Observations & Fun Facts About Nova Scotia

Kayaking the Cape Chignecto area

I have lived in Nova Scotia on two occasions in addition to spending a summer working out of Wolfville. When I finally  returned to the province after a long hiatus it was interesting to see and experience it with fresh eyes. Enjoy these 45 random observations and fun facts about Nova Scotia.

Dover Island near Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia
Dover Island near Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia

1. People aren’t afraid of a little colour in Nova Scotia. It’s a treat to see something other than beige.

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2. The highest tides in the world occur on the Bay of Fundy. That means you have to time your trips by boat with precision or you’ll get left high and dry – one of the fun facts about Nova Scotia.

Facts about Nova Scotia - giant tides on the Bay of Fundy
Another look at just how far the tide goes out

3. You can find homemade butter tarts in almost every café or even gas station you stop at.

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4. In Annapolis Royal there is a 9:30 PM candlelit graveyard tour led by Alan Melanson three days a week from June 1st until October 15th. It was fascinating, entertaining, enlightening and one of the highlights (really) of my trip to Nova Scotia.

Gravestones come to life on this candlelit tour
Gravestones come to life on this candlelit tour

5. Tax is high in Nova Scotia – 15% – a combination of the federal 5% GST and the 10% provincial sales tax.

6. Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia. It’s home to the biggest population east of Quebec City – 431,479  people at last count. For 26 interesting facts about Halifax click here.

Halifax also is a super interesting city to visit with fascinating things to do like the tunnel tour on Georges Island.

On the Halifax tunnel tour with Sergeant Matthew Power
On the Halifax tunnel tour with Sergeant Matthew Power
The ferry that runs between Halifax and Dartmouth
The ferry that runs between Halifax and Dartmouth

7. Craftiness is alive and well. Over and over again I was surprised at the ingenious items I’d see outside on people’s lawns or gates. Incredible creativity is obvious. The Nova Scotia College of Art & Design is located in Halifax.

Facts about Nova Scotia - the locals are particularly crafty
Someone’s workshop in East Dover

8. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nova Scotia including Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Old Town Lunenburg and the Landscape of Grand Pré.

9. A stay in some beautiful B&B’s like the one pictured below near Kejimkujik National Park will run you a reasonable $99 in low season and as little as $129 in high season. There are very few places in Canada with such reasonable prices.

A reasonably priced B&B near Kejimkujik National Park
A reasonably priced B&B near Kejimkujik National Park

10. It was a refreshing change to see so few big box stores outside of the Halifax area. I did notice a few in Kentville but that was about it.

11. There are a lot of used lobster traps for sale. Some are offered for as little as $2.50/trap.

12. There is a timeless beauty to the Peggy’s Cove area. A visit never gets old.

Peggy's Cove at sunset
Peggy’s Cove at sunset

13. The best lobster roll I had was at The Rope Loft in Chester. I savoured every mouthful and went back twice. It’s worth visiting Nova Scotia for the lobster rolls alone.

Lobster roll from The Rope Loft in Chester
Lobster roll from The Rope Loft in Chester

14. There are a lot of small cars on the road – partly I suspect as a function of the economy and the price of gas. During the COVID-19 crisis the price has dropped to about 66.8 cents a litre but in winter 2024 it’s as low as about $1.53/litre.

15. I’ve only seen signs like this offering pickled eggs and Solomon Gundy in Nova Scotia. I didn’t know people still ate pickled eggs.

Solomon Gundy anyone?
Solomon Gundy anyone?

16. Oil and wood are primarily used for heating homes unless you live in the Halifax-Dartmouth area. At one B&B I stayed at they told me they went through 40 cords of wood in a winter.

Wood piles are a common sight
Wood piles are a common sight

17. Since 1971 a Christmas tree has been given to Boston as a way of saying thanks for their assistance after the 1917 Halifax explosion. It’s kept lit in the Boston Commons area throughout the Christmas season.

18. In June lupines are everywhere. I never got tired of seeing field after field of them.

No shortage of lupins to be seen on the bike ride from Annapolis Royal
No shortage of lupins to be seen on the bike ride from Annapolis Royal

19. Nova Scotia is home to two national parks – Kejimkujik and Cape Breton Highlands. Kejimkujik has two locations – an interior one and one on the coast.

Beautiful walking on a white sand beach at the end of the Harbour Rocks Trail
Beautiful walking on a white sand beach at the end of the Harbour Rocks Trail in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

20. Wineries have taken off in Nova Scotia. There are wine tours galore – especially in the Grand Pré and Bear River regions.

