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Nova Scotia, Canada

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Did You Know…?

  • More than 100 billion tons of seawater move in and out of the Bay of Fundy daily.
  • In Nova Scotia, one is never more than 35 miles from the sea.
  • Nova Scotians are called bluenosers, believed to refer to the local blue potatoes.
  • Nova Scotia tops all Canada’s provinces in terms of value of fish caught.
  • The Province House in Halifax was the site of Canada’s first provincial legislature.

New Scotland

The name gives away the tale. The eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia is heavily influenced by the waves of Scottish immigration it experienced in the late 1700s. When Nova Scotia promotes its attractions, it could say, “Come to Scotland in the New World.”

The French also wanted this province (which they called Acadia), but the French were finally evicted in the 18th century. Many French settlers, or Acadians, ended up in Louisiana where they are known as Cajuns.

Nova Scotia also is a place that naturally looks to the sea: Comprising two parts, the bulk of it is a peninsula and the rest is Cape Breton Island. With its combination of cool weather and lots of outdoor activities, the province attracts visitors who like to explore and don’t look for lots of nightlife, gambling or warm beaches. But it is a great place to eat lobster.

The visitor can expect to see small towns whose livelihoods depend on fishing and shipping, or lumbering when farther inland. Seafood fresh from the ocean is on offer daily. And, without laying eyes on Scotland, visitors can experience this finger of its culture which carried Celtic music, traditions and crafts to faraway Canada.

The Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, boasts the highest tides in the world, which is a clear invitation for adventurous rafters. Thanks to these tides, rock and fossil hunters can count on good finds on shore, too.

The lakes of the Bras d’Or on Cape Breton offer a challenge to experienced sailors who enjoy taking on the stiff winds. Others give high marks to sea kayaking, surfing and whale watching. Trek inland into the deep woods for hunting, camping, lake and river fishing.

For city amenities, Halifax (and Dartmouth across the harbor) should suit those who need museums, art galleries, historic and public buildings. Halifax is a medium-sized city with a superb harbor, and as in the rest of Nova Scotia, people are very welcoming.

Canada is a near neighbor for Americans with outstanding scenery and hospitality, and Nova Scotia in particular appeals by mingling Canadian and Scottish culture.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Participate in competitions at the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby, held in late summer, and called Atlantic Canada’s fastest growing motorcycle rally.
  • Go river rafting on the Shubenacadie. This is tidal rapids rafting.
  • Get the license and take time for sportfishing, and reel in bass, salmon, trout, whitefish or a range of other fish. There are opportunities for beginners to try their hand, too. Other options are deep-sea fishing charters or daylong shark-fishing adventures.
  • An option for women only: Attend the first all-woman surf school, One Life Surf, at Lawrencetown, outside of Halifax.
  • Go camping. In addition to more accessible sites, the province offers wilderness campsites reached only by canoe or on foot. Sites are available in Nova Scotia’s two national parks and 21 provincial parks, as well as in private campgrounds.
  • Try hiking in this province with its wide range of trails, whether following the coastal boardwalks and sandy beaches or meandering into the forests and into deep canyons.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Go to sea on a lobster boat to watch the fishermen in action. These journeys are also likely to include whale watching and/or opportunities to see other marine life, such as dolphins, porpoises and seals — plus birds.
  • Learn about seafood cooking in classes at the Trout Point Lodge’s Seafood Cooking School, or learn about beer or fruit wine making, or take a class in making cheese.
  • Nova Scotia has plotted out a number of scenic driving routes, one called the Evangeline Trail, which will take you to several Acadian fishing villages which date from the days of early French settlement here.
  • Focus on the province’s Scottish heritage. There are many events reflecting that tradition, such as the Antigonish Highland Games, with song and dance plus heavy-event competitions.
  • Take a boat excursion that focuses on marine birdlife; better yet, make sure it includes a chance to see the Atlantic puffins, found on Bird Island, for example.
  • If you visit the Bras d’Or Lake, noted for its tidal saltwater, opt for one of the various sailing excursions and cruises offered here. You’ll see lots of wildlife, including, in nesting season, some of the hundreds of bald eagle pairs that breed here.

Things to do for Authentics

  • In Halifax, take a two-hour water tour to note the prominent sights and hear a historical narrative. Other city attractions worth a visit are Halifax Citadel National Historic Park and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
  • Alexander Graham Bell lived in Baddeck on Bras d’Or Lake for 37 years. To showcase his experiments, the town built a museum in Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Park, which also boasts formal gardens and a series of summer programs for children.
  • Visit Lunenburg, a historic fishing village and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take scenic walking tours (organized walks are available), and look for one or more tall ships. Some of the world’s tall ships were built here.
  • Nova Scotia offers many opportunities to play golf. After all, the game was popularized in Scotland.
  • Eat lobster (and other fresh seafood, as well). Many hotels and tour operators offer lobster boil dinners. Also, if you time it right, you can attend a lobster festival, which could include, besides the obvious lobster feasting, lobster-eating contests and lobster-boat races.
  • Visit Annapolis Valley in May for the Apple Blossom Festival. See the queen crowned, watch parades, indulge in high teas and more.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency at