Port Royal National Historic Site – Port Royal, Nova Scotia
Another fantastic opportunity if you love early Canadian history to visit a reconstruction of the Habitation, one of the earliest European settlements in North America established in 1605 by Samuel de Champlain. Important in establishing the fur trade, the French colonists traded furs with the Mi’kmaq who had lived on this land for thousands of years and welcomed the new colonists.
The settlement is a cluster of adjoining hewn timber buildings grouped French-fashion in a four-sided arrangement with an enclosed courtyard, protected by a palisade. Enter the imposing front gate and explore the buildings including a bakery, kitchen, forge, trading store, soldiers’ quarters and the more lavishly furnished gentleman’s quarters.
Make certain you find your way to the cannon platforms and get the best view of the sparkling waters of the Annapolis Basin. Find out more information about the first North America social club, the Order of Good Cheer that de Champlain established to keep up the spirits of the inhabitants during the long cold winters. There is a reason for the big fireplace in the Common Room which housed the roomy table and pewter dishes.
There are costumed guides who can provide information so ask questions and they also explain how short-lived the settlement was as it was abandoned in 1607 when the trading privileges were revoked by the French King. Returning in 1610 the Habitation was re-established until a raiding party from Virginia looted and burned the fort to the ground.
As you explore, take notice of the number of fireplaces and the unique footwear that was worn.
Joggins Fossil Cliffs are an amazing place to visit, the cliffs are millions of years old and as our guide explained, walking a meter along the beach is like moving back or forward a million years in time!
Joggins is unique as the shore line is constantly altered by the Fundy Highest Tides in the world, and the Low Tides reveal the most complete fossil record of the “Coal Age,” 100 million years before the dinosaurs. I can’t grasp the science or such a huge span of history, but I was filled with awe being in this place.
There are numerous tours you can take with knowledgeable, personable guides who make it easy to walk the beach looking for fossils. They tell you a lot about the “Coal Age”, point out fossils in the cliff, on the beach and explain why this site is so unique. Due to the Fundy Tides, this site is not a place “set in stone” but dynamic and ever-changing making it an important living educational and scientific site.
There is a museum with interactive displays making it easy to digest the information. You can walk the beach for free,you can pay a nominal fee to get into the museum and a 30-minute beach walk with a guide. But we were glad we took the guided 2-hour tour as we got so much more out of the experience. We slowly walked along the beach and our guide told us history and made the cliffs living. We had time to look for fossils on our own. He pointed out imprints of trees and possibly trees themselves in the cliffs. I can’t possibly do any justice to this place as it is so awe-inspiring and so much information to take in.
There is also a 4-hour tour for the more committed visitors and if you are a student of this education, a once in a lifetime experience. In case you are wondering the 2-hour tour is physically easy as you walk along the beach slowly, it just requires a walk down some stairs to the beach.
A “World Heritage Site” as the Joggins website explains “is the designation given to special places in the world that are of outstanding universal value to humanity, and as such have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations”
View the website before you go for the tide times and information on the Coal Age, tours available: Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site
I can’t describe this memorial park; it is a park that needs to be experienced. If you find yourself along Highway #2 near Bass River, take the time to seek out the park (it is easy to find). To appreciate the meaning, you need to take the time to reflect on what the park is about. The designers of the living memorial have done a tremendous job with flowers, memorials and information to create a very poignant experience.
Upon entering, The Garden of Sorrows tells us about the horrors of war, The Garden of Remembrance proudly displays the names of Canadian soldiers who served or who are currently serving in military and peacekeeping. The Garden of Hope is beautifully laid out with plants from around the world showing diversity of color, texture and scent mingle together in peace.
Also, in various corners are three monuments: The Broken, soldiers who returned from the war changed, The Transformation, a creative structure symbolizing the transformation from war to peace and to The Forgotten Hero’s, the animals who also served and gave their lives in the war.
There is a lot more and reading the information adds greatly to the experience. I was extremely touched and moved to tears by the poem engraved on black stone with a simple memorial upon entering the Garden of Sorrows.
We were exceedingly affected and impressed, and I hope to go back for one of their numerous remembrances throughout the year.
For more information Veterans Memorial Park
As with many of the museums scattered around rural Nova Scotia, this village portrays the life of a village approximately as it would have been around 1867- Canada’s Confederation. Life is fairly settled with a lumber camp, sawmill and gold mining in the area to make some men rich while others worked the mine. They came together at the Sherbrooke Hotel, however, those with wealth enjoyed the rooms upstairs, the miners and lumberjacks slept in a room in the basement.
Greenwood Cottage, the home of James and Sarah Cumminger; he owned part of the goldmine, the lumber mill and ran Cumminger General Store with his brother; the style of their home reflects their social position and means. The day we visited, Mrs. Cumminger was serving tea to modern day guests who came along while she explained her husband was away at sea, likely acquiring goods for the General Store.
Lots to see in the General Store so ask lots of questions and you will get a rich history of the time. One interesting fact about McDonald Tailor & Clothier, another store in the village; he made clothes for the men only while the women of the village made their own clothes from bolts of cloth on display in the General Store.
I found the Jailers House very interesting; the jail cells were right in the family home with cells on both floors of the house. The jailer’s wife assured us she was safe and usually it was intoxication that brought the men to the jails and they were held overnight to attend the courthouse just down the street. Hence the Temperance House also in the village. Mrs. Cumminger had a guest from the village who was asking everyone to sign the Temperance Petition.
If you find your self visiting on a rainy day, the visitor center provides large umbrellas you can carry with you. Trying to juggle dogs and cameras we opted not to and got very wet which brings me to the small act of kindness. A healthy home cooked meal is sold at the Sherbrooke Hotel which is now a restaurant (we both had fisherman’s pie, like a cottage pie with fish instead) Seeing how wet we were the woman dried our coats in their dryer, very much appreciated. They also serve a Victoria Tea with the fancy cups.
The buildings of the Village, they are proud to tell you in the visitor center are the original buildings, they were not moved from other areas. There is a lot to see including the pharmacy, the Ambrotype Photography Studio - you can get your photo taken in the original style, the only photographer in Nova Scotia to still use that old style. The weaver’s cottage, the telephone exchange, and the Pottery so plan to spend the day. Don’t forget to ask Joe McLane the blacksmith to ride one of the penny-farthing bikes and ask him how much one cost back then-quite shocking.