Bear River Winery grape vines
Bear River Winery grape vines

21. People in Nova Scotia still hang out their laundry to dry; I think that’s great. What a treat it is when you get to a place and sleep between sheets dried by sea breezes.

Laundry drying outside
Laundry drying outside

22. There are some glorious deserted homes that harken back to another era. Some of them look haunted.

Beautiful old home - deserted, maybe even haunted
Beautiful old home – deserted, maybe even haunted

23. Backroads are in abysmal shape. On the paved road into Thomas Raddall Provincial Park I had to stay in the grooves or I would have bottomed out. Even the highways have some major potholes.

24. Churches are in great abundance. Some small towns boast three or more churches in just a few blocks – cue Mahone Bay. Most are white and black.

The three churches in Mahone Bay
The three churches in Mahone Bay

25. Parks are almost deserted in June so it’s a great time to visit. I felt like I had the whole of Thomas Raddall Provincial Park to myself one night. I saw one other vehicle.

Sunset over Seaside Kejimkujik National Park
Sunset over Seaside Kejimkujik National Park from Thomas Randall Provincial Park

26. Nova Scotia – which means New Scotland is the second smallest province in Canada.

Blue Rocks is one of the prettiest villages in Nova Scotia to visit by bike
Blue Rocks is one of the prettiest villages in Nova Scotia to visit by bike

27. Some of the most out of the way places have the most incredible food. I think the winner from my experience is the Lighthouse at Cape d’Or.

People I met elsewhere swooned in their description of his lunchtime grilled cheese sandwiches.  And if you’re in nearby Advocate Harbour don’t miss Wild Caraway – a place where I had a giant piece of fresh halibut for $20 – after a three day solo backpacking trip eating granola and peanut butter.

"Fresh haddock at the Cape d'Or Lighthouse"
Fresh haddock at the Cape d’Or Lighthouse

Nova Scotia has more lighthouses than any other province

28. One of the fun facts about Nova Scotia is that there are 185 lighthouses scattered all over the province. I’d be hard pressed to pick the prettiest. I sure loved the feeling of desolation though at the one at Cape d’Or. You can stay in the Lightkeeper’s Cottage – an experience I’d highly recommend. One of the most popular lighthouses to visit is the Cape Forchu Lighthouse near Yarmouth.

Facts about Nova Scotia - you can stay in a lightkeeper's cottage at Cape D'Or
Lightkeeper’s cottage at Cape D’Or
What a gorgeous location for the Cape Forchu Lighthouse
What a gorgeous location for the Cape Forchu Lighthouse

29. Inland Nova Scotia – Kejimkujik National Park excepted – is relatively uninteresting though there are lots of people in Nova Scotia that wouldn’t agree with me. It’s heavily forested. Stay to the coast for the scenery – and to avoid the bugs.

30. Kayaking is superb in Nova Scotia – though more challenging than I expected. The half day guided trip to the Three Sisters off Cape Chignecto will thrill you with its beauty. It’s a great way to see the tides of the Bay of Fundy in action.

Kayaking past the Three Sisters at low tide
Kayaking past the Three Sisters at low tide

The Cabot Trail is one of Canada’s most beautiful drives

31. Don’t miss a drive of the Cabot Trail – or if you’re feeling adventurous try biking it over five to six days. If you want to see a moose, head for the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Cabot Trail looking towards Cheticamp
Cabot Trail looking towards Cheticamp

32. Bear River is a small town where some of the stores/houses are built on stilts because of the tide. This might be an idea for those people in Calgary living along the river.

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33. The memorial to Swiss Air Flight 111 where 229 people perished in the cold Atlantic Ocean on September 2nd, 1998 is very moving – still after all these years.

Swiss Air Memorial for Flight 111 at Whalesback near Peggy's Cove
Swiss Air Memorial for Flight 111 at Whalesback near Peggy’s Cove

34. There are some beautiful plants in the seaside Kejimkujik National Park including these pitcher plants that I’ve seen nowhere else but in Nova Scotia.

Facts about Nova Scotia - cool looking orchids in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
Orchids – ones I’ve never seen before

35. Strawberries are in season in June and July and judging by the number of towns I traveled through there are a lot of strawberry socials on the calendar.

Local strawberries for sale
Local strawberries for sale

36. The Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail seems to be deserted on weekdays in June. It offers incredible beauty with its fog forests and huge cliffs. Enjoy superlative views of the Bay of Fundy.

Never a boat on the Bay of Fundy
Never a boat on the Bay of Fundy

37. You can get a big glass of wine in restaurants for $9 – and I’m not talking gut – rot kind of wine here. What a treat to pay those kinds of prices.

