Bridgetown, NS

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Fundy NP, NB, to Bridgetown, NS

Mostly clear skies starting in the 60s but getting up to the high 80s

Departing Fundy NP at 9:00, we took the limited access highways to Truro, NS, then left the fast road to drive the two-lane Fundy Coastal Drive. Then we picked up the 101 to Bridgetown Family Campground. Along our drive we went through some very varied landscapes ranging from mixed hard and soft woods to large farm fields planted, mostly in corn and soybeans. There were many chicken operations and a few beef feedlots. The drive ended up taking longer than we’d expected but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Our shaded campsite backed right up to a lovely waterway.  The shade was a good thing because it was really hot! We were experiencing the same heat wave that more southerly parts of the east coast experienced at the time.

Evening Breeze Removes Sting of Afternoon Heat

Dinner was fresh potato gnocchi, zucchini and broccoli with a red sauce topped with fresh parmesan cheese.  It was a “dinner-in-a-bowl” that was both tasty and filling!

Friday, July 22, 2022

Bridgetown, NS

Overcast and 70s early, then 85 and very breezy

We drove to the outskirts of Annapolis Royal, 20 minutes west of Bridgetown, and had breakfast at Chavela’s Café. Next stop was the Annapolis Royal Visitor’s Center to get the lay of the land.

Wooden Boat Illustrates Old Boatbuilding Techniques

We walked the beautiful boardwalk along the Annapolis River Basin. The boardwalk featured signage and glimpses of ruins of what had once been part of the waterfront.

Flowers Set Off Relaxing Place to Enjoy View of Annapolis Basin
Small Lighthouse Along Annapolis Royal Boardwalk

The boardwalk ended at Fort Anne.  The building that was occupied by the officers was reconstructed and is now a very good museum. Among the things featured in the museum was a beautiful, huge, four-panel heritage tapestry that took many hands years to make.

Cannon Defends Fort Anne from Attack
Beautiful Heritage Tapestry in Fort Anne Museum

We visited this area because, on an earlier visit to Nova Scotia, we did not tour the western section of the province. Of particular interest was Annapolis Royal and its history. A thumbnail of that history might help make sense of what follows.

Port Royal: In 1605 a French expedition to set up a fur-trading colony built their “habitation” on the north shore of the protected basin off the Bay of Fundy now known as the Annapolis Basin. The enterprise achieved only limited success before it was burned in 1613 by a Virginia privateer. Nonetheless, this establishment known as Port Royal, made it the first permanent European settlement north of St. Augustine, Florida.

Annapolis Royal: Then, in 1629, a group of Scottish settlers arrived in the Annapolis Basin. They built a fort farther upriver than the French habitation.  Their fort was named Charles Fort and is the present-day location of Fort Anne and the town of Annapolis Royal.

The Mi’kmaq: These are the aboriginal people who occupied most of Canada’s Maritime provinces for thousands of years. It was they who made it possible for Europeans to survive the first few winters in the area and it was they who provided the furs that drove the trade that brought the Europeans to the area.

Acadian: The term refers, in part, to the name, Acadie, that the French gave to their colony in the area. It also refers to the people of the area. Although the French and English fought over the area for years, the descendants of French colonists continued to thrive through it all. They used a system of dyking salt marshes that created a distinctive farming culture that also came to be know as Acadian.

Following our tour of Fort Anne we walked the town’s charming main street. Lunch was at the 1 Fish 2 Fish, a tiny fish & chips place where everything they served was gluten free! They fried our food to order and it was delicious.

One of Many Lovely Buildings Downtown, This One an Art Gallery

Continuing our tour we stopped in the Sinclair Inn Museum, the earliest surviving Acadian building in Canada, and one of four of the earliest Acadian buildings in the town. The museum’s docent happens to be a collector of old iron tools and he sits outside on his antique shave bench using a spoke shave to carve replacement handles for his collection as well as for others.

Sinclair Inn Museum is Two Buildings Joined Together
Sinclair Inn Docent Works at an Axe Handle
Joint Where Two Buildings were Fastened Together

He gave us a detailed history of the building which is actually two buildings moved and joined together. Multiple construction methods are represented and sections of the walls and floors are open to expose the details like where the buildings were joined, hand hewn sill beam, wattle and daub walls and nogging where broken bricks are used to fill in between wall studs.

Wattle and Daub was Low Cost Method of Building a Wall
Example of Nogging Used in Some Places in Sinclair Inn Museum

Later on we drove to the earlier settlement site of Port Royal. From the outside it resembles a fortified compound. Indeed, there are gun emplacements at two corners and the compound is constructed to enclose a courtyard with each of the buildings designed for a specific purpose.

Exterior of Port Royal Habitation Resembles a Fort
All Structures Face Inward Onto Courtyard

We visited them all including the blacksmith’s forge, the common building where meals were served and ordinary workers slept, the governor’s quarters that had actual stained glass windows, the apothecary and the store room. The entire site was reconstructed from the original detailed plans that survive to this day.

Blacksmiths Did Important Work But Their Lives Were Difficult and Short
Second Floor of Common Building Where About Thirty Common People Slept
Drugs Were Big Business Even Then So the Apothecary got His Own Quarters
Governor of Port Royal Rated Stained Glass in the Window of His Private Dwelling
Genuine Birch Bark Canoe This One Designed for Lakes

That evening we drove to Young’s Cove Community Hall for a weekly “jam session”. Admission was $2. Altogether there were nine musicians, all men except for one woman. Everyone played guitars except for one bass. One guitarist also played harmonica and kazoo. They were friendly and mostly decent musicians. They took turns performing two numbers each, ranging from country to traditional with the others players backing them up.  What fun!!

Musicians Gather In Young’s Cove on Fridays to Ply Their Craft for the Community

Oh, I almost forgot about dinner! Try a salad along with the remains of the pound of lobster from a couple of nights ago.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Bridgetown, NS

Clear, hot, 90!

Back to Annapolis Royal for their Saturday market called Farmers and Traders Market in Market Square on St George Street. It stands right in the middle of town and mostly open air with a central core of covered stalls. The place was teeming with vendors including artists of all kinds, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh roasted coffee, jellies & jams and on and on. It is Nova Scotia’s largest outdoor market.  It was wonderful!

Saturday Market is Really Busy in Annapolis Royal
Sandy Finds an Antique Mahjong Set at Market

We also checked out a local bakery that was represented at the market. They featured several gluten free products so we purchased some for Sandy to take home and stayed to enjoy a cinnamon roll for Sandy and a cheese & chocolate pastry for me.

Market Street Musician Plays Banjo in Clawhammer Style
Town Hall is Rare Example of Brick Construction

The heat, however was exhausting so we returned to the camper for the air conditioning. Sandy later walked two blocks to uptown Bridgetown. Shop owners, struggling to bounce back from COVID, are now hampered by a one block long street reconstruction project that encompasses most of their businesses. She did find something to purchase, though, including yarn and knitting needles from a variety store. Busy hands …

Showers that evening felt especially refreshing and, happily, a cool breeze kicked up to finally make us comfortable overnight.

Dinner was burgers with cheese and mushrooms, green beans and fresh tomatoes.