Tag Archives: Denise Davies

Alexander Graham-Bell Museum, Baddeck

Baddeck on Cape Breton’s Inland Sea

 

Baddeck Village, on the shore of the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton, is rich with land and sea activities for all ages.

Pick up a picnic lunch at the High Wheeler Café and stroll along the wharf and boardwalk.  There’s a great selection of restaurants in Baddeck where you can enjoy a lobster dinner, local cuisine and be sure to sample the Scottish Oatcakes.   Sip on a Big Spruce beer, a local craft beer produced in Nyanza just 12 km from Baddeck.

Shop for local arts and crafts in the boutiques and gift shops and visit artist studios Michael Keith a painter, Baddeck Yarns, and the Water’s Edge Gallery of Fine Arts and Crafts.

Explore the historic buildings including St. Mark’s Masonic Lodge, Telegraph House, St. Peter’s and St. John’s Anglican Church, Victoria County Court House and the many stately homes along the tree lined streets.

The Bras d’Or Lake is a large Inland sea connected to the North Atlantic by several natural channels and the St. Peters Lock Canal at the southern tip of the lake. It stretches 100 x 50Km in the centre of Cape Breton Island with a tidal mix of salt and fresh water.  It is a boater’s paradise and a rich environment for wildlife and fishing.  The Bras d’Or Lake is now designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is an area in the world which is deemed to demonstrate a “balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere”.  Visit the special exhibit at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.

In 1885 Alexander and Mable Bell fell in love with Baddeck and made it their summer home.  Alexander flew his Silver Dart airplane here above the frozen lake, the first flight in the British Empire.  Explore his many scientific inventions at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  “Discover” activities for children and “White glove tours” of the exhibits, kite flying and experiments are some of the hands on activities at the museum.

Enjoy a sail on the Amoeba schooner and look for bald headed eagles and their nests, view the Bell’s house Beinn Bhreagh, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, the rolling hills and shoreline of the Bras d’Or Lake with its coves and islands and the Spectacle Island bird sanctuary, home of a large cormorant colony.  (June 1 – Oct 15)

In the summer months head over on the ferry to Kidston Island and enjoy the beach, stroll around the island and visit the light house.

For the sports fishing enthusiast there are rainbow trout (steelhead), speckled trout, brown trout, smelt, gaspereaux, cod, flounder, mackerel, herring, lobster, and rock crab. Licenses and guides are available from the NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Go hiking to Uisge Bàn Falls, 14.5 Km from Baddeck the trail follows cliff tops along the North River through hardwood forests to a lovely waterfall in a granite gorge.

North River Kayak tours are available for experienced and novice kayakers and have salt-water tours.

Or take in a round of golf at the 18 hole Bell Bay Golf Club with dramatic views.  Enjoy lunch at Alexander’s Dining Room, open to all.

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Baddeck is 57 min (87.4 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy from the Canso Causeway.

This article originally appeared in The Casket, July 25, 2016

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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Come by choice Saltscapes march april 2016 jpg

Come by Choice

We often hear stories of out-migration from Nova Scotia. Here are stories of people who have chosen to come and live in Nova Scotia.

Learn the stories of John Graham-Pole, Kulbir Singh, Carol Rivoire, Joe Van Heerden and Thomas Steinhart who have “come by choice” to Nova Scotia.

All of these individuals are living in small communities in Nova Scotia.  They see opportunities in our natural resources, the land,space, location and people. They have come by choice, and they bring new skills, talents, experiences and ideas and a fresh eye to what we have here. They often see potential in resources that we take for granted.

Download the article PDF
Come by Choice Saltscapes March April 2016

 

Antigonish Small Town Big Heart

Antigonish: Small town, big heart

This was a fun article to write.  Antigonish is my home town and I am a graduate of StFX University.

“Every September, the small town of Antigonish (population 5,195) doubles in size with the arrival of the students excited to start their new year at St. Francis Xavier University. Well known for its campus spirit, its strong international reputation, top ratings by students
in Maclean’s university rankings, and, of course, the X-ring, StFX easily attracts students and faculty from all over the world.”

  • The XPerience
  • International Connections
  • Small Town Charm
  • Arts and Culture
  • Economic Impact

This is one of a series of articles in Saltscapes Magazine on “Our University Towns” in the March/April 2016 issue.

See the attached PDF of the article
Antigonish Small Town Big Heart PDF

article photos Coady, People's Place, GoArts, Antigonish Sidewalk Fair

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Halifax Library

The Amazing Halifax Central Library

 

 

It was my first time to visit the new Halifax Central Library. The space is spectacular with the central staircases creating angles and patterns of light and shadow and giving the overall effect of expansiveness and encouraging exploration.

The 5 storeys are easily accessible via the elevators. I decided to start at the top and work my way down. The top floor has a green area roof garden with views of Halifax. The Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar and Café rooftop patio with outdoor and indoor tables make a great place for a snack or cup of coffee. Comfortable lounge chairs for reading with a view and the adult fiction section complete this floor.

