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Nova Scotia

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Travel Guide North America Canada Nova Scotia

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Introduction

Synchronizing whales

Synchronizing whales

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Nova Scotia, from the latin for New Scotland, certainly has Scottish and Celtic roots, but also mixes into that pot the French Acadian and native Mi’kmaq cultures as well. Nova Scotia is home to the world's highest tides in the Bay of Fundy, the awe inspiring scenery of the Cape Breton trail, the lively culture of Halifax and the charm and hospitality of Lunenburg on the Lighthouse Route. Travellers can explore fishing villages and Atlantic Ocean beaches during the days, and listen to Celtic, Acadian, Scottish and modern music at night.

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Geography

The province's mainland is the Nova Scotia peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, including numerous bays and estuaries. Cape Breton Island, a large island to the northeast of the Nova Scotian mainland lies to the northeast of the mainland. Sable Island, a small island notorious for its shipwrecks, lies approximately 175 kilometres from the province's southern coast. Nova Scotia is Canada's second smallest province in area (after Prince Edward Island).
Glaciation during the Quaternary Period had an overwhelming effect upon the landscape. Glaciers abraded and plucked at the bedrock during their advances across the country, creating various deposits that vary in thickness and form; in some places they are up to 300 meters thick.
Nova Scotia's numerous hills, several low mountain ranges (the entire province is located within the Appalachian Mountains), lush river valleys, lakes and forests, windswept barrens, and a varied sea coast ranging from extremely rugged to broad sand beaches, can be attributed to these forces.

Partytime in French Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

Partytime in French Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht


Nova Scotia forms part of the southern shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and its sub-basin, the Northumberland Strait. The Cabot Strait lies north and east of Cape Breton Island. The main part of the Bay of Fundy lies off its northwestern shore, and large sub-basins including the Cumberland Basin, the Minas Basin and Cobequid Bay create major indentations into its coastline. The Gulf of Maine (of which the Bay of Fundy is a component) lies off the western shore. The South Shore and Eastern Shore, as well as the southern and eastern parts of Cape Breton Island constitute a pelagic coast, fronting the open Atlantic Ocean.

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Regions

  • Minas Basin - Some of the highest tides in the world and the Joggins UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Northumberland Shore - Beaches with some of the warmest water north of the Carolinas
  • Halifax Region - The main tourist draw of the province with the historic city of Halifax and the iconic rocks and lighthouse of Peggys Cove
  • Annapolis Valley - A historic agricultural region with many small towns and villages
  • South Shore - Beaches and picturesque seaside villages like Mahone Bay and Lunenburg
  • Yarmouth and Digby - The far western tip of Nova Scotia where Acadian culture lives on; inland is the large protected Tobeatic Wilderness Area
  • Eastern Shore - The less travelled, wilder shore
  • Cape Breton Island - Celtic and French culture, and the scenic Cabot Trail

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Cities

  • Halifax, Nova Scotia's capital, is a port city with a lively night scene and, as one of Canada's oldest cities, some beautiful architecture, parks and historical sights.

Cape Breton Island

  • Sydney is the largest city on Cape Breton Island.
  • Glace Bay is a former coal mining town located in the north of Cape Breton Island.
  • Port Hawkesbury is the first town you enter when traveling to Cape Breton Island.
  • Baddeck is a lovely little resort town located in the middle of Cape Breton Island near the Bras d'Or lakes.
  • Margaree Valley, and the Margaree River, a world famous salmon river alongside 30 kilometres of the Cabot Trail.
Kids tourboat, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Kids tourboat, Halifax, Nova Scotia

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

South Shore

  • Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a charming seaside town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.
  • Bridgewater is the largest town and hub of the south shore Nova Scotia.
  • Yarmouth is a large town located near the Southern most part of Nova Scotia. The Cat ferry to and from Maine operates from here.

Annapolis Valley

Cumberland and Colchester Counties

  • Amherst is the gate way to Nova Scotia, a town located on the border of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
  • Truro is located in the middle of Nova Scotia and home of Stanfield's underwear.

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Sights and Activities

Bay of Fundy

Discover the highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy measuring highs of 16 metres (54 feet). At low tide, comb the beach for amethyst stones and crustaceans. The Bay of Fundy is a favourite destination to many shorebirds and whales, eagles and osprey. The Fundy Coastal Drive is a popular way to see the Bay of Fundy. The route, which runs from Sackville to St. Stephen, through the cities of Dieppe, Moncton, Saint John, and St. Andrews. The map of the drive can be downloaded as a PDF from the Tourism New Brunswick website, and you can get more details on the Bay of Fundy from the Tourism New Brunswick website.

