Category Archives: Outdoors

Fish and Chips and a Drive? Ballantyne’s Cove

What about an afternoon drive out to Ballantyne’s Cove.  Heading out on Hwy 337N from Antigonish, past the Hospital from the end of Main Street you pass through luscious farmlands with views of the ocean.  Then up hill and down dale with wildflowers along the roadside and occasional views of the Northumberland shore.  Just as you reach Ballantyne’s Cove stop at the lookout for a spectacular view of the cove, St. George’s Bay and Cape George beyond.  You can use the map there to identify some of the places that you see including Cape Breton on the horizon.

Stroll around the marina and look at the Tuna fishing boats and pleasure boats.  Learn about Tuna and Tuna fishing at the Tuna Interpretive Centre.  Find some amazing facts about Tuna that have been caught in the area, the largest was over 1400 pounds.  The Tuna season runs from August through October.  Several tuna sport fishing charters are based here.

Behind the Interpretive Centre take a short walk to a crescent pebble beach perfect for dabbling your toes in the warm waters of St. George’s Bay, sunbathing and beach combing.

Enjoy a feed of Fish and Chips from Fish ‘N Ships.  Or select one of their burgers or an ice cream.

More Information

Cape George Lighthouse

A beautiful 35 minute (53Km) drive from Antigonish will take you to Cape George Lighthouse overlooking St. George’s Bay.   Highway 337 winds through rolling agricultural lands and along the coast.  Scenic views abound and this drive is sometimes called the “Mini Cape”  or the “Mini Cabot Trail” and is part of the Sunrise Trail.

On a sunny day, enjoy views of Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island in the distance.  Perhaps you will see an eagle soaring above or below you and sea birds skimming along the ocean below the cliffs.

Imagine what it was like back in the day as the lighthouse keeper with his family living up here with his wife and children in all seasons.

The original lighthouse was built in 1861.  The iconic white and red lighthouse style is similar to what you would see at Peggy’s Cove.  The current lighthouse is the 3rd on this spot.

Nearby is a trailhead for Cape George Heritage Trail system.

 

Arisaig wharf

Arisaig

Arisaig is a small picturesque fishing community on the Northumberland Shore, just a 25 min drive from Antigonish on Hwy 245.

Watch the fishing boats and the gulls.  May and June are the lobster fishing season but some boats continue to fish during the summer months.

Enjoy an ice cream at the Lighthouse Canteen while you explore the colorful rocky cove – or at low tide walk on the sand of the crescent beach and go for a swim.    From July 1 to end of August the Dockside Café has a light menu.  Learn interesting facts about lobsters in the interpretive centre in the café.

There are other interesting things to do in the area to be explored in another post. Stay tuned.

More information

Arisaig Community Website https://arisaigns.com/

Directions – take Hawthorne Street at the lights next to Pannizzza on Main Street Antigonish.  Continue on Hwy 245. Turn left when you reach the shore at Malignant Cove.

Map antigonish to Arisaig

Columbus Field, Antigonish

Head to Columbus Field for outdoor recreation for the whole family.  The walking / running track is a great place to get your exercise in a pleasant outdoor environment.  Enjoy the water park and playground with the kids.   Surrounding Columbus Fieldthe field are “Pipers Glen” with shaded areas for walking, or contemplating nature by the river.   Play a game of tennis.  Relax at the picnic tables and benches.

The park is located at the eastern end of Main Street.  It is also the venue for the Antigonish Highland Games and many other events in Antigonish.

Columbus Field – 121 Main Street, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  Google Maps

 

Pomquet Beach

Pomquet Beach is a great way to enjoy a beach outing just a short drive from Antigonish and a favorite with locals and visitors.

The three kilometers of sand and pebbles stretches along the Northumberland Shore and in summer the waters warm up to reach the same temperature as the air.

This is a great swimming beach with lifeguards posted on a marked stretch of the beach.  In the distance on a clear day you can see Cape Breton.

Whether you enjoy swimming or beach walking this beach has lots to explore.  Build sand castles, search for shells and colorful stones, and breathe in the bracing sea air.  Sometimes the water is calm and flat. Other times you will find a small surf.

Boardwalks lead up to the beach and over the dunes giving a lovely view of the waving sea grasses that help to stabilize the sand dunes.  Take the boardwalk trail and learn about the different vegetation and history of the area with interpretive signs.   You will see blueberries and cranberries, mosses, a tidal estuary, old and new growth forest.  The plants here are adapted to the salt environment. Some areas are protected for the piping plover when they are nesting.

Facilities include changing rooms and toilets.  Be sure to bring your own water, sunscreen, snacks and anything to enjoy your day at the beach.

