A Canadian Conference with a difference, just a six and half hour flight with Air Canada from the UK brought me to the East Coast of Canada, Halifax the gateway to the Atlantic Provinces. It was September and a perfect time to visit.

Halifax has the world’s second largest natural harbour, and the tree-lined streets have sidewalk cafes, galleries and museums. I visited the Citadel National Historic Site, which is a star-shaped fortress and has stood high above the city since the mid-1800’s. A guide helps you discover the history, takes you through the tunnels the gunpowder storage room and the schoolroom. The daily highlight is to see the Highland Regiment in action at the firing of the Noon Day Gun. For lunch I went to the waterfront warehouse and here I sampled Nova Scotia’s finest seafood. Then just a short walk along the boardwalk to The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to see the treasures and artefacts from the Titanic. A second museum called Pier 21 has an interactive exhibit which recreates the immigration experience. Fascinating! We took a step back in time to 1863 and enjoyed the costumed character story of Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery. The staff really set the scene and the rooms you enter on the journey create a real atmosphere.

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My journey in Nova Scotia continued through The Annapolis Valley, which is full of vineyards and orchards – an agricultural patchwork of fields and dykes! Twice a day in the Bay of Fundy you can witness the world’s highest tides. I came across lots of small, quaint towns like Wolfville, and its Saturday morning Farmers’ Market, where local wines, produce, cheeses and artisan goods were on sale. Colourful stalls of fruit and vegetables reminded me of harvest time. I bought some Canadian Maple Syrup. I worked up an appetite and stopped for lunch at Hall’s Harbour – a lobster lunch freshly caught that day and a talk and tour of the lobster pound – I found out how to put a lobster to sleep…. but that’s a story for another day.

Still thirsting for more history of the area, I went to the Unesco World Heritage Site of Grand Pre. With a pair of headsets on, I listened and re-lived the tales of the deportation of the Acadians. There in the grounds is the world famous statue of Evangeline, and the archaeological dig they have discovered, L’Acadie. Leaving all this history behind, we drove on to a vineyard. As we arrived we gate crashed a wedding and I thought “what a lovely setting for the photographs”. The wine sampling and the tour of the vineyards that followed was great fun! Wolfville also has some beautiful B&B’s and I loved the Tattingstone Inn, charming and welcoming.

Digby Neck is a ribbon of land between the waters of the Bay of Fundy and St Mary’s Bay and the whale watching tours are so exciting with anything up to six species of whale to be spotted! After two car ferries and a short drive we arrived at Brier Island, where I was lucky to have the company of two humpback whales staying close to our boat for an hour!

This is Nova Scotia’s Great Outdoors!  Kejimkujik National Park is full of lakes and rivers and hiking trails. I chose the waterways and took a canoe, looking for wildlife!

Another Unesco World Heritage site is Lunenburg Old Town. The town has a colourful waterfront, cute narrow streets, and lots of churches with interesting architecture. On a guided walking tour, I learnt about the history, and more about the beautiful churches. In contrast to the churches, it was surprising to find an Ironworks Distillery in town! A micro-distillery set in an 1893 heritage building with a strong smell of apples. The vodka, and a variety of fruit liqueurs for tasting were delicious! Lots of lovely B&B’s, small hotels, and restaurants make this town definitely worth a stay.

On my last day in Nova Scotia I visited Peggy’s Cove. It’s just a pretty spot but it is the most photographed lighthouse on the South Shore. I walked around the wave-worn granite, had lunch in the tiny harbour, and watched the colourful fishing boats where some artists were at work. From here we headed to Toronto for the Conference part of my trip. Actually the conference was at Niagara Falls. I stayed at the Sheraton in a Falls View room – the sound and views from the Juliette balcony were fantastic. And I still had time to enjoy the location in between work – I took a walk behind the falls, through tunnels and walkways (all with hand rails) then by contrast a breath taking helicopter ride over the Falls and its many rainbows. There’s a lot to do apart from just gazing at the mesmeric water – for example, the IMAX theatre portrays the miracles, myths and magic of the Falls. Bird Kingdom, the world’s largest free flying indoor aviary. Theatres, magic shows with live animals, and restaurants with waiters and waitresses performing “ O Canada” between courses.

It was a fun filled 3-day conference!

Looking back my memories of Nova Scotia (or New Scotland) was how very picturesque everywhere was – trees, lakes and small quaint towns with lots of history. Excellent food and hospitality, and a very relaxed, but busy holiday destination…if only I had had more time!
If you’d like to know more email me: joanna@hallmarktravel.com

Meet me in the Gallery!