Author Archives: Denise

About Denise

Denise Davies is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. I live in Antigonish Nova Scotia, Canada. I have traveled, worked and lived internationally.

Eastern Shore Staycation

 NOTE – for accommodations and food it is best to check in advance about hours and opening.

Charlos Cove on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia is just 1 hr 40 minutes from Antigonish but it feels like a world away.  Its a great place for a few days of peaceful relaxing and short explorations.  Even the driving reminds me of my first trip there and “The Road Less Travelled”.  Definitely not a lot of traffic. 

Boylston Provincial Park

Enroute we stopped at Boylston Provincial Park, Day Use park has picnic tables and grassy area with lovely views of Chedabucto Bay.  Walk down to the left of the entrance gate along a shady boardwalk to take you to a foot bridge over to a small island.  A swimming, beach walking looking for pebbles and a shady island path are all great for the whole family.  The park is just a few KM before you reach Guysborough town.

Guysborough Town

The ambiance of the town with its old homes and churches is from the late 1800s.  The Old Court House Museum is a good stop to learn about the history of the area and to get any info you need for your trip. Only the visitor info is available during COVID times. There is a self-guided walking tour of Guysborough. Download the map.  Stop for a meal at the Days Gone BY Bakery for a bowl of chowder, sandwiches and delicious baked goods.  Browse antiques and local art.  Head down to the marina and the Guysborough waterfront.

Charlos Cove

SeaWind Landing Country Inn is situated in Charlos Cove about 30 min from Guysborough town via Lundy.  The inn’s proprietors Dave and Anne Marie are hospitable and welcoming and knowledgeable of the area.  Our room was in the main part of the Inn, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sugar Islands just offshore.  The water was so calm there was little sounds of the waves.  Great place to watch the sunrise and sit out on our little patio or the chairs on the well-kept lawn.  Of course everything was spotless and all social distancing and masks in place.

The food is always memorable with breakfasts of eggs benedict, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and my favorite the blueberry stuffed French toast.  Of course with lots of hot coffee.  The evening meal favorites were mussels in Pernod sauce, lobster croquettes, halibut, scallops all in delicious recipes.  Best desert was the crème brule with Baileys Irish Crème.

We were lucky to get the special stay of 2 nights get the 3rd night free.  This gave lots of time for an enjoyable staycation and take small day trips in the area.

Larrys River

Charlos Cove is adjacent to Larrys River.  This is a hub of Acadian culture on the Eastern Shore.   I enjoyed reading “The Forgotten Acadians … a story of discovery” by Jude Avery while exploring the area.   In other years this area would be buzzing with activities for the Acadien Festival on August 15 but all was quiet this year.   No matter when you visit take time to stop at the Acadien Interpretive Site with paintings and interpretive signs illustrating the history of the area – Larry’s Rover Parc de nos Ancestres across from the St. Pierre church.  Also wander down to the footbridge crossing  Larry’s River for a view of the river.

Tor Bay Provincial Park

Boardwalks lead through various types of vegetation to several sweeping sandy beaches with rocky outcrops.  Picnic tables and interpretive panels give insight into the creation and history of the area. 

Black Duck Cove

Just 30 min north of Charlos Cove, towards Canso is Black Duck Cove Provincial Park.  The Canteen at the Parking entrance has ice cream and meals with picnic tables and benches in the sun or shade.  It looked like the locals as well as visitors frequent the place as it is one of the few places available for food in the area.  A series of boardwalks and walking trails lead around the area.   The swimming beach has lovely soft sand and a protected beach.  Benches and picnic tables make it easy to stop and relax weather you are a swimmer or not.

In October 2019 I was on a trip in Guysborough with travel writers sponsored by DEANS.  Darcy and Alex of thank HarbourTone Productions created this video which captured the spirit of our adventures.

https://www.facebook.com/DestinationEasternShore/videos/229771748184589/

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Antigonish Staycation

by Denise Davies  

I live in Antigonish and find that it is the best of 2 worlds.  We have all the amenities for comfortable living and yet the advantages of a small town set in a delightful rural setting.  I love to show visitors around or give them ideas of what to do and what not to miss.  In these days of the Atlantic Bubble and Nova Scotia residents exploring the province for 2020 holidays what would be better than spending a few days in Antigonish where there is something for everyone.

Its best to check with establishments for hours and openings.  Remember to wear your mask and keep physical distancing.

