Category Archives: Guysborough

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

Country Harbour

 

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Country Harbour River

When you hear the name Country Harbour in Nova Scotia you might think you are on the coast with fishing boats and the ocean waves.  However in driving from Monastry on highway 316 you see a sign for Country Harbour and then pass signs for Country Harbour Cross Roads, Country Harbour Mines, Middle Country Harbour, Country Harbour Ferry and still are miles from the ocean.

Country Harbour is a 10 mile long deep inlet from the sea on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.  It is not only beautiful but has an interesting past.

SeaWind Landing comfortable accomdations great dining

A great place to stay and use as an exploration point is the Seawind Landing Country Inn in Charlos Cove.  The 20 acre grounds has interesting paths through the forest or along the shore are great for an evening or early morning stroll.  The food is superb, prepared with loving care from local ingredients by the innkeeper.  There is a choice of comfortable rooms near the shore with the sound of the waves – or rooms with a view to the east or west from your 2nd floor porch.

The Seawind Landing Country Inn is a 30 minute drive from Drum Head at the mouth of Isaacs Harbour and  Country Harbour.  Stop along the way at the lovely Tor Bay Provincial Park and enjoy the boardwalk through the trees and over marshes and mosses.   Seabirds nest on offshore islands – great for birdwatchers.  Continue along Hwy 316 to Isaacs Harbour and take the turn off to the Country Harbour Ferry.  This 12 car cable operated ferry takes you across Country Harbour to continue down along the coast through Port Bickerton towards Halifax on Hwy 211. Even if you decide not to take the ferry it is fun to watch it make the crossing.  Signs are posted at the turnoff informing if the ferry is operating or not.

Empire Loyalist Trail

This part of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia was the closest part of North America for the early ships from Europe. The long protected harbour was a welcome relief from the open sea.  The discovery of gold in the area was another draw to the area. From the 1600s the area was alive with ship building, forestry, small farming, fishing and gold mining.

Country Harbour was also settled by Loyalists from the King’s Carolina Rangers and the South Carolina Royalists who left Florida in October 1783, landed in Halifax and then the settlers went on to Country Harbour.  The United Empire Loyalist 2.2 KM trail has interpretive signs giving the history of the settlers.

Salsman Park Golden Sunrise

Salsman Provincial Park is located on a small peninsula on the east side of Country Harbour near Middle Country Harbour.  From June to September the park offers campers a quiet setting to relax and enjoy the area.  The camp ground is situated on an island connected by a short causeway giving lovely views of the water and hills.  On an early November morning the sunrise over Country Harbour was memorable with its golden glow and reflections in the calm water.

The nearby Loonsong Cottage Retreat offers workshops and retreats for women on a variety of topics.  Check their website for calendar of events.

Country Harbour River offers fishing and exploring.  The rural farms and cottages enjoy spectacular views in fall with the changing leaf colors.

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 Click Here to Download Country Harbour article and more information

 

Basket Making Workshop at Loonsong Cottage

 

After settling in to the comfortable Loonsong Cottage with coffee and snacks we got an introduction to baskets and the materials from Sian Turner.  All of us were beginners so Sian showed us each step then worked with us.  We were making the same style basket – but each could make selections of type of the widths to use, accent colours and web handles.  As a result each basket was unique.

It was a fun day with lots of chat and laughter and a delicious lunch.  Four of us stayed overnight and enjoyed an evening of wonderful food and talk.

The cottage is situated in the lovely Country Harbour and there are walks through the fern and mossy forest, along the brook, or down to the nearby Salsman Provincial Park.  A spectacular sunrise over perfectly calm water made for a great photo opportunity.

The drive from Antigonish is just 1 hour and through beautiful countryside with the tamarak providing the golden accent colour at this time of year.

Look for more workshops in the spring – sign up at www.loongsongcottageretreat.com This is a beautiful location for a retreat or workshop.  This year featured Aromatherapy, Yoga, Be You Fully, and a Discovery Circle.  Spring workshops are in the planning stage.

The food and hospitality are wonderful and accommodations are very comfortable and homey. Kathi is a masseuse so there is an opportunity for a massage as part of the weekend if you book it.

Baird’s Tradesmen Museum

 

On Highway 7 crossing Nova Scotia from Antigonish to the Eastern Shore we decided to stop and have a look at Baird’s Tradesmen Museum.

Wheel Wright Tools

Wheel Wright Tools

What a happy finding.  This place is loaded with history and is a great place for anyone with an interest in craft, industry and how things are made.  The walls and display cases are well organized with tools from the past for trades that we may not even have now – but were mainstays in the turn of the century.  Anyone who works in wood will enjoy seeing how the tools they use today have evolved.  You have to wonder about the minds and ingenuity of the people who designed these implements.

The tools and trades are organized into categories: cobbler, cooper, farrier, blacksmith, woodturner, carpenter/joiner, leatherworker, wheelwright, typesetter, saw filer/fitter, weaving and spinning; also the tools used in farming, fishing, logging, coal mining, automotive, retail and ice industries over the past 150 years.

Kitchen implements

Kitchen implements

Our guide was Sally Baird who was a wonderful tour guide and explained the use of the different tools.  The museum started as a personal collection of Danny Baird who worked with tools himself and started collecting.  The collection grew so large they decided to open to the public.

The place is very large and has an upstairs area with a huge spinning wheel, a floor loom, a couple of printing presses.   The presses and type include the newspaper advertising from the early 1900s and will be valuable to researchers.

Outside there are wood tools and a fire engine.  Danny Baird continues to make wooden barrels and you can see the workings as well as the finished products.   You can easily spend an hour or two learning from these antique tools and machinery from vintage trades.

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More information

12455 Hwy 7, Aspen, NS
Guysborough County

Danny & Sally Baird
Phone: 902-833-2219

The museum is open daily from July 1 – Oct 1.  10AM to 5PM. Or by appointment.  Small admission fee.

Baird’s Trade Museum – Nova Scotia.com including a map on how to get there.