If you have never been to Digby, Nova Scotia, you have yet to live. This scallop capital of the world – the size of hockey pucks, I kid you not, amigos – was my port of entry to Canada’s ocean playground for highlanders, although everyone else seems to be allowed to join in on the fun. There is nothing more exciting than starting off your journey into this beautiful, rugged land with a belly full of the freshest and finest scallops. Everyone needs that cholesterol rush from time to time. There are plenty of restaurants where you can sample grilled scallops, sautéed scallops, steamed scallops and scallop ice cream – well, maybe not this last one. Bubba Gump Shrimp could benefit from a partnership here.
|Downtown Digby, Nova Scotia during rush hour|
Scotland gave the world great heroes such as William Wallace, a brave warrior poet that bears a striking resemblance to Mel Gibson. A day without a kilt is like a day without sunshine, wouldn’t you say? The newer version of this Gaelic land sitting across the pond has gifted its own heroes such as Sidney Crosby (you’re welcome Pittsburg), Robert Borden (the most charismatic Prime Minister we’ve ever had) and Alexander Keith (a hero to many Canadian university students) just to name a few. Culturally, there are several similarities between these fine people and New Englanders. Many venture into the high seas amid very dangerous conditions to ensure every Canadian household has a lobster on their dinner table. There is also a French connection among some of the population, adding to a rich Acadian culture all along our East Coast. Viticulture is starting to take off in the Annapolis Valley and Lunenberg now plays host to one of the most important rum festival in Canada.
What I most enjoyed on the way to Ingomar was the peace and solace found throughout this scarcely populated region. If you seek some quiet reflection, this may very well be your ideal place – in the summer time of course. The coastline has few settlements and their respective populations are barely in the hundreds. The long empty sandy beaches are waiting for you. Ever dreamt of having your own private beach? Well, it is possible in southern Nova Scotia. Every time I am in need of a brief escape into the land of meditation, I transport myself to the beach where I once sat, admired the waves, felt the soothing embrace of the wind and listened to my mp3 player serenading me with my favourite tunes. Absolute bliss, wouldn’t you agree? In most other deserted beaches around the world, you’ll go from zen-like conditions to being quickly swarmed by legions of local merchants as you watch your five seconds of peace dissipate like Richard Kimble in search of the one-armed man.
The accent in Southern Nova Scotia is very distinct. For a moment, you could swear you somehow ended up somewhere in Ireland, leading you to believe that the ferry from Saint John to Cork is much quicker than an airplane ride. Top of the morning to you, boy-o! Life is much simpler there and this is something many of us could learn from these kind souls – or at least appreciate it while you are there. While I was on my reconnaissance missions in Shelburne and Barrington, the locals smiled and actually said “Good morning!” I had almost forgotten the existence of those words in the English language after the many years in Ontario. I felt like a deer stuck in the headlights wondering what would be an ideal reply to such a salutation. During one of our family walks, one of the few residents in Ingomar insisted to have us over for dinner one evening. That’s just the way they are. Too bad we couldn’t take a few of them and recolonize Ontario.
|Good times in Ingomar, Nova Scotia|
Ingomar was our base of operations during our week in the province. From there, we planned strategic visits to Halifax, Peggy’s Cove and Lunenberg, some of the usual touristy destinations. The commentary on those places is soon to come, I promise. It was surprising to find large supermarkets comparable to those in metropolitan areas in a very isolated part of the world but even more, live lobsters the size of a small child. I was not sure if to react in amazement or worry – the beasts could rebel against their captors for sure. Although I had initially suggested to my father we should pick one up – even if it was just to have one as a household pet – my mother discouraged this decision. They were much too large to fit in a pot or our small oven at the cottage. Nothing life fresh seafood!