38. Teenagers in Nova Scotia are the same as anywhere else I’ve been.

Teenagers are the same the world over
I felt like their mother – worrying about them at the edge

Nova Scotia feels a lot like Scotland

39. You make think you’re in Scotland when you go into cafes looking for food. Oats are big – and oatcakes seem to be de rigeur as an offering.

40. There were glorious fields of flowers, especially in the Wolfville – Halls Harbour region.

You'll find beautiful fields of flowers near Halls Harbour
Facts about Nova Scotia – you’ll find beautiful fields of flowers near Halls Harbour

41. Walk into a general store and you might just find the local ladies all playing bingo. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time when the internet didn’t exist.

42. You can get amazing bowls of fish chowder in the most unlikely looking places – this one from The Deck – on a rural road near Hubbards – one of the fun Nova Scotia facts.

You can find fish chowder at the most out of the way places
Fish chowder at The Deck – a general store near Hubbards

43. Biking is excellent around Annapolis Royal – and along the south shore. I found drivers to be extremely courteous – which is a good thing since there weren’t any shoulders 90% of the time.

44. One of the fun facts about Nova Scotia is that the houses in Lunenburg are colourful, beautiful and loaded with architectural details. In fact Lunenburg is a UNESCO site because it’s the best “surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America.

Look for very colourful houses in Lunenburg
Look for very colourful houses in Lunenburg

45. The people I ran into in Nova Scotia were unbelievably friendly – and very proud of their province, one of the fun Nova Scotia facts. It was a breeze to be traveling solo – and surprisingly social, especially if you stay in B&B’s. And there are B&B’s everywhere.

It was wild rose season when we visited Brier Island, Nova Scotia
It was wild rose season when we visited Brier Island, Nova Scotia

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45 observations & fun facts about Nova Scotia

 

 

  1. I love your stories and pictures,I know you missed parts that are so beautiful and so much history and the French shore is a part of Nova Scotia I love and you know to cover it all takes time,and Please come back and see the parts you missed,many Nova Scotians have not seen what you seen and your stories and pictures I think seeing these places will getthem out and visit Nova Scotia and learn their History,thank you

  2. It is too bad you missed one of the most beautiful places in Nova Scotia with the most unique characteristics- Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne counties. Maybe next trip!!

  3. I appreciate your assessment of NS. You have a wee mix up in #10 – Kentville does not have “box stores” – it is New Minas — the little village between Kentville and Wolfville.

  4. I loved all the beautiful pictures of Nova Scotia and your accompanying reference guide to these very interesting, colourful and tasty, local haunts. You have an amazing eye for colour and composition and I enjoyed your comments and observations. I live in the Metro area and am amazed you were able to bike, kayak and drive to all these locations in just two weeks. I am inspired and will make every effort to visit many of the spots, if only by car. Cheers – Linda

  5. What a great article/photo spread. So happy you mentioned Advocate Harbour and Cape d’Or and the Wild Caraway and Lighthouse keeper’s…#27. Two of the many highlights along the Parrsboro shore…from Masstown to Joggins……which is Nova Scotia’s best kept secret and has great motorcycle riding and bicycling………….

  6. I see that you did like most mis/un-informed tourists …. by-passed the Acadian shore from Digby to Yarmouth …. went straight to Digby Neck & Islands. Also, didn’t see much from the South shore. Perhaps time to come back to do the rest of the province.

  7. The Eastern Shore is known by us locals as “the forgotten shore”. And it seems forgotten here as well.

  8. HI. I enjoyed all the pictures as I haven’t seen most of these place and I lived in the valley for most of my life . Don’t know why people complained as they are your pictures not a professional ones. Good job .

  9. I wish she had of stayed at “CANDLE INN THE WINDOW B & B” in Berwick. She was close at Hall’s Harbour.

  10. Looks like you had a great trip and you really can’t do it all. Makes future visits easy to plan. I’ve been living out west for 13 Years now and have come to appreciate the work and reward of a mountain view. Neck of woods with bugs is not for me either. Though at the right time of year there are some gem spots. Sorry a few have taken on a negative tone. Even in what I believe to be one of the friendliest places on earth the internet still seems to provide too easy a venue for the critic. Thanks for your post. It was a nice trip down memory lane and has given me a few ideas for my visit with my family this summer 🙂

    1. @Lealea Thanks for your great comment. I am always amazed at the vitriol out there and wish angry people could put some things in perspective. I think they missed the heading – random observations!!

      1. I wouldn’t worry too much about negative reactions, but try to understand them. Many people in the Maritimes will brace at any remarks they perceive to imply they are old fashioned, quaint, or unsophisticated – so someone could see “I didn’t know people still ate pickled eggs!” and be quite offended. I think this is largely a reaction to being perceived as, and sometimes treated as, the poor cousins by people from the larger provinces. Basically, people everywhere are insecure, and this is one particular insecurity common in the region.

