Driving along the Lighthouse Trail from Lunenburg via Mahone Bay to Peggy’s Cove

A stone memorial located about 1 km away from Peggy’s Cove commemorates the victims. The three notches on the monument at Whalesback represent the numerals 111. I personally still remember the news of Swissair 111 crashing into Peggy’s Cove, and looking out onto this peaceful stretch of ocean made me think that sometimes life can just hang by a thread and everything can change in an instant.

Landscape surrounding Swiss Air 111 memorial

From a visual point of view, the St. Margaret’s Bay area is very different from Mahone Bay. In contrast to the forest and field-covered serene rounded hills of Mahone Bay, St. Margaret’s Bay is much more rugged and barren. Geologically, large granite boulders were left behind after the last ice age and dominate the scenery around Peggy’s Cove. I went back to the car and drove the last little bit to one of Nova Scotia’s most well-known destinations.

A view of Peggy’s Cove from the Sou’Wester Restaurant

Peggy’s Cove is a tiny village: only about 120 residents call it their permanent home. The town was founded in 1811 when settlers of German descent were given land grants by the government of Nova Scotia. These settlers mostly earned their living as fishermen, but they also farmed areas that were fertile and pastured cattle. The town saw its peak population in the early 1900s when about 300 people lived there. Today, Peggy’s Cove is one of Nova Scotia’s favourite tourist destinations, and the main attraction, of course, is the famous lighthouse. Tourism surpassed the fishing industry as the main income source in this town after the Second World War, but lobster fishing is still practiced here.

The famous lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove

The surrounding region is known for its hiking trails, kayaking adventures, bird-watching opportunities, and its pristine beaches. Golfing is available and whale watching is one of the major tourist offerings in this area. Restaurants, cafes, galleries and craft shops are additional highlights in the area.

The name “Peggy’s Cove” is derived from a cove of the same name. “Peggy” is a nickname for “Margaret”, and the name may indeed be derived from St. Margaret’s Bay although other local stories talk of an early settler named Peggy while another legend refers to the only survivor of a schooner that ran aground and sank in 1800. Of course, so the saying goes, this woman’s name was Margaret and her home town became known as Peggy’s Cove.

Peggy’s Cove: a picturesque Nova Scotia fishing village

The first lighthouse, a wooden structure, was built in 1868 at Peggy Cove which was followed by the current octagonal structure in 1914. During World War II, the light house was used as a radio station for the Royal Canadian Navy. The old dwellings of the lighthouse keeper were located near the current lighthouse until they were damaged by Hurricane Edna in 1954 and removed. The lighthouse was finally automated in 1958.

An inlet at Peggy’s Cove

Today’s lighthouse holds a Canada Post office on the lower level which also serves as the village’s post office. Visitors climb all over the rounded granite rocks that surround the famous lighthouse. Unfortunately several visitors every year are swept into the sea by the unpredictable surf, some of them even drown. So it’s important to be careful around here.

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St. John’s Church in Peggy’s Cove

Just steps away from the lighthouse is the well-known Sou’wester Restaurant, which also features a souvenir shop and beautiful views over the coastline. I was definitely ready for a late lunch after my exciting discoveries of Lunenburg and the Lighthouse Trail, so I took a seat in the Sou’wester and enjoyed a much needed soup and salad to keep me going for another few hours of this road trip. After a brief refreshment it was time to hit the road again to make it to my final destination of my Nova Scotia trip: Halifax!

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