Atlantic Adventures - Day 5 - Annapolis Valley & Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Annapolis County, Nova Scotia
First day of exploring Nova Scotia today! We are in the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy area, and so we kept our touring to the north-west coastline of the province. From Middleton, we set out west along highway #1, which winds through the small towns in the area.
Our first stop for the day was in the town of Annapolis Royal. We were looking for the National Historic Site of Fort Anne and some historic gardens, but the town alone caught our eye. The main street in the town follows the coastline of Port Wade, which the Annapolis River feeds into, and has so much character! The buildings instantly caught our attention and we decided to park in town and wander the main street for a little bit.
After strolling around the main area of town for a bit, we went to check out Fort Anne, the oldest national historic site in Canada. This fort is so important to Canadian history as it was the most fought over piece of land in Canada - 13 battles were fought here and the land changed hands 7 times between the French and the British. The fort was settled in the late 1600's and the garrison did not withdraw until 1854. Between that time and 1883, when the Canadian government first took ownership, the fort was leased out to various parties, who used the fort for purposes such as a private school and a tenement house. In 1917, Fort Anne was the first administered national historic site in Canada.
Digby was the next stop for the day. One of the guidebooks that Mom and Dad have recommended the 'Fundy Restaurant' as a good place to eat in town and so it was decided that we stop there for lunch. We sat on their patio, which overlooked the bay. The view was gorgeous! I could have sat there all day, just relaxing and enjoying taking in the scenery. You looked out at the marine, which housed both recreation and fishing boats, the water, and the hills that rose above the water on both sides around the bay. Beautiful! For lunch, I had the Smoked Salmon and Scallop Chowder, which is the first time I've ever had a seafood chowder. I'm not a huge seafood person, but figured I had to be a bit more adventurous while I'm out here than sticking to something like chicken fingers (always a safe bet!), and although it was good I think I'll stick to more a minestrone or cheese and broccoli soup in the future!
After lunch, we wandered around the wharf for a few minutes in Digby and then decided to continue our journey west. It was already 2:30 by this time, and we had some more exploring to get done. From Digby, you can head southwest down the coast of the mainland or you can head directly west onto Digby Neck, a peninsula jutting out from the main land that goes around St. Mary's Bay. We decided to drive down here, thinking that there would probably be some beautiful views and interesting things to see. Not gonna lie - the drive wasn't quite as exciting as I hoped for, but we didn't go all the way to the end so maybe it got more exciting further along the way. Once you get to the end of the peninsula, there are actually two more islands you can visit, but you have to take the ferry to get to them - Long Island and Brier Island - but we didn't feel like waiting around for the ferry and headed back toward the mainland. We did make a stop at Gulliver's Cove while on the peninsula, though, which was on a map but didn't seem like it was a very popular tourist spot. The cove was basically some cliffs on the north shore that you could walk to. It was a beautiful view, and I'm happy we drove down here to see that.
In a bunch of the guidebooks, Eglise Ste.-Marie is mentioned because it is the largest wooden church in North America. This was the last thing we wanted to see for the day, so we had continued on the journey southwest after driving down the Digby Neck, but along the way we came across another church that we had to stop to check out. This church was quite large for the area, and wasn't the basic wooden church you see in so many places. This was Eglise Saint-Bernard and was built from upwards of 8000 granite blocks. This church took 32 years to build between 1910 and 1942 and was built by local farmers, fishermen, and lumbermen, who laid one row of blocks each year. One man oversaw the entire project. That is some amazing dedication, on both his part and of everyone who contributed to the building of the church. The interior walls are all plaster, which with the use of a wooden trowel they shaped to look like stones. Their lights inside the church were all made out of wood and glass, the wood carved and painted silver to look like they were made from metal as opposed to wood. The church was beautiful and I'm amazed at what they managed to accomplish. Definitely worth a stop if you ever pass through St. Bernard.
Last stop for the day was Eglise Ste-Marie in Church Pointi. Although I was not quite amazed by this church as I was with the one in St. Bernard, this was amazing in its own right. Being the largest wooden church in North America, the steeple was quite high, standing at 185 ft (56.4m) in height from the ground to the top of the steeple. This church was built in only two years by a master carpenter with the help of 1500 volunteers. Most impressive in my mind was the fact that this master carpenter could not read nor write, yet managed to design and execute the building of the largest wooden church on the continent! Another fun fact: the man who did the paintings on the ceiling was afraid of heights, so to calm his nerves before climbing up, he would drink some wine and bring a bottle with him to drink throughout the day - whatever works, I guess!
After admiring this church, we called it a day and headed back to home base to relax for the evening and plan out tomorrow's adventures.