Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail


Hikers, bikers, snow shoe, cross country ski and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail which runs 94 Km from the Canso Causeway along the west coast of Cape Breton Island to Inverness.

The varied terrain runs along the coast from Port Hastings to Port Hood with spectacular ocean views and on a clear day you can see Prince Edward Island or across the Canso Strait to the mainland of Nova Scotia. At Port Hood the trail heads inland around Mabou, dipping past Lake Ainslie and on to Inverness and back to the ocean.

This is a great year round trail that you can enjoy in every season. The route passes through meadows, farmland, woods and marshes with all the seasonal variety. The trail is built on the bed of old railway tracks so it is relatively level.  It is made up of five linked community trails.

Celtic Shores trail-7917

There is easy access to the trail from Highway 19, the Ceilidh Trail. Well marked signs and parking areas with interpretive signage that describe the history of the area and nearby communities, the industries and people, and how the trail was built. The trail is made up of five linked community trails and is part of the Trans Canada Trail. A detailed map is available at the Visitor Information Centre at the Canso Strait and online.

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In addition to the interpretive signage, the signs for mileage and amenities make it easy for you to find nearby food, accommodations and sights of interest. While you travel the trail take some side trips and enjoy a ceilidh and lunch at the Judique Celtic Music Centre, stop for lunch in Port Hood or Mabou, swim at the many beaches that you find along the way.   In Inverness see the old coal mining company houses, enjoy a meal and watch the golfers at the famous Cabot Links. The boardwalk runs along between the 3 KM sandy beach and the golf course along the dunes.

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Pomquet Day Trip


This article was originally published in The Casket Exploring Pomquet. The Casket June 18, 2015 http://www.thecasket.ca/archives/45730. This edition contains more photos and maps.

Relax or swim on a sandy beach, browse fashions, enjoy an Acadian lunch and hike through woodsy trails all in beautiful rural Pomquet, Nova Scotia. Just 12 minutes from Antigonish turn off on the Taylors Road exit from Hwy 104 to Pomquet and within minutes you are enjoying a country road with views of Pomquet harbour, rolling green hills and bird song.

The tiny Acadian community of Pomquet, overlooks the Northumberland Shore between Monk’s Head and Pomquet Harbour. This rich area of bay, harbours, islands and forest was for centuries the home of the Mi’kmaq and then settled by French settlers in the late 1700s.

Pomquet map

Pomquet map

From Taylors Road, take the left turn to L’Église Ste. Croix (Holy Cross Church) built in 1863. Genealogy buffs will find gravestones from the 1800s and the Pomquet Museum located just north of the church with historical photographs and genealogical information (Call 902-386-2679).

Continue on and turn right to Pomquet Beach Provincial Park, a peaceful long (3 KM) sandy stretch of beach on the Northumberland Shore. This is one of the best swimming beaches in the area and during the summer is supervised by lifeguards. Boardwalks lead up to the beach through the dunes and sea grasses. Enjoy a beach walk with the fresh salty air and the gulls above and a view of Cape Breton on a clear day, or beach comb for shells, stones and drift wood. Some areas are protected for the Piping Plover nesting sites. Facilities include change houses and washrooms.

Follow the wooden boardwalk trails from the beach parking lot with interpretive signs on the history, geology, plants and animals of this area. The grasses and plants found on the sand dunes are well adapted to the salt environment. The boardwalk protects the undergrowth and provides an easy view of blueberries, cranberries, beach mosses and grasses.

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Back on Monks Head road – continue on to Chez DesLauriers situated on a hill above Monk’s Bay, with a spectacular view of Pomquet Beach and harbour. The heritage home was built in the 1860s. Enjoy a home cooked Acadian lunch on Fridays during the summer. Learn about the geology and history of the area in the Interpretive Centre.

Behind Chez DesLauriers, wander to the top of the hill behind the house and well-marked signs point the way to the Acadian Trail, a 6KM series of loop trails along the meadow cliff, through the forest with mossy and well-kept paths, and along the shore. Bring along your nature guide books to identify mushrooms, mosses, trees and birds. The inland trail weaves through forests of various ages, including 100-150 year old pine trees, and views of Cape Breton Island in the distance.

Retrace your drive to the Taylor Road intersection and continue on to visit The Old Barn Gallery & Boutique to find hand selected one-of-a kind designer fashions, handbags, fun art and antique dishes. You will get lots of decorator ideas and you can enjoy cookies and tea on the patio. The Boutique recently was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Be sure to bring water, snacks or a picnic lunch, sunscreen, bug spray, and your sense of adventure.


  • Exit Highway 104 on Taylors Road between Exits 35 and 36. 10 minutes from Antigonish, 40 minutes from the Canso Causeway.
  • Or Exit from the 104 Highway on the Upper Pomquet Road across from the St. Andrew’s sign. Closest exit for Melanson Rd and the Old Barn Gallery and Boutique.

