Nova Scotia is Canada's Atlantic province with a long history of seafaring and fishing. Its coastline is often rocky and treacherous for all boats that venture too close, or are lost in the fog banks. Lighthouses were built over the years and the Lighthouse Route is a tour from Yarmouth to Halifax along Nova Scotia's South Shore. There are over twenty lighthouses on the Lighthouse Route following Hwy 3 for over 570 kms.
The Lighthouse Route begins, appropriately, at one of Nova Scotia's most dramatic and historically significant lighthouses. The Yarmouth Light stands on the rocky point of Cape Forchu, named by Samuel de Champlain in 1604. The original lighthouse, built in 1839, was replaced by the current structure in the 1960s. Rising 23 meters above the ground, the lighthouse's two-million-candlepower beam can be seen over 30 nautical miles out at sea.
The town of Yarmouth is an historic seaport whose proximity to New England and rich offshore fishing grounds contributed to the town's development and prosperity.The Lighthouse Route leaves Yarmouth on Route 3 and after passing Roberts Island and Glenwood Provincial Park, the side road on Route 335 leads to the French-speaking communities of West Pubnico, Middle West Pubnico and Lower West Pubnico. Settled in 1653 by Acadians, these villages make up the oldest Acadian settlement in the province. In Middle West Pubnico, a monument displays millstones used here in 1699.
Also in West Pubnico, the Abbott's Harbour Lighthouse offers a pleasant place for a picnic. The many islands in the area can be explored by sea kayak.Many of the small towns and villages along this coastline, like Wedgeport, West Pubnico and Woods Harbour, depend on the sea for their livelihood. Colourful fleets of longliners, trawlers and scallop draggers work the offshore fishing grounds, while smaller craft like lobster boats harvest the inshore areas.
At Woods Harbour the lighthouse, built in 1900, sits on a rock ledge in the harbour.In Shag Harbour you can climb the tower in the Chapel Hill Museum for a panoramic view of the sea and outlying islands. At night the lights of several lighthouses- at Cape Sable, Bon Portage Island, Seal Island and Woods Harbour-are visible from this point. The rocks around Seal Island, called the Sea Wolves by Champlain, wrecked hundreds of ships before the building of the first lighthouse in 1830.The Lighthouse Route continues to the busy service centre of Barrington Passage, where it turns right on Route 330 to Cape Sable Island, a noted birding destination. Cape Sable Island offers an excellent view of the stately Cape Sable Light, the tallest in Nova Scotia.
Just beyond Barrington Passage is Barrington, an attractive village with several historic attractions. The replica of the Seal Island Light was built in 1979 as a lighthouse museum. Enjoy the panoramic view of Barrington Bay from the top. The massive Fresnel lens is the one that warned vessels away from the Seal Island shore.
At Port La Tour, a right turn off the Lighthouse Route leads to Smithville and Baccaro, where the Baccaro Lighthouse offers a terrific vantage point for watching seabirds. This loop road rejoins the Lighthouse Route near Shelburne but first it turns right at Port Clyde and follows the coast to Birchtown. About a thousand Blacks who came to Shelburne with the Loyalist migration in 1783 first settled the village of Birchtown. At the time, this was the largest free Black settlement in North America. The village was named in honour of General Birch, the New York commandant who gave protection to Black Loyalists who supported the British during the Revolutionary War.The next stop is Shelburne, a town whose rich history and picturesque charm has captured the hearts of many and attracted the attention of the film industry.
Shelburne was settled in 1783 when 3,000 United Empire Loyalists, who had maintained allegiance to the British Crown during the American Revolution, arrived by ship from New York City, creating an instant boomtown in the wilderness.The Lighthouse Route continues along the shore, reaching historic Liverpool, "Port of the Privateers", the privateering capital of North America between 1760 and 1812. South of Liverpool is the scenic Western Head/Mersey Point Loop which brings you to the Western Head Lighthouse, where surfers, a variety of sea birds and harbour seals are often seen, along with a view of Coffin Island Lighthouse in Liverpool Bay. 208 From Liverpool, the Lighthouse Route continues to Brooklyn, birthplace of the former country music star Hank Snow.
Now the Route follows a scenic coastal loop to Beach Meadows, where Beach Meadows Park features a white sand beach and more striking views of the Coffin Island Lighthouse. In Port Medway, the attractions include the Port Medway Lighthouse Park and the Medway Head Lighthouse.Turn right at Crescent Beach and follow the sign to LaHave Islands. Before you enter LaHave, turn right to go to the Fort Point Museum, a former lighthouse-keeper's house and site of the Fort Sainte-Marie-de-Grāce National Historic Site, where Isaac de Razilly, the first governor of New France, landed with his settlers in 1632.The Lighthouse Route continues along the picturesque coastline through the villages of Bayport and First South, turning right on Route 3 to enter Lunenburg, one of Nova Scotia's most historic and beautiful towns. Lunenburg's colourful waterfront, narrow streets and captivating architecture radiate the flavour of the town's seafaring heritage.
At the turn of the century Lunenburg's schooner fleet sailed the Grand Banks, competing with the fleets of New England to bring home the abundance of cod.From Lunenburg, Route 324 heads inland through rolling farmland and forests, with many beautiful lakes. The winery in Newburne offers tours and tastings; you can also pick berries when in season. The Route continues through Martin's River to Western Shore, where an attractive shoreline park offers superb views of the bay and its islands. Nearby is Oak Island, where a mysterious system of tunnels and shafts originally discovered on the island in 1795 has inspired two centuries of treasure hunters, including American President Franklin D.
Roosevelt. Currently, the island is not open to the public.The Lighthouse Route passes through many more small towns before it turns across the rocky headland toward the timeless magic of Peggy's Cove.
The graceful lighthouse at Peggy's Cove sits high upon the smooth wave-worn granite of the coast and is a revered symbol of the seaborn spirit of Nova Scotia. The tiny harbour below the lighthouse is a masterpiece of seasoned fish sheds and colourful fishing boats, making it one of the most photographed places in Canada. The lighthouse now does duty as Canada's only post office in a lighthouse. It even has its own special stamp cancellation, an image of the lighthouse. The smooth rocks of the shore here are great for exploring, but visitors are cautioned to stay well back from the water's edge-large waves can strike the shore without warning, especially in rough weather.
From Peggy's Cove the Lighthouse Route proceeds along the heavily wooded coast to Bayside and Shad Bay. At Bayside, visiting golfers are welcome to enjoy the challenge and excitement of a championship golf course overlooking the beautiful waters of Shad Bay. The rugged shoreline begins to slip away as the Lighthouse Route ends and the exciting blend of living history and cosmopolitan bustle that is Greater Halifax begins..Michael Russell.
Your Independent guide to Canada Vacation.
By: Michael Russell