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We planned to be in Mahone Bay (Nova Scotia, near better-known Lunenburg) for their Wooden Boat Festival, and we weren't disappointed. Mahone Bay is one of the prettiest towns in the world.

This panorama is very wide (there's a smaller version here).

On this trip, we got very lucky with two B&Bs. One was the Fisherman's Daughter in Mahone Bay. This 1840s house is between the two white churches in the panorama above.

This church is probably most widely identified with Mahone Bay.

The Mahone Bay B&B is on Pleasant Street.

Houses in town were decorated like other places do at Christmas. The first picture is a nursing home.

One of the festival events was an old-style dory launch. The dory was hauled through town on a sled by a team of oxen, then through the boat yard and down a ramp into the water.

The oxen sampled the salt water but didn't like it much. The driver coaxed them as far in as he could, then they reversed and hooked the sled up to a tackle that was used for the launch. They put rocks on the sled so it would sink while the dory floated free.

On the main stage, there was continuous music and other entertainment. We saw Fiddlin' Jim Hamm, a guy playing polkas on his accordion (and people dancing polkas!), and true Nova Scotia-style music by Gypsy Reel, who live in Vermont. One of the band members is Claudine Langille from Martin's River, just a couple of miles from Mahone Bay.


Who says there's no Santa Claus? We saw him on vacation.

Breast Cancer Survivors' boat


One of the more interesting events of the Wooden Boat Festival is Fast and Furious Boatbuilding, which has a very particular set of rules. The contestants are all allowed to use the same set of materials, with no exceptions:

3 - 4ft x 8ft 1/4" plywood
25ft of 3 strand line
6 tubes adhesive sealant
2 sawhorses
4 - 8ft lengths of 2" x 4"
4 C-clamps
4 - 10ft lengths of 1" x 2"
2 caulking guns
4 - 10ft lengths of 1 1/4" x 1/4" lattice stock
1 electrical outlet and extension cord
2 pounds of assorted nails
48 square feet of sail cloth

Each team of two builder/sailors is allowed a maximum of four hours to build a boat, using hand tools only. No plans, they have to keep the design in their heads. Then, a couple of days later, they have to race these creations.

Our innkeeper, Marcia (dark hair in the first photo) and her friend Marlene finished their boat in less than two and a half hours. It was one of only two boats that had no sails. Their plan was to paddle it, and then employ their secret weapon, demonstrated by Marlene in the third photo.

Some other designs, in various stages of construction.

This one even had a figurehead.

Elvis and his twin brother made an appearance.

More scenes from race day. We weren't there for the race. Marcia sent the race-day photos from a local paper.

14' Lunenburg Dory
Built by Reece Baird. He'll build one for you, too.

A ghost story began in Mahone Bay during the War of 1812. British warships chased an American privateer, the Young Teazer, into Mahone Bay. She was about to be taken when her master set her afire, choosing to destroy the ship rather than be taken prisoner. The Young Teazer was carrying a lot of ammunition, so the day's events were over quickly. Almost immediately the ship exploded, killing all aboard with a force that was felt for several miles along the shoreline. Since then, there have been stories of the Teazer sailing Mahone Bay. Sailors have reported being nearly run down by the flaming ship, and observers on shore have told of seeing her sail on the bay, only to disappear in a sudden burst of flame.

Every year, the people of Mahone Bay re-enact the burning of the Teazer. Two "British ships" chase the "Teazer" up into the head of the harbor, using a road flare to simulate the burning and a shotgun to simulate the British cannon. There is a small model Teazer, too, but we weren't close enough to see it burn.

Then they have more conventional fireworks – a pretty good show in its own right.

Blue Rocks is nearby, a side trip on the way down to Lunenburg. Not much to do but enjoy the scenery. At the right time of day, the blue color of the rocks is overwhelming. Even in ordinary light, it's obvious.


Lordly House Museum, Chester, N.S.
Two artists live here, but the house is also open to the public as a museum.

The doll commemorates a trick played by the women of Chester to foil an American invasion. This poem is attached to the doll's cape by way of explanation:

In the year 1782,
On a lovely summer's day
There appeared, ---much to the dismay of the citizens few
American privateers, on Chester Bay.
The frightening sight caused much ado,
Because most of the men were away;
How would they defend their homes
From these plunders on the blue?
No one could seem to say.
But a plan by Capt. Prescott
Quieted their fears---
As guardsmen the women were led
With gray capes turned to red,
Each carrying her broom as a gun.
They out-witted those privateers,
And put them on the run.
From the privateers out-look on Chester Bay
It appeared like the "RED COATS" had come to stay.
So hoisting their sails, they turned away
From ran-sacking Chester on that day.
Now in the year 1973,
The Chester Women's Institute, thought that we
Would present this doll so grand,
To honour the women of that band
Whose courage, so long ago, saved our land.

A Chéticamp Tapestry of the Canadian Coat of Arms.


Lordly House has an area dedicated to the survivors of the Ideal Maternity Home, also called Butterbox Babies after Bette Cahill's 1992 book of that name.

William and Lila Young operated the Home from 1928 until it was ordered closed in 1945, as a boarding home for unwed mothers. The babies were sold for adoption. Many of the babies died in the Home, and were buried in the same wooden boxes used to deliver groceries to the Youngs.

The maternity home (left) was destroyed by fire in 1962.

Cahill's book sparked an interest in people – now adults – who had been born and sold in the Ideal Maternity Home. Several of these people held reunions on the site in 1992 and 1997. At the second one, they dedicated a monument to the babies who had died there – about one in every ten.

We stopped at Indian Harbour, just north of Peggy's Cove. A diving class was in session, so we got to see a flipper now and then.

In Peggy's Cove, William de Garthe carved the Fisherman's Monument outside his studio. From left to right, there is a guardian angel watching over a fisherman's family, Peggy of the Cove, and fishermen at work.

The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove is photographed and painted more often than most others in Canada. The post office is inside. Any letters mailed there get a distinctive postmark in the shape of a lighthouse.

The sign warns tourists in very direct language to have proper respect for the sea, but many don't think that applies to them.

Street scenes, Peggy's Cove. The abundant rock makes landscaping a challenge.

Whale vertebra.



Swissair Flight 111 crashed offshore near Peggy's Cove in 1998. There are companion memorials to the victims in Bayswater, where the remains are buried, and in Peggy's Cove at Whalesback. This is the memorial at Bayswater. A plaque there says:

The communities of Peggy's Cove and Blandford were central to the recovery operation following the crash of Swissair Flight 111. The Whalesback and Bayswater Beach Sites were chosen for their proximity to those communities and because they have view lines to the crash site and each other.

The three sites combined – Whalesback, Bayswater, and the actual crash site – make a triangular shape, which is reflected in the design of the memorials; Bayswater Beach is the western tip of the triangle. As you stand at the monument, facing the ocean, the line on your left is a sight line to Whalesback. The line on your right leads to the crash site, which lies on the horizon.

The remains of the passengers and crew are buried at [the Bayswater] site. At the request of family and community members, the quiet, modest memorials are consistent with the coastal environment.

Swissair 111 memorial at Whalesback (Peggy's Cove).

on to Halifax

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