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Windsor to Truro
After exploring the Evangeline Trail, visitors usually head east toward Amherst on the Glooscap Trail-Highway #215. The town of Windsor is well situated at the crossroads of both the Evangeline and Glooscap Trails. A pamphlet Fundy Shore Eco Tour helps to explain what natural and ecological attractions the Glooscap Trail has to offer. Days can be spent searching for fossils, semiprecious stones, mineral rocks and watching the tidal bore. Friendly folk, interesting villages, festivals and good food make the trip even more pleasurable Red cliffs of the Minas Basin shore and great expanses of land that is exposed at low tide are among the most striking natural features along the Trail. An interesting stop is at the Walton Lighthouse, the last original light in Hants County. High bluffs around the lighthouse offer great picture taking opportunities. Sunsets are spectacular!
Our visit to this area was timed to take in Launch Day at Maitland and to enjoy a run on the tidal bore. Two evenings were booked at Maitland's Captain Douglas House Inn, a full-service facility, located in a c1860 Second Empire building, a former Sea Captain's home. The Inn is a down-home feelin' place where you can open windows and pad around in stocking feet. A short walk to the back of the property provides a beautiful view of the Shubenacadie River.
Maitland's Launch Day is held mid-September each year. The village, with a population of approximately 300 people, make the day a great home-grown event. Launch Day is hometown folk having a good time celebrating heritage in their own special way. Kilted blacksmith Scott Hamlin and chain saw sculptor Bill Aslin demonstrate their trades. Fred and Nancy Lynds show their prize winning mechanically-operated musical float - Dolly and the Haymakers. Miss Lattie's Little People are ensconced in the Anglican Church where life-sized soft sculpture figures make perfect parishioners. Retired mechanic Ab Annand of June Bug Symphony and iron sculpture fame calls Maitland home. Keep an eye out for him.
The best way to find out about a community is to ask the folks who live in it. That's how we found out about the turkey suppers that are held at the Anglican and Union Churches. Locals know enough to go early - 3:30 p.m. is good. These popular meals tend to sell out by 5:00 p.m. Bring your biggest appetite. Maitland has to be home to some of the friendliest people in Nova Scotia. While waiting for Launch Day Parade, we checked out Paraphernalia, one of several antique and memorabilia shops in Maitland.The owner graciously provided chairs so that we could enjoy the parade in comfort.
Launch Day Parade is short, sweet and loads of fun. Because no-one's a stranger in Maitland, there is lots of interaction between spectators and parade participants. One man provides all the authentic costuming for the parade. What a treat to see such a fine collection of outfits Plan to see this parade if only for the costuming. Fabulous!
Launch Day Parade ends at the Lawrence House Museum. To get there, you can fall in and walk behind the parade, but it is a hike to the museum. Best to take your car. The Festival commemorates the launching in 1874, of the biggest wooden four-masted schooner in Canada. The ship called the William D. Lawrence was built across the road from the W.D. Lawrence House Museum at the Lawrence shipyards.
The village of Maitland is synonymous with tidal bore rafting. One of the best companies that offers rafting is Shubenacadie River Runners, whose headquarters are close to the Lawrence House Museum. Our date with the river was for noon on a day when highest tides were expected. It was with trepidation we showed up for the Run. The brochure said to wear swim trunks or shorts and to bring a towel. We had packed neither. We opted for old clothes and a full flotation suit but still got wet - very wet.
If you're agile and don't mind water, an expedition in a zodiac through the tidal bore on the Shubenacadie River can be fun. We had a blast! You do get wet; do get bounced around; do need to listen carefully to the guide & driver. You can scream at the top of your lungs if you feel the need - and you will feel the need.
Riding the Bore consists of waiting for incoming tide waters to roll in to meet with shallow river waters. The result of the river having to change its flow due to the incoming tidal wave is called "The Tidal Bore". The in-rushing water and very rapid rise in the water level immediately following the arrival of the bore makes for a very interesting ride.
We ran with the Bore upriver for 8-½ miles. Waters were turbulent. Waves were up to nine feet high. Sometimes the zodiac rode high on the Bore; sometimes we didn't quite make it. Boy, did we get wet! We popped into whirlpools, spun for awhile then popped out again. Along the way, knowledgeable staff pointed out bald eagle nests, mineral outcrops and deposits, man-made dykes, limestone and sandstone ridges. We were three hours on the river. It felt like one.
Everyone needed a change of clothes when the zodiacs got back to home-base then all enjoyed a steak lunch. Some pointers if you're considering a run on the bore. The back of the zodiac is the most stable; the front gives a real ride. You should book well in advance. Rides fill quickly and can only be done on a tidal bore which usually means once a day. Scheduling depends completely on tides. Occasionally someone does fall out of a zodiac. Staff is quick to act if such an occurrence happens. Riders are given instructions on all situations that might be encountered during the ride.
After leaving Maitland for Truro, make a detour to see Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, a wildlife refuge and environmental centre. The park, located fifteen miles west of Truro on Highway #2, houses a large number of birds and animals in natural habitat areas. Most are native to Nova Scotia and were brought to the park after been found abandoned or hurt. The park is a real class-act! Bring a picnic lunch. Take your time to enjoy information & display pods and the habitat trails.
You'll pass the official site of the halfway point between the North Pole and Equator on your way to the Wildlife Park. It is located on the bank of a stream on Highway #2, just past the crossroads community of Alton but before Judy's Diner. Dare you to find it!
Next stop, Truro! Being the nucleus of a network of provincial highways, Truro is known as the hub of Nova Scotia. One of the town's current projects involves turning an environmental disaster into a great tourism attraction. The town was well known for large elm trees that lined city streets. When Dutch Elm disease attacked the trees, the Truro Tree Committee made the best of the situation. A tree sculpture project was begun in November 1999 and continues today. At last count twenty-nine sculptures, portraying heritage figures and local interest subjects, are located in the downtown area. Sculptors such as Albert Deveau of New Brunswick, Ralph Bigney of Debert, Nova Scotia and Bruce Wood of Truro have worked on the project.
Truro is also home to the Stanfields of underwear fame. You can stock up on underwear by visiting the Stanfield Factory Outlet. The building that now houses the John Stanfield Inn & Fine Dining was built for Senator Stanfield and his wife Sarah in c1902. When it became apparent that the home, with its superb woodwork, was scheduled to be demolished, enterprising citizens stepped in to save the building. After being moved to a permanent location behind the Howard Johnson Motor Inn, it was made into a full service facility. It's a great place to spend several days while touring the area.
IF YOU GO:
Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N 5G7
Maitland, Nova Scotia, B0N 1T0
Maitland, Nova Scotia, B0N 1T0
Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N 5Z5
Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N 5Z5
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