The Arts

Antigonish is known as a hub of the arts.  Strolling along Main Street check out the Red Sky Gallery https://www.facebook.com/redskyantigonish/  for wonderful ambiance and a wonderful selection of Nova Scotia art – paintings, sculpture, jewelry.  Stop in to the Antigonish People’s Place Library  http://www.parl.ns.ca/locations/antigonish.php  for their monthly changing art exhibits and find out what is going on in town while you are here.  This is a hub of community events and activities for all ages.   Local artists are often featured at the Tall and Small Café.   Visit the Down to Earth Gallery for indigenous and a wide variety of artists.

The Antigonish Farmers Market is buzzing with arts and crafts, locally made produce, food and entertainment all in the new Farmers Market building on the Arena grounds on Saturdays.   The new building opened on the August 1 weekend and it was a delight to see the airy and bright space filled with vendors and their wares.  What a wonderful community space. www.antigonishfarmersmarket.ca

Unfortunately most of our summer events are cancelled but there are occasional smaller happenings that you may find.

Outdoors and Recreation

Set in rolling hills Antigonish creates a variety of outdoor activities in town and close by.  For kids the splash pad at Columbus Field is popular and the new Skate Board Park is a wonderful new addition.  For runners the track at Columbus Field and at St.FX, walking and biking on the Antigonish Landing Trail  www.outandaboutns.com/2018/01/31/antigonish-landing /that starts near the Museum.  

The Keppoch Mountain www.thekeppoch.ca  has over 20Km of maintained trails for all abilities including an accessible gravel nature trail for mountain biking, hiking and children’s’ climbing and play area. Relax in the clubhouse and meet some local outdoor enthusiasts. Bike rentals are available at Highland Bike Shop on Main St but check ahead for availability.

There are several beaches within a 30 min drive. Walk run and swim on the long crescent sandy Pomquet Beach with lifeguards, boardwalks with interpretive nature boards.  Look for pebbles and driftwood on Mahoneys Beach often frequented by kayakers.

You can even camp right in town at the end of Main St at Whiddens Campground and have your smores around the campfire.   

Short drives

Take a lovely drive along the Hwy 337 past St. Martha’s Hospital and on past Mahoneys Beach, Jimtown, Cribbons, Ballantyne’s Cove to the Cape George Lighthouse.  You will see signs for hiking trails along the route and spectacular views of the Northumberland Shore  www.outandaboutns.com/2018/05/23/cape-george-lighthouse

There are several beaches within a 30 min drive. Walk run and swim on the long crescent sandy Pomquet Beach with lifeguards, boardwalks with interpretive nature boards.  Look for pebbles and driftwood on Mahoneys Beach often frequented by kayakers.  Enjoy a Pomquet day trip www.outandaboutns.com/2015/08/30/pomquet-day-trip

There are many drives from Antigonish – Arisaig, Eastern Shore, Museum of Industry and more for another posting.

Stroll the Main

Enjoy the fine selection of restaurants along Main Street.  All have take out, some outdoor patios and indoor with physical distancing in place.  There is a new large patio at the Maritime Inn called Mi Patio. 

Explore the shopping on Main with trendy boutiques The Plum Tree, Posh Peppermint.  Find Nova Scotia souvenirs at Happenstance.   Head down to Granny’s Antiques for some lovely antiques, local preserves and sit in the shade.  Antigonish Small Town Big Heart www.outandaboutns.com/2016/03/25/antigonish-small-town-big-heart

Hope you enjoy your staycation in Antigonish and surrounding areas.  I would enjoy seeing your favourite spots in the comment section below.

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Antigonish Gift Shopping – Shop Local

As the cool days close in the warmth of gift-giving is in the air.  This year while you are looking for that special something, consider shopping local.  We have so much bounty available to us from local producers, crafters, artists and local shops. 

Your money goes much farther when you shop local.  Buying a thoughtful gift that is made locally, or something sold in a local shop has a huge benefit in your community.  That money goes back into the community and has a multiplier effect.

Here are a few gift ideas to get you started.

Check out the Antigonish Farmers Market and local gift shops for unique items that can be combined to make a gift basket – or given individually as hostess gifts, stocking stuffers or placed under the tree.  These could include preserves jams and jellies, wine or spirits, cheeses, honey, maple or blueberry syrup, a pottery mug, a wooden cheese board, a pewter opener, a pate’ or cheese knife – you are only limited by your imagination! Steinhart, Peace by Chocolate, Havercort Maple, Cornect Honey and more. Farmers Market, Grannie’s Antiques.

Another themed approach for your gift basket is select self care items – soaps, lotions, bath salts, aromatherapy, lavender sachet, creams and gels and cosmetics.  The Farmers Market, Happenstance, The Posh Peppermint, The Plum Tree are great places to check out as you create your gift basket.  Add your suggestions in the comments.