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Digby waterfront from Fishermans Wharf

Destination Digby


Digby Town dating back to 1783 is on the Fundy Coast of Nova Scotia overlooking the Annapolis Basin. It is famous for its scallop fisheries and the high tides of the Bay of Fundy.

We stayed at the “Come From Away Inn and B&B” right on the shore overlooking the bay. The sunrise in the morning was spectacular and I just had to step out on the balcony of The Crows Nest room to get some wonderful photographs. There was a great view down to the harbour with the scallop ships where the huge difference in high and low tides were plain to see.  At low tide you can watch the herons, egrets and sea birds digging in the mud for a meal. An early morning walk along the boardwalk and the Fisherman’s Wharf was a great way to start the day followed by a delicious full breakfast cooked by the owner, Joe Van Heerden.

Across the street from the B&B is the Admiral Digby Museum where you can find out more about this history of the town. Information plaques and the Visitor Information Centre next store are also along the “Admirals Walk” boardwalk along the waterfront to learn more about the scallop industry and the highlights of the past.

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There are several restaurants in the waterfront area. Menus of course have a selection of scallop dishes. My favorite was the scallop skewers at the Shoreline Restaurant next to the Fishermans Wharf. The restaurant has a large gift shop on the street side.  The Dockside and Fundy restaurants have a great view of the harbour.

Digby Neck

An interesting day trip is along Digby Neck a long narrow piece of land and islands which extends south west along the coast. The first stop along Highway 217 was Gulliver’s Cove just to the right at the start of the scenic drive. An easily accessible grassy trail leads along the coast with cliff views and beach. There are other more adventurous trails in the area.

Head back again on Highway 217 for a lovely scenic drive about 30 minutes towards East Ferry which takes cars and passengers to Digby Island. The Petite Passage Whale Watch Café and the small Café on the island shore at Tiverton were not open at that time (June). Be sure to have a picnic lunch with you if it is off season.

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A short 10 min drive from the East Ferry takes you to Balancing Rock. The site has a well maintained boardwalk and trail with interpretive signs describing the vegetation and geology of the area. In the late spring skunk cabbage, fiddle heads and bunch berries were all found along the way.   There is a steep but interesting set of steps down to the beach level where you can view the balancing rock. It is well worth the climb. It’s hard to imagine how that huge needle of rock is balanced and continues to stay upright.

Continuing along Digby Island takes you to a Freeport / Westport Ferry which goes to Briar Island, famous for its bird life and whale watching. Accommodations and services are available on Briar Island. We didn’t visit it on this trip but plan to go back.

Activities in Digby include kayak rentals, whale watching, exploring lighthouses and beaches, golf at the Digby Pines.

Digby Annual Events

  • Early August: Scallop Days Festival with a variety of activities for all ages, including scallop shucking contests and a parade. See how scallops are harvested and shucked and learn how to prepare a variety of recipes.
  • Labor Day weekend, September 2-6, 2015: Wharf Rat Rally. The 11th annual multi-day motorcycle rally will host more than 25,000 motorcycles. Hard to imagine how they all fit but this event continues to grow with the glowing support of the town residents.

Getting There

  • From Halifax via Hwy 101 through the Annapolis Valley (2.5 hrs)
  • From Yarmouth and the South Shore via Highway 1 East (1.5 hrs)
  • By ferry from New Brunswick Info and schedule – http://www.ferries.ca/nova-scotia-to-new-brunswick-ferry/schedule/ The ferry service between Digby and Saint John, New Brunswick, on the opposite sides of the Bay of Fundy, has been in operation for over 200 consecutive years.

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Halifax Library

The Amazing Halifax Central Library



It was my first time to visit the new Halifax Central Library. The space is spectacular with the central staircases creating angles and patterns of light and shadow and giving the overall effect of expansiveness and encouraging exploration.

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The 5 storeys are easily accessible via the elevators. I decided to start at the top and work my way down. The top floor has a green area roof garden with views of Halifax. The Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar and Café rooftop patio with outdoor and indoor tables make a great place for a snack or cup of coffee. Comfortable lounge chairs for reading with a view and the adult fiction section complete this floor.

Every floor has an information desk with helpful staff. Computers and study areas, a changing use of space on each of the floors make the space inviting and interesting.

On the fourth floor you find the local history room, African History and culture, and Adult non-fiction. Quiet reading and study areas and meeting rooms of various sizes that can be reserved are found throughout the library.

The third floor is the home of the First Nations Circle. Adult magazines, multilingual materials, a Literacy Collection are found on this floor.

The second floor includes the children’s and teens and preschool areas. A media studio and creative lab and many computers are throughout the area.

The first floor entrance way has the Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar on the right with a selection of food and drink. To the left is a large comfortable reading area with magazines and selected collections for easy browsing. The art installation of 5000 paintings on the size of the traditional library card is amazing. These are all by the artist Cliff Eyland.  The Paul O’Reagan Hall (seating 307) hosts events and performances.

The Halifax Central Library is well worth a visit and if you live in the area a great community hub. It is wonderful to see such a community space in the heart of downtown Halifax and is not your traditional idea of a library.

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