Nova Scotia's South Shore: Lights South & West

Baccaro, Pubnico, Yarmouth, Cape St Mary's, Church Point, Gilberts Cove, Hampton, Nova Scotia. Shediac, New Brunswick (Map)

Spring 2014


Leaving Shelburne mid-afternoon, I had the remainder of today & much of tomorrow to wander as I pleased. I wouldn't be stopping at the skatepark in Yarmouth without my bike; instead I had marked all of the nearby lighthouses in the GPS & went to work.

Around this southwestern portion of Nova Scotia, many of the lighthouses exist on offshore islands. There are also lighthouses accessible by land, but many of them are more pleasing than awe-inspiring.

Baccaro Point Lighthouse marks the southernmost point of mainland Nova Scotia. There used to be a more impressive lighthouse here, but the 1851 structure was destroyed by fire in 1934. The current lighthouse was built as a replacement the same year.

I'd only driven this area to the west of Shelburne once before, on a day that I still feel bad about, where it didn't occur to me how much of a drive it is from Lawrencetown Annapolis Valley, through the foothills of Nova Scotia, down to Bridgewater, over to Shelburne, around to Yarmouth, to Weymouth at night with the gas light on, then back to Lawrencetown (map). Google Maps will tell you this is only 5h32m, but on those 80km/h (50mph) roads, it takes quite a while longer if you want to have any fun or enjoyment.

Seeing as I was known as the guy who goes on adventures during my time in Nova Scotia, my friend Andrea always wanted to set off and come along sometime. Of course this is the time I decided to bring her, where it was pretty much driving & more driving, myself sadly mistaken on just how long the drive would take.

Since we had to get back for a Super Bowl party, I couldn't stop anywhere once I realized just how big of undertaking I had embarked us upon. Racing through Barrington, Yarmouth & Weymouth, it was one of those days where you bite off too much & crane your neck wishing you had more time.

That's what was so nice today - I had a whole afternoon & evening to visit a few lights before making it to Yarmouth for the night. Casually cruising through towns and country I hadn't ever seen in Nova Scotia, the freedom & time to explore these lands brought a smile to my face.

Although, even with all the time in the world, I wasn't wandering into any tick-laden grass, no matter how intriguing an old house looked in Smithsville.

The next stop was at the Pubnico Harbour Lighthouse. With how the main NS-103 highway cuts inland down here, I was left on rural NS Trunk 3 going through Barrington, Barrington Passage & Shag Harbour instead.

Passing through the sizable town of Barrington, I still wished I had even more time to explore by bmx or on foot. Exploration time is one of those things that's never enough.

Parking at the end of Lighthouse Road, I walked along the short spit that extended out into Pubnico Harbour to reach this fibreglass tower from 1984. Of course it reminded me of Point Aconi, but in a good way because Pubnico Harbour hasn't suffered from copper theft & arson. (Point Aconi burned down about 2 years after I was there.)

This is also a good place to mention the weather of this fine, late spring evening, with the sun slowly falling from the sky & light winds not doing much of anything. These conditions certainly contributed to my love for Pubnico Harbour Lighthouse, as opposed to if I would have came here with Geordie & Tyler on a nasty winter's day.

For the next lighthouse I found out just how far Pubnico Harbour extends northward, where if only my damn rental car was amphibious, I could have crossed the 1/2km (0.3mi) channel from Pubnico Harbour Lighthouse in no time. Instead I had to drive 25km around this water feature.

Happily staying off the main highway, my land car brought me through pleasant and Acadian East Pubnico, Pubnico, Upper West Pubnico, West Pubnico, Middle West Pubnico, as well as a bit of Lower West Pubnico. It was near Lower West Pubnico that I found Abbott's Harbour Lighthouse guiding me to Le Village Historique Acadien De La Nouvelle-Ecosse. Parking the car and strolling past multiple old homes and businesses that they'd moved here to recreate a handsome Acadian village, I found the lighthouse upon a small hill, with plenty of vegetation blocking almost all sunset angles.

The Abbott's Harbour Lighthouse was built in 1922 & moved to this spot in 2004 after the Coast Guard went to decommission the lighthouse, then found out that it was actually on private land! Unable to decommission the lighthouse and leave it as a responsibility to a private landowner, a solution was found upon this prominent hill at La Village Historique Acadien. The light was cut into three pieces and reassembled overlooking Pubnico Harbour.

Driving out to Lower West Pubnico, I passed the Salmon River Lighthouse along the way. This lighthouse used to stand on a breakwall at Salmon River - about 25km/15mi north of Yarmouth - but was rescued in the 1980s when the Coast Guard wanted it destroyed.

The lighthouse was saved and attached to a gift shop here along NS-335, but sadly the gift shop is no longer open. Peering into a window at eye level, it looked like everything was simply locked up one day, so who knows what happened to the owner of the gift shop/lighthouse.

