Everyone has heard of Cape Breton. Entire books have been written about the famed Bay of Fundy and its crazy tides. The South Shore’s Lighthouse Trail is well traveled and well known. Wineries galore punctuate the Annapolis Valley.
So imagine our surprise when the region that we had never heard of, the one that no one mentioned as a “must see”, the one with the tiniest guide book, turned out to be our favorite. The Eastern Shore is one of Nova Scotia’s best kept secrets.
We had just stopped to check out a great boondocking opportunity at Queensport, when our cell phone rang. Not wanting to talk and drive, we pulled into the driveway of a tiny museum. We had just finished our phone call, when we heard a tapping on the window. It was the curator of the museum asking if we would mind coming inside to sign his guest book.
We politely complied and followed him into the former two room schoolhouse that now serves as the Out of the Fog Lighthouse Museum. We were immediately drawn into Paul Ehler’s enthusiasm and marveled at the collection of lenses, foghorns and other artifacts from the evolution of lighthouse technology.
Perhaps his zeal was inherited from his grandmother, who was one of the few women lighthouse keepers, and who raised five children at Queensport Lighthouse from 1930-1948. When she “was retired”, she earned a whopping $450 a year.
With the advent of more efficient forms of communication, lighthouses as warning beacons became a thing of the past. We were shocked and saddened when Paul told us that without volunteer groups taking care of the lighthouses, they fall into disrepair. Lighthouses are so popular; it is amazing that their existence is totally dependent on volunteer groups.
Two hours later, we left feeling enriched and very lucky. We realized that had we not received that phone call, we never would have stopped at the Out of the Fog Lighthouse Museum.
Now very hungry, we decided to look for a scenic place to make lunch. We followed a sign to Tor Bay, which the tourbook promised was a picturesque provincial beach park. What an understatement.
There are numerous boardwalks meandering through sand dunes that lead to breathtaking views of the temperamental Atlantic. As we picnicked under a weathered pavilion, the only two people around, we could feel the raw power of the Ocean as its waves crashed against the rugged shore. Only the rain clouds broke the spell and sent us on our way.
What trip to Nova Scotia would be complete without tasting the famed smoked salmon? There are two smokehouses along this route and fortunately we chose Willy Krauch & Sons in the town of Tangier where we learned that they still do their smoking the traditional Danish way, shunning machinery and doing everything by hand. We chatted for a while with Gwen, one of the Krauch family, in the small retail shop in front of the smoke house. We bought lemon pepper and maple flavored smoked salmon in practical 6 oz packages for only $5.00 each. It turned out to be delicious, so we were very glad Serena’s ample freezer could hold several extras.
Around almost every curve on the Eastern Shore’s coast highway, we were struck by the primitive beauty and unusual sights. In our recent blog, Two Steps into the Past, we enjoyed Sherbrooke Village and St. Mary’s Riverside Campgrounds as we explored route 7.
We were finally experiencing what we had hoped for when we decided to visit Nova Scotia, and we wondered why this part receives little acclaim and seems forgotten.
A local cleared this up by pointing out that there is no super highway here. On the South Shore you can either meander along the lighthouse route or take the popular super highway Rte. 103. The Eastern shore only has its two lane Rte. 7, so if you are in a hurry, I guess the Eastern Shore is not for you.