Tag Archives: nova scotia tourist board

Wednesday 23rd September 2015 – I HAVE MADE A STARTLING DISCOVERY!

I woke up this morning to find no condensation on the roof of the truck cap. There was quite a bit down the sides, so clearly there was plenty about, but none on the roof.

What had happened was that in the confined and cramped circumstances yesterday, I’d put the pack of insulation outside on the roof of the truck cap instead of by the side of Strider as I would normally do. This seems to have had the effect of insulating the roof but from the outside.

And so what I’ve done is to go to a supermarket and bought a pile of giant-sized plastic bin bags. I’ll wrap the insulation up in those and stick them on the roof of the truck cap at night – I’ll be interested to see if this might solve the problem.

But apart from that, I’d had a reasonable night’s sleep last night even though I was on a truck stop and some of the trucks were idling away all night. even a train on the railway line across the Canso Strait didn’t disturb me all that much.

But next morning, I was surprised to find that the Tim Horton’s at Aulds Cove didn’t have a wifi connection. It’s the first that I’ve found that hasn’t had one. I had to decamp off onto Cape Breton Island and the Nova Scotia Tourist Board offices there

rt hon paul e martin aulds cove nova scotia canadaAnd I’m glad that I did, because when was the last time that we have had a “ship of the day”? Back in Montreal I reckon, and that was by default too.

This ship is the Rt Hon Paul E Martin, whoever he was when he was at home, if he ever was, anchored up at the huge quarry at Auld’s Cove. She’s a CSL (Canadian Shipping Lines) ship and has come here from Brayton Point, which is the site of a coal-fired power station on the coast of Massachusetts, USA, although she was seen in the Panama Canal a couple of weeks earlier.

canso canal st peters cape breton island nova scotia canadaIt’s been years since I’ve travelled up the southern shore of Cape Breton Isle – 2003 in fact – and so I reckoned that I would go up to Sydney that way, even though it’s the least interesting route.

I’d had a brief glimpse of the canal here when I passed by back then and so I reckoned that, seeing as how it was a nice day, I’d go and have a closer look.

atlantic ocean st peters canal cape breton island nova scotia canadaThat’s the Atlantic Ocean just there and just a couple of hundred yards away to my right is the Bras d’Or Lake which almost cuts Cape Breton Island in two. This little strip of land is all that prevents Cape Breton Island being split in two.

This area has always been a favourite portage site and the French had a fort around here – Fort Toulouse – that guarded the crossing

st peters canal breton island nova scotia canadaAt one time there was a rolling plank road that enabled sailors to drag their boats from one water to the other but in the 1850s the canal was built and this is what we have today, one of only two canals east of the St Lawrence that are still working.

You’ll notice that there are two lock gates at each end of the lock, and the gates are pointing in opposite directions. That’s because with the tides, the Atlantic Ocean can be either higher or lower than the Bras d’Or Lake and so the water flow needs to be controlled in either sense.

earthworks fort dorchester st peters cape breton isle nova scotia canadaThere’s nothing at all now left of Fort Toulouse but the British had a fort up here on a dominant eminence for a short while.

This was called Fort Dorchester and you can still see quite a few of the remains of earthworks up on the top. This appears to be part of an earthen bank that might have been part of the walls of the fort at one time.

louisbourg cape breton island nova scotia canadaAnother place that I had passed by back in 2003 was Louisbourg, the principal town and seaport of the French on Ile Royale – Cape Breton Island – in the 18th Century.

It’s quite an astonishing place, being effectively a fortified city in the middle of nowhere, and was a city over which the French and British fought on many occasions.

louisbourg cape breton island nova scotia canadaThe French engages in a triangular trade route between Nouvelle France, the French West Indies and France itself, and they needed a seaport somewhere in between to be a naval base, ship repair centre and trans-shipment port for the interior.

They chose Louisbourg to be the place, in view of the magnificent bay here, and so they build a fortified city.

louisbourg cape breton island nova scotia canadaAnd it needed to be fortified too. Its central position meant that it was miles away from anywhere else, and so miles away from where reinforcements might be obtained.

And with it straddling the British trade routes from British North America and Newfoundland, it was quite likely that in the event of war between Britain and France – a regular occurrence in the 18th Century, the British would want the fort neutralised.

louisbourg cape breton isle nova scotia canadaIt was captured on several occasions by the British and returned at the end of conflict, but finally the British captured it for keeps and it was abandoned, falling into ruin.

It’s been slowly rebuilt over the years and the result is quite spectacular. It’s just as it was back in its heyday and there are all kinds of 18th-century trades being undertaken here. I ended up having a lengthy chat with a couple of 18th-century boatbuilders who were building a caravel.

sydney louisbourg railway museum cape breton island nova scotia canadaLouisbourg is alwo well-known as the terminus of the Sydney-Louisbourg railway, and there’s a kind-of railway museum here.

I say “kind-of”, because no-one in their right minds would call it a real museum. While most “museums” in North America “preserve” their artefacts by slapping layer after layer of thick black paint over their exhibits, they can’t even be bothered to do that here.

sydney louisbourg railway museum cape breton island nova scotia canadaThe “exhibits” here are just rotting away and in a few more years there won’t be anything at all left.

This is beyond embarrassing and beyond shameful – it’s a total disgrace and how the administrators of the museum have the nerve to exhibit artefacts like this is totally beyond me. There’s nothing left for these artefacts except the scrapyard because they are way beyond any kind of preservation.

The administrators should be ashamed of themselves.

So having dealt with that rant, I went up to North Sydney, the Marine Atlantic terminal where I booked my passage on tonight’s sailing to Newfoundland. $155 too – it’s becoming more and more expensive. But then again they have a new ship and, this year, a new ferry terminal to pay for.

It’s the new “Highlander” upon which we are sailing, and it’s not sailing until 23:45 so that gives me plenty of time to organise some food. And in the terminal I have a very lengthy chat with an old guy who is also retired and is also off on his travels.

On board, we are stuck in the bowels of the ship, and I mean that too. There’s a hatch in the middle of the deck with a ramp that goes down another level with room for about 100 cars, and that’s where we end up – well below the water line. It’s a good job we don’t stay with our cars during the crossing. I’ll be a nervous wreck down here.

Tuesday 26th October 2010 – NOW LIZ, WHO READS THIS BLOG …

rainstorm pictou nova scotia canada… saw my photo of Pictou last night and asked me what the place was like and how it looked in broad daylight.

And the answer to that is “no idea”.

I came here the first time in 2003 and it was absolutely p155ing down so I didn’t stay long. And today, as if in keeping with some kind of tradition, it was likewise p155ing it down. And how.

main street pictou nova scotia canadaBut this time I’m made of more sterner stuff and went for a nosey, getting thoroughly drenched in the process.

We’re lucky in that many of the buildings are quite substantial – made of stone, not your usual timber framed stuff. North American urban settlement is famous – or infamous – for being ravaged by fire and these stone buildings will have resisted that quite well.

However, escaping from the ravages caused by human modernism and “progress” is another thing, and Pictou has suffered some from that.

Now for those of you familiar with North American history, you will know that Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts is significant as it was there that the Pilgrim Fathers landed in late 1620 in the Mayflower.

replica hector pictou nova scotia canadaAnd Pictou has a similar kind of significance for Canada as it was here in 1773 that a group of Scots landed in the Hector – a replica of which is on display here – and laid the foundations for Nova Scotia – or New Scotland.

Look at any of the graves of people who were born in this area during the following few years – there are dozens of people called Hector interred there.

And after that it was a drive to Springhill to do something else that I … errrr … overlooked when I was here before.

memorial springhill mining disaster nova scotia canadaI didn’t visit the Anne Murray Museum this time (so I didn’t meet Anne Murray this time like I did the last time) and I didn’t have time to visit the mining museum even though it was open today.

Instead I tracked down the monument to the hundreds of miners who died in the dozens of mining explosions and collapses in the shameful situation that passed for coal-mining here from about 1820 until just a few years ago.

If you know Peggy Seeger’s song Springhill Mining Disaster – made famous by U2 – then that is about one of the explosions here.

mural wall amherst nova scotia canadaNext stop was Amherst to look for something interesting and really I must have been asleep the two times I’ve passed through here and not noticed anything worth photographing.

Apart from the fact that it’s a beautiful sandstone-built town, there’s tons of other stuff that’s well-worth seeing.

I was having health issues both of the times I came here and that’s my excuse anyway.

fort beausejour amherst nova scotia canadaWhen I was here in 2003 I went to visit Fort Beausejour – the second-last bastion of the French army in Canada, not the last one (despite what most history books tell you – that dubious honour belongs to Fort Gaspereaux across the isthmus).

