July 2015 – Nova Scotia is a big province and many of the most popular places to visit are spread far apart. The South Shore had delighted us with three beautiful places all in very close proximity: Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and Blue Rocks.
On the opposite coast on the north side of the island, we spent some time exploring the Northumberland Shore.
The town of Pictou is a quiet town that is a little off the beaten track. While wandering around the waterfront we were surprised when two different locals come up to us to tell us about the area. One told us about the beacon from a lighthouse that is on display and showed us a photo he had taken years ago when the beacon was still atop the lighthouse. The other handed us some tourist literature. Both expressed hopes that we’d stick around a while.
At the heart of the small waterfront there is a replica of an old ship, the Hector. It is a three masted ship that brought the first wave of Scottish highlanders to Nova Scotia in 1773. 189 people were crammed aboard this boat to make the voyage across the Atlantic. The shocker is that it is only 85′ long!
Nova Scotia was settled by the French in the 17th century as part of Acadia, a colony of New France, in the northeastern part of modern day Maine and Canada’s Maritime provinces and parts of eastern Quebec. The Scottish came to Nova Scotia 100 years later, but unlike the French who didn’t continue populating the area with more boatloads of people, the Brits came in ongoing waves, and they soon outnumbered the Acadians by a large margin.
In the end, the conflict between France and England over the territory in northeastern North America ended with the British in control and the Acadians being exiled. Some Acadians went to Louisiana, and we now refer to them as Cajuns, while others scattered or steadfastly hung on as best they could in the northeast.
Many towns in Nova Scotia towns identify deeply with their Scottish or French roots, and they celebrate their unique and distinct histories.
In Pictou, a lovely path winds its way from town out along the waterfront and we enjoyed a bike ride by the shore.
Heading west from Pictou, the coastal road between Tatamagouch and Caribou Island was another lovely drive.
Over the years, we had heard from several sources that Nova Scotia was an awesome place for boondocking, and we really looked forward to finding little spots here and there to tuck in and go exploring. However, I don’t know why it was, but we didn’t have the kind of luck that other people seem to have had, and we found it difficult to find good spots in Nova Scotia. We did see one fifth wheel parked in an ideal spot overlooking the Atlantic near Seafoam, but it appeared to belong to the guy who owned the land!
Here and there we found wonderful little harbors with lobster boats or pleasure boats moored inside. The colors were captivating.
The Northumberland Shore has lots of farmland, and we saw some lovely spreads as we drove around the area.
Getting out onto some of the more remote roads, the traffic lightened up considerably, and we found ourselves sharing the road with a big old tractor!
Then we saw an RV go by that was all done up in wild colors.
One scenic drive that we enjoyed went from the town of Antigonish out to the lighthouse at Cape George.
A little further north was the delightful shoreline of Ballantynes Cove where lush farmland sits on a plateau overlooking the ocean. At the water’s edge, the land falls away in red cliffs.
Mark spotted an especially beautiful wildflower in our wanderings.
The town of Antigonish had a fantastic fireworks display on Canada Day (July 1st) and we had fun catching the explosive colors on camera. At the northeast end of town we found Antigonish Landing, a little hiking and biking trail that goes along the water for a ways.
We loved the churches all around Nova Scotia, and we found a beauty in Antigonish.
Sometimes in this blog I find photos that I forgot to include with a particular post, and this next church is another beauty that is actually in Peggy’s Cove:
The Northumberland Shore is not as quaint and heavily visited as the South Shore destinations of Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove, but the towns are lovely and less touristy.
As a note to RVers headed to Nova Scotia, perhaps the thing that surprised us most was that it takes a lot of driving to get from place to place. Studying the map ahead of time and planning where to drive and leave the RV and where to drive the tow vehicle or toad on daytrips is very worthwhile.
We had both thought of Nova Scotia as a fairly compact island, when it is actually very large and expansive. We found ourselves driving 100 miles a day to get to the places we wanted to visit, and even then, we discovered we were barely scratching the surface!
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More info about Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore:
- Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia – Tourism Website
- Where are these places on Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore? – Google Maps
Other blog posts from our RV travels to Nova Scotia:
- Canada RV Travel Tips – RVing Nova Scotia & the Canadian Rockies! 08/16/15
- Cabot Trail Highlights – Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island 08/14/15
- Mahone Bay & Blue Rocks on Nova Scotia’s South Shore 08/02/15
- Lunenburg, Nova Scotia – Pretty As A Picture! 07/31/15
- Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia – Reflections At Sunset! 07/24/15
- Fireworks for Canada Day and the 4th of July – EXPLOSIVE!! 07/02/15