My brief introduction to Lunenburg was just enough to whet my appetite and to give me some ideas of what to see next time I have a chance to visit this part of Nova Scotia. After saying goodbye to the innkeepers at the Lunenburg Inn I went back on the road to connect with the Lighthouse Trail. Beautiful blue skies were greeting me, and the early autumn colours were adorning the small country roads that snake in and out of the indented shoreline of Nova Scotia’s South Shore.
Nova Scotia coastline
My first stopover happened in Mahone Bay, a very picturesque village located right on the Lighthouse Route. The entire area boasts 365 islands, literally one island for every day of the year. Mahone Bay is a popular weekend getaway destination, and watersport enthusiasts love its protected bay-side location. I parked my car and took a little stroll through town which was decked out in pre-Halloween decorations. A wide variety of scare crows were adorning the village, and one house was being rescued by a team of firefighters made up entirely of stuffed straw puppets. Numerous eclectic shops, restaurants and art stores line the main street of Mahone Bay, a town dating back more than 250 years.
Fighting a scarecrow fire
It all started in 1754 when the town was first settled by the “foreign protestant” pioneers, mostly German Lutheran immigrants, who had been brought over by the British Crown in the mid to late 1700s. Even the local Bayview Cemetery attests to this heritage: many of the gravestones feature German inscriptions.
“Ocean Monsters” in Mahone Bay
The name “Mahone” itself stems from a French term for a low-lying vessel that was mainly used by pirates. These were the big days of privateering on the East coast, the days of government-authorized pirate raids. Today, a kinder, gentler life is lived in Mahone Bay, and this quaint little town attracts many artists, travelers and nature lovers. Many people even consider relocating permanently to Mahone Bay: Harrowsmith Magazine has rated Mahone Bay as one of the top ten best small towns in Canada to live in. It is certainly one of the most scenic.
Mr. and Mrs. Tin Man
The biggest landmarks in the town are found in the harbour area: three churches, located side by side, come together to create one of the most popular photo opportunities in Canada. Trinity United Church, built in 1861, St. John’s Lutheran Church, in its present version dating back to 1903, and the St. James Anglican Church, constructed in 1887, form the famous trio of Canada’s most photographed churches. Throughout the summer season the Three Churches are the location of a concert series, and Mahone Bay itself hosts a variety of festivals throughout the seasons.
The Three churches
After my quick ice-cream stop I continued my drive along the Lighthouse Trail past picturesque inlets, islands and country vistas. I was now on the homestretch of my drive to Halifax and had to watch my time in order to make it into town for my evening program in Nova Scotia’s capital.
Scare crows in Mahone Bay
But two more stops would be mandatory: the first one just outside of famous Peggy’s Cove was the memorial for Swiss Air Flight 111 which crashed into St. Margaret’s Bay, about 8 km out in the ocean, on September 2, 1998. Swiss Air 111 was on its way from New York City to Geneva, Switzerland, when 229 men, women and children perished off these shores on this early September day.
Swiss Air 111 Memorial