That Other Area of Nova Scotia
I recently found myself in Central Nova Scotia with time to spare.
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Central Nova Scotia is that area which connects the province to New Brunswick. Anyone who has driven to Nova Scotia has passed through this area, but it's tremendously boring along the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) as you drive around the town of Amherst, then have a mountain pass where there isn't a town for nearly an hour.
As mentioned previously, I'm obsessed with areas where people don't go & subsequently, you don't hear very much about. I had a friend recommend one place near here called Joggins; but other than that, I'd never heard much about anyone getting off the TCH in Central Nova Scotia.
Exiting the TCH, the first village I came to was the community of Great Village (pop. 500).
Boy did Great Village set the bar high! I didn't do much research for this trip besides getting the lighthouse directions, so I really hadn't a clue what to expect. I quickly discovered the area's shipbuilding and lumber heritage through all of the fantastic, beautiful historic buildings.
You see the elementary school above and the Blaikie House above that. The Blaikie House was built in 1870, a 23-room Queen Anne residence for the merchant & shipbuilder John Blaikie.
Continuing to drive through Great Village, every building wasn't as opulent as the Blaikie House, but they were still pleasing.
I really liked Great Village, I'm going to get off the highway & buy supplies there instead of Truro from now on.
The next notable town along Trunk0 Road #2 was Bass River - home to the Bass River Lighthouse, constructed in 1907 in the pepperpot style, abandoned in 1992 and purchased by a private party in 1994. This private party would build a cottage into the lighthouse and now has a summer escape with his/her own lighthouse attached!
Since it is private property, I didn't want to bother the homeowner and simply snapped a picture from the beach at Saints Rest.
(Also of note, that 'Trunk Road #2' is the same "Old Number 2 Highway" that we have here in Essex County - this highway starts in Halifax and ends in Windsor, Ontario.)
The next lighthouse along the route was only 20 minutes from the previous one, near the community of Five Islands.
The Five Islands lighthouse is also a pepperpot style light, built in 1913 and not in use since 1993. There was one of those informative signs on the ground which told me that this lighthouse has been moved 3 times (1952, '57 and '97) due to erosion which threatened the light with destruction.
I would later learn that Five Islands Lighthouse has actually been moved 4 times, as they had to move it again in 2008, when it was then located in a campground and the campground was abandoned. Thankfully, Colchester County had the insight to help with finance and move the lighthouse to a 22-acre parcel of land donated by a late lady named Gertrude Jenkins (she wanted a park created to give everyone free access to the beaches in the area).
A lighthouse...a sweet 2 foot quarter into a bank...what more do you need from a park?
Whereas the other communities I've mentioned are considered unincorporated rural communities, I would come to the only town on the trip when I reached Parrsboro (pop. 1401).
Parrsboro was charming and seemed worthy of a walk around, but the weather conditions weren't getting any better & I was also eating up chunks of time stopping at every 30 foot lighthouse along the way...
Like the 1980's Parrsboro Lighthouse!
There has been a station here since 1852, but the previous attractive light was destroyed in 1945.
I find it funny that my research now shows me a bunch of websites telling me this is a strenuous lighthouse walk, meanwhile I was sore, tired and hungry; yet I casually strolled out to the Parrsboro light.
Strenuous lighthouse walk must have a different meaning in NS than NL. Then again, I don't think the instructions are typically for a
20-something (relatively) healthy male.
Near Parrsboro there's another lighthouse by the name of Cape Sharp.
Unfortunately, my standard method of paper maps and point-form directions failed me as I ended up on some random forest road without a clue if I was actually heading towards Cape Sharp.
So I guess if I ever want to get every Nova Scotia lighthouse, that I'll have to return to Central Nova Scotia.
I left Trunk 2 in Parrsboro for Nova Scotia Route 209.
Route 209 brought me to Diligent River and the pleasant surprise you see above.
Which I could hardly believe.
How was this old wood church not burnt down? I could see if it was along some old dirt road, but you have to think young ruffians drive by this location often, salivating at the thought of setting fire to the old wooden structure.
Maybe none of them live in Diligent River.
My interior pictures are complete crap because of the bright light shining in & the fact that there's nothing left inside besides pieces of wood - making it hard to define a subject.