Every floor has an information desk with helpful staff. Computers and study areas, a changing use of space on each of the floors make the space inviting and interesting.

On the fourth floor you find the local history room, African History and culture, and Adult non-fiction. Quiet reading and study areas and meeting rooms of various sizes that can be reserved are found throughout the library.

The third floor is the home of the First Nations Circle. Adult magazines, multilingual materials, a Literacy Collection are found on this floor.

The second floor includes the children’s and teens and preschool areas. A media studio and creative lab and many computers are throughout the area.

The first floor entrance way has the Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar on the right with a selection of food and drink. To the left is a large comfortable reading area with magazines and selected collections for easy browsing. The art installation of 5000 paintings on the size of the traditional library card is amazing. These are all by the artist Cliff Eyland.  The Paul O’Reagan Hall (seating 307) hosts events and performances.

The Halifax Central Library is well worth a visit and if you live in the area a great community hub. It is wonderful to see such a community space in the heart of downtown Halifax and is not your traditional idea of a library.

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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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Cliff coastline at Glace Bay outlook from CB Miners Museum

Glace Bay: A Trip Down Memory Lane

 

I was born in Glace Bay and lived there for my first year. My memories include many years of visiting at my grandmother’s house with lots of music, playing in the big kitchen, great food, picking cranberries and blueberries on the hill behind the house. Saturday afternoons as I got older often my brother and I would walk down Main Street to “the show” at The Savoy. In those days westerns and cartoons would be my favorites. I saw my first grown up movie there at the age of 6 – Carmen Jones with Harry Belefonte.

Of course I heard the stories about the Savoy which was built in the 1920s by my grandfather John Connor. In the early days there were vaudeville shows, the stage was big enough for a boxing match AND the audience, how the long draping curtains on all the walls were sewn by my grandmother, my aunt Annie playing for “the flicks” the talkies and entertainers like the child Sammy Davis Jr. coming to Glace Bay.

It is wonderful to see The Savoy Theatre now. The interior is still in its original Victorian style. Changes to the exterior and renovations to the structure with a new entrance have expanded the lobby space and added an attractive entry. The Savoy is now managed by The Savoy Theatre Society. On my visit a few weeks ago, children were rehearsing for The Little Mermaid. Live shows and plays are regular events that draw people from all over.  The theatre interior looks much as it did when I was a child in the 40s and 50s with its wonderful architecture and feeling of stepping back into a more elegant time.

One thing that has remained the same is the feel of the wind coming up from the harbour to Senator’s Corner.

Slideshow

Looking at my photos of Glace Bay now, I marvel at the blue sky. This was a coal mine and industrial area of Cape Breton until the 60s. The Sydney coal fields go out miles under the ocean. As you look on the map or drive along the coast the names conjure up the miners in the various collieries: Donkin, Dominion, Caledonia, Reserve Mines, Port Morien, Lingan, New Waterford, Sydney Mines and more. The Colliery Route and the Marconi Trail runs from Glace Bay to Louisbourg and includes the remnants of North America’s first coal mine, circa 1720 (Port Morien).

The Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay is situated on Quarry Point with a view out into the Atlantic and along the coastline. When looking at the view we can picture the miners working in the coal seams that went for miles out under the ocean – such brave hard working men.   The museum has also built a re-creation of the miners’ homes and the company store. You can find company houses in all the mining towns. My paternal grandfather was a miner and lived in a company house in New Waterford.

According to interpretive signs at the museum “During the 18th century, coal was mined from exposed seams along cliffs from Port Morien to Lingan. The cargo was then transported by boat. The main use for this coal was to fuel the building and operation of Louisbourg, a French fortress established in 1713. During that time the Atlantic Ocean was a bustling highway filled with fishing vessels. As you travel around Cape Breton it is interesting to see how the communities were linked together through coal and fishing.

Unfortunately the museum was not open on my last visit – all the more reason to go back again and continue to explore Cape Breton and its rich history.  I want to go down into the mine at the Miners Museum and visit the Marconi Museum, the Glace Bay Town Hall Museum and of course take in a live show at The Savoy.

This article originally appeared as “Glace Bay: A Trip Down Memory Lane” in the Cape Breton Star, Oct. 30, 2014. Pages 4, 8.

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Port of Sydney - Big Fiddle, Flavor on the Water

Sydney Cape Breton

Sydney: Then and Now.

Article in The Cape Breton Star. By Denise Davies. Oct 2014

Living in Sydney in the 50s and 60s the steel plant was right in view of our front yard. We could see the billowing clouds of yellow smoke, hear the sound of the shunting coal cars and of course the “yellow snow” and coal dust on everything. At night we could see the clouds lit up and hear the dumpling slag.

The steel plant and the tar ponds are no more — replaced by the Open Hearth Park which hosted an audience of 15,000 for a recent outdoor Aerosmith concert. The park is an amazing open area with winding trails, a wonderful playground including musical instruments as well as play activities, a variety of sports fields and just minutes from downtown Sydney. No one ever thought that the steel plant and tar ponds would be gone. In fact I remember great fighting to keep the mines and the steel plant. It’s amazing to see green areas and recreation in place of industry, with clear skies and places to play and enjoy for all ages.