For the kids in your life – hand made wooden toys are durable and will last to become a family heirloom.  Check out Venluke Hand Crafted Wooden Toys at the Farmers Market. Knitted and crocheted toques, vests, socks, scarfs are great for all ages. Cuddly animals will be a hit for children (my Mom loves them too!).

A Few Photos of designers, producers, crafters and artists in Antigonish

Local galleries and markets offer an array of art to suit all budgets.  Our area is home to gifted artists in all mediums.  Art works range from large paintings in the original, prints matted and framed, photography and gift cards.  You will find sculptures from wood, iron, metalwork, pottery and ceramics.   Red Sky Gallery, Down to Earth Gallery, Granny’s Antiques, Through Rodney’s Eye, Felt Like Painting, Farmers Market.

Peruse the 5c to $1 and Cole’s Books for books by Nova Scotia authors to suit all ages from kids to adults. Enjoy selecting from a range of written and illustrated books that will be a long-held treasure.  We have an amazing number of Antigonish authors – Check the 5c to $1 to find a great selection.

A Gift Certificate for dinner at a local restaurant, or for an overnight getaway to a cozy Inn or a night on the town would make a welcome gift.   Organize tickets to a local production or a gift certificate to buy on a time of their choice to enjoy a local theatre production or musical event.  A gift certificate from a local store, or for an art class or workshop are also possibilities.   To mention just a few – Gabriaus, The Brownstone, The Townhouse, The Bauer Theatre, membership at The Keppoch, SeaWind Landing.  Add your suggestions in the comments.

We have many talented local jewelry designers.  Rings, necklaces, brooches, earrings, from modern abstract designs to Nova Scotia and cultural heritage designs all bring joy to the wearer.  Check the Farmers Market, Happenstance, Posh Peppermint and the Plum Tree.

Traditional crafts such as quilting and fabric art create beautiful treasures for the wall, the table or to cozy up on a bed or as a lap blanket for watching TV.  A quilt can be a gift for any age and treasured forever.  Maybe a sheepskin for a favorite chair.  Farmers Market

Winter favorite gifts for apparel ideas include sweaters, shawls, capes and scarfs, mitts, hats and leg warmers.  Think soft warm and attractive colors.  Maybe a sheepskin for a favorite chair, or sheepskin slippers.  Felted and Fleeced Creative Designs, Brook Ridge Farm,

Find unique and beautiful items for all ages and shop local. Take a stroll around town, visit the Farmers Market, shop online with local producers and hand crafters and artists, and give a gift that has local meaning and local impact to merchants, producers, crafters and artists.

I’m sure you have suggestions for other gifts and shops.  Please feel free to add in the comments.  It wasn’t possible to add every designer, artist and producer or shop.  We have a wealth of possibilities.  Happy Gift Giving and Shop Local!

Denise Davies

A Few Shops and Galleries

Off the Beaten Track on the Eastern Shore

Off the Beaten Track on the Eastern Shore

In October I was excited to go with a group of travel writers to visit the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.

SeaWind Landing Country Inn is certainly off the beaten track but well worth making this a destination.  The Inn is located in Charlos Cove on the Eastern Shore with ocean views and fresh air off the Atlantic. I had a cozy gable room on 2nd floor with an ocean view – a great spot to catch the spectacular sunrise next morning.  If you enjoy fine dining you are in for a gourmet experience.  Local seafood and produce are the star attractions.   The recipes are simply done to highlight the best flavor and presentation.  The dining room view of the ocean and the warm colors and ambiance makes this a treat for the senses. My breakfast favorite is the blueberry French toast.  There are several paths and trails leading down to the ocean and along the shore. Great for exploring.  The lounge area in the main building is comfortable for a group mix and mingle area with piano and drinks or to browse through the books and enjoy a drink from the well stocked bar.   There is also a small gift shop with local items.  The innkeepers, Dave and Anne Marie de Jongh are hospitable and knowledgeable of the area with suggestions on what to see and do based on your time and interests.

Our group went out on the fishing boat, “Get Kraken”, with Captain Damian  who expertly navigated us through the Sugar Islands, just off the coast – craggy rocky islands, wind swept trees, waves crashing over shoals and some sheltered sandy bays.  We sighted some playful seals.   The Berry Head Lighthouse and setting sun gave us some spectacular vistas while we enjoyed delicious snacks of Smoked Herring Fish Cakes and Digby Scallops prepared in the galley by Dave de Jongh, innkeeper of SeaWind Landing. A perfect way to enjoy in the tangy salt air along with a glass of wine.

