Category Archives: Places

Halifax

Five Fun Free and Almost Free things to do in Halifax

It’s been a few years since I spent some time and Halifax.  It’s an interesting city historically and being surrounded by water and with garden areas and parks has places to walk and explore on a low budget.  In the past several years the amazing growth in the downtown area is still very much in evidence but people areas are also part of the new planning and there is much to enjoy.

Point Pleasant Park

This 190 acre park on the end of the Halifax peninsula has over 39 km of walking trails through a variety of trees, shrubs ferns and wild flowers.  You can explore some historical sites including the Prince of Wales Tower and the Martello Tower. There are lots of dog walkers and some off leash areas.    in 2003 Hurricane Juan felled many of the older trees which are now covered in with new growth.

There are 2 parking areas and the park is readily accessible by bus.  Bring water, snacks, layers and good walking shoes.  Orient yourself from the maps at the main entrances.

Information and maps  https://www.halifax.ca/parks-recreation/parks-trails-gardens/parks-outdoor-spaces/point-pleasant-park

Public Gardens

The Halifax Public Gardens on Spring Garden Road were established in 1836 and are the oldest Victorian Gardens in North America.  Impeccably kept and flowering plants and gardens in all seasons.  This park was my first attempt at photography at age 10 with my brownie camera and months later when I got the film developed the photos came back with al the statue heads cut off.  Only years later when I looked at the negatives I saw that the heads were there!  So my disappointment had turned me off of photography at that point.   I love wandering the various paths and it seems to take you back a century in time.

The main entrance of the park is on the corner of the trendy Spring Garden Rd shopping area which unfortunately at this time (July 2021) is all dug up for improvements.  The shops and restaurants are still accessible to pedestrian traffic.

Information and map https://www.halifax.ca/parks-recreation/parks-trails-gardens/gardens/halifax-public-gardens

Halifax Boardwalk

The Halifax Boardwalk is an exciting 3Km walk along the waterfront from the Halifax Seaport and market passing shops, views of sailboats and ships in the harbour, art installations,  museums, trendy restaurants and seaside shacks, fun for the kids, buskers and entertainers, and ever changing views of Georges Island, the bridges and Dartmouth on the far side.   A mix of the old and new from the historic properties to the large high rise buildings reflect the changing nature of Halifax.   You can easily spend several hours or the day exploring the boardwalk.

Explore the Halifax Waterfront https://discoverhalifaxns.com/explore/halifax-waterfront/

Halifax Ferry

For an inexpensive harbour view of Halifax take the ferry from Halifax to Alderney Landing in downtown Dartmouth or the Woodside Ferry.  You will get great views of the Halifax sky line and the bridges. The Water Street Terminal is on the boardwalk next to Murphys Cable Wharf. The fare is $2.75 (cash only) and a transfer ticket takes you on to the bus as well.

  

Schedules https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/halifax-transit/ferry-service

Fares https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/halifax-transit/fares-tickets-passes/fare-strategy-frequently-asked-questions

Peace by Chocolate

Peace by Chocolate opened this beautiful new store on the Boardwalk near the ferry landing and Murphys Cable Wharf.  There is an extensive selection of their signature chocolate bars. This is a great place to find gifts for any occasion – birthdays, welcome to Canada, and Peace in many languages. Enjoy a pistachio ice cream and sit outside on the patio area to watch the world go by.

I have a fondness for this place as it began in Antigonish (my home town) and the compelling story of resilience of the Syrian family that arrived here and started the business.  The book “Peace by Chocolate“ is available in the shop is a gripping read.

Peace by Chocolate https://peacebychocolate.ca/

Welcome to Halifax walking map https://discoverhalifaxns.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-Halifax-Urban-Walking-Map.pdf

For Next Time

  • Ferry to George’s Island
  • Discovery Centre
  • Pier 21 Museum
  • Halifax Library

Out and About Nova Scotia Updates

I suspect that recent blog posts have not been sending out automatically to subscribers. So here is an update. Hope you are looking forward to exploring Nova Scotia this summer

·  Highland Heritage Week includes a video of Clan Thompson Pipe Band

·  Ballantyne’s Cove a lovely short drive from Antigonish

·  Out and About Antigonish Book Now Available

·  Eastern Shore Staycation Enjoy the NS Eastern Shore

·  Antigonish Staycation  Enjoy an Antigonish Staycation

Highland Heritage Week

The Antigonish Highland Games 2021 is being celebrated with Highland Heritage Week this year presented by the Antigonish Highland Society.  It is wonderful to hear the pipes again and to have virtual dances and music throughout the week.

