Buy One Night, Get the Second Night FREE!

With all of the great travel discounts available in Nova Scotia we thought it was time to start a new series of postings. Every few weeks we hope to outline some of the more unique adventure packages, accommodation deals and other offers visitors might find in the province. With the loss of the ferry service in Yarmouth, the price of gas, the value of the Canadian dollar, the general decline in visitors from the New England States, and other issues operators in the province could probably use any boost they can get.

Our first post features a BOGO offer from Stonehame Lodge and Chalets in Scotsburn, Nova Scotia. Stonehame is a well-managed, family-operated mountain retreat near Pictou. Jeff Gunn and his dad have done a great job with this place. The lodge rooms and mountain-top chalets are among the best accommodation facilities you’ll find anywhere. The staff are friendly and children and adults alike will love to hike the trails, pet the farm animals on the property and enjoy the peace and quiet!

Here’s the deal! From now until the end of August, 2011, every week from Monday through Thursday “BUY ONE NIGHT AT THE REGULAR PRICE and GET THE SECOND NIGHT ABSOLUTELY FREE!!” The discount applies to both rooms and chalets at Stonehame.  For more details call  (902) 485 3468 or book on line!

Know of a special travel discount in Nova Scotia? Tell us about it.

Enjoying the view at Stonehame Lodge & Chalets

Enjoying the view at Stonehame Lodge & Chalets


08 2011

Graduation Day at the Canadian Coast Guard College

It was Graduation Day at the Canadian Coast Guard College in Cape Breton last Saturday. The formal afternoon event and subsequent reception, dinner and dance was well worth the seven hour drive from Liverpool, not to mention the spectacular sights and sounds of Cape Breton Island as we wound our way along the 105 to Sydney. It has been over a decade since I visited Cape Breton, and I had forgotten just how beautiful the island really is.

There were 24 graduates of the Class of 2011 including long-time family friend and Chief Cadet, Michael Smith of Halifax. It was Mike who proudly led the graduation march during the formal ceremony and accompanied the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Marc Gregoire and the new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Keith Ashfield in their final inspection of the cadets. Peter Sloan of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia and Robert Nugent of Campbell River, British Columbia were among the graduates. I had come to know Peter and Robert quite well, having spent Thanksgiving with us during their first year at the college. It was good to finally meet their parents and see them off on their new careers.

It was a proud moment for Robert and Linda MacLellan of nearby Ben Eoin as well. Their son John was fresh out of high school when he was accepted to the college in 2007 and at 22, is one of the youngest members of this distinguished graduating class. John shared the valedictorian address with follow officer, Aurelie Cote, one of five female graduates of the college.

It’s now on to bigger and better things for these young men and women. Each of the 24 graduates, now commissioned officers, have been assigned to one of four regions in the country during a time of impending change in the Canadian Coast Guard. A controversial contract will soon be announced for a fleet of new vessels and the Coast Guard is bound to play a significant role in securing our sovereignty over the North.  A lot will be expected of these young graduates and they seem quite ready for the tough tasks ahead.

The Class of 2011

The Class of 2011

The Commissioner inspects the graduates.

The Commissioner inspects the graduates.

Navigation Officers Robert Nugent and Michael Smith

Navigation Officers Robert Nugent and Michael Smith


06 2011

Rusty Anchor Sells Out!

Last weekend the Rusty Anchor Brewing Co. introduced its bottled beer to the public for the first time.  And it sold out! The tiny Nova Scotia microbrewery in Cherry Hill, Lunenburg County sold their first ‘bottle run’ in just over 24 hours. This small brewery is getting a lot of attention lately. Their Pale Ale and English Ale are only available commercially at Lane’s Privater Inn in nearby Liverpool. According to Lane’s the local brew is selling wildly.

On Friday I visited the Rusty Anchor, purchased a case of the two ales and met brew master and co-owner, Mark Baillie. Mark is from Sydney, Cape Breton and has been living on the South Shore for the past 10 years. Mark and his wife, Melanie actually worked for Lane’s for several years before pursuing their lifelong dream of owning their ‘own’ brewing company.

