Exploring Guysborough on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore

 

The Road Less Travelled

Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore may seem a bit remote, but in reality, it’s just a couple of hours from Halifax, Antigonish or Cape Breton. And it’s worth the drive—the highway along the shore offers spectacular views as it meanders along past bays, coves, inlets, tidal marshes, pristine beaches and rugged coastline. Coastal islands dot the nearby waters, and all of it offers hikers, nature lovers, paddlers, history buffs and photographers much to enjoy.

Arriving in Guysborough, NS, a town that was settled in 1629, feels like stepping into the past; many of the lovely multi-coloured wooden houses date from the 1800s.

The town’s famed Rare Bird Pub and Eatery is in the bright pink building that itself dates from 1866, when it was a general store. Its recently-restored woodwork and original tin plate ceilings, in addition to the onsite brewery and deck overlooking the marina, make it a great spot to unwind.

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Photos by Denise Davies

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You’ll find the Skipping Stone Café and Store right above the marina, in the historic Jost Building on the Guysborough waterfront. The café sells freshly roasted organic, fair trade coffee from Full Steam Coffee Co. The café’s courtyard overlooks the harbour and you can rent sea kayaks, canoes and bicycles for exploring the land and the sea.

DesBarres Manor Inn is an elegant and comfortable Victorian inn built as a home in 1837 for Justice W.F. DesBarres. The outdoor gazebo deck has a spectacular view of the valley and is a popular wedding venue. Upstairs, the bedrooms are spacious, luxurious and welcoming. An antique writing desk in the master bedroom offers a view of the back lawn and the valley below (with the modern convenience of a Wi-Fi connection) is a writer’s delight.

Dinner at DesBarres is a memorable experience. For dinner we enjoyed a five-course meal which had a creative flair; each beautifully presented dish offers unique flavour combinations and local ingredients. My meal featured his light Poutine appetizer; Seared Scallops; Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Truffles, Foie Gras and Walnuts; succulent Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Mushrooms; and was topped off with bite-sized Banana Bread Pudding with three kinds of homemade ice cream.

For a short hike, the grassy Shoreline Trail starts at the end of Guysborough’s Main Street and winds along Chedabucto Bay. Trail signs describe the history dating back to the 1600s when the area was buzzing with ship building and a large, vibrant port. For a longer hike, the Trans Canada Trail runs through Guysborough.

On the edge of town, the Osprey Shores Golf Resort offers brilliant greens and gorgeous water views. Comfortable accommodations, a swimming pool and a bonfire area make it an ideal family holiday setting.

Keep in mind that, because the Eastern Shore is off the beaten path, some of the back roads in this region are not in pristine condition; caution is recommended if you’re driving an RV. But that’s in keeping with the flavour of the region, anyway. It’s best enjoyed if you slow down and enjoy the scenery.

How to get there

MAP

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Guysborough Nova Scotia Map directions

Guysborough Nova Scotia Map directions

From Antigonish or Cape Breton, take exit 37 off Highway 104 at Monastery; travel south from Highway 4 onto Highway 16, through Boylston to Guysborough.

From Halifax, travel east and follow Marine Drive. Watch for signs indicating the status of the Country Harbour Ferry connecting Port Bickerton with Isaac’s Harbour North across Country Harbour.  If it is open, take Highway 211 just past Sherbrooke; if it is not operating, continue on Highway 7, turn right at Melrose Country Harbour Road and again onto Guysborough Country Harbour Road at Cross Roads Country Harbour; follow the signs to Guysborough.

Map Guysborough with points of interest

Map Guysborough with points of interest

More Information

Sunrise Trail Loop Northumberland Shore

Enjoy a scenic drive with ocean views, rolling hills, and stops at harbours a distillery and cheese maker.  Our road trip today goes in a loop from Antigonish and along the Northumberland Shore.

Start out in Antigonish on Hawthorne Street, to Hwy 245 and at Malignant Cove turn left on Hwy 245 W along the Sunrise Trail.  You are now traveling along the ruggedly beautiful Northumberland coast with vistas of the ocean and rural countryside.

Arisaig

Arisaig

At Arisaig turn right at the church down to the busy harbour.  The tangy salty sea air and the sound of the gulls and waves surround you while you explore the wharf and views from the Lighthouse.  You may see fishermen preparing to go out or on their return with lobsters in the May / June season.The beach at low tide is great for tide pooling and beach combing. Learn more about lobsters at The Lobster Interpretive Centre (July 1- Aug 31). The Dockside Tea Room has lunch pastries and chowder. In the summer season the Lighthouse Canteen will be open for ice cream and souvenirs.

