Annapolis Royal is often called by both residents and visitors ” a tiny perfect town” and for good reason:
- First there is its natural setting at the tip of the Annapolis Basin with two rivers, the Alain to the east of the town and the Annapolis River to the west, all of which is framed by the gentle rolling North and South mountains.
- Then there is the careful preservation of its varied past reflected today in Fort Anne, Canada’s oldest National Historic Site, the beautiful Historic Gardens, and the stately old homes many of which have been converted into upscale B&B’s.
- It has evolved into a thriving centre for culture and the arts luring painters, writers, crafts people, dancers, actors, and musicians from all parts of the globe who now make this tiny town their home.
- It also it can boast of many other notable attractions such as, the weekly Farmer’s Trade Market featuring local organic foods and crafts, the Upper Clements Park just outside the town, Atlantic Canada’s largest amusement park, and North America’s only tidal power plant where the high tides of the Bay of Fundy are harnessed providing enough electricity for up to 4,500 homes.
- And finally, it has at least three other museums: the O Dell, a remnant of the Victorian era displayed as an inn and tavern, Sinclair Inn, another National Historic Site dating back to 1710 making it one of Canada’s oldest wooden buildings from the Acadian era, and North Hills Museum one of Nova Scotia’s oldest salt-box houses from mid 1700’s.
Of course, the town has all the amenities of a small town which its residents need for everyday life. It has gourmet restaurants, cafes, galleries, and stores of all kinds selling widgets to vintage furniture and then some. You can get all of your essentials here. However, the biggest surprise for most people is the very efficient Health Centre with 24 hour emergency care and staffed with at least five very qualified doctors. It even has a palliative care unit. It has its own schools covering all grades, an outdoor swimming pool, a playground, walking trails, a golf course, and a library.
All of this has not gone unobserved by the outside world. Recognition began when it received from a United Nations competition an award for being “The World’s Most livable Small Community”. Last year The Historic Gardens was rated the number one attraction to see in Annapolis Royal by Trip Advisor and won a Certificate of Excellence award. And, this year the town was cited as one of the 10 Best Places to Visit in Canada by MacLean’s magazine. Not bad for such a small town!
Today Annapolis Royal has approximately 480 year- round residents which tends to double in the tourist season. It’s definitely the smallest town in Nova Scotia and most probably in all of Canada. Despite its size it has much to offer visitors when they come. Perhaps it’s the publicity it has garnered or simply ‘word of mouth’, but for whatever the reason, the number of visitors each year seems to be on the increase. The restitution of the ferry between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine has helped increase the American tourist trade. My husband, who works at the Visitor Information Centre, reports that he sees people from all parts of Canada and now many from Europe.
Our visitors are often mesmerized by the beauty and heritage of the town when they see it for the first time and express a wish to be able to live here. I have to admit that it wouldn’t be for everyone especially for those who would need to work. Other than a fairly active trade in tourism in the summer months, there isn’t much for those seeking paid work for the rest of the year. However, there is much potential for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Land in the outlying areas of the town is inexpensive compared to other parts of the province and Canada and is slowly being bought up by enterprising young folk who want to try their hand at farming. For those who have portable skills in technology, this is the ideal place to escape from the big city and live a quieter life. With an elementary school and a new middle and high school, lots of recreational facilities, a Health Centre, and the natural environment, it is a great place to raise a family. Over the years it’s been attracting some very talented people in the Arts field resulting in many activities for people who have always dreamed of acting, singing, painting,crafting, gardening, writing, and just about every thing else to tempt a person’s creativity. There are at least three art galleries, three choirs, a drama group, and a community band.
Yes, the tiny perfect town of Annapolis Royal is not only a thriving cultural centre drawing artists and the like from all over the world, it is also steeped in a history that can lay claim to many of the firsts in our Canadian historical background. It represents a way of life that is rapidly disappearing in our part of the world causing the people who live here to passionately work at preserving it for future generations. Ask those who weren’t born here how they ended up making it their home, and you will hear a familiar refrain. They simply fell in love with it for all of the above reasons and were eager to take the plunge and try it out. Most of them have not regretted their decision to stay.
To enjoy a slideshow of Annapolis Royal simply click on the first image below.