Category Archives: Northumberland Shore

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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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.

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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.

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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Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores Nova Scotia

Eastern and Northumberland Shores

DEANS press release, Feb 23, 2016

Two videos featuring the Northumberland and Eastern Shores have recently been launched by the regional tourism association, Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores (DEANS) with the goal to promote the beauty and character of the region to visitors. The Northumberland Shore clip features stunning beaches, cobalt blue waters and golden shores as well as a rich Scottish and industrial history along with lush meadows and scenic waterways, while the Eastern Shore video highlights breathtaking panoramic coastal shots, outdoor adventure, unique event and heritage experiences.

The smiling faces in the videos are actual residents of the two shores who are proud to be ambassadors for their communities and province and pleased to showcase diverse tourism experiences and amenities awaiting visitors. They each offer a warm invitation to uncover the unspoiled beauty of rural Nova Scotia and a chance to meet and connect with those who love life in this part of the world.

“Nova Scotia is known around the world for its beautiful world class icons but there is even more for visitors to uncover. Rural communities such as those along our two shores offer memorable authentic experiences that speak to our Nova Scotia way of life,” says Cindy MacKinnon, DEANS Managing Director. “In this region you will find unspoiled shorelines, warm waters and night skies that are filled with stars. We have a pristine beauty that others want to not only see, but experience. There are also many outdoor activities for those visitors who want soft adventure and to explore and truly understand life by the sea as well as the chance to savour the stories, music and cuisine that are part of our coastal communities and charming, historic towns. These two shores have a lot to offer-opportunities to experience the natural beauty of miles of coastline, rivers and lakes as well as stirring music and inspiring arts and culture. There are quality products and experiences being offered along both shores by tourism industry leaders and our communities that include outdoor exploration, amazing bounty harvested from both land and sea, opportunities to take a step back in time, uplifting fun filled festivals and delectable cuisine from innovative chefs as well as home spun cooking/baking in our restaurants and accommodations from recipes that have stood the test of time, from generation to generation.

Visit DEANS Facebook Pages

Karen Wenaus, Chair of DEANS and Wes Surrett, Chair of the DEANS Marketing Committee, are also property managers of two destination accommodations on each of the shores, and both agree that many visitors to Nova Scotia appreciate the opportunity to get off the beaten path. They explain that the tourists they meet are eager to make new discoveries at their own pace and also want to meet locals who are so interesting, friendly, genuine and talented.

“There is something to be said for a change in pace, picturesque vistas, rugged shorelines and the serenity and tranquility of our shores,” says Wenaus. “It is easy for us to take sandy beaches and wide open spaces for granted but for many, it is chance to nourish the soul,” adds Surrett.

The videos were produced by Proptonics, a Nova Scotia video production company that is dedicated to servicing corporate, commercial and small businesses.

 

Pomquet Day Trip

 

This article was originally published in The Casket Exploring Pomquet. The Casket June 18, 2015 http://www.thecasket.ca/archives/45730. This edition contains more photos and maps.

Relax or swim on a sandy beach, browse fashions, enjoy an Acadian lunch and hike through woodsy trails all in beautiful rural Pomquet, Nova Scotia. Just 12 minutes from Antigonish turn off on the Taylors Road exit from Hwy 104 to Pomquet and within minutes you are enjoying a country road with views of Pomquet harbour, rolling green hills and bird song.

The tiny Acadian community of Pomquet, overlooks the Northumberland Shore between Monk’s Head and Pomquet Harbour. This rich area of bay, harbours, islands and forest was for centuries the home of the Mi’kmaq and then settled by French settlers in the late 1700s.

Pomquet map

Pomquet map

From Taylors Road, take the left turn to L’Église Ste. Croix (Holy Cross Church) built in 1863. Genealogy buffs will find gravestones from the 1800s and the Pomquet Museum located just north of the church with historical photographs and genealogical information (Call 902-386-2679).

Continue on and turn right to Pomquet Beach Provincial Park, a peaceful long (3 KM) sandy stretch of beach on the Northumberland Shore. This is one of the best swimming beaches in the area and during the summer is supervised by lifeguards. Boardwalks lead up to the beach through the dunes and sea grasses. Enjoy a beach walk with the fresh salty air and the gulls above and a view of Cape Breton on a clear day, or beach comb for shells, stones and drift wood. Some areas are protected for the Piping Plover nesting sites. Facilities include change houses and washrooms.

Follow the wooden boardwalk trails from the beach parking lot with interpretive signs on the history, geology, plants and animals of this area. The grasses and plants found on the sand dunes are well adapted to the salt environment. The boardwalk protects the undergrowth and provides an easy view of blueberries, cranberries, beach mosses and grasses.