The road here on the west side of Pubnico Harbour had many weathered and worn buildings, so I'm not sure how many tourists are coming this way, or how hard it is for people to make money off of tourism down here.

I was now done with lighthouses for the day; although if you think my work down here is done, realize there are 14 island lighthouses between Shelburne & Yarmouth.

Anyway, it was time to get on the major highway & move quicker than the rural trunk routes. At what felt like lightning speed, I was into Yarmouth and gloriously devouring Taco Bell at their weird outpost which fails to exist similarly anywhere else in distant Atlantic Canada places. For the four times I've been to Yarmouth, I've visited TB 3 times. I was glad to see it still hanging on, even though way too many people were choosing the KFC options.

I was also excited for Yarmouth because I wouldn't be staying at their forgettable Comfort Inn again - I would be staying at the Lakelawn B&B and Motel!

Built in 1864 for ship baron William Dodge Lovitt, his mansion would be converted into a lodge by the 1920s. In the 1940s, the mansion was moved back from the street & motel wings were affixed to each side.

The complex has survived as a motel/b&b, passing through the motel heyday of the 60s and 70s, staying open right up until today. I stayed in the motel wing because I'm not the biggest b&b guy, but I can tell you that there was a good amount of overall traffic and occupancy during my stay.

Getting to stay in a motel - which I quite enjoy - as well as having a deck and going out to the car with Lovitt's mansion beside me, was well worth the $79/night.

The next lighthouse was about 30 minutes north of Yarmouth. By the time I got there, you can see the harsh light of day had already come, as I may have stayed sleeping at the motel after getting up at 5am for Sandy Point the day before.

Cap Sainte-Marie Lighthouse was built in 1965 and it closely resembles the Nova Scotia lights I've visited at Cape d'Or (built in 1965!) and Caribou (similar architectural plans were still in place in 1971!)

I thought most of the dramatic areas of Nova Scotia were widely known (Blomidon, the Highlands), so I was surprised to walk up to the lighthouse here and see it guarding such formidable cliffs.

Another 1/2 hour up the road - where I stayed on the rural route because the inland highway would have taken just as long - I was in Church Point, home to the Université Sainte-Anne and also the tallest wooden church in North America.

Standing impressed, I would have seen this church prior to 2014, but I thought it was a ridiculous idea that Geordie & Tyler wanted to come visit the all-girls University here when we were in school in the Annapolis Valley. They would see right through us! They'd know we have ulterior motives for being in Church Point!

If I would have visited back then in 2007, I also might have seen the Pointe de l'Église Lighthouse.

I found out about this one from my fun-loving friend, after I checked facebook in March of 2014 to see a link to "Fierce Winds Destroy Iconic Nova Scotia Lighthouse" posted on my wall, to much amusement and hilarity.

A Nor'easter had come along and blew the 1874 wooden structure off of its footing, over the cliff to the beach below. The wave action then did a number on what was left.

What my friend Rosie didn't know, is that some of the lighthouse still sits on the beach.

Therefore...count it! I've seen Pointe de l'Église Lighthouse. I showed her!

I was happy to be able to still see some of the lighthouse before the Atlantic eventually washes it all away. I thought about how if I lived closer I'd give it a proper sendoffs by taking one of the walls home to make a ramp.

All of 7 minutes up the road is the lighthouse replica at Belliveau Cove. I don't normally stop or photograph replicas, but embarrassingly I didn't realize it was a replica until just this second on July 19th, 2015, about 13 months after I was in Belliveau Cove.

It's a fine replica and it was nice of the residents to replace their original lighthouse destroyed by erosion.

Ten more minutes up the road & I was in Gilberts Cove.

In the course of all this back road driving, I had been thinking about how I spend my time/money/resources and if what I was doing today was "worth it". I obviously like to throw some bike riding in usually, but unable to bring my bike on this trip, I was left with only lighthouses, unless I was going to think of something else to do down here.

Gilberts Cove dispelled all of those thoughts though. I had this fantastic, well-maintained area all to myself, the view was great, the weather was equally great & the lighthouse was picturesque. I was driving around somewhere new in a rental & finding places that I love to find - so why was I having second thoughts about this? It was a great day and worth the resources spent on such an endeavour.

I loved this little lighthouse so much that I wished I knew about it when I lived in Nova Scotia. Then again, I hadn't yet started to enjoy lighthouses like I do now just yet, so who knows how often I would have went past Digby to get almost to Weymouth.

Speaking of Digby, another 20 minutes past Gilberts Cove, I found myself back in that familiar town. As Digby is a bit closer to the Annapolis Valley, I was now getting back into the immediate area of my old haunts.