Audrey Chiasson 1957-2014Then and now photo – 1957 – 2014

Read the full article in the Cape Breton Star http://thechronicleherald.ca/community/cape-breton/1240503-sydney-then-and-now

 Things to do

  • Big Fiddle.  Cruise ships tie up here. Gift shops. Interesting museum on 2nd floor with culture and heritage of Cape Breton.  Flavor on the Water Restaurant.  BIg Fiddle Market,
  • Open Hearth Park.  Amazing restoration of the Steel Plant and Tar Ponds to a recreation area with playgrounds, playing fields, walking trails and greenery.  Open Hearth Park
  • Flavor Restaurants.  Eat out at one or all of the Flavor Restaurants.  Flavor on the Water is on the 2nd floor of the Big Fiddle. Enjoy the versatile Florence Sampson at the piano on Friday nights.  CB Flavor Restaurants,
  • Wentworth Park.  Great place for a walk or run.  Photo from 1928
  • Membertou Heritage Park. Convention Centre, entertainment, restaurant, hotel, shopping, museum.  Membertou
  • Trip Adviser – Things to Do in Sydney
  • Old Sydney Society – museums, lectures and cultural events. Old Sydney
  • Things to do – Port of Sydney

Slide Show

Side Trips

 Heart of Steel – Video

Fortress of Louisbourg

7 Fun Things to do in Louisbourg

 

 

There is so much to see and enjoy in Louisbourg plan on staying for 2-3 days if possible. Some of these suggestions are seasonal. Please check the website links for details of hours and specifics.

  1. Fortress of Louisbourg

Of course the Fortress of Louisbourg is the main attraction in Louisbourg. Give yourself at least 4-5 hours. There is so much to explore in the various houses and buildings. Talk to the people in their period costumes. You will hear stories and recounting of events and how people lived in 1744. Take one of their mini tours – check on the website or at the desk for what is available on the day you are there. The rebuilt fortress covers a large area so wear good walking shoes and bring your water bottle. Each season of the year has different types of activities. The “shoulder season” in the fall is a great time to visit with fewer crowds and more chance to ask questions. Parks Canada Website – National Historic Site Fortress of Louisbourg http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/visit.aspx

  1. Hike the Lighthouse Trail

The Louisbourg Lighthouse is the first lighthouse in Canada and the 2nd in all of North America. The trail is in various lengths and winds along the coast with terrific views of cliffs, cormorants, waves and a variety of vegetation and geology. The path is well maintained and just a few ups and downs. There are several hiking trails around Louisbourg https://www.facebook.com/pages/Louisbourg-Lighthouse-Coastal-Trail/573458949340263

  1. Eat Lobster

The Lobster Kettle restaurant in down town Louisbourg serves a whole lobster in a cute presentation. The lobster is delicious and a lovely setting on the deck overlooking the harbour. There is also inside seating if the weather is not great and other choices on the menu. http://www.lobsterkettle.com/

  1. Railroad Museum

The Sydney & Louisburg Railway Museum is on your right just as you are driving into town. Learn more about the relationship of the railway and marine trade and transport in 1895 hauling coal. Train buffs will love this and it brings the era to life through models, photos and artifacts. http://www.novascotiarailwayheritage.com/louisbourg.htm

  1. Louisbourg Playhouse

This performing arts center offers a variety of entertainers, musicians, plays. Check for programme details http://louisbourgplayhouse.ca/

  1. Beach trip

This beach is worth the 25 minute drive from Louisbourg along the Marconi Trail. I was really taken with the beach at Main A Dieu – a network of boardwalks through the seagrass and then a beautiful wide and long sandy beach. http://www.whatsgoinon.ca/cape-breton-beach-bum-adventures-main-a-dieu-beach/#.VCHXaRbP_sk

  1. Historical Dinner – The Beggar’s Banquet

Dine in 18th Century Style with delicious selection of lobster, crab, fish or chicken. This is an experience – not just a dinner. Dining room of Point of View Suites http://www.louisbourgpointofview.com/dining/

More Photos

 

Where to Stay

  • Point of View Suites. Beautiful location right on the coast with a view from the Fortress and across the bay to the Louisbourg Lighthouse. Spacious suites most furnished with a kitchen which makes it easy to stay a while and enjoy the area. http://www.louisbourgpointofview.com/
  • Cranberry Cove Inn. Easy to spot this place with its beautiful cranberry color and heritage house look. http://www.cranberrycoveinn.com
  • RV Park & Campground. On the main street of Louisbourg close to the boardwalk.  http://louisbourg.com/motorhomepark/
  • More Louisbourg accommodations on Trip Advisor http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g499217-Louisbourg_Cape_Breton_Island_Nova_Scotia-Vacations.html

More Information (Links)