Directions

Pomquet Beach Provincial Park, is located north east of Antigonish off Highway 104 through the village of Pomquet.

For more information

 

Antigonish Landing

Getting outdoors in nature is just a few steps away.  The Antigonish Landing is great for a walk, run, biking or walking the dog.  Two elevated platforms look over the wetlands to the farmlands on the Williams Point area.

The trail is accessible in every season.  In the winter enjoy snow shoeing (Snowshoes available at the Town Hall and the People’s Place Library).  Enjoy a hike or biking (bike rentals available from the Highland Bike Shop on Main Street).

Each season brings its own special enjoyment – spring buds, summer flowers and bird song, apples and berries in the fall.  Each turn in the trail brings a new view making this a favorite for photographers.   Ducks, herons and other water birds nest and feed in this wetland.  Chickadees, red wing blackbirds, warblers and seasonal visitors feast on the berries and seeds.

This 2KM trail (4KM return) is on the outskirts of town.  The first entrance is just across the railway tracks on the East end of town, on Adams Street.  The 2nd entrance is off Hwy 337 just past Tony’s Meats on the Landing Road.

Photo Gallery
Photos by Denise Davies

Map

Antigonish Landing Map from MapCarta

Seafoam Lavender, Northumberland Shore

Seafoam Lavender

We decided to do a day trip along the Sunrise Trail from Antigonish, via Pictou to Tatamagouche.

Although the day was cloudy and cool in early June it was an enjoyable and scenic trip.  We stopped at Seafoam Lavender along the Northumberland Coast.  It was early in the season so the Lavender was not blooming but the scent on walking into their shop was heavenly.  Kathleen welcomed us and explained that all the lavender products are produced in-house by this family owned business.

We purchased a couple of lavender plants for our garden and have been enjoying the Lavender Essential Oil and Lavender Soap to give that fresh lavender fragrance at home.  There was a lovely selection of products – Lavender Sugar, Lavender Sea Salt, Essential Oils, Lavender Herbs, soap, creams and skincare products and more.  The shop is very attractive and welcoming.

Seafoam Lavender Festival PosterOutside we explored the information panels with their stories of lavender.  You can learn a lot on this stop and it will be wonderful later in the season when the fields of lavender are in bloom. Thank you to Seafoam Lavender for their photos of the fields in bloom and their poster for the July Lavender Festival.

A great time to visit will be at their annual Lavender Festival July 15-16. Create your own lavender bouquet with U-Pick and enjoy the gardens in flower. Bring a picnic and enjoy the Northumberland coast.   You will find Seafoam Lavender on the section of the Sunrise Trail between Pictou and River John.

Lavender, courtesy Seafoam Lavender Lavender fields, courtesy Seafoam Lavender

More Information

SEAFOAM LAVENDER CO. & GARDENS
(SEASONAL ONLY, 1 JUNE – 30 SEPT, 10-6 DAILY)
AND BY APPOINTMENT
3768 HIGHWAY 6 (SEAFOAM)
RIVER JOHN  NS  B0K 1N0

Fiddleheads

I love this early sign of spring – the arrival of fiddleheads.  This wild delicacy is the delicate furls of the Ostrich Fern found in Eastern Canada.  If the fiddleheads are not cut they unwind out to the full fern.

The ferns are found in moist areas, along river banks and woodlands. But for those of us who don’t pick our own, we find them in the farmer’s markets and sometimes even in the supermarket.  If you are foraging on your own, be sure to identify the correct fern as other varieties may be poisonous.  Also, it is recommended that you only cut half of the fiddleheads in the area so that the fern population will continue to thrive.

Fiddlehead s are delicious and their distinctive shape adds a unique visual appeal to a meal.

Preparation

Wash the fiddleheads well in several changes of water to remove all the brown papery covering of the fronds.   The water will run clear and the fiddleheads will be a bright green when cleaned.  Snip off the end of the stem that may be brownish.  Then drop the fiddleheads into a pot of boiling water and boil for 7-10 minutes.  Remove from the water and throw out the water. Don’t keep it for soup as it is bitter and has removed tannin from the fiddleheads.  Then use the fiddleheads in a variety of recipes.

Recipes

1 – Saute the fiddleheads in butter or olive oil with onion and garlic.

2 – Saute the fiddleheads with butter or olive oil, onion and garlic, and mushrooms.  Add pesto sauce and serve over noodles.  Optionally add salmon chunks.

3 – Fiddlehead quiche

More Information

 

 

Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery

Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery

Sport fishing and fish angling are a popular recreational activity in Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia’s 6,700 lakes, 100 rivers and 7,400 kilometers of coastline offer incredible opportunities for angling enthusiasts.  In September 2016 I had the pleasure of visiting with Stephen Tibodeau at the Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery a short distance from Antigonish.

