Appreciating Nature in Off-Season in Nova Scotia

October 9th, 2008 at 10:25 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, is dead quiet now as it’s low season here, and we’re loving it. All the shops and restaurants are open, but quiet. There are no crowds. The only mild downside is that the weather is a little brisk, and the skies were overcast today (in contrast to the beautiful sunny skies yesterday), but it’s still pretty wonderful here.

We finished yesterday with dinner at the Tin Fish, which happens to be in our hotel, the Lunenburg Arms Hotel & Spa. The service at Tin Fish was charming and pleasant (thank you Sarah!), and our meal was excellent. And the hotel is really charming and well-located too. We have a very large room with two queen beds and a queen size sofa bed on the top floor of the quaint hotel. We could use a second bathroom, but otherwise things are great. The staff here is very friendly and helpful, and we’d recommend both the hotel and the restaurant.

This morning, we enjoyed a leisurely late breakfast at the Historic Grounds Coffee House, and then headed out to the weekly farmer’s market at the Lunenburg Community Center. We bought some cheese and some sugar free preserves and had some interesting conversations with some of the market stand operators and owners before driving about 20 minutes to visit Ovens National Park.

The “ovens” referred to in the name of the park are large caverns and caves carved out of the cliff side by the ocean over many thousands of years. Trails along the cliff’s edge take you down to some of the sea caves – either into them, or on a platform so you can view them. Amazing what nature can create. The rock formations and striations were pretty incredible too, with almost all colors of the rainbow represented during our hour long walk.

What was also nice, again because of low season, was that Ovens National Park was closed for the winter, but a sign at the gate suggested anyone willing to make a donation to the park and assume all risks for being in the park was welcome to come on in and wander about. So we did. We never saw another soul – at least not a human soul. We did see a number of local birds, but better yet, as we were leaving the park, a large female deer walked across the path, not more than 30 feet in front of us (sorry – too dumbfounded to take a picture in time). The combination of the might of the ocean with all the flora and fauna around us was exhilarating and we all had a bit more spring to our step as we left.

We drove back to Lunenburg for another nice meal, this one at The Grand Banker Seafood Bar & Grill, right along the waterfront (and about a block from our hotel). Best seafood chowder we’ve had so far, although the lack of broth with the mussels was a bit disappointing. There was also an excellent Acadian Cajun Seafood Stew – the Acadian inhabitants of Nova Scotia are the primogenitors of the Cajuns of Louisiana, and were kicked off their lands in Nova Scotia by the British in the Great Explusion of 1755, as we learned a few days ago. Back to the point – we would recommend the Grand Banker for a nice lunch or dinner.

The rest of our day was spent at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, where we learned how to launch a newly built ship, how to properly design a lobster trap, the difference between Atlantic and Pacific salmon (the Atlantic salmon spawn multiple times, the Pacific ones only once), and countless other bits of useful and not-so-useful information and trivia about sailing, fishing, and Nova Scotian history. What impressed us – and no doubt this was again the benefit of being in Lunenburg during low season – was that there were docents readily available everywhere in the museum, and they all really knew their stuff. We spent perhaps 20 minutes with a gentleman of obvious Acadian background who showed us how to make a duck decoy and lobster trap buoys, and then regaled us with lobstering stories and history. The museum was an excellent way to spend a drizzly afternoon in Lunenburg. If you ever get to Lunenburg and have limited time on your hands, go to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic – you won’t be disappointed (at least during low season).

We wandered around Lunenburg and viewed several of the various gift shops – all of which were interesting and somewhat quirky – no chain retail stores here before settling down at Magnolia’s Grill for dinner. The front desk staff at our hotel had recommend them, and we were not disappointed. Magnolia’s Grill is tiny – it has seven tables, and half the menu is scribbled on a large chalkboard on a wall in the main dining area. There were almost a half dozen soups of the day, along with another half dozen other dishes and a separate board featured several desserts for the day. We had three of their soups (a spicy peanut cream, tomato and cheddar, and French onion) and all were perfect. We added a shrimp stir-fry over brown rice (all ingredients cooked to perfection in terms of crispness, but not as flavorful as expected), some bacon wrapped shrimp with a phenomenal garlic aioli, and then finished things up with a pumpkin cheesecake and a chocolate peanut butter mousse cake. Oh, and Linda and I enjoyed a couple of their excellent martinis with our meal too. Great dinner and pretty reasonably priced. Very highly recommended.

After returning to our hotel, we put Bas to bed (actually, we need to start calling him Sebastian now, or so we’ve been informed), and went to the bar at the Tin Fish for some wine (for me) and coffee (Linda) and tea (Krystyana), sitting in front of the warm fireplace to work for a bit on our various tasks (e-mail for me, math schoolwork for Krystyana, day journal for Linda).

We’ve got an early start tomorrow as we head up to the Bay of Fundy, with plans to visit a look-out point, an artisanal cheese maker, a premium vineyard, and finally ending up in Truro so we can observe the Truro Tidal Bore on Saturday morning.


Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.