According to Mark, the Rusty Anchor will have another ‘bottle run’ on the July 1st weekend. From all accounts you should be there early, if you expect to buy even one of their treasured 500 ml. bottles of Pale or English Ale.

Mark Baillie of the Rusty Anchor Brewing Co.

Bottles of the English Ale and Pale Ale

The entrance to the brewery


05 2011

Nova Scotia’s Newest Brewery Offers Exceptional Taste!

Last Friday I was introduced to Nova Scotia’s newest brewery, The Rusty Anchor Brewing Company in Cherry Hill, Lunenburg County. The staff at nearby Lane’s Private Inn, Liverpool had just unloaded their first shipment of the company’s two draft beers – the Anchor’s Aweigh Pale Ale and the Hell Bay English Ale. I was told that I was probably the first person in Nova Scotia to actually taste these two new brews at a commerical establishment.

I am not a beer connoisseur by any means, but I do appreciate the differences between the products offered by local microbreweries and the large brewing companies trying to emulate them. These two ales were among the best draft beers I’ve ever tasted, although I must say that I preferred the Pale Ale over the English Ale. According to a company handout, this traditional, golden-coloured, Pale Ale was produced “with “just enough hop bitterness, balanced by malt sweetness”. It was the sweetness combined with a fruity hop taste that did it for me.

The English Ale was an exceptional beer as well, although it was difficult to leave the sweet lingering taste of the Pale Ale. The English Ale was a little bitter, but good! Named after Hell Bay (more commonly known as Cherry Hill Beach in Lunenburg County) this English-style beer “has a distinct malty, toasted flavour with a medium body.” The beer is a combination of five “carefully selected malts.”

The Rusty Anchor plans to produce several other beers on a seasonal basis as well. Depending on the availability of ingredients, the company hopes to add an Octoberfest, a Lemon Grass Wheat and a Scottish “Robbie Burns” Ale on a rotating basis. According to their Facebook page, last Saturday the company produced their first series of bottled beer. From what I gather, the run was a huge success.

All in all the visit to the Capt. Barss Pub at Lane’s was a great experience, one I will no doubt repeat again, as summer approaches.


04 2011

The March of the Salamanders

Friend Darlene Norman of Port Joli, Queens County has explained this natural phenomena to me for several years now and last night it happened again. What she calls  the “amphibian march” occurs once a year during the first warm wet night in late March or early April.

Literally dozens of yellow-spotted salamanders (some as long as 15 cm. in length) and the “occasional wood frog or two” make their way from the forest, on one side of the road (near her house), to ‘The Frog Pond’ on the opposite side of the road.  In the past the ‘march’ of about 10 meters has been known to stop traffic along the country lane where drivers have stepped out of their vehicles to watch the unusual event or to avoid crushing the little creatures as they cross the road.

Darlene explains, “How amazing that across Queen County (and probably Shelburne and coastal Lunenburg) thousands of these large wood salamanders are tonight crawling from their underground burrows and making their way to ponds where they will lay their eggs before returning to their woodland habitat.” Just when the return journey or march occurs is anyone’s guess, but they do return, to make their annual trek to ‘The Frog Pond’ once again.

This annual march is actually quite common in North America. Recently bloggers reported observing the spectacle in Ohio and New Jersey and other parts of the United States.

At 10 pm. last night Darlene was able to photograph some of the participants in this year’s Annual March of the Salamanders in Nova Scotia.

An update: The March of Salamanders was observed in several areas in Nova Scotia last night including locations in Queens and Lunenburg Counties. John Gilhen, a herpetologist with the Nova Scotia Museum and Dr. Ron Russell drove to the Aspotogan Peninsula, Lunenburg County to view the ‘march’ there. Mr. Gilhen reported that the yellow-spotted salamanders were very active and that he saw about 50 although some were found dead on the road.

When they stopped, they raised their heads and took a dragon stance.

Some were quite large. Darlene’s boot is a size 8.

The little guys were hard to see on the crushed rock near the road.


04 2011

A Travel Tax to the US? What next!

Well here’s a new twist on travel to the United States. The Obama government is considering a $5.50 fee every time we cross the border. It wouldn’t apply to ground transportation, but it would apply to air and sea transport. If this manages to become law one can speculate in a cash-strapped country where any tax increases at the domestic level would be frowned upon in a year leading to a presidential election, that we could face a similar tax for ground travel to the US in the not too distant future.

