Shelburne and Lockeport – Two Undiscovered Gems

Shelburne and Lockeport – Two Undiscovered Gems

In the minds of most Nova Scotians one of the worst things about summer is the end of summer. Where does the time go and why is it always the shortest season? Summer is by far the best season for us in Nova Scotia although some might disagree and say fall is better.

I have Hubby to thank for bringing to my attention that the end of our summer was fast approaching, and we had not gone anywhere. We needed to do something about this so came up with the idea to head out to the South Shore. We chose Shelburne which we haven’t visited for several years. Since we only had a day and a night, we had to narrow down our choices on what to see and do. I suggested that if we were going all the way over to Shelburne (about a three-hour drive from Victoria Beach) then we had to visit Lockeport, too. Upon reflection, we both agreed that our choices were good ones. Here are some reasons for saying this.

Historical Significance

An overpowering sense of history is evident in Shelburne, once a thriving shipbuilding town. Walking along its historic waterfront on Dock Street, I found myself being transported back in time to 1783 when the town was established by Loyalists who supported the British. Today it still looks very much like it probably did back then, with its natural environment composed of forest, water and old, grey- wooded blockhouses. There are no power poles and wires to mar this natural landscape. They were all removed in 1994 when the “The Scarlet Letter” was filmed there. Since then, it has been a magnet for other films, such as “Moby Dick” and the TV series adapted from the “The Book of Negros”.

Walk along Dock St.

Walk along Dock St.

Historic buildings from the mid 1700's.

Historic buildings from the mid 1700’s.

Shelburne, originally called Port Roseway, was considered to be an ideal location for the capital of Nova Scotia. In those days it had the largest population of any other Nova Scotian town because of the huge influx of White and Black Loyalists who were fleeing from the American Revolution. Its harbour is the third deepest in the world which isn’t going unnoticed by the cruise ships now docking there. Of course, this is helping the tourist business and beginning to have the residents think about making it one more designation point for the province.

Looking toward the harbour where ships dock.

Looking toward the harbour where ships dock.

Lockeport – the Beaches

Our first stop after a rather unexciting drive along Highway 8 and the 103 was Lockeport. Our stomachs reminded us it was near lunch time so we decided to give the Seagull Family Restaurant a try. We weren’t disappointed after enjoying a delicious seafood chowder and blueberry buckle. I expect the restaurant got its name from the numerous seagulls who entertained us as we ate. They could have been a nuisance but weren’t because a sign leading to the outdoor patio clearly stated not to feed them.

Lunch on the patio of the Seagull Restaurant.

Lunch on the patio of the Seagull Restaurant.

To work off our lunch, we decided to walk the 1.5 kilometre Crescent Beach which was just up the street from the restaurant. With its fine white – sand beach, and the brilliant, sunshiny day such as we had, I thought it has to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Nova Scotia, if not the world. The people here like to tell you that at one time it was featured on the back of our Canadian fifty dollar bill.

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach

Lockeport, often referred to as “An Island to the Sea”, and at one time called the Ragged Islands, was and still is primarily noted for its fishing industry. The town is actually located on one of the islands as well as the mainland and can easily be accessed by a road which follows a narrow spit of land connecting the two. Or you can take the walking bridge.  There is not only gorgeous Crescent Beach but four other beaches nearby. How fortunate for those who not only live there, but also for the visitors who take the time to go there. I have to tell you we felt like we had the whole of Crescent Beach to ourselves the day we were there. I wonder if there were people on the other beaches – something I must explore another time.

Birchtown – A Black Loyalist Centre

Unfortunately, it is Birchtown’s sad history which has made it a destination that no visitor to this area should overlook. If you have read Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes”, then you will understand why I say this. Lest we should forget this moving story, a wonderful new Heritage Centre has been built…thanks to Emira and our two levels of government…. where we can learn about the hardships and injustices of all those who managed to land there. Did you know that at the time of their arrival in Shelburne they represented the largest free Black settlement outside of Africa? It is definitely worth the visit.

The new Black Loyalist Centre.

The new Black Loyalist Centre.

The museum and gallery inside the Centre.

The museum and gallery inside the Centre.

Dining at the Charlotte Lane Cafe

I have heard many good things about this restaurant in Shelburne so have always wanted to eat there. My wish came true, thanks to Hubby, who insisted that we should try it. A winner of many awards, our eating experience did not disappoint. The setting, the expertly prepared food, and the service were superb. Kudos are deserved by not only the co-owner and chef, Roland Glauser, but also the lovely old house with an upscale gift shop. The place was packed so make a reservation. Although eating here can be quite expensive… but no more than any other restaurant of this class…the portions are substantial. I had one of their delicious pasta dishes which I could not finish. Without hesitation, our waitress packed up what was left resulting in another meal the following day which somehow tasted even better.IMG_1748

Accommodations

We stayed at MacKenzie’s Motel and Cabins right on the edge of town on Water St. The best thing about this choice was the breakfast which was included in the price. Although continental and serve yourself, there was plenty of delicious food with seemingly no limit to the amount we could eat. All the baked goodies were home-made… even the brown bread that accompanied the baked beans. Although a tad dated, the premises were well maintained and there was a lovely pool to cool down in after a long day of sight-seeing. This place is definitely good choice for an overnight.

