5/30 & 31/22: Nova Scotia’s Picturesque South Shore

Family and friends,

It had been far too long since Steven and I had made the long trek to Nova Scotia from Denver as it’s a long haul but the lure of catching up with old friends after way too long an absence as well as playing tourist in some of Canada’s most gorgeous locations made for an absolutely delightful stop on the province’s South Shore. There’s little wonder why it’s a draw for artists and tourists alike as the views of the small towns dotting the shore are sublime.

All the best to you and your family, Annie

I was so thrilled when the owner of The Farmhouse B&B in Canning in the Annapolis Valley kindly shared her breakfast souffle recipe with me as it was a melt-in-your-mouth way to start our day!

To Mary Pat, my fellow fan of English-made Portmeirion china – it was rather fortuitous that only my placemat was set with a Portmeirion napkin holder of the dozen in the dining room! When I told the owner I collected Portmeirion china, she asked if I would be interested in buying the entire set she’d purchased at an antique shop in Canning. Is the pope Catholic?! 

After a mouth-watering breakfast that would surely fill our tummies until late afternoon, we drove back to the small town of Kentville also in the Valley. There we walk around Miners Marsh, a wetland habitat constructed by Ducks Unlimited Canada which supported a variety and abundance of wildlife. We looked forward to walking off some of our breakfast on the trail around the marsh.

As we’d learned the day before at the tidal basin in Wolfville, many of the dike lands along the Cornwallis River were originally built by Acadian farmers in the late 1600s. They recognized the richness of the salt marsh soils around the Bay of Fundy and the agricultural value of draining these areas through dikes.

Although Miner Marsh wasn’t a historical Acadian dike, it was an example of a wetland ditched and drained for agricultural use. At Miners Marsh, we learned about the downside of dike lands formation – they resulted in the loss of many natural saltmarshes which were important habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife. That loss was now being offset by converting some unused dike lands back to saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands. Duck Unlimited was also developing integrated land-use practices so agriculture and wildlife could co-exist.

We sure didn’t expect to see a sculpture along the trail! This one was called Pasture Gate.

Before coming to Miners Marsh, I had no idea that there were such a thing as Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon (IBoF). I found out that they were a distinct species of Atlantic salmon that have been inhabiting rivers along the inner Bay of Fundy like the Cornwallis and Gaspereau and their tributaries. It was alarming to read that these salmon have declined at over 95 per cent since the 1970s and that they were therefore listed under the Federal Species at Risk Act. Somehow, even in rivers and streams that have been protected from harmful human effects, this type of salmon population is still declining.

IBoF is a unique and distinctive breed of salmon both genetically and behaviorally. These are thought to winter near the mouth of the Bay of Fundy or in the Gulf of Maine compared to other salmon populations that winter in the Labrador Sea or near Greenland. Normally, IBoF salmon return to spawn in the river where they were born but this is no longer happening to the same degree because adult salmonaren’t returning from the sea. That is why their population is on the edge of extinction. The development of a recovery plan for IBoF salmon is being worked on by representatives from industry, conservation groups, and the government.

I remember being so excited that morning because we were finally going to be seeing one of my dearest friends, Lezlie, who had relocated to captivating Chester on Nova Scotia’s South Shore from my hometown of Ottawa decades ago. I was so fortunate that she and I had recently reconnected via email and chats and was just hoping that our long-ago friendship would stand the test of time once we were again together in person.

As I expected, it was like old home week seeing Lezlie again and the years fell away as we gabbed and gabbed for hours on end while taking in the drop-dead gorgeous views from her home overlooking what’s known locally as The Back Harbour.

Nicknamed the Sailboat Tree for obvious reasons!

A fun gallery in Chester:

The next day Lezlie and her partner, David, treated Steven and me to a drive further west on the South Shore to the charming town of Mahone Bay, located on the island-dotted bay of the same name.

One of the most famous scenes in all of Nova Scotia is of this trio of churches, standing shoulder to shoulder across the water as we entered the town.

A cute restaurant sign in Mahone Bay!

Mahone Bay’s prosperous past and idyllic location was a magnet for visitors to stroll along its pretty streets where many beautiful homes had been converted into restaurants specializing seafood or boutiques displaying the work of local artisans. 

The town’s original inhabitants comprising four denominations – Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian – built a Union Meeting House in 1833 where worship services were held for many years. Over time, the four congregations built separate churches in the village. This, the middle of the three churches we’d seen on entering Mahone Bay, was St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, built in 1866.

Next door was Trinity United Church that had occupied another location in the village before it was moved in 1855 closer to the center of town by horses.

I could see why Lezlie had chosen to live near Mahone Bay as the town was just delightful and pretty as a picture.

Next post: Onto the small town of Lunenburg whose Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, one of just two cities in Canada to receive that accolade.

Posted on August 4th, 2022, from Gulf Shores, Alabama, as we near the end of our time in the Deep South. This trip may be ending in two weeks but we’re already in the thick of planning a six-seven week trip to Central America beginning at the the end of next month having been inspired by some English bloggers. 


  1. I too loved Chester and Mahone Bay when we stayed in these quaint idyllic towns en route to dropping Caroline at Dalhousie University a “few” short years ago. xo xo xo
  2. Quaint and idyllic are certainly the perfect words to describe the two towns, Lina
  3. Tell Lizlie we are coming to visit her and her partner. Do we get the east or the west wing of the house? Chris and John
  4. Lezlie has dream place to be sure!

4 thoughts on “5/30 & 31/22: Nova Scotia’s Picturesque South Shore

  1. We were inspired by your own recent trip to Costa Rica, Phil! Any chance you might be willing to share some of the names and contact information for the guides you used in Manuel Antonio National Park or elsewhere? That certainly would be a huge help.


  2. What a pretty area this is! The marshland reminds me of the East Anglian fens here in England which we visited last weekend (blog post later this week). And how kind of your hostess to sell you those lovely napkin rings! My mother used to collect Portmeirion, she would have loved those!


  3. I haven’t been to the East Anglian fens so will be curious to read your upcoming post about your visit to see the comparison with Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, Sarah.

    Glad to know your mother was also a Portmeirion fan. I think I picked up my first pieces when my Ottawa friend Mary Pat and I toured Britain in 1980! I have been a big collector ever since.


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