Back on Monks Head road – continue on to Chez DesLauriers situated on a hill above Monk’s Bay, with a spectacular view of Pomquet Beach and harbour. The heritage home was built in the 1860s. Enjoy a home cooked Acadian lunch on Fridays during the summer. Learn about the geology and history of the area in the Interpretive Centre.

Behind Chez DesLauriers, wander to the top of the hill behind the house and well-marked signs point the way to the Acadian Trail, a 6KM series of loop trails along the meadow cliff, through the forest with mossy and well-kept paths, and along the shore. Bring along your nature guide books to identify mushrooms, mosses, trees and birds. The inland trail weaves through forests of various ages, including 100-150 year old pine trees, and views of Cape Breton Island in the distance.

Retrace your drive to the Taylor Road intersection and continue on to visit The Old Barn Gallery & Boutique to find hand selected one-of-a kind designer fashions, handbags, fun art and antique dishes. You will get lots of decorator ideas and you can enjoy cookies and tea on the patio. The Boutique recently was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Be sure to bring water, snacks or a picnic lunch, sunscreen, bug spray, and your sense of adventure.

Directions

  • Exit Highway 104 on Taylors Road between Exits 35 and 36. 10 minutes from Antigonish, 40 minutes from the Canso Causeway.
  • Or Exit from the 104 Highway on the Upper Pomquet Road across from the St. Andrew’s sign. Closest exit for Melanson Rd and the Old Barn Gallery and Boutique.

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Pomquet Beach

 

 

One of the best swimming beaches in the Antigonish area is Pomquet Beach.

This long sweeping beach (3KM) of sand and pebbles stretches along the Northumberland Shore. It’s a great swimming beach and in the summer and fall the air and water temperatures are almost the same. Lifeguards are 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 enjoy 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 and sea grasses giving a lovely view of the waving sea grasses that help to stabilize the sand dunes. Take the boardwalk trail that explores 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. Driving from Antigonish take the Taylor Road exit off Hwy 104. Turn left at the end of that road on Monks Head Road and follow the signs to the beach. The last section of road Is a gravel surface. Stop at the bridge and you may see herons or other sea birds.

Pomquet Map

Pomquet Map

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Arisaig Collage

Arisaig

A trip to Arisaig is always a great day out. Now that summer is here the beach is inviting and safe for children. The lobster boats are all tied up as the season is over and wonderful to enjoy the peaceful views and the smell of salt-sea air and a fresh breeze.  The water was so calm this day that it was difficult to see the horizon with the sea and sky the same hue.

The Lobster Interpretive Centre / Tea Room is open with sandwiches, wraps, hot dogs and desserts. Great view of the harbour and learn lots of interesting facts about lobsters. There is an interesting short film to give more of the history and even tips on how to serve and eat a lobster.

Head over to the Lighthouse Café for an ice cream cone and watch the sea birds roosting on the rocks.

There will be lots of fun for all ages at the Arisaig Mid-Summer Festival July 16-19 with food, socials, dancing, kids games, live demonstrations, boat tours, music and more. (http://arisaigns.com/sum-r-fest/ )

There are so many things to see and do in the area. Enjoy the day. See my article in The Casket newspaper on the “Loop Drive Offers Delights from Arisaig to Barney’s River” for a full loop drive.

Arisaig is only 30 minutes from Antigonish via Hawthorne St / HWY 245 on the Northumberland coast.

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View of Arisaig Harbour from Steinhart Distillery

Maple Vodka – Visit Steinhart Distillery, Arisaig

 

The view is spectacular – facing out over the Atlantic on the Northumberland shore with Arisaig lighthouse below you to the right and PEI just visible on the horizon. We visited on an early spring day with ice still on the water but sun shining and green grass starting to show.

Thomas Steinhart, distiller and owner of Steinhart Distillery, welcomed us in. It was fascinating to learn how he came to this part of the world, found an old farm and land and considered business ideas that would be feasible in this beautiful location so that he could settle in Nova Scotia. His father and grandfather both were in the distilling business in Black Forest area of Germany making Schnapps.   Steinhart produces a fine line of Vodka with natural ingredients – local wherever possible.

I first tasted Steinhart Maple Vodka at a party and was blown away by the smooth flavor and color. This is a delicious drink – just have it over ice. To think this was produced just a few miles from Antigonish. Other vodkas are Cranberry, Blueberry and Organic.

The gleaming brass handmade copper still towers up in light of the panorama window. Huge bags of wheat used to make the daily mash, fruit, herbs and spices used for the flavored vodka are ready at hand. No artificial flavors or chemicals are used.

The bottling and labeling are ingenious and sure to be a real collector’s item and make this a great Nova Scotia gift. The Steinhart brand outer label is a genteel cream and gold, but after purchase you remove that and beautiful art from a Nova Scotia artist appears. Recipes and suggestions for the vodka are on the label backing.