Next stop is the Arisaig Provincial Park.  Explore the green forest trails with the clean scents of pine and spruce.  The interpretive centre describes the geology and history of the area and has a great view of Arisaig Harbour and the lighthouse.  Take the stairs down to the beach and look for fossils dating back millions of years.  At low tide you can walk along the beach to the harbour but be careful to check the tide times.

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Drop in to Steinhart Distillery and learn how local ingredients such as maple and cranberry are used to make fine vodka.  The Steinhart Gin in the blue designer bottle is also available with Haskap. Try this unique flavour.  The Distillery is open Monday to Friday 10-6, Saturday and Sunday till noon – 6 till Thanksgiving (2016). The view from Steinharts is spectacular with the Arisaig Harbour and lighthouse.  Check out also the chalets with their deck overlooking the coast.

The Red Roof Bed & Breakfast at McArras Brook is a great family place to visit or stay. This solar powered B&B welcomes visitors to drop in and meet the alpacas and donkeys, and to see the apple orchard and home garden.  Josie Dessouroux cards, spins, knits and weaves with the Alpaca fleece and is happy to show you the process from the raw fibre to the finished items that she has for sale.  The property has beautiful ocean views and a private beach with fossils.

Knoydart Farm is one of only 2 organic dairy farms in Nova Scotia. Family owned by Frazer Hunter, they produce organic Gloucester and Caerphilly cheeses in a variety of flavors including peppercorn, garlic, dill, cumin, chili, smoked, caraway and cranberry and Cheddar.  Call ahead to visit 902-867-1305

During your road trip keep an eye out and stop at several Historical Kiosks found in Lismore, Merigomish and Barneys River Station.  The plaques have interesting maps, tidbits on the area and historical photographs that will take you back to when these were thriving communities.

After Ponds, turn right to Big Island.  The narrow 2KM causeway connects Big Island to the mainland. Walk across the sandy dunes to the long sandy and pebble beach – perfect for beach combing and paddling.   Continuing on to the main island you pass through rolling green hills, with views across the inlet, wooded areas and even the occasional deer.

Back on Hwy 245 continue to Merigomish, a picturesque stop with the river, historical plaques and sign for Sunday tea on the old schoolhouse.

At Sutherlands River turn left on HWY 4 for a more scenic drive through rural country, or get on the HWY 104.

At Barneys River Station the one room school house was originally built in 1802.  These one room schools were phased out in the 1970s.   Read the Historical plaques to find out how Marshy Hope got its name and maps and business listings from the 1800s.

Merge on 104E after James River and take Exit 31 to return to Antigonish to finish the loop drive.

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Come by choice Saltscapes march april 2016 jpg

Come by Choice

We often hear stories of out-migration from Nova Scotia. Here are stories of people who have chosen to come and live in Nova Scotia.

Learn the stories of John Graham-Pole, Kulbir Singh, Carol Rivoire, Joe Van Heerden and Thomas Steinhart who have “come by choice” to Nova Scotia.

All of these individuals are living in small communities in Nova Scotia.  They see opportunities in our natural resources, the land,space, location and people. They have come by choice, and they bring new skills, talents, experiences and ideas and a fresh eye to what we have here. They often see potential in resources that we take for granted.

Download the article PDF
Come by Choice Saltscapes March April 2016

 

Antigonish Small Town Big Heart

Antigonish: Small town, big heart

This was a fun article to write.  Antigonish is my home town and I am a graduate of StFX University.

“Every September, the small town of Antigonish (population 5,195) doubles in size with the arrival of the students excited to start their new year at St. Francis Xavier University. Well known for its campus spirit, its strong international reputation, top ratings by students
in Maclean’s university rankings, and, of course, the X-ring, StFX easily attracts students and faculty from all over the world.”

  • The XPerience
  • International Connections
  • Small Town Charm
  • Arts and Culture
  • Economic Impact

This is one of a series of articles in Saltscapes Magazine on “Our University Towns” in the March/April 2016 issue.

See the attached PDF of the article
Antigonish Small Town Big Heart PDF

article photos Coady, People's Place, GoArts, Antigonish Sidewalk Fair

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