Cabot Trail

Cabot trail, Nova Scotia

Cabot trail, Nova Scotia

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

The Cabot Trail is rated one of the top scenic drives by Lonely Planet. It is a 298 kilometres (185 miles) loop around the west coast of Cape Breton Island. You can travel the Cabot Trail clockwise (inside lane) or counterclockwise (outside lane). Sunsets on the full horizon are along the western coast. The Cabot Trail provides excellent hiking trails, and some are where you may encounter a moose. Several locations have whale watch tours. Englishtown has "puffin" bird tours. Motorcyclists and bicyclists treat the Cabot Trail as a place to conquer. The Cape Breton Highlands National Park is an attraction of its own, located in the northern portion of the Cabot Trail. You travel through areas where settlers arrived and cultures thrive from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, and France in the 1700's.

Fortress of Louisburg

The Fortress of Louisbourg was originally built by the French in the 18th century. It was designated as the capital of the French colony Ile Royale (present day Cape Breton Island) and was the first line of defence in the battle for North America with the British. The Fotress was first sacked by the British in 1754 after a six week seige. Over the next 15 years the Fortress was returned to the French in a treaty and captured again by the British until it was destroyed in 1760. In 1961, then Prime Minister of Canada, John Deifenbaker started the rebuilding process of the Fortress of Louisbourg. This rebuilding took most of the next two decades when it was finished in the 1980s. Currently it is an interactive site which provides a glimpse into 18th century life and the history of Nova Scotia and Canada.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Joggins Fossil Cliffs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nova Scotia, is home to some the world's best fossils from the "Coal Age" over 300 million years ago. These cliffs have scientist with information that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It was at the Joggins Fossil Cliffs that Sir Charles Lyell and Sir William Dawson found proof of Tetrapods, an amphibian and reptile hybrid. Further work by Dawson at Joggins Fossil Cliffs led to the discovery of the first reptile, Hylonomus lyelli. This was the ancestor of all the dinosaurs. It is possible for visitors to the Fossil Cliffs to find new fossils that have been unearthed by the constant rising and falling of the tides in the Bay of Fundy. As this is a place for scientific research visitors to the site are asked to only take pictures of their fossils. Not the actual fossils themselves.

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

Atlantic and Fundy waters are relatively cold (8 °C - 12 °C), and they help to keep the air temperature over southwestern Nova Scotia on the cool side in spring and summer. In January, when their temperature is between 0 °C and 4 °C, these same waters moderate the harshness of winter. Farther offshore to the east, southeast, and south are comparatively warm 16 °C waters of the Gulf Stream. Its warmth, especially from August through October, is credited with prolonging fall - the season many Nova Scotians consider to be the best of the year. The highest temperature ever recorded in the province was 38.3 °C on August 19, 1935, at Collegeville, which is located about 15 kilometres southwest of Antigonish. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -41.1 °C on January 31, 1920, at Upper Stewiacke. Because Nova Scotia juts out into the Atlantic, it is prone to tropical storms and hurricanes in the summer and autumn. However due to the relatively cooler waters off the coast of Nova Scotia, tropical storms are usually weak by the time they reach Nova Scotia. The last hurricane was category-one Hurricane Earl in September 2010. The most destructive hurricane was Hurricane Juan in 2003. [1].

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Getting There

By Plane

The Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport is the Atlantic Canadian hub for all domestic, regional and international services. Scheduled air service into Nova Scotia is available from all major Canadian cities, from all major United States cities through connecting hubs at Boston and New York, and from major European cities through the connecting hub at London.

By Bus

Greyhound from New York and Voyageur from Montreal connect with Acadian Lines which serves Atlantic Canada. At Amherst, intraprovincial bus lines link most major communities.

By Train

Via Rail Canada provides transcontinental train service; there are stations in Amherst, Springhill, Truro and Halifax. Call toll-free 1-888-842-7245.

By Car

Highways from all points in the United States and Canada join the Trans Canada Highway from New Brunswick into Nova Scotia.

By Boat

Car ferry trips connect Maine, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland to Nova Scotia.

