Road Trip!!!! Over the course of the past few days I seem to have gotten my strength back so it’s time for an adventure.
I teamed up with my friends, Doc and Judy Weems, for a trip to Digby and Brier Island ~ the farthest point on the Nova Scotia coast. They are taking their RV so their faithful companion, Dizzy, can accompany them. I have opted to follow in my car. Our route will take us through the beautiful Annapolis Valley region and along the Bay of Fundy coast. Since it is a long drive and provincial roads are usually too rough for comfortable RV travel, we stick to the Trans Canada highways. The scenery is rich with rolling farmland, roadside marshes, rivers, streams and lots of trees. Just outside of Wolfville, I crested a hill and found myself looking out over a magnificent vista of lush green fields, the deep blue Minas Basin and smaller waterways carving their way through the landscape. The view went on as far as the eye could see and, once again, I had the feeling of sitting on top of the world ~ nothing but wide open spaces before me.
Just beyond Wolfville we met up at the Grand-Pre` Historic Site. The site is located on land that was once part of the original Acadian settlement founded here in the 1680s by families from the Port Royal area. Although the settlers were primarily of French origin, they had formed their own culture in a land that they called Acadie` (Acadia) and considered themselves “Acadians” with no allegiance to any other country. They bonded with the Mi’kmaq through their shared Catholic religion and respect for the land. The Acadians reclaimed the salt marshes for farming by building an ingenious system of earthen dykes. The dyke system included an aboiteau ~ a sluice with a valve that allowed water to drain from the fields but prevented the salt water from infiltrating the land. The rich marine sediment produced fertile fields for growing crops and fruit orchards. By the early 18th century Grand-Pre` had become the largest and most important community in Acadia.
During the tumultuous years that Nova Scotia changed hands between the French and British, the Acadians tried to remain neutral. The British didn’t trust them because they traded with the French at Fort Louisbourg and said they were trading with the enemy. The French didn’t trust them because they were friendly with the British and the Indians. Following a French attack on British troops in 1747 the British demanded that the Acadians swear allegiance to the crown. They refused, declaring their neutrality, so in 1755 the British seized their lands, burned their farms and began deporting them to the American colonies and Europe. Many Americans, including the Cajuns in southern Louisiana, can trace their ancestors to these deportees. The deportations continued for 8 years. Grand-Pre` was the principal scene of the first expulsions.
In the late 1800s Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the epic poem “Evangeline” about the Acadian deportations and brought international attention to what had happened here. The poem also served to galvanize the Acadian community and spurred a movement to preserve their culture and heritage. The land for this site was deeded to the Acadian people to create a memorial to their ancestors. It sits on the site of the St.Charles-de-Mines church where the men and boys of the Grand-Pre` settlement were incarcerated by the British before the first deportation. This site includes a statue of Evangeline, a smaller version of the church and memorial gardens in the area that used to be the church cemetery. The interpretive center includes a film and exhibits depicting the life of the Acadians.
Leaving Grand-Pre` under cloudy skies, we continued on toward Digby. Several miles down the road we were engulfed in a torrential downpour that lasted for several miles. Finally the skies cleared and we had good weather the rest of the trip. That was fortunate because, again, we crested a hill and got smacked in the face with a panoramic view of the sparkling waters of the Digby Basin and silhouettes of the hills of Digby Neck in the distance. Absolutely stunning!
At Smith’s Cove, just outside Digby, I left the Weems’ at their campground and headed about a mile down the road to check into my motel. It was a cozy little spot with all of 8 units ~ all fronted by a wooden deck with a view across the Basin and through the Digby Channel. I was their only guest.
After getting settled, I picked up Judy and Doc and we headed into Digby for dinner. On Water Street we found the Fundy Restaurant where we sat on an outside balcony overlooking the wharf. With fluffy, pink-tinged cumulus clouds floating over the harbor, we dined on scallops fresh off the boat. Their signature entrée is a whole steamed lobster, split and filled with broiled scallops. I had my mouth all set for that until the waitress said it took 45 to 50 minutes to prepare. We were starving and it was getting late so I “settled” for grilled salmon and scallops broiled in garlic butter. Yummy!!
Tomorrow ~ whale watching!!!
For more pictures of Grand-Pre`, visit my on-line web album