Here they hung on grimly to a toehold at the head of the Bay of Fundy as the French possessions all around them crumbled away into nothing, and eventually they too were swept away with the tide.

fort lawrence amherst nova scotia canadaThe British built a fort – Fort Lawrence – about 5 miles away from Fort Beausejour in order to blockade the latter and so I went in search of that.

It appears that this is in fact the site of the Nova Scotia Tourist Board offices and once I had realised that, it wasn’t all that difficult to track down. It’s not easy to miss all of those flags fluttering away up there.

acadian dyke tantramarre marshes chignecto isthmus nova scotia canadaFrom up on the heights I noticed what looked like early Acadian dykes across the Tantramarre marshes. The Acadians had done their best to drain the marshes and ended up with, what one commentator called “the largest hayfield in the world”.

So I had a wander out across the flats and, lo and behold, indeed they were, complete with a handpainted sign, displaying the Acadian flag. That’s the “Stella Maris” there on the pale blue background.

In the 19th Century, technology began to catch up with human ambition. And one of the ambitions was to make a short-cut across the Chignecto isthmus between the Strait of Northumberland and the Bay of Fundy so that ships would save days of sailing time and all the risks of circumnavigating the Canso Strait.

Someone had the idea of building a ship railway, where ships would sail into a canal and then be loaded onto railway trucks in order to be transported to the other side of the isthmus.

chignecto ship railway canal nova scotia canadaBut just as technology made this a feasible proposition, making larger ships became more feasible too and the ship railway was overwhelmed by events.

Work had actually begun but was soon abandoned. Nevertheless there still remains considerable evidence of the earthworks and I managed to track them down too. This would have been quite an impressive achievement had it been completed, judging by what remains.

nova scotia nouvelle ecosse canadaWhenever I see this sign, I always end up laughing, even though I know that I shouldn’t. Coming from an oppressed minority myself, I can understand the feelings that minorities have about defending themselves and their cultures. But this sign is the kind of thing that brings this policy into disrepute.

I often ask about this sign – what’s the purpose of the “Nouvelle Ecosse”?. I’m always told that Canada has a policy of bilingualism (except in Quebec where their Anglophone minority is oppressed much more than the French minority ever was, but that’s another issue) and so every public sign in English has to be translated into French.

And I always wish that I had a camera handy to photograph their faces when I explain to them that “Nova Scotia” is Latin, not English, and so under the terms of the bilingual policy, there needs to be an English translation.

railway port elgin pivoting bridge new brunswick canadaI’m now in Port Elgin just down the road.

Port Elgin is famous for its hand-cranked (so much for modern technology in the 1890s) pivoting railway bridge that moved so that ships could enter the harbour here.

Just on the edge of the town is not darkness but a motel, and next to the motel are the remains of Fort Gaspereaux. This is where i’ll be staying the night (the motel, not the remains of the fort).

There’s also the Confederation Bridge, the world’s longest bridge across iced-up waters. I saw that in 2003 but taking a photo of that with a compact digital was … errr … interesting so I’m going to do it again.

I hope that it’s still standing – I don’t seem to have much luck with bridges over iced-up waters – and that will be effectively my tourism over. It’s all downhill from here.

Monday 25th October 2010 – I’M IN A BAD MOOD AGAIN.

Yes – I went into Truro today.

Now if Truro were ever famous for just one thing it would be the Teachers’ Training College. If you have been following my journey you will know that Nova Scotia is a province of mainly small villages in isolated situations and until the road-building process that started in 1918 and is still not yet finished these villages had no connection to any other.

But if you can’t bring the children to education the province realised that it needed to bring education to the children and in 1876 it created a small College in Truro to train teachers to educate children in the wilderness.

These teachers, once they had qualified, were sent to these isolated villages, lodging with parents and teaching children in empty fishing sheds and generally integrating into the village to which they had been sent. And this programme continued until 1960.

The college itself is a magnificent building crowned with a copper dome and spire, and features as the centrepiece of the Truro Heritage poster. And when I came here in 2003 I had a quick look for the building but couldn’t find it.

However today, with more time on my hands, I wandered around until I found it. And I had to find it too, because the people whom I asked, including the lady in the Tourist Office, knew nothing about it.

teacher training college truro nova scotia canadaSo here’s the building – the most significant in Truro and probably the most influential in Nova Scotia.