  • Newfoundland - Nova Scotia - Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, to/from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, daily service year-round; additional service mid-June to September. Argentia, Newfoundland to North Sydney, Nova Scotia: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, mid-June to mid-October. Reservations recommended. Tickets must be picked up one hour before sailing. Marine Atlantic Reservations, 355 Purves St, North Sydney, NS, B2A 3V2. 1-800-341-7981.
  • Prince Edward Island - Nova Scotia - Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island, to Caribou, Nova Scotia, daily service May 1 to December 20, operated by Northumberland Ferries Ltd., 94 Water Street, P.O. Box 634, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 7L3. In Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, call toll-free 1-800-565-0201. From other areas, call (902) 566-3838.
  • Saint John, New Brunswick - Digby, Nova Scotia - Daily service year-round; three trips daily during peak months. Reservations recommended. Bay Ferries, 94 Water Street, P.O. Box 634, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 7L3. Phone 1-888-249-7245; (902) 566-3838; fax (902) 566-1550.
  • Portland & Bar Harbor, Maine - Yarmouth, Nova Scotia - Service June 1 to mid-October. From Portland, Maine on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; from Bar Harbor, Maine on Monday through Thursday. Reservations required. Passengers should be at the terminal one hour prior to sailing. For sailing times contact Bay Ferries Limited, 94 Water St., P.O. Box 634, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 7L3 or 121 Eden St., Bar Harbor, Maine, 04609, USA. Phone 1-888-249-7245, (902) 566-3838; fax (902) 566-1550.

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Getting Around

By Plane

Air Canada Jazz operates daily flights from the Robert Stanfield International Airport in Halifax to Sydney, Cape Breton. Prices vary depending on when tickets are booked and it takes approximately 50 minutes.

By Train

There is only one passenger train line that is still operating in Nova Scotia. It connects Halifax, Nova Scotia to Moncton, New Brunswick and on to Montreal, Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Currently there is one passenger that departs from Halifax at 12:35pm. [2]. It stops in Truro, Springhill, Amherst and Sackville, New Brunswick before arriving in Moncton. Barring delays this trip takes 3 hours and 25 minutes and costs for a regular car $64.41 ($57.00 + tax).

By Car

Nova Scotia is encircled by eleven scenic travelways. These scenic travelway routes follow the slower-paced trunk and collector roads that lead you around the province of Nova Scotia. Each travelway describes the culture, history and natural features along the route and is referenced with all the places to stay and things to do in the area.

More information on Nova Scotia's Scenic Travelways can be found from the Nova Scotia Tourism Website

Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:

By Bus

Acadian Lines operates buses that run throughout Nova Scotia. The schedule and cost per ticket is subject to change. From Halifax, Acadian Lines operates on the following bus routes:

  • to Amherst with a stop in Truro - 3 buses daily, $37 one way for an adult, $31 for a student. Approximately 2.5 hours.
  • to Sydney with stops in Truro, New Glasgow and Port Hawkesbury - 3 buses daily, $67 one way for an adult, $57 for a student. Approximately 7 hours.
  • to Digby with stops in Windsor, Annapolis Royal - 1 bus daily, $44 one way for an adult, $37 for a student. Approximately 4h:20 minutes.

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Eat

  • Berries - having so much of the province in a natural state, there are many opportunities to pick wild fruit and berries. There are wild strawberries in the fields and along roads, wild blueberries, raspberries and cranberries (in coastal areas). Blueberry grunt is a blueberry baked with a sweet dumpling topping.
  • Deep fried pepperoni - a bar snack often dipped in honey mustard sauce.
  • Dulse - most of this seaweed is harvested at very low tides in parts of Nova Scotia. Locally it is dried and used as a snack.
  • Garlic fingers - similar to a pizza in shape and size and made with the same type of dough. Instead of the traditional tomato sauce and toppings, garlic fingers consist of pizza dough topped with garlic butter, parsley, and cheese, cooked until the cheese is melted. Bacon bits are sometimes added. They are typically eaten as a side dish with pizza and often dipped in donair or marinara sauce. They are presented in thin strips (or "fingers") as opposed to triangular slices.
  • Halifax donair - based on the Turkish dish döner, a pile of roasted, spiced beef (known as donair meat) with diced tomatoes and white onions covered in condensed milk sauce and wrapped in a pita. It is unique to the province and is available at almost every corner diner and pizzeria.
  • Hodge podge - a creamy soup of fresh baby vegetables; rarely found in restaurants.
  • Lobster rolls are common throughout the province.

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Drink

Nova Scotia produces some very good wines. Most wineries offer free tours. Of particular note is Jost Winery along the Northumberland Strait north of Truro.

Try the local beers. Nova Scotia is best known as the home of "Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale," known locally simply as "Keith's". But there are many lesser known brews available as well. Not to be missed are the offerings of Propeller Brewery and Garrison Brewing as well as several microbreweries and brewpubs (such as the Rogue's Roost).

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Sleep

There is a wide range of accommodation options in Nova Scotia. These range from summer camping grounds, hostels to luxurious hotels in the bigger cities. There is also an ever growing amount of midrange places like guesthouses, pensions and especially B&B's.

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References

  1. 1 Environment Canada Climate of Nova Scotia
  2. 2 http://www.viarail.ca/tickets/en_hora_pdfs.html

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This is version 38. Last edited at 8:55 on Mar 9, 16 by Utrecht. 29 articles link to this page.

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