      2. @NSPete Interesting observation. If I haven’t visited a part of Nova Scotia it would be very helpful if people told me specifically what I’m missing so I could check it off the list on the next visit.

  11. You saved Yarmouth and Acadian Shores for your next trip I bet. 😉 You could easily fill a month. From exploring the new coastline trail by 17 giant wind turbines and stepping back in time at a pastoral Acadian Village, to kayaking alongside docked fishing boats and yachts in Yarmouth Harbour. There’s oodles of Frenchys, antique stores, culinary experiences, some of the finest sea captain’s homes in North America, art galleries and SO much more. I’m happy to toss more suggestions your way.

    Carla Allen
    Blogger “Life with Yourgogirl”
    and reporter for the Yarmouth Vanguard

    1. @Carla I would be happy to go back and explore the Yarmouth area on my next trip. Thanks for the informative comment and link. There are still many parts of your beautiful province I’d like to see – preferably during lobster season!

  12. I loved reading your article with great pics. I have been to NS x3, loved every area I visited. Travelled mostly solo, stayed at great B/B’s and took friends in NS to places they had never been too. people very friendly and helpful. need to do coast from Digby to Lunenburg and Kej. park yet but have been all over rest of province. Great sites to see on Cape Breton ie Scottish village, Rita’s tea house, Louisberg. Love all the Maritime provinces. what time of year does Pitcher plant bloom? have Nfld/Lab to see yet. I loved seeing the old way of living and laid back lifestyle, small town stores etc– how I grew up in Sask. love your book on travel

  13. Great article, you could easily had 100 observations about Nova Scotia! I was born in Cape Breton, but live in Thunder Bay, and I return home whenever I can. This Fall we toured around Nova Scotia for almost a month, visiting places we’ve been to before and others for the first time. I highly recommend any visitors to Nova Scotia to see and do as much as they can while there!

  14. I’m sure somewhere in this article you mentioned that Nova Scotia means, ‘new Scotland’, thus the reason you ‘think you’re in Scotland’. I take my biking helmet off to you for biking some of the Cabot Trail. My husband and I and several close friends participated in The Cabot Trail Relay for years. Running up Mackenzie Mountain (my husband’s leg one yr) and running down it (mine the same yr) was difficult. We’ve done several Ironman competitions, including the Worlds in Hawaii, and trust me, biking the Cabot Trail is harder than bking 180 kms. I loved all your pictures and comments. Born in Toronto area, lived in Nova Scotia from 1983-2005. Lived/worked in Thailand for 3+years; lived in Bridgewater, NS (10 mins from Mahone Bay, 15 to Lunenburg) for a yr; India to work/live for 2+yrs; the South Shore for 3 months, and now Greenville, SC. Seeing all these places we have visited and the food/places we have eaten brought back wonderful memories. Thank you for such an amazing article.

  15. I know – time… but you’ve missed the whole beautiful Eastern Shore – Highway 7 from Halifax to Cape Breton, or Marine Drive if you loop via Canso and Guysborough. You could spend your whole vacation just along our beautiful coast. Kayak through the 100 Islands Legacy (NS Nature Trust) for example and then down through the two mapped Bay of Islands routes. Trails, villages, excellent value (food and accommodations) and great people! You’ll simply have to come back. One free night, air bnb at the half-way point 🙂 http://www.highway7.com

      1. Lots of hiking trails along the Glooscap Trail (Rte. 2). Most hiking trails are of wilderness standard from moderate to challenging…along banks of the Bay or Fundy or inland in Provincial Protected Areas. Check out Kenomee Wilderness Hiking Trails. Did you know that every river or stream in the Cobequid Hills has a waterfall? Did you know at Five Islands Provincial Park there is a timeline between Triassic and Jurassic eras that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world….except Morocco! On Jacob’s Lane in Economy you get one of the most spectacular views of the tide out/tide in, in the province! Stop at Cobequid Interpretive Centre in Economy to learn so much more than can ever be put in print!

  16. I really enjoyed this! A great fresh perspective from someone who hasn’t grown accustomed to the scenery. Isn’t the fiat awesome? And I love the restaurant suggestions – I’ve been wanting to try Wild Caraway for some time. Through the comments I see that you’ve been given the opportunity to see that Nova Scotians can be very proud and very negative. Our most recent OneNS report even pointed it out as a provincial weakness.

    1. @Steph I’ve had the full range of comments but overall hats off to Nova Scotians for being so proud of their province. I chuckled about the provincial weakness and thank you for that fact!

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