Program

Clan Thompson Pipe Band entertained us on a wet and windy day at the Antigonish Legion.  Such a pleasure to see and hear the pipes again in Antigonish.

Click to watch the Highland Dancing at Chisholm Park with MacLeod School of Highland Dance

https://fb.watch/v/cN0oJNYuP/

Enjoy the week and celebrate our Scottish culture and heritage

Ballantyne’s Cove

A lovely drive from Antigonish is along HWY 337. Pass rolling farmland with so many shades of green and tantalizing views of the ocean as you pass Mahoney’ Beach. As you approach Ballantyne’s Cove there is a lookout on your right.

The Fish ‘N Ships kiosk opened for the summer and the feast of fish and chips was delicious.  A great selection of ice cream also available.  We took our plates over to the pebble beach behind the Tuna Interpretive Centre.  Such a beautiful peaceful spot. Just one other person on the beach.

Great place for a beach walk looking for colorful pebbles, or a paddle or a swim. I recommend beach shoes for the pebbles.

See more places to visit in the newly published “Out and About Antigonish”  HWY 337 past St. Martha’s Hospital.  Pages 42 – 58.   https://www.outandaboutns.com/out-and-about-antigonish-book/

Out and About Antigonish Book Now Available

Out and About Antigonish — Antigonish Town, excursions within 2 hrs, day trips, outdoor recreation, hiking, history, culture, beaches, trails, nature and more. By Denise Davies

Reviews

Out and About Antigonish showcases the beauty of Northern Nova Scotia.  It shares our story with visitors through many incredible pictures.  I would encourage visitors and residents alike to pick up this book and challenge themselves to visit our communities and enjoy all of the authentic experiences we have to offer. 

Cindy MacKinnon,  Managing Director
Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores

“Denise Davies has created a masterful reference tool for both locals and tourists alike with her Out and About Antigonish guidebook. With excellent directions and descriptions for myriad day trips within a two-hour jaunt from Antigonish, the traveler’s most difficult decision will be which adventure to pursue first. Chock-full of beautiful photographs and succinct descriptions of each waypoint, Out and About Antigonish will help the traveler decide which spots to visit, and ensure no hidden gems are overlooked.  History buffs and photographers will find this tool especially helpful. I highly recommend this superior book!”

Dave Belt
Owner, Seafoam Lavender Company & Gardens
Seafoam, Nova Scotia

Out and About Antigonish is a superb and long-awaited guide to Antigonish and its surrounding counties. While it will particularly attract the growing number of tourists to northeastern Nova Scotia, there is much here for locals to learn about and enjoy. As a “come-from-away” (a mere fourteen years ago), I have made a point of exploring the many highlights of my new home. Yet I found in Denise Davies’s new book a feast of fresh information and excursions to look forward to.

None of this is surprising, because as readers we are in the hands of a highly experienced travel writer and a superb photographer. I counted over 150 photos, almost all in full colour and of the highest quality. Denise has also included an abundance of maps to supplement her descriptions. This makes it extremely easy for the newcomer to follow the wonderful array of trips and trails on offer. She has also kept her descriptions succinct, though never overly so, and there are links to a wealth of websites that allow for further exploration. This is especially appropriate given the depth of northern Nova Scotia’s cultural, political and economic history.

Denise achieves an admirable balance in tackling Antigonish and its environment’s rich tapestry of nature and culture, rural and maritime life. The arts and culture, museums and markets, prominent institutions including St Francis Xavier University and Coady Institute, the many beaches and other recreational spots are, each one of them, more than adequately covered, and I could find not one omission. 

Denise Davies is to be congratulated on producing such a beautiful and informative work.

John Graham-Pole, Publisher. HARP the People’s Press

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/

For More Information

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.

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.

MORE INFORMATION

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