Hello and Farewell to Nova Scotia

Our first week in Nova Scotia can be summed up by reunion after reunion after reunion. We caught up and reconnected with friends, old and new. First in Pictou at the home of our old friends Katherine and David. We weren’t their only guests during our visit. These two are super hosts. We have never known them in either Pictou or Toronto not to have a houseful of guests.

This time one of their guests was a blast from Julie’s past. I had worked alongside Spring at the Queen’s Quay Terminal in Toronto when I was a student at Ryerson back in the 80s. We didn’t miss a beat in catching up on three decades of life. Once caught up, it was as though we were back in the 80s again. Wishful thinking?! Christian already knew Robert, but spending a couple of days together, sharing meals and swimming is an excellent way to get to know people fast. We hadn’t visited Pictou since we first moved into the VW back in June 2014. Next time Katherine and David will be living in their new home/studio, which is now under construction. 

David and Katherine were working on separate documentary films during our visit. Katherine is currently working on an experimental film with artist Max Dean. David finished his documentary called The Mill about a Pictou pulp and paper mill which has been polluting and dividing the community for the past 52 years. When the prevailing winds are blowing in their direction, the smell of the mill is overwhelming. Having worked with paper for most of our careers, we are all too aware of how making paper adversely affects the environment. You can watch this powerful documentary on youtube:https://bit.ly/2m0wNtF .

As we were preparing to leave Pictou, we received two messages. The first was from a wonderful man named Ian Bos. We met Ian on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway in June 2015 outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Ian was walking across Canada, raising awareness and money for End of Life Care following the death of his father. We met again as he finished his walk in Victoria, BC, a few months later. This time we met for breakfast at the historic Pictou Lodge. Ian is now working at the Nova Scotia Spirit Company in the neighbouring city of New Glasgow. We could have easily spent the whole day together, but we were so happy to share even a few hours. We left Pictou that afternoon with full hearts and bellies. 

The second message was from a couple we met through Instagram a couple of years ago. Their names are Tanya and Bruce, and they travel in an old brown VW they’ve named Morrison Van. We met this travelling duo and their dog Duke live and in-person down in Florida in February. We spent a couple of days getting to know each other outside of social media. That afternoon we met up on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore where we camped together at Porters Lake. Duke had just been diagnosed with cancer and was in the final stage of life, so Tanya and Bruce decided to take him on one last road trip in their VW. They got him back to Toronto a week or so later where he passed away. RIP good ole’ boy.

We spent a few days post reunions on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. Golly, it’s beautiful. We recommend hiking at Taylor’s Head Provincial Park. One of our favourite campsites in Nova Scotia was at Norse Cove. We had an oceanfront perch from which to enjoy glorious breezes, spectacular sunsets and starry nights.

We met a dynamic trio of adventurous women, Nathalie and her daughters, Sabrina and Maëlle from Québec. A big thank you to Sabrina for climbing up on top of our van to duct tape the broken skylight. Your dollar store duct tape has done a brilliant job!

We squeezed in a boat tour of (some of) the 100 Wild Islands with Werner.

We stopped in hoping to see our old printing press at Inkwell Modern’s new shop in Halifax. The press is now offsite, but we did get to see Andrea briefly. Our old Vandercook SP15 continues to operate as the good old workhorse it’s always been. Good on yas, Andrea and Daniel!

We made our way over to the Fundy Coast to see the site of the world’s highest recorded tides at Burntcoat Head. Burntcoat Head has an average tide of 47.5 feet with an extreme range of 53.6 feet. Imagine, 160 billion tones of water flow daily into the Minas Basin every 13 hours, which is more than the combined flow of the world’s freshwater rivers. Walking on the ocean floor at low tide is incredible if not a bit slippery. 

We camped at our second Harvest Host of the trip in Wolfville. Mike lead us to a spot high on the property in the middle of an apple orchard overlooking the Bay of Fundy. It was perfect. We loaded up the van before and after setting up camp with Hennigar’s homegrown produce: corn, peaches, beans, lettuce, raspberries.

We visited the local farmer’s market, a couple of wineries (Lightfoot and Wolfville, L’Acadie Vineyards) and Fox Hill Cheese.

We hadn’t been to this part of Nova Scotia since September 2012 when we hosted the third Canadian Chefs’ Congress at Grand Pré. We were eager to see the granite harvest table which was part of a legacy project for which we’d fundraised. This tour of Nova Scotia was in part a trip down memory lane.

We camped and hiked at Blomidon Provincial Park.

In the morning of time, when the world was new,
Glooscap, the god-man,
red of hue,
set up his teepee-long since gone –
high on the summit of Blomidon,
for where on earth was a site as fine as,
the bastioned gate of the Basin of Minas.
—From a Rime of Glooscap by Watson Kirkconnell

We visited several fishing communities on the Bay of Fundy, notably Baxter’s Harbour, Hall’s Harbour, Parker’s Cove.

We camped in Digby, home of the world’s most famous scallops. There we marvelled at the magnificence of the Fundy tides from our campsite. The site had a five-star view which made up for the fact that it was as unlevel as any site we’ve ever camped before. There we met Ben, who just finished his Ph.D. He was celebrating by riding his bike across the continent from Seattle to Halifax. Lucky man has a keeper of a girlfriend. Jody was his support vehicle, bicycle mechanic, camp setter-upper, cook, shopper, launderer, dog walker and cheerleader.

We drove up Digby Neck; took a ferry to Long Island; climbed down to Balancing Rock and up again; and enjoyed the picturesque Bear River before embarking on yet another ship to New Brunswick with Stompin’ Tom Connors’ Farewell to Nova Scotia playing in our heads.