Geordie & I visited nearby Point Prim Lighthouse in 2008, but Digby has acquired another lighthouse since that time.

In 2012, after much political grandstanding and raucous chest-thumping, Digby's old lighthouse, which had found its way across the Bay of Fundy to maintenance and love in Saint John New Brunswick, was returned to Digby so that they could set it up on the waterfront to repatriate some of their history.

To my dismay, I found Digby's lighthouse sitting in a public works compound, but apparently the mayor hopes to have it reassembled on the waterfront by fall 2015. We shall see.

After a lunch fill-up of scallops and coffee in Digby, it was another 15km up the road to Bear River Station. Geordie & I were around here when we went to Point Prim in 2008, but more so in the actual town of Bear River, instead of out here by the highway.

Having driven on the NS-101 over Bear River a handful of times now, I was quite sure I knew how to get to the Bear River Lighthouse, but suddenly it was giving me trouble. There really isn't any extra area for it to hide, so I angrily checked my phone and looked around confused, unsure of how I couldn't see the lighthouse anywhere. Even wandering into people's yards and wondering how Nova Scotians feel about trespassers, all I found were steep cliffs down to Bear River. I was going to try and climb down one of the cliffs to see if the lighthouse was on the shore, but I couldn't understand how others reached the lighthouse. They couldn't be climbing down these almost vertical cliffs.

Eventually, as these things can be, it was easy enough to reach the lighthouse once I figured out the problem. Instead of poking around the cabin area, I went up the Digby County Rail Trail until there was a miniscule road off to my left that led up to the lighthouse.

I would imagine better signage is coming to the 1905 structure though, as the lighthouse was transferred to the Municipality of Digby in 2010, to be managed by the Bear River Lighthouse Society. In addition, this lighthouse is one of the 74 newly-designated heritage lighthouses, although it's weird that a lighthouse already owned by a municipality with a managing lighthouse society, would need additional preservation under the Heritage Lighthouse Preservation Act. This seems like one where the feds can bump up their preservation number, but weren't really needed here. There's lots of other Nova Scotian lighthouses with no protection at all, is all I'm saying.

There would be one last lighthouse to get here today where I now had about an hour's drive ahead of me. Speeding through my old haunts of Bridgetown and Paradise, it was really weird to see places I had totally forgotten about over the last 7 years, but which were so familiar at one time. Sadly, I didn't have time to make it further east to even more familiar Middleton, Lawrencetown, Kingston or Greenwood, as I only had time to make it up to Hampton.

The Hampton Lighthouse was built in 1911 and it is managed nowadays by the Hampton Lighthouse Society (some of these lighthouses are open to visit but I was visiting too early in the season). The lighthouse came to be transferred to the historical society through something called the 96-1 Directive. While I had no idea that Canada actually divested of lighthouses like the U.S. instead of spending hundreds of thousands to demolish them, at least two lighthouses were transferred from the government to private bodies at a cost of $1.00. Yarmouth's Cape Forchu was the first, but on November 30, 2001, DFO accepted a loonie from Barb Sancton of the Hampton Lighthouse Society, and the Hampton Lighthouse was now theirs to maintain and present to the general public. The lighthouse was magnificently maintained during my visit.

Finishing up in Hampton, I started on my way to New Brunswick where I had some obligations over the next couple of days.

I had some extra time while I was there, so I popped up to Shediac to see Pointe du Chene Range Rear Lighthouse one afternoon.

This was another lighthouse where I checked the new list of 74 federally designated historical lighthouses, thinking that maybe the homeowners would like to paint Pointe du Chene Range Rear.

Unfortunately, only two lighthouses from New Brunswick were designated & neither are in Shediac.

Along with Pointe du Chene Range Rear, there is also the Pointe du Chene Range Front Lighthouse nearby.

These two lighthouses stand behind the very popular Parlee Beach Provincial Park, so I had to wait on a ridge until beachgoers could pass and I could take a picture of the lighthouse. Eventually the stream of people petered out & I had taken enough pictures to go on my way.

In summary, there's 11 new Nova Scotia lighthouses in this South Shore series, bringing my total to 37 for Canada's Ocean Playground. Grabbing these two range lighthouses brought my New Brunswick number to a meagre 5.


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1 - Yarmouth Villages - An Architectural Look at Old Yarmouth
2 - Lakelawn B&B Motel - History
3 - CBC New Brunswick - Lighthouse Moved from Saint John to Digby still in storage
4 - Lighthouse Digest - Bear River Gets New Owner
5 - Wikimedia Commons - Salmon River Lighthouse
6 - Hampton Lighthouse and Historical Society - Welcome
7 - Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society - Bear River, various pages
8 - Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society - Abbotts Harbour, various pages
9 - Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society - Baccaro Point, various pages
10 - Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society - Belliveau Cove, various pages

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