And all of this seems to have caught the Canadian government a little off-guard. A front page Canadian Press article in the Chronicle Herald today suggested news of the proposal caught the Canadian Embassy in Washington by surprise.  And perhaps as a way of slapping the wrist of the Homeland Securities Department for the lack of communication with the government, the Prime Minister was quick to respond. He explained that while he was empathic with the US and its $14 trillion dollar national debt “additional taxes” on Canadian travelers wouldn’t accomplish a whole lot.

And while I am not big Stephen Harper fan, he is right on this one.


02 2011

Hats Off to Queens County & the 10to20 Project!

Hats off to the Region of Queens County, Nova Scotia and the local Chamber and Board of Trade for their 10to20 Project. It’s largely a social media campaign aimed at getting people to buy local. The premise: “If everyone in Queens spent 10% of their income right here at home, we would pump $20 million into the local economy.” It’s a great idea that’s gaining momentum in the region and giving the county a lot of media exposure. CTV news, local and national bloggers, and other media are all jumping on the bandwagon to the delight of the ‘Project’ facilitators.

A feature article in the Halifax Chronicle Herald today quotes Kathi Parlee, of Liverpool Adventure Outfitters, as saying “We’re becoming a society that’s driven by big box stores, they’ve taken over and they’re telling us how to shop.”  Kathi and husband, Glenn manufacture and sell their own Parlee brand of adventure products as well as Canadian made bikes, kayaks and accessories and know the importance of buying locally. They have built their business around it. You won’t find their backpacks, kayak skirts, rod cases and other products in big box stores, but you will find them in dozens of family-owned fishing and adventure outlets in small communities across the country.

The 10to20 Project “isn’t just about shopping locally, it is about supporting each other, giving our neighbours jobs and ensuring the future” of the region. The concept is not a new idea, but a new approach whose time may have come. Who knows, given the rise of ‘buy local’ campaigns, the decline of small communities in Canada and the popularity of social media marketing, 10to20 Projects could pop up everywhere . And just think, it all started here.

Click on screen shot to go to the 10to20 Project Facebook page.


11 2010

Folk Art Festival Celebrates 22 Years in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival in Lunenburg is one of my favourite summer festivals in the province. Summer just doesn’t seem like summer, without an Sunday morning stop at Tim Horton’s and a drive to Lunenburg in early August. The Lunenburg festival has developed into one of the most important folk art festivals in Canada and is the only event that many well-known artists attend at all.  To meet the artists, to lift and feel these wild, whimsical, brightly-coloured pieces of traditional art is for most of us a way to get back to your roots and well worth the $5 entry fee.

Yesterday the Folk Art Festival celebrated it’s 22nd year in Lunenburg; and this year, like every other year, the old arena was packed with people and pieces of art from one red line to the other. It was good to see some old friends and talk to some of my favourite artists like Joe Winters, Murray Gallant, Brantford Naugler, Maureen Newman and others.  I really liked some of the new work from Joe Winters of Liverpool, his underwater seascapes adorned with brightly coloured wooden fish, coral and treasure (of course) were amazing and quite a departure from his earlier pieces.

Here are a few photos I snapped during the festival. Enjoy!

A Little Tip: If you are a novice folk art collector and are planning to attend the festival next year, make sure you arrive early. I find that most of the best folk art by the most popular artists sell within the first 20 minutes of the show. Remember you may be competing with art dealers, avid collectors and others who are usually first in line at the festival entrance. Be there, ready to go at noon.

The latest work from Liverpool Folk Artist, Joe Winters.

Wash Day by Lunenburg County Artist, Peter Blais.

Artist, Larry Fancy signs a piece of art for a customer.

The Accordian Player and other folk art by Murray Gallant.

Yarmouth County Folk Artist, Laurie Horton smiles for the camera.

Spotted Moose by William Roach was chosen for the Nova Scotia Folk Art Poster for 2010.

Killer Whale carving by Folk Artist, Faron Young.