While you are visiting the Distillery enjoy the delights of Arisaig. During the season (June – Oct) visit the Lobster Interpretive Centre, the Lighthouse Café for ice cream, and walk around the harbour to see the fishing boats, enjoy your snack at the picnic tables and enjoy the rocks and waves. Just a mile away along the coast is the Arisaig Provincial Park where you can explore for fossils on the cliffs and take the stairway down to the beach. Interpretive signs guide you through the geology and history of the area.  Take a swim at the beach or explore the tide p ools.

Thomas has built comfortable and well-furnished chalets on the property. Terrific view of the ocean from the large deck.  Great for a place to stay in Arisaig as you explore the area.

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Enjoy an Acadian Lunch in Pomquet

 

 

Pockets of Acadian life are found throughout Nova Scotia. Pomquet is a small village just 20 min from Antigonish and just off the Trans Canada. It has a strong community spirit and beautiful setting.

You can enjoy an authentic Acadian Lunch at Chez DesLauriers in Pomquet village during the summer months. Every week has a different menu which you can find posted on their website. http://www.pomquet.net/en/chezdeslauriers.html

The setting is spectacular with Chez DesLauriers, a white heritage home on Monk’s Head having a view over St. George’s Bay and Pomquet Beach with a view to Cape Breton. Old photographs and antique home items provide the décor in the tea room. There is lively atmosphere from visitors and locals enjoying the food and company.   We enjoyed a great lunch of Fricot or Pate’ – both traditional Acadian dishes that I remember from my childhood.

Next door the Interpretive Centre describes the history, geology and formation of the area and the people who have lived here and their way of life.   In the area behind the house the Pomquet Acadian Walking Trails are well marked and take you across the grassy cliffs with views of the ocean, wending through the forest, or down along the beach.

In August there are two special Lobster Roll dinners to look forward to.

Antigonish Beaches along Saint George’s Bay

Antigonish is blessed with a variety of beaches within a half hour drive all along the St George’s Bay coastline.  This posting is about the beaches along Highway 337 going north along the coast from Antigonish.  I enjoy hunting for colorful stones and shells, breathing the fresh sea air and beach walks.

The Sunrise Trail

Traveling from the East end of Antigonish you have the beaches and coves along the Sunrise Trail (HWY 337) – Mahoneys Beach, Jimtown, Cribbons, Crystal Cliffs, Balantyne’s Cove and Cape George.   Each of these has its own charm and atmosphere.  As the name “Sunrise Trail” suggests, these beaches are facing to the East and a good place to see the sunrise.    Head out of town on Hwy 337 past the Museum and railway tracks and up past the hospital.

The first beach you come to is Mahoney’s Beach. it’s great for a long walk along the ocean or lagoon side.  I saw 6 blue herons here the other day standing in the still water of the lagoon at sunset.   You will often see paddlers and Kayaks exploring the area – the outlet from Antigonish Harbour is here.  This is a pebble beach with some sand on the lagoon side.   It’s a great place for a beach campfire.

Jim Town Beach is a stretch of sandy beach with Ogden Pond on the inland side.  At low tide you can walk towards Mahoneys Beach.   Watch for the currents at this beach as the fresh water runs out into the ocean at this point.  This is a good beach for watching sea birds, beach combing and beautiful views of the hills and homes surrounding this tiny beach.  Stop and see the tiny white country church along the access road.

Cribbons Point comes next.  This is not a beach but I am including it because during the summer season you will find Boyd’s Seafood Galley with a delicious selection of fish and chips, lobster, calamari, shrimp, scallops and burgers for the non-seafood eater.  Fresh salads and ice cream top off their menu.  The restaurant is perched above the harbour with a good view of the fishing boats and pleasure crafts.  Eat in the gazebo, patio area, inside or take-out and explore the wharf area.  This is only 20 minutes from Antigonish so head here for a great seafood dinner any night of the week.

Ballantyne’s Cove is a working fishing wharf.  The Tuna Interpretive Center is worth exploring and if you are a big game fisherman you would be interested in the tuna charters that head out on angling expeditions.  Just behind the Tuna Center take the path to the beach.

As you travel a bit further up the coast explore the Cape George Lighthouse and trails.  This is the Northern tip of the St. George’s Bay.  No beach here but gorgeous views of the entire Bay and over to Cape Breton Island.  At this point you can retrace your drive to Antigonish or continue on to Arisaig and come back by the land route returning onto Hawthorne Street in Antigonish.

Future posts will explore the beaches on the Northumberland shore towards Arisaig, and another along  Hwy 104 heading towards Cape Breton

Map

Antigonish to Cape George

Be Prepared

Take water, sunscreen, a jacket, hat, snacks, beach shoes.  There is little or no shade on these beaches so take what you need to be comfortable.

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