For long sandy secluded beaches and interesting rock formations head to Tor Bay, a 15 minute drive from SeaWind Landing through Larry’s River.   If you are craving solitude and peace this is a great spot to take in the sea air.  Boardwalks, dunes, sea grasses and a variety of vegetation make for interesting nature exploration.

Jude Avery, a local historian gave us some insight to the history of the Acadian settlements along the Eastern Shore.  His recent book “The Forgotten Acadiens … a story of discovery” describes how the Acadiens came to settle in the Larry’s River area and how they have survived over the centuries.  The commemorative park “Parc de Nos Ancestres” in Larry’s River and Place Savalette National Historic Site, in Port Felix, commemorate this historic Acadien region.  Parc de Nos Ancestres has an anchor shaped set of stones painted with the history of the Acadiens in this region.

A visit to Guysborough community feels like a step back into the past.  The historical homes and churches show the prosperity of a past era when ship building and industry were an important part of this thriving town.   Now you can learn about this at the town museum which is set in the Old Court House.  The waterfront marina is usually busy in the summer but had suffered damage from the latest hurricane Dorian.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch at “Days Gone By” with lobster rolls, fish cakes and tempting fresh bakery deserts.

There is lots to see and do on the Eastern Shore – nature, hiking, history and culture – and don’t forget the food and drink!  On my next visit I would like to stay several days to be able to explore more of the area. 

Note: Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores (DEANS) organized and sponsored this FAM Tour.  My lodging, activities, and food were compensated.

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Lavender, Lavender, Lavender – A Feast for the Senses

As we learned about the types of lavender from Dave Belt, owner of Seafoam Lavender, we could see, feel and smell the differences in the lavender flowers.  Even though this is October some of the plants were still in bloom.

It would be amazing to be here in the peak season in July when the air is full of the scent of lavender from the millions of lavender flowers and buds on the surrounding slopes.  The lavender scent and taste is captured in the over 60 products created and produced by Suzy Belt and her team.  Lavender herbs for cooking, jellies, honey, and tea.  We enjoyed a treat of the Lavender Ice Cream and I have been cooking with the Lavender Herb blend at home and enjoying the jelly on toasted English muffins.  A lovely fresh flavor.  Soaps and skincare products, aromatherapy and bundles of dried lavender are just a few of other items.  The beautiful display of products and testers are appealing and make great gifts.

Seafoam Lavender uses sustainable hand picking of the blossoms which extends the season.  At peak times of the year, usually mid July, thousands of people come for the lavender festival and may choose to U-Pick their own lavender bouquets.  Lavender bud bouquets and Lavender Sachets are a wonderful way to bring that scent of lavender home.

We learned how lavender soap is made and saw how it is cut into bars with patterns of purple and white swirls. 

Seafoam Lavender is on the Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia on the Sunrise Trail near River John.  Colorful and descriptive information panels describe the types of lavender, interesting facts about lavender and some of the production processes.  The sample garden with 25 selected varieties (out of 400) give you the chance to see and compare different varieties.  The purple theme through the buildings and accessories bring out the colors of the lavender flowers.

More Information

Seafoam Lavender website www.lavendercanada.com

3768 Highway 6
Seafoam (River John)
NS B0K 1N0

Judique Cape Breton Noon Ceilidh

You know you are in Cape Breton when you take in a lunch time Ceilidh and enjoy a delicious seafood chowder. 

Just 20 minutes from the Canso Causeway along Highway 19 – the Ceilidh Trail is the village of Judique and the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre.  Local musicians perform fiddle and piano in Cape Breton style Scottish music at the Lunchtime Ceilidh. 

On our recent visit Donna DeWolfe on fiddle and Allan Dewar on piano entertained.  A guest piper from Antigonish, Heather MacIsaac added her talents on the small pipes. Listen to a brief clip on the link.

https://www.facebook.com/Outandaboutnovascotia/posts/2601290016630657

The chowder was delicious and the desert of warm Blueberry Bread Pudding was memorable.

Learn about the history of the area, the musicians and Scottish music.  Pickup a few steps on the video tutorial on step dancing.  The gift shop has a selection of books, CDs and gifts. 

Next to the center the Alexander trail is a cool and shady forest trail leading down to the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail – the 70 KM trail from the Causeway to Inverness.  Bikers and walkers enjoy this trail along the coastline with access to side trails leading to accommodations and food.  Cape Breton’s Musical Coast is a pleasure with changing vistas of ocean and a variety of topography.  Wild apples, berries, flowers changing with the seasons, small streams and bridges and coastal grasses.  Good opportunity for bird watching and chance sightings of fox or deer along the way.

