If you’re from my hometown, you know exactly what that phrase means. If you’re not, you are about to learn a lot about small-town Nova Scotia. I thought since this blog is going to be about what I know, I should start where I spent 18 years. I highly doubt many people will actually go and visit this secluded island, but maybe you’ll learn something new or be interested in researching more about Nova Scotia.
Cape Sable Island is about 3 hours from Halifax and has a population of, if I had to guess, maybe 1,500 people. It is connected to the mainland by a causeway that was built in 1949, which was only passable by a ferry, or if you owned a boat. It is home to a few shipwrecks, a drowned forest (Day Tripper), The Archelaus Smith Museum, where the Cape Islander boat originated and is toted as the unofficial Lobster Capital (in competition with Shediac, NB). Growing up on fresh haddock and lobster has really spoiled my ability to enjoy it anywhere else.
Cape Island, as it’s normally called, has one convenience store, numerous fish and lobster plants, a lot of churches, and endless amounts of sand. I grew up here, and remember all the businesses that came and went (Snug Harbour Restaurant, Geneva’s, Hawk Road Shop, the bowling alley), and have witnessed the decline in things to do. However, Barrington Passage is about 20-25 minutes away depending on where you live on figure eight shaped island, which gives you access to grocery stores, Dan’s (I could write an entire post on Dan’s subs and if you’re ever there, EAT IT!), gas stations, it’s our closest Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s, and pretty much anything else you would need to survive.
Needless to say, growing up, your options were limited for fine dining in Barrington. You had the option of Pizza Delight, JB’s, a fish shack, or Pizza Villa. Barrington, or as we fondly call it Bear’tin, was where my high school was located, and where you “cruised the strip” for fun as a teenager, lining up your cars at the Sobey’s or Superstore parking lot, blaring your music, revving your engine, and driving back and forth. I grew up in a place where you make your own fun, or you die of boredom. I think that’s why I am always on the go, trying out new things, and looking for new adventures.
If you venture even further, Yarmouth is an hour away, which has the closest movie theatre (this is why I’m always so early to movies.. it’s ingrained in me), or Shelburne, home to our closest hospital by 45 minutes. Yarmouth is our “big city” before you hit Bridgewater or Halifax, and where you can find most of the big box stores. Shelburne is still a small town, but has a brewery called Boxing Rock and has a ton of history about war, race riots, and if you’ve read Book of Negroes, you’ve probably read about Shelburne. It is a pretty interesting place when you look at the history and a beautiful place to visit for a day.
Now that it seems like I’ve done nothing but rag on Cape Island and Barrington, it is a beautiful place. The people are beyond kind, always willing to help a stranger, although this is a community where everyone knows everyone, so strangers are rare. The views are stunning, and you’re never far from a beach. It is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, eat a delicious and fresh feed (or mug up) of clams and chips, see our famous lobster pot Christmas tree, and stroll a beach (I recommend The Hawk or Daniel’s Head) and collect beach glass. It is a more simple, more slow paced way of life, and it is something I didn’t realize I missed until living in the city for 11 years. It’s not a place you’ll spend a lot of money, because most things are free to do, or pretty cheap, like stock car races in Hectanooga, or one of the hidden rally tracks. Overall, it’s a different way of life to experience, and some of my favourite people live there, so it will always be close in my heart, and will forever be my home.
I apologize for the long post, but if you happen to be in the area, please check out Cape Sable Island, Barrington, Shelburne, Yarmouth, or even if you’re just outside the city, go see Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg (one of my favourite places to stop), Digby (so much fresh seafood), or anywhere in the valley, really. I hope you enjoyed my rambling on about my hometown, which I’ve written a 40-page research paper on and can spew hours of information on. Drop me a line if you have any questions!
Here are a few photos. I have a ton more on my Facebook account, but these are some of the most recent ones.
This is the view of the Causeway from the beach and boardwalk. It’s not very long, but it takes a beating from storms.
This is Daniel’s Head beach in South Side. It’s about 8 minutes from my childhood home, and where we used to go for a walk almost every night in the summer when I was growing up.
This photo is worth a thousand dollars to me because it’s the last time I had lobster and gravy, which is probably one of my most favourite things to eat.