And the reason I couldn’t find it is that there is a huge concrete bunker – a public library – right in front of the building, built on the lawn, and a huge modern building – the police station – built in the old courtyard (this photo was taken around the back).

teacher training college truro nova scotia canadaAnd of course the copper dome and spire have gone – sold for scrap, I shouldn’t wonder.

The building has been abandoned for probably 30 years and there’s a notice on the wall – “The Truro City Council is actively seeking new opportunities for this building”. So how about using the money spent on the new police station to refurbish the building and moving the police into here? Or demolishing the library and ……

But I’m not going to go on and on about this because I’ll get more and more depressed. My opinions about Canadian preservation efforts is starting to sink to the same depths as those of the USA. Or of France. Or of the UK. People no longer have any pride in their heritage.

So to cheer myself up I went in search of what may well be the oldest intact steam railway locomotive in the world.

highway 311 cobequid hills nova scotia canadaMy route north out of Truro took me along Highway 311 and Highway 326 took me over the watershed between south-western Nova Scotia and north-eastern Nova Scotia and I encountered some views that were truly beautiful.

However, it also took me into a load of traffic as you can see and I’m not at all used to this. Still, you can’t have everything, I suppose.

1930s ford 2 ton chassis V8 flathead fire engineYou can’t have this either, because the owner has no interest whatever in parting with it, although Strawberry Moose has a good go at driving it.

It’s basically a standard 1930s Ford 2-ton chassis with twin rear wheels, a single-wheel front and a Ford V8 flathead (sidevalve) engine and formerly belonged to a small paper mill out on the coast in British Columbia, a mill that was isolated from the main road network.

1930s ford 2 ton chassis V8 flathead fire engineThey built it themselves after a fire in the mill during the 1940s had caused considerable damage because they had no means of extinguishing it.

And the next fire, in 1994, he fire engine had been out of use for so long that it wouldn’t start and so the mill burnt down again. Consequently they junked it and the present owner rescued it and, having fixed it, drove it back here.

At least, that cheered me up considerably.

albion samson nova scotia museum of industry stellarton new glasgow canadaI eventually tracked down my steam locomotive, thanks to the owner of the fire engine who put me right.

A group of engineers have liberated it from its depressing situation on a plinth outside in all kinds of weather and, having restored it to something resembling working order, it’s now in the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry and I was lucky enough to be allowed in to see it.

The locomotive is called Albion and came to Nova Scotia from Newcastle upon Tyne in 1854.

For a long time it was considered that 1854 was the date of manufacture, but I would find this hard to believe without convincing evidence. If you compare this design with any other design of 1854 and the evolution has been considerable.

I’m not going to go into a long discussion here because I have expounded at considerable length elsewhere, where you can read at great length exactly what I think about this locomotive.

What is comforting about this is that the people who, while they might not know exactly what it is that they have, are fully aware of the fact that they are in possession of something that is truly special and they have gone to considerable lengths to take care of it. That can only be commended.

And that cheered me up considerably too

main street new glasgow nova scotia canadaHaving been bundled out of the museum with indecent haste because it was closing time, I wandered off to have a look at New Glasgow.

This was another town with quite an impressive past, growing rich on all of the industry and coal mining that took place in the vicinity, but now all of this is long-gone and the town is a shadow of its former self.

There were houses on sale here for as little as $26,000 which, for a European such as myself, is an astonishing price. You couldn’t buy a garage for that in the UK, never mind a house.  

new theatre old shipyard new glasgow nova scotia canadaThat down there is a new theatre, so if you did come here to live, there would be something to entertain you.

But on the site of the theatre and its car park, between 1821 and 1918, there were 5 shipyards and a total of 210 sailing ships were built there. The largest was one of 1400 tons, would you believe.

The ships were built by local men using local materials and from here they went out to sail the world. You would never believe that now.

lionstone motel pictou nova scotia canadaYou’ve all seen this before. This is the Lionstone Motel up the road in Pictou and I stayed here in 2003.

Time was marching on and I didn’t have time to look for another motel (I believe in spreading my largesse about) so I came back here. No reason why not, after all, I was quite comfortable here last time.

bowater paper mill new glasgow nova scotia canadaThe restaurant that had served me a decent meal last time had closed down, so I bought some chips and went to look at the Bowater paper mill – one can’t escape the smell of wet paper around here.

With a better camera, this photo worked much better than the one that I took in 2003.

So having accomplished that task, I went to heat up some beans in my slow cooker. Pour them over my chips and I’ll have a meal fit for a king.