08 2010

A Photo Tour of Sandy Cove, Digby Neck, Nova Scotia

Digby Neck is that long, narrow stretch of land that separates the Bay of Fundy from St. Mary’s Bay in Digby County, Nova Scotia. If you look at a map of the province it’s easy to identify. If you have travelled to Long or Brier Islands to enjoy a whale watching tour Digby Neck is simply impossible to avoid – the two islands are a short ferry ride from the end of the Neck. The highway, known as Digby Neck & Islands Scenic Drive, is one my favorite routes in the province, although to really appreciate it you don’t stick to the highway at all, you venture off on one of the many side roads, to the left or to the right depending on which ‘bay’ you would like to explore.

The highway tends to hug the St. Mary’s Bay side of Digby Neck. To construct a highway along the higher Fundy side of the Neck would have been, I’m sure, “too expensive and impractical” when the route was first envisioned. The route nevertheless is quite spectacular. Even if you don’t leave the highway, the sandstone cliffs, the quaint fishing villages and picturesque coves offer great photo opportunities.

One of my favourite places along the scenic drive is Sandy Cove, once a thriving resort area and fishing port. The hillside village is stunning. I have often thought that Sandy Cove would make the perfect movie location. In the fifties, the community was the home of an exclusive girls summer camp that attracted the children of celebrities, politicians and business leaders from the US and across North America. The community has a fascinating history and interesting folklore, including the story of Jerome, the infamous Mystery Man of Baie Sainte-Marie.

St. Mary's Bay and the picturesque entrance to Sandy Cove.

Sandy Cove at low tide.

Roundabout Cottage, Sandy Cove.

The wharf at Sandy Cove.

Another view of the cove.


07 2010

What’s With All of These Community Pages on Facebook?

Anyone who follows Facebook closely should be aware of the emergence of Community Pages on the network over the last number of weeks. These pages, on literally any subject from ‘bowling’ to the ‘Bay of Fundy’ have taken Facebook by storm, not to mention attracting thousands of fans in the process. The numbers are dramatic, although I have yet to see any real stats.

Here is how they work. You can setup a Community Page easily (click HERE for the link). Initially, it has the look and feel of a Fan Page. The page title or general topic you chose must be general or generic in nature to really work. If your page IS NOT designated as a ‘Community Page’ by Facebook (and this is important) you can manage it, add photos, etc. as you would any other Facebook page. If your page IS designated as a ‘Community Page’, you have no control of the management and the page and content becomes the property of Facebook. What’s confusing here is that if your page is not designated as a ‘Community Page’, what is it? Is it a Fan page or an Official Page? Or is it a ‘Community Page’ in waiting? Just how this process works, no one seems to know, but we do know Wikipedia plays a role.

If you search, for example, ‘Nova Scotia’ on Facebook and find a Community ‘Interest’ Page, you’ll see a Wikipedia description and two categories of postings – one for ‘Related Posts by Friends’ and another for ‘Related Global Posts’. In the postings listed under each category the word ‘Nova Scotia’ is highlighted, as you would find with any search tool.

What is perhaps more important here is where these pages take us and how they could change search patterns on the internet. If you are a social media marketer and have clients in the ‘wine’ business, for example, you can now access nearly 209,000 potential customers (‘208,896 People Like This’ as of this date) by simply becoming a fan of the page and adding the correct word or phrase to each Facebook entry. With a bit more planning you could communicate your message to thousands of additional people within the same interest group or groups. The potential, well, is significant, when one considers all the personal marketing data Facebook has at its disposal, not to mention the huge number of users on the website.

Screen shot of 'Wine' Community Page

Just one final note.  No one really seems to know exactly what Facebook plans to do with ‘Community Pages’. At the top of each page is this note to passers-by: “Our goal is to make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic. If you have a passion for Wine, sign up and we’ll let you know when we’re ready for your help. You can also get us started by suggesting the Official Facebook Page.”

What role are fans going to play in the management of Community Pages? What is Facebook expecting from us when they’re “ready for our help?” Why does Facebook want control of Community Pages? Are these pages going to be another huge revenue source for the company? Why are they asking us to submit an ‘Official Facebook Page’?

Stay tuned, the answers to these and other questions will emerge soon.



06 2010