Following a wonderful time in New Brunswick, we boarded the Princess of Acadia in Saint John for a three hour ferry ride to Nova Scotia to continue with our Canadian East Eats journey. Arriving in Digby on the north-west corner of the island we had a bit of a drive ahead of us towards Halifax. Fortunately it took us right through the heart of Nova Scotia’s agricultural Annapolis Valley. We stopped in for a quick visit at Tangled Garden to check out their incredible herbs and fruit infused jellies.
As we approached Halifax we stopped in at a Nova Scotian institution – The Chicken Burger. An old-style drive-up restaurant that has been serving loyal customers for over seventy years. Their onion rings alone make this a required stop. The kids had never seen a restaurant you could pull up to and order straight from the parking lot. Quite an experience!
After staying overnight in the Atlantica Hotel at one corner of the city’s park: The Commons we hopped in the car and headed to Peggys Cove: one of Canada’s most photographed spots, and for very good reason. This fishing town with its old-world homes and picturesque lighthouse was remarkably charming. The kids had a blast climbing across the rocks and exploring the village. Each store owner greeted us with big smiles and questions about where we from and where we were headed.
In the afternoon we went back towards Halifax to explore the lively boardwalk. Lined from end-to-end with family-fun tourist destinations, we started at Pier 21 and worked our way along the waterfront. Pier 21 houses Canada’s Immigration Museum and interactively steps visitors through the important role Halifax has played throughout Canada’s history, and especially during both World Wars.
Bishop’s Landing along the way lines the boardwalk with a number of boutique shops. The kids loved ‘Sugah!’. A hand-made candy and chocolate shop where visitors can watch through the glass as their favourite sugary treats are made before their eyes. Known for their zany flavour combinations, I had to literally drag the kids out to keep our day moving on schedule.
The boardwalk features a number of food vendors who lend a really great culinary flare to the waterfront. For lunch we stopped at The Battered Fish which my daughter Emily decided was by far the best fish she had ever tasted. I don’t know that I’d disagree. Really, really good fishand chips! Lunch at the foot of the harbour was so fun – and the buskers working the boardwalk kept us entertained throughout.
We spent time in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which includes one of the world’s finest collection of wooden artifacts from the Titanic. Halifax was the closest major port to the 1912 sinking, so many of the artifacts found their way here. We also learned about the horrible Halifax waterfront explosion of 1917 which claimed so many residents’ lives.
Clearly we had had an extremely full day in the Halifax region, but the kids were being troopers. So, lastly, we headed out for a whale watching cruise with Murphy’s on the Water, located at Queen’s Wharf. This 3 hour trip took us right out to the end of Halifax Harbour and back. While we weren’t fortunate enough to see any whales, the kids had a blast hauling up a lobster trap to see live lobsters, and feeding the sea-birds on our way back in to dock. We threw a few pieces of bread in the air and were suddenly bombarded by dozens of delighted fowl.
The next morning before heading out from Halifax, we stopped at the spunky Jane’s on the Common. This eatery serves up some really unique offerings in a hip, laid-back cafe. I had a delicious breakfast roll with herbs, sundried tomato and an egg baked right into the middle.
Lastly, on our drive north up through the middle of Nova Scotia towards the PEI ferry we took in some of the annual Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival. We visited Jim Burgess and his family at Glenmore Farms to learn about farming blueberries and to get to work in the field picking some of our own. Wild Blueberries are not planted, they grow on their own. Each spring bees are brought in to pollinate the blossoms.
It is unbelievable how good all of the fruits and vegetables we tried on this trip taste when they come straight from the ground. Even Josh who swore as we arrived at the farm that he “hates blueberries”, was eating them by the handful by the end of the day.
We were sad to leave Nova Scotia behind, some really great memories of this lovely island and all of its tasty treats.