Category Archives: Museum

Antigonish Heritage Museum

A great place to learn about the history and culture of Antigonish is to visit the Antigonish Heritage Museum.  Artifacts and photos of the settling of the town and county will give you a greater appreciation of the original inhabitants, the Mi’kmaq and the many settlers who have come over the years bringing their culture and traditions.   Of course we think of the Scots but we have the Irish, French, Dutch and others.

If you are interested in genealogy the helpful and knowledgeable staff will guide you on the local resources.  The museum is housed in the old train station which will be of interest to train buffs.

During the summer months the Summer Ceilidh features local musicians and story tellers — a great way to spend the evening enjoying traditional music of the fiddle, piano, pipes, guitar and song.


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Address:  20 East Main Street, Antigonish,  at the East end of Main Street before the railway tracks.

Balmoral Grist Mill

Balmoral Grist Mill

Set in a wooded gorge on Matheson’s Brook sits the Balmoral Grist Mill.

It is amazing to see the fine workmanship and intricate gears and stone grinding wheels, levers and pulleys that work so seamlessly together to grind a variety of grains.  The output is flour, oat meal and meal of different grades.  You can picture the farmers or their wives coming by from their nearby farms in the area 140 years ago with a sack of wheat, oats or barley and having the miller grind it up for flour.

The mill was built in 1874 by Alexander MacKay.  Tthere were mills of many types in this area.

The mill is still in working order.  We took the tour with the friendly and knowledgeable museum guide and learned about all the steps in production of flour from wheat, buckwheat, oats and various grains for making flour and animal feed.

This is definitely worth the visit.

The Setting (video)

Video from Balmoral Grist Mill Museum

Photo Gallery Slideshow

Other spots of interest in the area:

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Museum of Industry

What a fascinating museum!  The design of the building uses the traditional sky lighting used in factories to take advantage of daylight.  Walk through the history of industry in Nova Scotia and experience the stories of work and workers.

There is something for everyone and you can easily spend a few hours here learning stories of the lives of people – children working in industries, women in the home and later on the factory floor, lives of the coal miners and how industries changed over time.   Stellarton was an active coal mining area which fueled the industrial age and was an important part of the growth of Nova Scotia.

There are trains of all sizes – real trains and miniature trains.   Use the interactive activity to play and learn about how water wheels work.  Explore the glass works, quilting looms and spinning wheels from the past, try out the chocolate assembly line, and use the child size crane. Toddlers will enjoy play stations.  I enjoyed seeing the industrial arts bus that used to travel around to different schools. Great idea that maybe we could implement again today.

Browse the gift shop and take home a unique gift.

From the museum, you also can access an 8-kilometre walking trail that follows the East River to the north end of New Glasgow.

More Information  Open year round. See website for hours.

The Museum of Industry is part of a network of 27 quality museums called the Nova Scotia Museum, operated by the Government of Nova Scotia and spread across Nova Scotia

How to Get there

Located in Stellarton. 2 hrs from Halifax on Hwy 104.

1 hr from the Canso Causeway (Cape Breton Island)

Museum of Industry
147 North Foord Street
Stellarton, NS CA B0K 1S0
Exit 24 off Trans Canada Hwy

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


Colorful buildings are perched on the hillside above the picturesque harbour with the Bluenose II and other wooden ships from the 1800s.  Lunenburg is one of Nova Scotia’s most photographed scenes. Your imagination takes you back to when this was a booming port with shipbuilding, fishing and trading.

Lunenburg is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of only two urban communities in North America. The multi coloured houses and businesses that line the streets are well-preserved examples of a prosperous and bustling 18th century coastal town.

Explore the town on foot on your own, by horse drawn carriage, or with a guided walking tour. Enjoy the view while you row a dory along the waterfront, or take a sail on the Bluenose II.

Click to view a short video:

Bluenose II

Bluenose II

The original Bluenose was launched from Lunenburg as a Grand Banks fishing and racing schooner in 1921. The ship became a famous Nova Scotian icon and printed on the Canadian dime. The Bluenose II, replica now has its home port in Lunenburg and during the summer and fall has water tours and sails to different ports.



Fisheries Museum of Atlantic

Fisheries Museum of Atlantic

The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic has fascinating stories and artifacts. Short films set the scene and helpful guides had stories of days gone by. The museum is set on 3 floors and a great view of the harbour ships and activities. The displays and interactive dioramas make you appreciate the lives and work of fisherman. An excellent gift shop is on the main floor.