Stephen filled us in on the fish hatcheries in Nova Scotia. “My name is Stephen Thibodeau I am the acting supervisor here at Frasers Mills Fish Hatchery. My role is to coordinate the stocking and the hatchery operations. We are one of 3 hatcheries operated by the province of Nova Scotia. Collectively we stock in excess of 1 million fish to close to 400 sites province wide.

“We primarily stock speckled trout – it’s our provincial fish. We also stock rainbow trout, brown trout and Atlantic Salmon.  The role of the hatcheries is for the recreational fisheries in Nova Scotia. 30% of Nova Scotia’s recreational fisheries rely on hatchery production. The Frasers Mills Hatchery was built in 1928 by the Government of Canada for their hatchery program. It wasn’t till 1982 that the province took over operations and continued stocking.

Fraser's Mills Fish Hatchery. Stephen Thibodeau, Acting Supervisor

Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery. Stephen Thibodeau, Acting Supervisor

“There are 2 management programs that we do. One is through regulations for lakes that have a really good trout population we protect those through regulations. Some lakes have competition in the environment or they are heavily fished, then we use hatchery fish as a way of protecting those native stocks. In some cases we actually develop a fishery with hatchery raised trout the urban fishery we use rainbow trout for that. We also use rainbow trout for our winter fishery.

“The trout fishing season starts April 1 to the end of September. We have some special management areas some lakes and streams that have different season lengths. We always encourage people to take a look at the Anglers Handbook before they go out to fish a particular stream. Generally, the season starts April 1st to the end of September.

NS Hatcheries Video


“We get lots of visitors – locals and tourists. They usually come and take a look at the fish. there’s usually questions about good areas to fish, whether it is here in Antigonish County or elsewhere in the province.

“We get lots of visitors – locals and tourists. They usually come and take a look at the fish. there’s usually questions about good areas to fish, whether it is here in Antigonish County or elsewhere in the province.

“In the Spring we start our trout stocking so First of April we start stocking rainbow trout. Coming into late April and early May we start with our Speckled Trout and Rainbow Trout. We usually stop our stocking by the first of July.  It’s too warm for transport and too stressful on the fish. July and August is spent on site maintenance. In the fall we are gearing up for fall stocking.

“We have a number of programs we are involved in one is the Atlantic Salmon enhancement program. In late September and early October we are out collecting stock for that program. We have our own brood stock here on site and start to spawn the middle of October and we are looking after our eggs.  There’s never a dull moment.

“When we release the fish back into the wild the size varies. Normally in the spring they are what we call a “catchable size” or “retainable size”. The Rainbow Trout start out at 10-12 inches. The Speckled Trout start out at 6 inches when we start releasing them.

“There are other programs we are involved with. There’s the Learn to Fish Program geared to kids ages 8 to 12 but we are expanding it. It’s an outreach program. The kids will have a classroom component usually in the morning and we will go out in the afternoon so they will have a chance to take what they learned in the morning to a nearby pond stocked by the hatchery. Another program that we are involved with is the fishing derbies. There are about 50 every spring and summer. A lot of charitable groups use fishing derbies as a way to make money.

“Classrooms, scouting groups, boys and girls clubs take advantage of the Learn to Fish program. Its open to any group of people – usually kids – if there is enough interest and they apply for the Learn to Fish. It’s very popular. We do about 60 a year now. Depending on the location, 1 of the 3 hatcheries will supply the fish. It’s been very well received.

The Province of Nova Scotia, Dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture operate 3 fish hatcheries to help sustain the popular outdoor angling activities: Fraser’s Mills Hatchery, Antigonish County, Margaree Fish Hatchery, Inverness County and McGowan Lake Hatchery, Queens County.

NS Provincial Fish Hatcheries and Recreational Fishing Areas

NS Provincial Fish Hatcheries and Recreational Fishing Areas

Some of the Province’s more popular stocked lakes are: RFA-1 #20 Dam Pond (Cape Breton Co.), McIntyre Lake (Inverness Co.) RFA-2 Cameron Lake (Antigonish Co.), Gairloch Lake (Pictou Co.), RFA-3 Albro Lake (Halifax Co.), Sucker Lake (Lunenburg Co.) RFA-4 Everitts Lake (Digby Co.), Christopher Lakes (Queens Co.) RFA-5 Silver Lake (Kings Co.) Meadow Pond (Hants Co.), RFA-6 Angevine Lake (Cumberland Co.), Little Dyke Lake (Colchester Co.) (Ref https://novascotia.ca/fish/sportfishing/hatchery-stocking )

More Information