On the harborside main shopping street in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, my wife, Liza, and I bought one of those Welcome flags to hang outside our door on Long Island. It seemed appropriate, given the warmth we experienced on a recent visit to this Canadian province.
If Quebec give visitors the flavor of France (and it does), then Nova Scotia re-creates the atmosphere of the British Isles, or at least Britain s rural areas. This Atlantic-hugging region of seascapes, tidy villages and green and pleasant hills, impressed us with its physical beauty and its unhurried quality of life.
We began our four-day visit by taking the CAT, a high-speed car ferry from Portland, Maine, that makes the trip to Yarmouth in five hours. We were able to take our car without having to do an extra six hundred miles of driving. The trip is like being on a cruise ship, with snack bars, movies, TV rooms and even an on-board slot casino.
Disembarking at Yarmouth, we took the Lighthouse Road to our first stop at the White Beach Resort. The road's name is becoming more and more of an anachronism, as the lighthouses of the past have all but disappeared. That seemed ironic to us, because as the evening fog crept in, we couldn t see the coast, and a group of modern wind turbines looked eerie enough for a Stephen King movie. The creepy feelings vanished at Liverpool, however, where we were able to tour a still operating lighthouse, its story well told by apple-cheeked volunteer ladies who could have stepped out of the original Liverpool. We spent the night at the White Beach Resort, which featured seaside cabins and a horde of protected rabbits who held free rein on the property. We weren t brave enough to venture into the (to us) freezing water, though, even in late June.
At our next stop, Lunenberg, we toured the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, a tribute to the hard life of cod-fishing in prior days. We got to enjoy the fruits of the sea at the Old Fish Factory Restaurant, where a seemingly bottomless pail of mussels went down brilliantly with a pint of Guinness. We then enjoyed a good rest at the historic Lunenberg Arms Hotel, with its stunning view of the harbor.
After a quick tour of Halifax and its imposing citadel, we went back to the countryside, criss-crossing the peninsula to the province s North Shore. The college town of Wolfville, home of Acadia University, was right out of the English countryside, but soon we were in the land made famous by Longfellow s, epic poem, Evangeline. A fascinating film at the Grand-Pre National Historic Site put the tragic story of the French-speaking Acadians forced emigration to Louisiana in perspective.
At Annapolis Royal, we got to climb the breastworks of old Fort Anne, and shop in one of the oldest towns in North America. One new thing that impressed us, however, was the continent s only tide-fueled power plant. After a another great seafood dinner at Garrison House, we rested at the Hillsdale House Inn, where we met at breakfast a couple from England s Midlands who were house-hunting in Nova Scotia. Not so drastic a change.
The next morning we were able to do some curio shopping in Yarmouth, where we also sampled the excellent coffee at Tim Horton s, which our new Canadian friends had been bragging about. The return trip on the CAT brought us to Bar Harbor, Maine, a great destination in itself.
For more information on Atlantic Canada, go to www.novascotia.com.