Road Trip: Shelburne and Shag Harbour

Shelburne Buildings

Old buildings on Dock Street, Shelburne

We took a four day road trip in September and had a couple of special things to do. Both of them were weather dependent and as a result, one of them got cancelled but the other one, which I’ll write about in another blog post, went off without a hitch. Considering we had three out of the four days with weather ranging from plain overcast, to thick fog to brilliant and sunny and back to overcast with showers, we did well to get that one day and I’m glad it landed on the day that it did.

Starting off, we headed for the highway, driving a bit more than two hours down the south shore of Nova Scotia. Our first stop was a craft brewery called Boxing Rock. It’s a little place, up a dirt driveway. I’d heard good things about it but it turned out they only do tours on Fridays. We did get a tasting at the small bar and unlucky for me, I wasn’t keen on any of the four that were available but my other half was and he walked out happy with a six-pack under his arm.

The brewery is just outside the town of Shelburne which is one of the older and more historic towns in Nova Scotia. There was a small French Acadian fishing settlement here in the late 17th century but it didn’t last all that long. The harbour was used as a shelter, and it was even the site of a pirate raid at one time, but there wasn’t another permanent European settlement there until British Loyalists arrived in 1783, welcomed by the Crown and aided to start up a habitation. One other interesting fact, just outside the town a village called Birchtown was settled by former slaves, also feeling the Revolution in America. Birchtown became the largest free black settlement in North America but it was pretty rocky for the inhabitants for awhile. Shelburne grew into a major ship building and fishing port over time.
Historic building in Shelburne
One of the attractions of Shelburne is its history, reflected in the large number of buildings that still exist from the Loyalist days. So much so that it’s been used for a few movie and tv productions, most well known being The Scarlet Letter starring Demi Moore from 1994. A recent production The Book of Negroes was also filmed here in part. I wanted to see the buildings on the waterfront Dock Street and have a wander around.

Shag Harbour Shoreline

Shoreline at Shag Harbour in the fog

Dock Street is not that long, and is lined pretty much all the way to the shipyard and marina will these old buildings which have been kept up quite well. The side streets leading up to Water Street, Shelburne’s main street, are also lined with gorgeous old houses and gardens. Most of the buildings on Dock Street now contain cafes, gift and craft shops, a pub, a couple of museums and a Bed and Breakfast. We spoke to one young woman in the Cox Warehouse, she had part of it as her artisan workshop. She had some lovely things. Seeing and speaking to the artist makes browsing more fun, getting the story behind some of the pieces and seeing the work in progress. We were going to go into the Dory museem (that’s a type of row boat used for fishing) but the chief Dory maker was gone for the day so we went to the Shelburne County museum across from it. It details the history, most of it maritime related, of the area. There were many interesting artifacts and models in the small two storey museum. There’s also another one, the Ross Thompson museum that we saw but didn’t go into which shows more of the every day life of someone living there.
Shelburne Marina
We ended up deciding on a pub on the waterfront for lunch. In retrospect, we likely would have been better to go up to the main street and find something there. The food we had wasn’t much to write home about and was quite underwhelming. The only thing it had going for it was the location on the water. Never mind. We cruised over to where the old buildings by the ship yard are, which also included an event centre and the marina. By now, our feet were getting tired and the sky looked a bit more threatening. We still had a couple of hours to get to Yarmouth for the night. We were supposed to go star gazing at a small observatory near there but we already knew it was cancelled due to the weather. By the time we got out of Shelburne, we drove into extremely thick fog. We wouldn’t have seen any semblence of a star in that!

We did, however, stop into the village of Shag Harbour to peek into the UFO museum. There isn’t much else in Shag Harbour to see. We did take a few photos of the foggy harbour and shoreline before the museum which had lots of newspaper articles, posters, photos and “alien” displays. They had a good book for sale about the event and investigation with up to date information. We spent about a half hour there and then drove the nice coastal route down to Yarmouth for the night.

You can read a little more here.
There are photos from our visit to Shelburne here.

Day Trip: Sherbrooke Village

Sherbrooke Mercantile Pano 1

The Mercantile

One of our day trips was a drive up the eastern shore of Nova Scotia to the village of Sherbrooke where there is an open air “living” museum, called Sherbrooke Village. It’s right in the centre of the village and it was very easy to find. We parked in a lot in the centre of the village but since it took well over 2 hours to get there, we were ready for lunch first. There are a few cafes along the main road and we picked the one that had the best name, Beanie’s Bistro! They were only offering Sunday brunch but it was excellent.

Fully fueled, we’re off to Sherbrooke Village, ready to step back in time to the 19th century.

Sherbrooke is an old settlement and by the 19th century it was prosperous, with farming, fishing and timber filling the coffers. But in 1861, gold was found nearby and for the next 20 years, the town was booming. The mining industry had ups and downs after that, but for the most part it died out, leaving timber as the main industry of the area with salmon fishing bringing in the tourists. The restoration of a village to what it would have been like in the late 19th century was began in 1969 and is ongoing. There are about 2 dozen buildings that are open to the public and are staffed by people wearing period dress who can demonstrate crafts and skills of the era and tell you all about what job they represent.

