Lunenburg to Shelburne
The drive to Shelburne is quite scenic. The shortest route is across the LaHave River via a ferry with the same name. The ferryboat was pulled across the river by means of a cable—one of the oldest such devices of this kind in Canada.
One interesting diversion is the White Point Beach Resort situated on a 1 km sandy crescent beach. As we pulled in I noticed the sign that read: “Caution: children and bunnies are everywhere.”
As it turns out, fluffy white bunnies make this their home, multiply as rabbits are known to do and roam the grounds freely. Most kids and adults love to watch them scamper around, and they even have bunny food available at the front desk.
The beach is one of the main attractions during the summer. The waters are suitable for swimming, but there is also a small pool on the grounds. The restaurant features a variety of foods—from simple to elegant—with many based on seafood traditional favorites.
Shelburne has a fascinating history. It was once the largest community of “United Empire Loyalists” in Canada during the American Revolution, as well as after the war ended with an American victory in 1783.
At one point the population reached 16,000 people, but later dwindled as the émigrés headed elsewhere. Today, it is a sleepy little fishing town, with many inhabitants being fifth-and-sixth generation descendants of those Loyalist refugees.
One of the highlights of any food-centric trip should be the Charlotte Lane Café, voted one of the best small restaurants in Nova Scotia in 2013. Its maestro of the menu, chef Roland, came to Canada from Switzerland more than two decades ago and ended up settling in Shelburne where he offers his own version of some of the province’s finest cuisine.
I started with the dill salad with watermelon and buttermilk dressing and ordered the Caribbean chicken for my entrée. Both were well-prepared and one of the best meals I have had so far. For dessert, my recommendation would be the lemon panna cotta which was light and refreshing.
The Cooper’s Inn is a comfortable location to spend the night and their motto of, “Where history meets hospitality” gives a nod to its Loyalist roots. The breakfasts here are sumptuous with several menu selections. I chose the scrambled eggs with fresh chives and bacon which was accompanied by a delicious fruit salsa.
This is the sort of place I love to recommend, not only for its charm and ambiance overlooking the water, but also because the innkeepers have an obvious love in providing a great experience for their guests.
Shelburne to Digby
From Shelburne, Highway 103 on the Lighthouse Coast brought us to the tiny community of Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau, home to the Eel Lake Oyster Farm. The D’Eon family has been farming oysters in this brackish bay since 1996. Their popular hour-and-a half boat excursion lets adventurous tourist learn just how these popular crustaceans make it from the bay to the plate.
The best part of the tour, of course, is afterwards, when guests watch their guide shuck some of his catch and then are invited to sample a couple of these succulent Ruisseau oysters, which are considered to be among the finest in the world.
Rounding the southwestern-most tip of Nova Scotia, we came to Yarmouth and the Acadian Shores, so named because this region is rich in the history of the Acadians. These are descendants of the original French settlers here, and who, together with the First Nation Mi'kmaqs, had fought against expulsion from their homes when England established its dominance of Canada during the French and Indian War.
We stopped at a little restaurant in the Clare region called La Cuisine Robicheau, which features authentic Acadian cuisine. The flags with single stars that you see in front of many of the houses and businesses proudly proclaim their Acadian heritage.
We settled at simple tables next to windows overlooking St. Mary’s Bay, and our waitress told us of the specials for the day. Almost everyone ordered the same thing—haddock with lobster sauce served with mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. There was nothing but the sound of silence and clinking cutlery as we all concentrated on devouring this delicious food. Afterwards we sampled some of their award-winning coconut and chocolate cream pies.
I thought, “This ought to hold me for a spell.”
Just up the road a piece is another great photo opportunity: the Catholic Church Sainte-Marie (Église Sainte-Marie). This church, constructed in the form of a cross and completed in 1905, is one the largest and tallest wooden buildings remaining in North America. The architecture is truly remarkable and I highly recommend a visit.
Being a professional food writer (with the pounds to prove it) allowed me to pack in another meal between lunch and dinner, this one at Evelina’s and her famous rappie pies. Made from a mixture of fresh potatoes and beef, chicken, or clams, the pie is then baked for three hours giving it a nice brown crust. This little hotspot gets quite busy at mealtimes.