Top Mast Motel

Top Mast Motel

There are many places to stay in the Old Town, but for my choice a perfect spot with a view of the Lunenburg town is the Top Mast Motel. The rooms are comfortable and the room patios overlook the waterfront and the Bluenose Golf Course next door. We enjoyed a lovely evening overlooking the harbour lights. The helpful manager provided a map and directions for things to do in the area and recommendations on places to eat.


Blue Rocks fishing shacks

Blue Rocks fishing shacks

Blue Rocks is a must visit – just a 20 minute drive to the east of Lunenburg. It has fascinating geology with folded sedimentary rocks with contrasting bands of blue, grey, brown, black and green are exposed along the tide line in fascinating shapes. A popular kayaking starting point, kayaks are available to rent at the General Store. The village has become a home to many artists.


Halifax - Lunenburg

Halifax – Lunenburg

  • From Halifax – take Hwy 103 then 3 which is a lovely coastal drive through Chester and Mahone Bay. Both are worth a stop along the way. ( 1 hr 10 min)
  • From Yarmouth take Hwy 103 through Barrington, Lockport and Liverpool.
Yarmouth - Lunenburg

Yarmouth – Lunenburg

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Sherbrook VIllage – Step Back in Time


Sherbrook Village stretches along the St. Mary’s River, a peaceful cool spot to get away from it all and relax under a shady tree and watch the river currents.   Of course in the 1860s the river was a hub of activity with gold, timber and tall ships. The village recreates life of the times with people in costume that tell the stories of the time.   The back yard gardens have pumpkins and cottage crops, cows and geese, and the washing up on the line in good Nova Scotia tradition. It is fascinating to visit the different houses and businesses, sit in the one room school house and explore inside and out.

A couple of years ago I enjoyed a 3 day Photography Camp at Sherbrook Village with Wally Hayes. It was a great way to explore the village, stay and do night shoots, explore the water mill and short hike to the lake and a couple of trips to the beach and headlands. This is a wonderful way to have a learning vacation in a unique environment. Our group learned photography tips and had the opportunity to practice and share our photos.

Other learning opportunities at the village include black smithing, sewing and hands on history.

There is a working forge with the blacksmith, a telephone exchange, a print shop all in working condition. See carding, spinning and weaving and learn how these were part of daily life. Just a short walk from the main village is the water wheel and saw mill. Here’s an example of the fun activities that are posted on the Sherbrook Village Facebook page:

Sawmill & Goldmine Frolic at The Old Mill Trail

Join us for excitement and a few laughs around the mill for our friendly woodsmen’s competition. Competitions include hatchet throw, kettle boil, double buck saw and spike drive. Competitions are free and open to everyone!

Members of the Heritage Goldenville Society will show visitors how to pan for gold (the real thing, not fool’s gold!).

There’ll be samples of our “good as gold” recipes for baked beans and brown bread.

The What Cheer Tea Room is open daily with home cooked meals. The pies are real old time pies – rhubarb, apple, blueberry, strawberry depending on what’s in season.

How to get there

  • From Antigonish via Hwy 7 (50 min)
  • From Halifax via NS-102, Trans-Canada Hwy/NS-104 E and NS-347 S  (2 hrs 41 min)
  • From Halifax via Trunk 7 shore route  (2 hrs 56 min)

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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.


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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Grand Pré – Acadian History



Grand Pre church

Grand Pre church

Grand Pré is situated at the north east end of the Annapolis Valley.  It borders on the Minas Basin and the tidal lands of the Bay of Fundy.  The area was settled in the 1600s by French settlers from Port Royal who reclaimed the lands from the tides and made a fertile land.

Now we see the low meadowland and dikes and on the hills above, vineyards and wineries commanding a view of the area.

The history of Grand Pré is dramatic with the land being fought over by the English and French during the 1700s and the expulsion of the Acadians from their lands in 1755.  The story is well told in the multi-media centre at the  Parks Canada National Historic Site.  The grounds with the sweeping willow trees and wandering stream are peaceful and commemorate the deportation.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem Evangeline to bring the story to light and the statue of Evangeline and bust of Longfellow are featured in the garden.

Sunset from Beach Breeze Motel Grand Pre

Sunset from Beach Breeze Motel Grand Pre

The church, built on the site of the 17th century Acadian village (Eglise Souvenir Memorial Church) depicts life in the village and scenes of the deportation.  Be sure to listen to the audio stories from the voices of 2 children.

The path off to the left of the church goes to the blacksmith forge with a lovely view of the dikes and fields below.  You can bike or walk along the dikes.

Just 10 minutes from Grand Pré National Historic Park there is a large and well kept campground and the lovely Beach Breeze Motel.  We stayed here and had a wonderful view of the sunset and sunrise over the vast changing tides of Fundy.



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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.


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 including a map on how to get there.