One of the great things about Halifax is that it’s surrounded by pretty little hamlets and lovely coves. It frankly makes the choices a bit tough as to which direction to drive to from there. We focused on the west side of Halifax and discovered some lesser known little coves as well as some better known scenic places.
The Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is one of those places that everyone wants to photograph. It is said to be one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada. And rightfully so. It sits out on big boulders in beautiful St. Margaret’s Bay on the Atlantic and is framed by other interesting rock formations. VERY photogenic.
We planned an outing to Peggy’s Cove on the night of the full moon. In order to avoid the masses of tourists that we heard go there during mid-day we left in the late afternoon. Someone told us that there were even traffic jams during peak hours and we didn’t want any part of that.
Our first stop was at the little cove itself. It’s tiny, room for only a few boats. But quite picturesque. This of course is another village that attracts its share of artists and there are a couple of artists’ shops around the cove.
After a short walk in the village, we approached the area that overlooks the Lighthouse. There are giant granite outcroppings composed of smooth, rounded boulders formed by glaciers along the side of the road. It’s almost outerwordly.
Some people in the area say that since the Cove is located in the mouth of St. Margaret’s Bay, and Peggy is the nickname for Margaret, that is the origin of the village’s name. Others prefer the more romantic story; a young woman named Margaret was rescued from a shipwreck, settled here and fell in love with one of her rescuers. People then would come to visit “Peggy of the Cove”, and that is how the name came about. I like the romantic version better myself.
We had prepared a picnic dinner of cheeses, pate, sausage and French bread, and, of course, some wine. And we found a perfect spot on the side of the road approaching the lighthouse by some smooth friendly rocks on the water. No one was around, as most people head straight up to the lighthouse, which has a big parking lot adjacent to it. So we had a beautiful quiet pre-sunset picnic overlooking the beautiful scene: the lighthouse and St. Margaret’s Bay. Lovely.
After our picnic, we drove up towards the Lighthouse area and found a healthy sized group of sunset/moonrise watchers and photographers. It was a beautiful sunset and moonrise. The moon rose on the opposite side of the lighthouse and sunset. A really magical evening.
Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse was built in 1868 and replaced in 1914 and is now a fully automated lighthouse. The Lighthouse was chosen to represent Nova Scotia on a series of 25-cent coins created to celebrate Canada’s 125th birthday in 1992. I can see why.
I must say that seeing the angry waters was worth dealing with the mob scene. So I’m really glad we returned to see a different perspective, but it was too congested for us, so after a brief visit, we left.
Our plan was to continue driving around the area and return later when it was less crowded. Our hope was for a stormy sunset. But the sky just became one solid mass of gray, not very scenic, so we changed plans again and visited the town of Hubbards instead. There we discovered a charming story.
In 1813 the immortal command “Don’t give up the ship” was given by the skipper of the U.S. Frigate Chesapeake. Alas His Majesty’s HMS Shannon captured the pride of the Revolution fleet. They towed her to Halifax and sold her contents. This included a large copper cook pot which eventually wound up with one Guy Harnish from Hubbards.
In 1936 Guy was asked to cater a “Lobster Supper” for a large convention on Hubbards Beach. The old Chesapeake’s pot was shined up and cooked its first meal in over 120 years. This meal is considered “the original Nova Scotia lobster supper”. It was a great success and for ten years it was a repeated for many groups. But the weather being what it is around here, in 1946 Guy’s son built the “Shore Club” to move the feast indoors and the gleaming white building has been serving as restaurant and dance hall ever since.
We decided to have an early dinner at the Shore Club, in the original building still serving lobster dinners after all these years. The Saturday night dances are popular to this day, and this is considered the “last great dance hall”. The old cook pot currently resides in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax!
Nova Scotia is full of wonderful surprises!