waterfront), 800-325-3535
Mahone Bay, NS
Mahone Bay B&B,
Lion Inn B&B
877-634-7179 or (e-mail)
Commanders Inn, 902-634-3151
Lennox Inn B&B, 902-634-4043
Hillcroft Cafe and
Guest House, 902-634-8031
Summerville Beach, NS (Exit 20 eastbound and 20A westbound off
Quarterdeck Villa, 800-565-1119 or
Places To Eat
Le Caveau at The Domaine De Grand Pre' vineyard, 902-542-1753 or
Halls Harbour, NS
Halliburton House Inn,
Sweet Basil, on Upper
Water Street, near the docks,
Rope Loft, directly on the
special note, the Lion Inn and Hillcroft Cafe are both noted for
dinners, which are open to the public. Reservations are
and both have only three or four rooms to rent.
- A Trot in Time,
- Fisheries Museum of
the Atlantic, 902-634-4794
- Paul Myna Smoked Fish
This information is current as of September 2000. In planning
your trip, it is recommended that you contact the numbers above to
determine any changes to the information.