Lighthouses are found all round the coast of Nova Scotia and on the shores of Bras d’Or Lake, but some of the most memorable are found along the deeply indented Atlantic coast south west of Halifax. The route along this part of the coast has therefore been called the Lighthouse Trail. There is more to this area than lighthouses, so when you begin to suffer from lighthouse fatigue just open your eyes a little wider. You will see historic towns set up by Acadian, British, German and Swiss immigrants set on a rugged coastline carved by the angry Atlantic.
Ross-Thompson House, Shelburne
At the head of a long fjord stands the town of Shelburne which has retained many old buildings along its waterfront. The town was founded in 1783 to house over 10,000 Loyalists escaping the American Revolution and many 18th century buildings still survive. Amongst the early settlers were George and Robert Ross, sons of a Scottish merchant, who opened a store on Charlotte Lane. Although the store closed down in the 1880s, the building has been restored back to the way it would have looked in the 1820s. The Ross-Thomson House is the only original store building remaining in Shelburne. Click Tab 2 to see the interior of the store.
Fort Point Lighthouse, Liverpool
Having started the page with Peggy’s Cove and its famous lighthouse, it is appropriate that we should finish this page with another lighthouse, but one that has a very different appearance. Named after the fortified gun battery that protected the town from the 1760s to the 1860s, Fort Point Lighthouse in Liverpool is the third-oldest surviving lighthouse in Nova Scotia. From 1855 it guided ships into the the town’s inner harbour. It was finally retired in 1989 and is now open to visitors as well as housing a gift shop.
Although the fishing grounds around Nova Scotia have been depleted, fishing remains an important local industry. Fox Point is typical of the fishing villages that still have an active fleet and a bustling harbour.
Bluenose II, Lunenburg
Lunenburg is very proud of its shipbuilding heritage. In 1920 the Halifax Herald newspaper established a race between U.S. and Canadian fishing schooners and Lunenburg was ready to respond. Defeat in the 1920 race spurred the shipwrights of Lunenburg to build a ship that would take the trophy. Bluenose was launched in March 1921 and she won the International Fishermen's Trophy every year from 1921 to 1938 after which World War II brought the races to an end. When the races ended Bluenose was sold and became a tramp schooner in the Caribbean, ending her career wrecked off Haiti in 1946. A replica called Bluenose II was built in Lunenburg from the original plans in 1963 and is based there although in the summer season it travels around Nova Scotia and Massachusetts.
A rocky peninsula on the Atlantic coast south of Halifax doesn’t sound like a good place to start a village, but in 1811 the natural harbour and good fishing resulted in the founding of Peggy’s Cove. The village with its 1914 lighthouse is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in Nova Scotia. In season the village is bursting with tourists during the day, so an early or late visit is necessary if you want to get a real feel for the place. The pretty harbour is counterbalanced by the bleak granite rocks of the headland which remind you of the many lives lost in the sea here, not just those of fishermen but also the 229 people on Swissair Flight 111 which crashed just off shore in 1998. Click Tab 2 to see a picture of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.
Lunenburg Academy, Lunenburg
Scots and French were far from the only settlers in Nova Scotia. Lunenburg was established in 1753 as a shipbuilding centre mainly by German and Swiss immigrants and their culture has been enshrined in the architecture of the town. It is now a National Historic District and on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A typical example of the local architecture is Lunenburg Academy built in 1895 and still in use as a school.
Click on Minimap to navigate
To move forwards or backwards through the Nova Scotia trail click the arrows above, or select your next destination on the Minimap.