The Ovens


We travelled today to “The Ovens” – a series of caves located along the eastern shore about an hour from the cove.  The folks here have created a trail so that you can walk right inside a couple of them. 

Quite cool.



This is also the site of the 1861 Nova Scotia gold rush that was rather brief, as all gold rushes tend to be.  Apparently the original beach sand was bagged up and taken by boat back to Wales.  The rest of the sand and dirt left behind was sluiced and panned until only the iron was left behind.


Now they rent pans out so you can try your luck.  Beware though – the shiny stuff is actually “fool’s gold” – iron pyrite.


After that is was on to Lunenburg, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, home of the Bluenose.  Also, there is a memorial there for seamen who have been taken by the sea.  One of my ancestors on my mother’s side is listed there, but I don’t remember the name.



And finally, after roasting in the heat all day, it was time for the beach at Queensland.


It was salty.


We arrived home to one of the best sunsets I have ever seen.


I left my camera at home to enjoy it over at the rocks by the lighthouse, but I couldn’t resist this shot of the church at the end of the day.


more later – joel

A Visitor to Halifax

I awoke super stupidly early to try and get some nice dawn photos.  Nice idea except that it was a cloudy, and thus dawnless day.


it was still nice, though, to see the village and everything completely empty of tourists.  There was just me, and I’m not a tourist.  I’ve decided that: I’m a visitor instead.  You see, a tourist is there for his or her own benefit, to go and look at something, take away some photos, leave behind some trash, spend some money, piss off or mollify the locals, and generally be ignorant.  It’s the very nature of how the tourism and the industry that serves it has evolved.  I and my family strive to be a little different, at least in how we see ourselves, even it makes no difference to how we are seen by the locals.



We went to the Citadel in Halifax today to see some folks pretend to be soldiers from the 19th century.  It reminded me and the kids of Fort Henry in Kingston, except I don’t think the Citadel has ever been allowed to fall into disrepair.  You see, Halifax has always seen itself as an important port (and indeed it is) and the people of Nova Scotia have always had a lot more pride in themselves as people from this place. 

I got that feeling from reading stories of people from the play “VIMY” last year, and also from reading stories from the museum at the Citadel.  It’s a place with a lot of memory and pride.


This fellow showed us how fast a bolt-action breech loading rifle could be loaded and fired.  He managed about ten shots in a minute, which is fine when you aren’t actually shooting at anything (he was firing blanks).


Harry signed up as a soldier, but then went AWOL when he found out that he would only be paid a penny everyday.  When I found out that a penny would purchase three pints of been down in the city, I signed up!  I went AWOL to go check beer prices, and it turns out things have changed in two hundred years…



This pirate was hanging out at the museum, which is a particularly cool place to spend an afternoon.  You can seen artifacts from the Titanic (recovered by ships out of Halifax as part of the grim search for bodies).  It is a gripping exhibit, and full of poignant memories and recollections.


Here is the multi-facetted lens from a lighthouse.  You can see the size of it beside the girl taking pictures (of a parrot).

Of particular note for me was the exhibit displaying artifacts and storyboards about the Halifax explosion of 1917 – even the a piece of the telegraph receiver used by the man on the docks who first saw the flames on the munitions ship that would explode in minutes from his transmission.


Included with the museum admission is a free reign on-board the Acadia.  This is a research vessel used from 1903 through to the late 1960s.  It’s pretty cool – it was used to survey much Hudson’s Bay and James’ Bay and throughout the north.


We thought, for a minute or two, what it might be like to hang out on-board this ship, but it was a fleeting thought.  Probably full of tourists.


Here’s a cool thing.  It might be useful to that boat shown above if its GPS fails and it runs aground off Sable Island.  It’s called a Lyle Gun, and it fires the projectile on the left with the line attached overtop of a grounded ship in distress.  Then the folks on the ship can pull a heavy line in from the island and get pulled to safety.  Pretty cool.

It was a good day, but it was nice to come back to the cove, too.  We had no real dawn, but by golly we had a nice sunset.



more later – joel

Travel Blog – A Day in Peggy’s Cove


It’s a picture taken by nearly seven hundred and fifty thousand people a year, but I still haven’t captured the perfect one, only the quintessential one.

