Port Royal, Halls Harbour, Blomidon: Thursday May 14


What a glorious day! This scenic area today was big blue skies, rolling green fields, picture-perfect farm houses, gorgeously restored heritage homes on huge green lots, stark white birch bark trees and branches against the blue sky and green grass, dense red dirt plowed and ready for planting… STUNNING scenery everywhere we looked.

You probably don’t want to hear about our chaperone morning, and the “whipped yogurt with Nova Scotia Maple Syrup drizzle” that we were treated to at our Tattingstone Inn accommodations… so I’ll skip to the part where we met the kids at 7:30AM. Yesterday night they looked pale and wild eyed from the sleepless journey here, but this morning they looked rested, tidy and cheerful. All kinds of stories about their night floated excitedly around the bus. Did you know that you can tell what colour a hen’s eggs will be by looking at the colour of that hen’s ears???!!!??? No?? Well that was just one little tidbit of info being shared this morning- a couple of our singers are staying on property that includes a hen house!

107_0767We bused for about 90 minutes to Port Royal, the first settlement in Canada by Europeans. Port-Royal was founded after the French nobleman Pierre Du Gua de Monts was sent by the King of France to go set up a beaver pelt trading centre. He was accompanied by the explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain, whom you will know as having founded the city of Québec a few years later. We visited this Habitation and learned A LOT about what was happening at that time in the area, building construction techniques, and the relationship that these f0unding tradesmen had with the Mi’kmaq people of the area. In fact, we were greeted here with songs and sharing by Judy McEwan, sister of Chief McEwan of one of the reserves here. She taught us “Happy Chant Song” and was impressed with how quickly we picked it up and accompanied on drums and spirit sticks. 🙂 

de Champlain kept meticulous notes and drawings of this Habitation, so in 1941 the Canadian government was able to build a replica of the Habitation. In fact, this Habitation is the first such heritage reconstruction undertaken by the Canadian government- in wartime 1941 no less. (they had thought no one would be interested! But it’s the coolest place!)  It is remarkable to see how it operated like a mini city- everything 40 men would need to live and work for a year at a time. To keep spirits up through the long winters, where men fell victim to scurvy (they hadn’t yet made the vitamin C connection to ward off this disease), Champlain started the first “social club” in North America, where “the men of goodtimes” took turns hosting a meal and entertainment. This 107_0773is years before the tradition of “Thanksgiving” dinners, we are told. To be clear, this Habitation doesn’t count as a “settlement” apparently, because there were no families- just small groups of 20-40 men working and trading there. Many however, did take Mi’kmaq wives so there were certainly Europeans living in the area from 1605 onwards.

We were visiting this Habitation before it officially opens tomorrow, and were told we set the bar pretty high for other visitors: we shared a song with our hosts. I’ll try to upload some photos- you will see singers with AVHC friends clogging around in traditional hand made wooden shoes, exploring the place.

We drove a few minutes down the road to the town of Annapolis Royal- one of the cutest little heritage towns ever, and everyone ate lunch on the green hills / ramparts of the Fort there. Beautiful vistas of the bay there.

From there, we bused to Greenwood, and Dwight Ross Elementary. These children were LOVELY- a captivated and friendly audience! Our AVHC friends had picked up a few of our songs, and performed with us. Lots of fun to be together. INTERESTING to see “small” (by BC standards) classes and how positive that can be with the attention you can give each child.

For the afternoon, we headed to Halls Harbour, where kids put the “FUN” in “The Bay of Fundy”. We ran around taking photos and scrabbling on the rocks and finding crabs and dipping their hands the cold water. This is the place where the tides change an average of 42 feet! The boats today were down on the sand… with their docks 25 feet in the air. Very cool.

We could see Blomidon and Cape Split off in the distance, so we drove there on the bus, and had a couple photo ops at the Look Off and the cape. If you come here with your family, plan to do the 16 km round trip hike out to Cape Split! Looks AMAZING.

Well time for me to get ready for the evening, so I’ll sign off for now.