More Information

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

A Visit to Steinhart Distillery

The Antigonish Chamber of Commerce organized their monthly networking meeting “Business Connects” with a trip on the Luxury Bus to Steinhart Distillery in Arisaig.

The Luxury Bus is a great way to chat and meet with people as the comfortable padded seating goes around the bus – not in row seats.  Our driver, owner, Gerard MacIsaac was engaging and helpful.  Great way to travel with a group.

Such a beautiful drive along the Northumberland Shore.  A beautiful view of Arisaig from the patio at Steinhart Distillery.  Thomas Steinhart gave us a tour of the operations and an interesting history of developing his business.  It is amazing to see how this business has impacted employment and agriculture.  Wherever possible the ingredients are locally sourced.  Truckloads of rhubarb arrived from multiple farmers to be made into the rhubarb gin. Several of the products have won awards nationally and internationally.

At the bar we ordered from their variety menu of gin, vodka and mixed drinks made to order.  A wonderful way to socialize and network with the Chamber members and guests.   Looking forward to future trips to other businesses in the area.

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Arts Antigonish: Visual Arts

By Denise Davies

Arts and culture in its many forms is a pillar of community life in Antigonish where all ages participate.  The arts are important in continuing to keep up traditions and have enabled young people and established artists to stay in the community rather than moving away.  This small town in northeastern Nova Scotia punches above its weight in the arts. Stroll around town and enjoy the wonderful art scene.

Arts on Main

A stroll along Main Street is a great way to start exploring the visual arts in Antigonish. 

Grab a coffee or fresh locally made baking and lunch specials at the Tall and Small Café, a popular laid-back hangout.  Browse the latest art exhibit from local artists. Exhibits change monthly. https://www.facebook.com/antigonishtown/

As you continue down Main Street, be sure to visit the Red Sky Gallery, the newest Antigonish art gallery.  The curator, Rosemary Curry, will be happy to show you around. When asked about the name “Red Sky Gallery” Rosemary replied “I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t paused and taken a moment to fall in love with a red sky.   I think we all fall for a red sky at some point when it’s just right for us.  And the art we fall in love with is kind of the same. “The gallery is a wonderful space to enjoy local and regional art – photographs, oils and watercolors, pottery, sculpture in contemporary and more.  Featured artists include works by Anna Syperek, a realist printmaker and painter, Linda Johns with her metaphorical paintings and sculptures, and Kath Kornelson Rutherford’s mezzotint works. The open space design and peaceful welcoming atmosphere has made this a not to be missed spot on your art walk.  Upcoming shows include “Home Coming” – with artists from StFX University alumni, and popup shops of fashion and jewelry during the fall.  https://www.facebook.com/Red-Sky-Gallery-239919850108535/

The next stop is the People’s Place – Antigonish Town and County Library.  Opened in 2011 it has become a hub of community life.  Twenty-two local artist works were commissioned in the design including the colorful hanging silk art panels on nature theme in the Bistro area by Anne Camozzi, the large mural of Mi’kmaq children fishing by Alan Syliboy, the tapestry by Murray Gibson in collaboration with the L’Arche community, and many other interior and exterior art works.   Pick up the Artist and Artisan Guide from the PARL website.  The Bistro area has a monthly changing exhibit by local artists.  In July the GoArts Gathering of the Arts is jam packed with art and entertainment.  http://www.parl.ns.ca/locations/antigonish.php

Continue on Main Street to the Down to Earth Art Gallery featuring art by Alan Syliboy, a renowned Mi’kmaq artist, J. Franklin Wright – specializing in marine art.  Kate Brown Georgallas landscapes and etchings are inspired by rural life in Nova Scotia, and her murals are found around town including the mural over the main desk at The People’s Place  http://www.downtoearth.ca/

The Kirk Gallery, on the corner of Church and Main Street displays a changing exhibit by artists and photographers.

Head up to the St Francis Xavier University home to 3 art gallery areas on campus.  The StFX Art Gallery on the 1st floor of Bloomfield Center features a permanent collection and changing exhibits, talks and concerts.  The McNeil Gallery in beautiful Schwartz School of Business displays changing exhibits. The Student Success Gallery in the Angus L. MacDonald Library features the best of student art.  The fall Arts Gala is a special event with live auctions, artists painting and sculpting on site, and a fun social time with artists and art aficionados.   http://www2.mystfx.ca/art-gallery/exhibitions

During the summer a bi-weekly Antigonish Art Fair is held in Chisholm Park. This is a wonderful place to talk to artists with displays of their art work.  Enjoy the music and entertainment, a children’s corner and food trucks with international and local tasty treats. Art classes and workshops are offered at the Art House. http://antigonishartfair.ca/

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