Oh well, I hope this Diligent River church sticks around. I loved to see it this time & I'd love to see it again. It was a surprise find that brightened up my foggy & rainy day.
Another church stood across the road in Diligent River - I suspect this is the newer replacement church.
The next lighthouse was the 1908 Port Greville Light. This one has an interesting history as it was sawed in half and moved to the Coast Guard College over 400km away. This occurred when Port Greville's shipbuilding industry collapsed and the Coast Guard decided that a light was no longer necessary in Port Greville.
The light is now back in Port Greville thanks to the Age of Sail Heritage Museum (the light was sawed in half in the 90s and trucked back from North Sydney to Port Greville).
The fact that the museum manages this lighthouse means that it was an extremely easy one to reach - I parked about 15 feet away from the lighthouse door.
Another 20 minutes up the road was the Spencer's Island1 Lighthouse.
^The tag reads "Chance Brothers and Co. Limited. Near Birmingham"
Spencer's Island Lighthouse was another one where you parked your car & you were there.
Spencer's Island was my favourite of the day since it was slightly different than the pepperpots, was located in a cool little village, it was open to go up to the lantern room & the interesting historic information located inside the lighthouse.
Good work Spencer's Island!
Another 20 minutes up the road and I came to the most famous Nova Scotia lighthouse not named Peggy's Cove.
I often notice Cape D'Or Lighthouse in advertisements & pictures for Nova Scotia, but I have to think that has to do with its amazing location instead of its 1965 simplicity.
Unfortunately, Cape D'Or was the foggiest location of the day & I could barely see the Bay of Fundy below the cliffs. I felt sorry for the visiting Asian Family who had Ontario license plates and dSLR cameras; you can't win 'em all I suppose.
The last lighthouse I could reach today was the Apple River Lighthouse.
In researching for this trip, I found only 1 picture of the Apple River Light & comments stating that you can take a picture of the light from across the bay in the community of Apple River, or you can take a logging road and then hike out to the light.
Even though the day was growing long & I was getting tired, I knew it would be fun to hike out to the cape & get a rare picture. My idea of fun was shredded almost instantly as it started to drizzle and I found that the logging road couldn't be traversed by car for very long. I left the car and ended up having to leap and dance around giant puddles and boot-swallowing mud pockets.
The logging road reached forks and had offshoots for most of the 2 kilometres I walked. Without a GPS, the arbitrary logging road I took finally ended at a clearing where you could see trees were being taken down. I was now quite wet from the drizzle as I had to leap & step from log to log instead of around mud pockets.
Once I was through the cleared forest, I entered some unmolested forest and continued in the rough direction I imagined I needed to go. The forest didn't last very long and I came to a small cliff which led down to the above tidal flats you see in the picture.
Standing at the tidal flats, it started to rain harder as I scanned the horizon looking for the Apple River Lighthouse. I had already been walking for about 45 minutes and I couldn't see the lighthouse anywhere.
It was getting late & I decided to give up. That GPS will come in handy one day.
The primary reason I was passing through Central Nova Scotia was because I had business in New Brunswick.
In the upcoming days, I set out to meet up with my friend Muggah in Fredericton. Since I would get there before he was off work, I decided to knock off my first New Brunswick lighthouse - Wilmot Bluff Lighthouse (1869).
If you know New Brunswick, then you might be confused how I saw a lighthouse in Fredericton - the New Brunswick Capital which is far inland from the ocean. Well, this is because New Brunswick constructed lights along the Saint John River so that boats could navigate between the two major cities of New Brunswick: Fredericton & Saint John.
I was a bit worried as Wilmot Bluff Light is privately owned & on private property, but you can get a good picture & see what you want to see from the driveway.
Turning around at the end of the road, a trio of groundhogs were watching me from beneath a Quebecer's Mazda.
While in the area, I also visited my friend GW in Halifax. He wasn't home when I went to his house, so I drove west to the Indian Harbour Lighthouse near Peggy's Cove.
I was happy with myself as my shy/antisocial self wouldn't have previously knocked at some random door and asked if I could pass through the private property to reach a lighthouse.
The woman who answered the door had no problem, but warned me that the trail would be wet.
The trail wasn't bad & I was quickly out onto the rocks of Indian Harbour to see the 1901 lighthouse.
I have to thank that lady as the weather was beautiful and I was happy to check off another Nova Scotia lighthouse.
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