Nova Scotia Nights to Remember
By Linda Aksomitis
I’ve dreamed of visiting Nova Scotia
since I was just a child listening to my aunt’s voice crooning “Farewell to Nova
Scotia, the seabound coast.” Her love of the province, where she was living at
the time, made a big impression on a little girl. So, many years later, when I
got my first opportunity to visit, I went all out planning a hectic itinerary.
With seven days and six nights all in different locations, the nights came
I arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital city at 8:30 pm. The Lord Nelson
Hotel, one of Halifax’s oldest hotels was perfect—historic and friendly. The
dark woodwork and restful room provided a great start to the hectic week to
come. Making my way back downstairs, a chicken pot-pie along with a bottle of
locally brewed Alexander Keith’s beer, in the hotel’s Victoria Arms Pub, made up
for the lack of dinner on my flight. The breakfast they served the next morning
was just as tasty. Ready to hit the open highways, I couldn’t resist a quick
walk through the public gardens across the street.
I like to start a vacation with an historical perspective, so while I’d read all
about Champlain, Port Royal, and the Acadians, strolling around the small town
of Annapolis Royal brought it all vividly to life. With so many historic sites I
was able to absorb a little of the past four centuries: Port Royal National
Historic Site, Fort Anne Historic Site, historic district walking tour of
Annapolis Royal, and the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. The Queen Anne Inn,
where I stayed, made me feel like I was the royalty, climbing up into my
four-poster feather bed—it was truly an incredible night. The three course
breakfast could readily have tempted a queen, serving as a perfect start to my
second full day on the island.
Being a fish lover, I scheduled a stop for some Digby scallops on my way up the
Nova Scotia coastline for my third night in Truro. I also stopped at the
fascinating Bear River First Nations’ Heritage Centre in Bear River, to take my
history lesson back even further. That evening, checking into The Organery Bed
and Breakfast I was surprised to find it truly was an organery—a museum holding
130 organs from around the world, with the oldest from 1846! My hosts, Jan and
Carolyn, introduced me to true Nova Scotia hospitality and made me feel right at
home. The chords of Jan’s organs filled my dreams that night.
Following the Cabot Trail through Cape Breton Island, I wound my way past rugged
coastline, up into the mists and fog that shrouded the highest elevations. In
Cheticamp I explored shops, watched the fishing boats, and smelled the sea.
Continuing on, I drove through the incredible Cape Breton Highlands National
Park, having an up close and personal meeting with a moose, who stared at me for
a full minute before finishing his lazy walk across the highway. My destination
for the evening was Oakwood Manor, a rural property outside Cape North. The
Manor, completely hand-built nearly a hundred years earlier, was a fine mix of
country charm and city facilities with the Jacuzzi I immediately jumped into. My
evening exploring Port North provided me with that feel of Nova Scotia my aunt
loved to talk and sing about.
Completing the loop of the Cabot Trail I stopped at the lakeside town of Baddeck,
enjoying the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Hitting the highway again I was soon
over the Causeway and turning onto Marine Drive. Guysborough, my next stop on
the south shore of Nova Scotia, wasn’t your average fishing village, but a
beautiful town spread out over the hills. The DesBarres Manor Country Inn also
took me by surprise with its elegance and beauty. My spacious room immediately
let me know I was going to be pampered there—their romance getaway package
sounded like a great idea for that second honeymoon my husband and I had been
talking about. Dinner, I suspected immediately, was something to look forward
to! Manor Chef, Shaun Zwarun, prepared a gourmet meal of sea scallops with a
Nova Scotia special, warm blueberry grunt, for my dessert. This Inn was the
crowning jewel of a fabulous trip.
The next morning I wound my way along the coastline back to Halifax, ready to
explore the city’s attractions, as well as its shopping opportunities. Situated
in the heart of the downtown, The Halliburton was an historic boutique hotel—a
first choice that fulfilled both of my favourite things in a place to stay.
Sunshine filled the room, inviting me to sit and relax for a while before
exploring the city. I couldn’t resist, but sunk into the couch to finish up the
novel I’d started days earlier. After navigating the perpetually winding or
climbing scenic highways of Nova Scotia, I deserved an easy afternoon.
With a late flight out I thought I had lots of time to see downtown Halifax. I
was wrong! I could have spent a whole day at Pier 21, Canada’s front door to
more than a million immigrants who’d arrived by ship—my own ancestors among
them. With the help of the archivists I discovered not only when one had
arrived, but also the name of the ship, and what he’d had in his pockets at the
time! From there it was a short run to the Citadel to see the noon canon fired.
This experience took me by surprise too, as I was met by guards dressed in the
uniform of the 78th Highlanders, taking me back in time to Halifax of 1869
throughout the fortress. My final stop, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,
provided me with a whirlwind visit through shipwrecks, the harbour explosion of
1917, to several centuries of shipbuilding, before I rushed, breathless, to the
The week was an incredible
experience—all adventure filled seven days and six wonderful nights!
Photo credits to Linda Aksomitis.
Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture, & Heritage
Lord Nelson Hotel
(902) 423-5130 or 1-800-565-2020
Queen Anne Inn
1-877-536-0403 or 902-532-7850
Organery Bed & Breakfast
1-877-822-5655 or (902) 893-4824
The Halifax Citadel
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
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