Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Beautiful Nova Scotia

Sommerville, Nova Scotia

I have a deep love for Nova Scotia; in fact, I consider it my second home.  It is, without doubt, the most beautiful Province in Canada.  Perhaps you already know this.  I uncovered this truism on my first visit, in the summer of 1979.   I was so enthralled by its beauty that, upon my return to Alberta, I took the first job I could find, intent on putting enough money aside, to enable me to move there.  The following June, I climbed into my 1964 push button Dodge and off I went.  During the next three years, I worked for the City of Halifax, the perfect place to scope out the history and story of this wonderful mixed bag of old and new.  Established in 1749, Halifax is steeped in history.  I loved nothing more than to flip through old City records of various parts of the City.  This is where I learned about Pier 21, where over one million immigrants entered Canada between 1928-1971 and about half a million military troops left us to fight on foreign soil in WWII.  And no visit to the City is complete until you have walked Citadel Hill.  Constructed between 1828 and 1856, this living history museum is a star-shaped naval station that sits in the middle of the City with a stunning view of the Halifax Harbour. Or perhaps you would prefer a stroll down Water Street and check out Alexander Keith's Brewery which dates back to the early 1800s.

There were two areas that peeked my interest the most.    The Hydrostone District, designed in accordance with the latest principles of town planning in the rebuilding after the Halifax Explosion, is an English-style garden suburb, designed by architect, Thomas Adams to provide housing for working-class families displaced by the 1917 Halifax Explosion.  Africville, located on the Bedford Basin, was a small community populated almost entirely by Black Nova Scotians, many of whom were former slaves.  Lack of municipal services eventually resulted in extremely poor sanitary conditions, leading to the City's order to have all the dwellings razed and its citizens evicted in the 1960's.  No matter how many times I read this history, it never fails to sadden me.  Africville became an important part of African Nova Scotia identity, symbolizing its long struggle against racism.  And the good news is, Africville is reclaiming its history.  For more on this history follow this link:  http://africville.ca/index.html

A similar skirmish was going on along the Bay of Fundy.  Newport Landing (Avondale) played a role in the New England Planter migration of the 1760s, a British policy to repopulate following the deportation of French Acadians in 1755.  http://www.acadian-home.org/deportation.html

Pumpkin Regatta, Windsor Nova  Scotia
In other words, if it's history that floats your boat, Nova Scotia is steeped in it and it's not all bad.  Did you know, Windsor Nova Scotia was not only the birth place of Canada's favourite sport?  That's right:  HOCKEY, as well as home to the infamous Pumpkin Regatta?  And let's not forget Cape Breton Island, which not only has a lingo all its own but has retained much of its French heritage. 

In 1885, Alexander Graham Bell, and his family  fell in love with Baddeck and returned to build a home where Doctor Bell conducted many experiments, built boats, and gave employment to many of the people; while Mrs. Bell did much to foster home industries, among them the hooking of rugs for which the village of Cheticamp is so famous.

Scenic Beauty Abounds
Pictou, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia literally oozes scenery, culture and authenticity, from quaint fishing villages, beautiful beaches and many farms that are nothing less than picture perfect.  Every inch of it seems to have a way of soothing my soul. 
But I think, of all things, what I love best about Nova Scotia is the people.  We have many friends there and almost never return from our annual visit without making new ones.  There seems to be a common kindness and generosity of spirit that those of us that visit not only notice but appreciate.  In our fast-paced world, sometimes we forget about the importance of our connections, not only with our environment but with our people.  This is not so true of Nova Scotians; in my experience, Maritimers in general, seem to have a way of welcoming you into their communities as if you have always been a part of it.  They have not forgotten the importance of looking out for and taking care of each other. 

 Not to mention, they also have a superb sense of whimsy, never taking themselves overly seriously.  And if that doesn't charm you, then nothing will!
  So, if you're thinking you would like to visit Nova Scotia, you really should.  You won't regret it.
Halifax Harbour