Nova Scotia for ‘New Scotland’. In French, Nouvelle-Écosse. In Scottish Gaelic, Alba Nuadh. It’s one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces. Halifax is the capital. Population about 1 million people. According to stats it’s the second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 45 inhabitants per square mile. I think ‘densely’ is a misnomer. Remember, this is Canada which is for the most part, wilderness. The landscape is diverse. Several low mountain ranges, many hills, lush river valleys, many lakes, forests, windswept barren rocks and countless miles of coastline from very rugged to broad sandy beaches. My ten-day driving trip was mostly on the Northern and Western part of Nova Scotia. Spent the first day and night in Halifax. A city with a very diverse polulation. First settled and established by Europeans in the early 1700s. Then four days in Cape Breton Island where I met hurricane Dorian. It was only a 24 hour event and didn’t get too much in my way though that night was an eye opening experience. Made my way to Cape d’Or, then back along the shores of Bay of Fundy to Digby for five days. And finally to Yarmouth, the touristy Lunenburg and back to Halifax.
Lasting impressions from this trip are great. Away from the very few larger cities the landscape is that of pristine nature, wether inland or by the coastline. Nova Scotia doesn’t have iconic natural sights. No Grand Canyon, or Half Dome or Devil’s Tower. It doesn’t need those. The island, all of it, is so unspoiled, natural, clean and fresh. Most of the people live their lives along the coastline. There is some farming and light industry. Seems that fishing is what everybody does. Beautiful fishing villages in pictures coves dot the coastline. The people are respectful, considerate, self reliant, never in a hurry and friendly. Driving is a pleasure. Everyone respects the rules of the road. Traffic is very light. I put about 2,000 miles on the odometer and never had a stressful minute driving. There were times when I did not see another car on the road for more than 30 minutes.
For a long time I’ve been fascinated and intrigued by lighthouses. Their structures, locations, the lonely life of lighthouse keepers and sometimes their families, the hard winters and isolation they had to endure. There are about 150 operational lighthouses in Nova Scotia. Of those that I saw, all were automated. Many were also a museum with much information about their history and the keepers who spent their lives maintaining them. One, Gilbert Cove Lighthouse, was very special. It was doing its job, 24/7, but also served as a museum and gift shop with a tea room. I’ll write in detail about this lighthouse in an upcoming blog post.
I enjoyed the natural beauty of the island, the unhurried pace of life, the great seafood, the friendly, considerate and respectful people and the great weather of September without any bugs. It’s an appealing land and lifestyle but I would feel a bit too isolated if I lived there permanently. Missed going to Prince Edward Island but I will next time while in Nova Scotia.