A day and one night were not nearly enough time to see and do all these two towns have to offer. I wish we could have stayed longer to thoroughly experience the history, to walk some of the many trails and beaches, or to take a tour of the harbour. We must definitely keep Shelburne and Lockeport in mind for a future visit.

An Afternoon Walk in Victoria Beach

An Afternoon Walk in Victoria Beach

Beneficial exercise is a common problem many of us are finding difficult to work into our daily living schedules. If this is so difficult then how about some form of meditation? I know few people in my life who are managing that one, including me. Walking is certainly more popular. By the way, did you know that walking can be a form of meditation? We seem to be aware of what we need to do for a healthy lifestyle, but actually doing it is another matter.

Walking has always been at the top of my list of pleasurable activities, with gentle yoga coming in second. However, I have not managed a passing grade on meditation.  Sadly, walking has not been high up on my ‘to do’ list this summer. Far too much of my time has been eaten up by those dratted weeds which I wrote about in my last post and, of course, the maintenance of our lawn, flower beds, and vegetable garden.

However about two weeks ago, after our lawn had just been mowed by Joe and our property was finally looking neat and tidy….my vegetables were growing leaps and bounds and the flowers were at their peak after some much-needed rain…. I suddenly developed an overwhelming urge to grab my camera and head out for a walk. I felt the water calling me so knew I had to head downhill towards our beach, known as Indian Beach.

Looking good.

Looking good, at last.

Black-eyed Susans in one of my flower beds.

Black-eyed Susans and Galardia in one of my flower beds.

Veggie garden.

Veggie garden.

Yes, we can claim we have a beach… of sorts. It’s rocky and the water is cold since it’s all part and parcel of the Bay of Fundy, but still a great place for exploring and hunting for coloured glass and driftwood. You might wonder, as I did, why our beach is so-called. Why not Victoria Beach our village name? A little delving into the history here reveals that the first inhabitants of Victoria Beach were the Mi’Kmaw so the name came from them. Then in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s immigrants from Ireland and England moved in to mainly fish for a living, so eventually the community was called Victoria Beach after Queen Victoria. I am not sure why the locals still refer to the beach as Indian Beach, whether it’s out of habit or to honour the fact the Mi’Kmaw who were here long before us.

Our Indian Beach

Our Indian Beach

Now back to my walk. The rain, which finally came the night before, had revived every living thing…especially my garden! As I started down the hill, it dawned on me that I had unfolding before me the perfect fodder for a much over-due post for my blog.

What made this walk truly memorable was to witness the battle the sun seemed to be having with the blanket of fog that hung around the surface of the water. Click, click went my camera trying to take in all that my eyes were seeing. It was magical! Not only did I have the antics of the fog and sun in their game of ‘hide and seek, to my right, but also the profusion of flowers and shrubbery to my left, vying for my attention.

Sun vs Fog

Sun vs. Fog

A profusion of flowers along the road.

A profusion of flowers along the road.

Victoria Beach is said to have a microclimate* which simply means that almost any native or non-native plant to Nova Scotia grows here. This includes wild flowers and perennials. The perennials were planted by homesteaders who once had houses here… both of them are now long gone. Isn’t it amazing that these flowers have outlived them! Of course, we also have to contend with those flowers and plants that aren’t natives and have invaded us, such as the dreaded Japanese knot weed that I wrote about in Insects a“My Battle With Weeds, and Other Garden Pests,” my last post. You can click on the title to read it.

That dreaded knotweed - again!

That dreaded knotweed – again!

On my walk, I discovered morning glories, red clover, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, purple vetch, and wild rose representing the wild flower group. There were others which I cannot give a name to. For the perennials, pretty pink rose bushes interspersed with saucy, orange day lilies lined the banks which were abandoned by the inhabitants that planted them, who knows when? The laden down branches of the blackberry bushes I observed indicated a bountiful year for them provided that we continue to receive more rain. As I write this, there has been none for almost two weeks so everything is beginning to turn brown….again!

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

This could be phlox - a perennial?

This could be phlox – a perennial?

Red or should I say purple clover.

Red or should I say purple clover.

Could this be a Tea Rose? Definitely a perennial growing wild where once there was a house.

Could this be a Tea Rose? Definitely a perennial growing wild where once there was a house.

This is the way it’s been here this summer. June was one of our driest in 70 years. A little rain here and there but not nearly enough. We are now into August with no rain forecast for this week. Such a grim weather outlook gives me even more reason to be grateful for listening to the little voice inside me that whispered, “Go down to the water.” Nature was calling me, and I am grateful she did. It’s amazing what she can provide for our eyes to see if we just keep them open.

On a more sombre note, I can’t help but wonder how much longer we will be able to enjoy all Mother Nature has given us in the past. We are becoming (even here in Victoria Beach) more and more aware of how stressed she is right now. Is it not up to us to at least take note of this and begin to see her in a different light…to live respectfully with her rather than to conquer her? How can we do this, is the question? Something to think about….

*Microclimate – usually a small area within a larger territory exhibiting a different climate.

For example, in Victoria Beach this phenomenon is most noticeable in the autumn when we will often escape the first frost while Annapolis Royal does not. Or in summer, our temperatures on a hot day are usually 10 degrees cooler than in town. Since VB is located at the tip of a narrow peninsula jutting into the Bay of Fundy, we are more moderated by the water.

Our road going downhill to the beach.

Our road going downhill to the beach.