Last Sunday morning I took myself off to Pearson International Airport for my first visit to another Canadian Province: Nova Scotia!
A little bit about Nova Scotia…
Nova Scotia is Latin for “New Scotland” and is the second smallest of Canada’s provinces. It is considered one of the three Maritime Provinces and one of the four that form Atlantic Canada.
The Maritime Provinces include Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Atlantic Canada is comprised of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
I thoroughly enjoyed this description of Nova Scotia, found on this website:
Not far from New England, and just a ferry ride from Portland or Bar Harbor, Maine, lies the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. This maritime province is made up of the rugged Nova Scotia mainland, and the dramatic and remote Cape Breton Island. Nova Scotia is surrounded by a treacherous coast, and over the years, storms, fog and uncharted reefs have claimed a heavy toll of ships in the area. Today, Nova Scotia is home to the greatest collection of shipwrecks in North America.”
Nova Scotia is famous for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries and apples, as well as the unusually high rate of shipwrecks on Sable Island (Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/nova-scotia-facts-508579)
In a 2016 sensis, the population of Nova Scotia was 924,000. The province is Canada’s second-most-densely populated; the first being Prince Edward Island (with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre). Like Australia, this is due to large parts of land being uninhabitable.
The province was first named in 1621 by Sir William Alexander, a Scottish courtier and poet who was involved in the Scottish colonisation of habitation at Port-Royal, Noval Scotia and Long Island, New York.
- There have been numerous Triassic and Jurassic fossils found in Nova Scotia, making it a favourite research spot for paleontologists;
- When Europeans first landed in 1497, the region was inhabited by Mikmaq people who were believed to have been there for 10,000 years before Europeans arrived;
- Some evidence Norse sailors made it to Cape Breton before the French or English arrived;
- 1605: French colonists arrived and established a permanent settlement that became known as Acadia;
- 1613: Acadia and its capital Fort Royal saw several battles between the French and British ;
- 1621: Nova Scotia was founded to appeal to King James of Scotland as a territory for early Scottish settlers;
- 1710: British conquered Fort Royal;
- 1755: British expelled most of the French population from Acadia;
- 1763: Treaty of Paris ended the fighting between British and French, with British taking control of Cape Breton and eventually Quebec;
- 1867: Canadian Confederation: Nova Scotia became one of Canada’s four founding provinces.
My time in the province
I flew into Sydney, Cape Breton and had to use a rotary phone to call a cab. I wasn’t sure if it was an attempt at nostalgia, or if they were still actually using such phones in Sydney…
The cab showed up and I shared my ride into town with a gentleman who worked with the forces and emigrated to Winnipeg from Nigeria. I couldn’t help but think how vast a change it was for me with the weather, and how difficult it would have been for him and his family! (Here is an article about the average temperature in Winnipeg during Winter 2013/14: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/04/08/winnipeg-winter_n_5107860.html )
I arrived safely at my hotel in a newer area of Sydney, which made it difficult for me to get my bearings. Over the next couple of days I was able to see how beautiful Cape Breton was, but I was definitely not impressed in those first hours. That was only in respect of my surroundings – my room was amazing. Somehow I scored a corner suite, which had a massive King Bed in a room with a gas fireplace, as well as a sitting room with a bar and another gas fireplace. The bathroom was the size of my condo bedroom and living room combined! I thought everyone had a room like this, but turns out it was just me!
The next couple of days were spent working, which involved driving around magnificent and picturesque areas of the province. I enjoyed being a passenger for the most part, however driving around the mountainous regions near Ingonish was a bit problematic as I felt car sick – something I haven’t felt in quite a long time! We had another passenger who didn’t fare well on the windy roads, so the current designated driver kindly offered to let me drive, which definitely helped ease my queasy tummy. Along these particular roads were a lot of creeks and apparently some of the others saw beaver dams! We agreed that if they saw a beaver, we would stop so I can have a look. Other wildlife within the surrounding forest allegedly would have included bears, moose and deer. I was so excited and hoped I would see something! My colleagues explained how tall moose can be, though, so I wasn’t overly keen after hearing that I would be able to walk straight under one, without ducking!
(We never saw a beaver or any other wildlife during this time, but ironically as we drove to the airport on our last day I squealed “What is that creature?!” to which my colleague announced it was a beaver. I was SO EXCITED, even if it was for just a split second that I saw him! Thankfully the beaver seemed to realise he made a wrong turn in a network of pipes (the little chap was on the side of a busy road) and when I saw him, he was scurrying across the lush green grass towards a drainpipe.)
The beauty of the province was unbelievable and on many occasions the Nova Scotian travelling with us said to me ‘this isn’t even the beautiful time of year’, which made me wish I had a trip planned to the province in the Fall! We drove along part of the Cabot Trail, passing places with names such as ‘The Dancing Moose.” We had lunch from this cafe and it was the best lunch of the whole week! It was such a tiny cafe, I wouldn’t have imagined such a feast!
The longest period we had on the road was driving from Cape Breton to Halifax. The weather on that particular day was lovely; however sadly the next few were very rainy and overcast, so I didn’t get to see the beauty of Halifax.
I look forward to visiting Nova Scotia again one day sometime soon!
Residents of Sydey, Cape Breton felt the fiddle was a strong symbol to represent the island. Officially named FIDHEAL MHOR A’ CEILIDH, or the Big Fiddle of the Ceilidh, the giant fiddle plays a dedicated medley composed by local musician Kinnon Beaton and delights all who hear it with a march, a stratespey and a reel.