The weather is in and out but overall, a good day for walking around because it didn’t get too warm and it didn’t rain. We walked the circuit of the two streets where we saw a print shop, a blacksmith, an apothecary, a pottery, a courthouse, a general store, a school house, a church, the home of someone that would have been a business owner and houses that would belong to everyday people and more.

Sherbrooke apothecary Red Ball

Apothecary red ball, traditional “sign”

All of the houses and buildings are original and the fancy house, the part owner of the general store, that actually stayed in the family for a number of generations. I think we were told that there is one house that still has someone living in it, someone who works on the grounds somewhere.

They have a team of horses pulling a buggy if you need a ride to ease your aching feet. Pity we didn’t take advantage of that! If we’d been there earlier we could have taken in the show in the courthouse, a Gilbert and Sullivan one act liberetto, Trial by Jury. We heard a bit of the end of it but didn’t go in because they did ticket the event. Even though we would only have caught the tail end, you don’t barge in while a performance is ongoing, ticket or not! Sounded good, though. Watching a woman work the printing press was very interesting. She later showed us how she puts together a plate for it, including any text or a metal-carved plate for graphics. Pity the blacksmith wasn’t in that day, I would have liked to view him doing something on the forge. The young man in the apothecary shop had lots of interesting things to talk about including a big glass ball filled with red fluid hanging in the window, a traditional symbol for the chemist. I never knew that!

Sherbrooke Street

One of the two streets in Sherbrooke Village

It took a few hours to peek into all the buildings that were available to see. We had to stop to talk to anyone that happened to be there such as the woman in the pottery, another one working a loom and a lady in the exhibition building who had been sewing a huge quilt entirely by hand. That was the Temperence Hall which is actually owned by the Canadian Legion. Since they can’t sell alcohol in a Temperence Hall, they have a couple of tables of Legion and Canadian souvenirs to help raise money for the Legion!

We trudged our way around and got to the end/beginning where we collapsed in the tea room for a brew. I think they do some light meals there and definitely had sweets on offer but I resisted that. We stopped into the gift shop and staggered back into the village, more than ready to hit the road. We should have driven up to the parking lot right at the entrance but we didn’t think it was that far. It wasn’t, not really, but further than we thought it was and it wasn’t a big deal going in. We were dragging our backsides going back to the car is all!

It’s a fair distance to go for a day trip from Halifax but I think it’s definitely worth it. They close for the season either near the end of September or very early October though they do open for two weekends near Christmas and have seasonal events and markets on. That would be quite nice to see if the driving is ok.

Sherbrooke QuiltWe had an unexpected adventure coming back, though and not a pleasant one. Rather than come back the same way we went out, along the coastal Number 7 route, we decided to go cross country to New Glasgow to pick up the Trans Canada 104. Sounded good in theory. But the road that we picked up was absolutely the worst road I’ve ever driven on. The pavement was in horrific condition and the road kind of twisty in a lot of places. It was kind of scarey and you couldn’t drive very fast or you’d take out the undercarriage of the car if you weren’t careful of the pits, holes, and broken up paving. If we’d gone straight on the number 7 route, we would have ended up at Antigonish and could have picked up the 104 from there, a bit further away and I think that road would probably have been ok, too. You can’t tell from the map what kind of condition the road is in and we thought it would be ok going the way we did. Might have been scenic. It wasn’t particularly.

I was never so glad to get anywhere but off that road! We thought we might try to find somewhere to eat in New Glasgow but it was raining, Sunday night, and it is an unfamiliar place. We couldn’t see anything and it was raining so we managed to get back to the highway and high-tailed it back home, getting a take out meal instead.

Other than that, the day was quite nice. If we ever go again, we’ll stick to Highway 7 there and back, I think. It’s also not too far to stop off and visit if you are driving to or from Cape Breton Island. Be sure not to turn off and head there until you get to where the 7 meets up at Antigonish, though. Trust me on this.

Here are a few photos.

Sherbrooke village is part of the network of Nova Scotia Museums. You can get a yearly pass and drop in to any of their museums all over the province.

Travel Theme: Fierce

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Fierce. This photo came immediately to mind. I took it a couple of summers ago at a Mawi’omi (gathering of tribes) of the Mi’kmaq Indigenous people here in Nova Scotia. I think it was a Canada Day event, actually. The costumes, dancing and music were mesmerizing and it was a great day out. This man looked rather fierce, I thought.

fierce

I’ve just got back from some vacation and a road trip or two. I’ll get my notes sorted and start posting some of our adventures soon!

DP challenge: The Truth is Out There

Shag Harbour UFO witnesses

In 1967, lights were seen over the skies of Shag Harbour and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over Shag Harbour, according to a witness, there were whistling sounds and then a crash.  It very much appeared as if something had crashed into the ocean off the south shore of Nova Scotia. Nobody has ever been able to confirm or deny that what  was seen by many people was extra terrestrial but it hasn’t been denied, either. The Canadian and the U.S. governments have never offered any explanation nor have they allowed anything to the public at all. UFO?