It was an overcast day with a smattering of rain over St Margaret’s bay today, so it felt real and authentic.  We kind of hung around the cove and just soaked it up a little.  I had no idea it was such a tourist destination, but there were a ton of bus tours and constant car traffic up to the lighthouse.  I wonder how long it’ll be until they move the parking lot outside of town and make the town pedestrian-only.  That would be nice, I think.  It reminds of the two rocks just outside of town that used to be known as “the gates” where a child would be given a coin by tourists entering the village that was fenced off from sheep.  The fence is gone, but the rocks are still there – I don’t have a photo of that, though…

My favourite part of the lighthouse experience remains the following, a plaque on the outside:


I think we tourist may often fall into the trap of believing that these things were put into place for the benefit of our enjoyment, but the fact remains that the sea and the rocks and the people who inhabit them will be here long after we drift back home like the overnight waning of the tides.


This fellow made a brave attempt to communicate with me, but in the end it was futile.  He and two friends came home for dinner with us.

Apparently a brisk day at the lobster retail shack of Ryers & Ryers sees over four thousand lobsters cross the threshold.  The folks there are chatty and friendly, helping a family from southern Alabama work all the meat from their massive meal of four large red ones served in a plastic box on the picnic table.  Easily the best lobster meat I’ve ever tasted, despite being shipped from Fundy by Fedex earlier that day.



At seven o’clock in the evening the tide has come all the way in and the pilings holding up the buildings on the water are covered up.  Everything seems more hopeful and possible when the tide is in.



I am hopeful that tomorrow, if I get up early enough, I can get the perfect shot of that lighthouse with the waves crashing against the rocks.

We’ll see…


more later – joel

En Route to Halifax Day 2- Part 2


As we crossed over from New Brunswick into Nova Scotia, it occurred to me that my grandfather would have taken the same route 95 years earlier, in 1917.  Ingram Jonas worked the railroads, and was travelling to Halifax when a munitions ship exploded accidentally.


Also I think of Laurie and Clare Gass, especially as we move under the bridge at Upper Stewiake.


I look at this and think that Old Glooscap has turned the tide backwards in the bay, but it return with the evening boar.


Once we arrived at the station in Halifax, it was a bit of a mish-mash.   Harry and I caught the shuttle out to the airport to rent a car (no I don’t want a Chrysler 300, thank you very much) and then had to drive back into town to pick up the girls.

A very winding but pretty road out to Peggy’s Cove brought us to this:


And just now…


…let’s have that beer.

more later – joel

En Route to Halifax–Day 2 (Part 1)

It’s early.  The mist hasn’t yet cleared from the hills and we’ve stopped for a bit just inside the New Brunswick border.


Flipped my watch over to Atlantic time.  Not so early now.


We ditch some cars or something like that and off we go again.  Rattle bonk squeak.

One older fellow laments at the lack of the “romantic clicking of the wheels you used to hear on trains.”

There are a few train buffs on here.  One large gentlemen has been waiting to do this trip for two years.  At 5:30am he was sitting in the front seat of the Park car, taking notes.  I came back there because I could smell the coffee four cars away.  Forgive the zoom – we were miles and miles away from this and I never noticed the windmills myself until I put my glasses on.


If you look closely you can see the windmills on a hill over a bay of something or other.  I ought to come back here and put all the correct names in but I probably won’t.  Back home in northumberland county, everyone’s got their knickers in a twist about the windmills.  Well, half of them do, the other knickers are in a twist reading fifty shades or grey or something like that.


This is at Bathurst station, where Harry thought for a minute about staying.  But then he got back on.



Breakfast was lovely, but fleeting…

more later – joel

En Route to Halifax–Day 1


Let’s get one thing straight right now: if you can afford Via1 (their business class) get it.  It’s worth it for the drinks alone.  Being slightly half-cocked for much of one’s train travel is definitely the more human, and let’s face it, civilized way to travel. 


Also clever is the childlike capability of meeting new kids and playing with them like best friends.  And doing it in the club car is even better.

Stage one our trip was from Cobourg to Montreal.  That was fine.  Then a couple of hours in Montreal in the lounge, and onto Train 14 to Halifax.


The caboose on this train (The Ocean – running since 1904, didn’t you know) is called The Park car.  It has a domed ceiling and would have been awesome to smoke cigarettes in during the 1950s.  We had to settle for sparkling wine, which is just fine, thanks very much. 


Apparently there was also a sunset, which happens every night, just not quite as wickedly as this.  I’ll let you know tomorrow about that.

RIght now I am cramped (all six foot three inches of me) in the bottom bunk of a bed meant for a smallish munchkin, or perhaps a child leprechaun.  As long as I don’t exhale, it will be wonderful and refreshing.  The iPhone is charging splendidly in the bathroom, so at least it will have some beauty sleep.


As long as I have plenty of these tomorrow, I should be okay.

G’night – see you in Halifax tomorrow…


more later – joel


UPDATE:  Forgot to mention that watching the scenery slide by whilst lounging here on my bed writing this is totally bloody surreal and awesome.