People that witnessed the event to this day believe what they saw could very well be a UFO. Laurie and Peter, in the photo above, were both teenage boys and witnesses to the events. We got the chance to speak to Peter at the tiny UFO museum in the little village of Shag Harbour recently.  Writers and media over the years have tried to get further information from the government but have been firmly shut down. Why? Was it a secret experiment or military operation that went wrong? Divers haven’t found anything but a cylinder with unknown-at-the-time tech washed up near a lighthouse.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the event. They have a festival every year in October to mark the notoriety including speakers, seminars and entertainment and hope to make it special for the milestone anniversary. There’s a non-profit society involved in this and their Facebook page is here., with a website here that explains about the incident in more detail. A true quest for the truth if ever there was one.

Shag Harbour is about a 2.5 hour drive from Halifax or about an hour from Yarmouth. The day we visited was foggy, so foggy you could hardly see across the road. Kind of added to the mystery!

WordPress weekly challenge: Quest

A Photo A Week Challenge: Chocolate

There are a number of countries that will put forth the claim that they make the best chocolate in the world. Canada and the United States really aren’t two of them unless you go to the small, independent chocolatiers and you will find them here but they aren’t as numerous as in Europe (and other places as well). Mass produced chocolate here in Canada isn’t too bad. I find it less creamy and more sugary if it’s made in the US. It’s all very subjective, mind you. Mass produced chocolate in the UK is better than ours and that’s not even getting into the specialist product.

On continental Europe, however, you’ll really find the chocolate wars heat up. The best known names for the title of the best are the Swiss and the Belgian. My experience with Swiss chocolate is pretty much limited to Toblerone bars. My experience with chocolate from Germany, Holland, France, Denmark and Italy is also limited. They do make nice chocolate, I’m not debating that. I have bought Belgian chocolate in one of the cities where there are chocolatiers littered all over the place – Bruges. It is, to use east coast Canada slang, “right some good!”.

There’s a new chocolatier shop in Halifax on Spring Garden Road. I’ve been resisting temptation but I might not be able to hold out much longer.

Here’s a few photos from my travels.

Chocolate shoes!!!

Dark and white chocolate shoes, in a shop in Keswick, the Lake District, England

Dumon choccies

Dumon Chocolates in Bruges, one of the top chocolate makers there

Prestige cakes

Prestige chocolate shop and cafe, Bruges.

Harrods chocolates

Display at Harrods, at Easter.

Harrod's Easter chocolate eggs

More Easter chocolate in Harrods

For Nancy Merril’s Weekly Challenge.

DP Challenge – Living on the edge

This week, The Daily Post from WordPress wants to see things on the Edge. Here in Halifax, we get a visit from the Tall Ships every few years. I find the ships fascinating and they’re just magnificent at full sail. The crews of the ships are used to some rather precarious spots to do their job. They may not walk a plank but they do need good balance and a head for heights. Here are a few photos from various crewmembers.

Pride of Baltimore

Pride of Baltimore

No vacation for this guy

Pride of Baltimore

No mutiny here

HMS Bounty. No mutiny here.

Laundry day on a tall ship

Laundry day on the Iskra

Travel Theme: Transport

This week’s challenge from Where’s My Backpack is Transport. I give you some examples from the Lakeland Motor Museum, in the south part of the Lake District in England.

LLMBicycles

Motor Bicycles

Penny Farthings

Antique Bicycles and Pennyfarthings

Corgi Scooter

Corgi Scooter

Vincent Black Knight

1950s Vincent Black Knight motorcycle

Garage

Reproduction of a Garage from the 1930s

 

Travel Theme – Peaks

Rather than fulfilling the weekly travel theme at Where’s My Backpack about Peaks with mountains and hills from the Peak District in the UK, which was very tempting, I’m digging out a few from the Scottish Highlands. They are all scans from photos taken in between 2000 and 2003 and they aren’t very good though I’ve done some or a lot of processing on them. I must dig out my photo albums and re-scan them because I have a much better scanner now.

Daily Post – Mirror

WordPress Daily Post weekly challenge this week is Mirror. I haven’t got a lot of photos of actual mirrors but still waters reflect perfectly.

This first photo is not a very good scan from a photo I took around 9 a.m. at a picnic site near Arrochar in the Scottish Highlands. A good friend of mine whom I had known online for several years picked me and another good friend up at our hotel in Glasgow and drove us through the Highlands to Oban where we caught the ferry to Mull and then to the island of Iona via a pedestrian ferry. Since we’d made quite an early start, we were ready for a quick snack and a break just as the sun was really breaking over the mountains. I think it was mid April so the mornings were still late in getting bright. We had a lovely day and lots of laughs. He passed away about 7 months later so I’m very glad I got to meet him face to face.

Long Loch from Arrochar

Long Loch, Scottish Highlands near Arrochar