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  • Writer's pictureThe Six Wanderers

Nova Scotia, Summer 2023

Vacationing, verb, meaning to be unoccupied.

Travelling, verb, meaning to go from one place to another or the activity of making journeys.

Turns out there is a big difference between these two verbs. And we learned it while TRAVELLING across Nova Scotia this Summer. We’ve been back home for a week now and are still recovering from all our journeys!

It had been a while since we had travelled like we just did.  We went to Florida this past Winter, but there, we vacationed. Our last trip must have been the one that brought us all the way to the other side of the planet making our way back home just in time before the world shut down for two years. Remember the event that happened about two years ago? 

Jeremie decided that this Summer, we would travel again! Rather than our usual one week off at the beginning of August and then another one at the end of August. The last one being my favourite: as everyone gets ready to go back to school, we slip away for an extra week of vacationing enjoying the calmness of wherever we decide to explore after the busyness of the Summer. 

This formula was our go-to for the past few Summers, but with formulas and routines also comes compliancy to comfort and few adventures. We decided we needed to shake things off a bit.(Taylor Swift style;)

One Sunday afternoon, after avoiding the event for a while, we sat down with our coffees and opened up the Google map app. I had been wanting to travel to Cape Breton again for a while now. Even suggesting to Jeremie that I take the kids there by myself last Summer. We had read about the Siege of Louisbourg in our homeschool history lessons and I really wanted to take the kids to the National Historic Site where a fourth of the original Fortress was rebuild. But somehow my grand plans of driving the 18 hours there by myself kind of dimmed as Summer made way to Fall and then all the brouhaha of life took over again! 

So here we were, a year later, with still that same desire to see the world famous cliffs and many historical sites on my heart. Why not? was Jeremie’s reply. I love him so much for his willingness to go along with all my visions of grandeur! 

Back to the the Google map… we zoomed in and found a few camera icons, dropped a few pins on historical sites and our trip was planned! Voila! We love to hike, we love photography, we love history, seemed like we had everything covered. We’ll drive there, hike to a few of those camera icons locations, add a few stops to historical sites, rent a few Air BnBs close to the attractions we want to see, look up the best places to eat and that’s about it folks.

There is just one little problem when booking Air BnBs. If we put in 2 adults and 4 kids, a lot less options become available and the prices for what’s left are just CRAZY! Hey, we’ve been cooped up together in an RV for 3 years we don’t need a mansion for a few days while we travel! So we put in 2 adults, 2 kids! AWWWW much better! 

We found a beautiful Guest House, right on a private beach close enough to a bunch of the activities we wanted to do in the area so we book it for the first week. Done!

We then browse through a lot of different options, from yurts to tiny homes but feel like we might want to have a bit more space. So we go with a whole house, situated on an island, Ile Madame, on 30 acres, with access to the water and a paddle boat and kayak. It’s only available for a few days but we book it for the 3 nights it has left and move on to the next and last week. 

Both these locations were close to the Cabot Trail, but we also wanted to head down south and visit Lunenburg and Halifax and of course the famous Peggy’s Cove. So we found a nice enough little yellow cottage in Lunenburg and rented it for the rest of our stay.

As we were nearing our big departure, we were feeling a bit uneasy about arriving at our Air 

BnBs with two extra little humans. Especially at our first location seeing as the guest house was right next to the host’s house. We couldn’t just leave them in the car you know. I wrote a nice little email, explaining our situation and how we really loved their beach house and hoped that us being 6 instead of 4 would not be a problem. They were the nicest people ever. They sent us extra pictures of the loft showing us that as long as we were the ones bringing extra mats and blankets there was plenty of space for us all! Perfect!!! 

Our week there was amazing! The view was so relaxing and the private beach soon became a whole imaginary world for our kiddos. They built houses with driftwood and rocks, made restaurants and invited us over to eat their smashed sea shells concoctions. A neighbour’s dog even decided to join them daily. As they were building, she was recovering rocks from the water for them to add to their constructions. The funniest thing is, that dog’s name was Willow, and Zoey who’s been asking for a dog since forever was just telling us on our drive there that whenever she would get a dog, she would call her Willow! That dog was so calm and such an unexpected blessing for our kids. They fell in love with her and I fell in love with watching them play together!

Leigh, our host, a young mom to a beautiful 14 month old girl was so sweet. When we told her that we loved hiking, she recommended a bunch of places. When we told her we loved coffee and good food, she recommended a beautiful cafe. She was discreet, which was nice since we literally were right next to each other, but also caring and helpful. The kids told her, with much excitement, how they had found a few sea glass pieces on the beach next to their house, she immediately recommended a beach that was about half an hour away where we could find lots of it! 

We packed a few things in our car and off we went! Florence Beach was beautiful. We arrived before everyone else I guess, because only a few cars were parked alongside the road when we got there but the whole road was filled as well as the parking lot/field when we left! We did not swim, the water was frigid! Well that is not exactly true…Norah, ever the adventurer, did manage to fall backwards in a big splash of waves and got submerged in the water! But apart from that, we roamed the beach, barely looking upwards, eyes fixed on the sand and the many treasures brought in by the waves. We got hungry, then we left! 

The Beach House was in Point Edward. From there we were hoping to drive to the Cabot Trail and make our way at least to the middle of it from the side we were on and then drive the other half once we would be in our next location. That is exactly what we did! We drove the Trail all the way to Ingonish, where we stopped to take a gondola that took us to the top of Smokey Mountain. We were then famished, so we decided to skip the hike that Leigh had suggested earlier in preference of food and drinks. The sun was so hot by then, even if we would have wanted to hike, we would have burned or ran out of water or both, and with four kids in tow, we felt like iced coffee and sandwiches were the better option. 

Salty Rose’s and the Periwinkle Cafe was such a cute place. An old house, covered in beige shingles, transformed into a restaurant, rooms to rent and a  local craft shop. Books by local authors, watercolour paintings, jewelry, pottery, everywhere you looked you were surrounded by creativity and beauty! The food was delicious, the kids had breakfast sandwiches while Jeremie and I shared both a smoked meat and a veggie open-sandwich on quinoa bread! Yum! And of course, coffee!

While there, we got to talking with the lovely staff. The lady we had seen earlier on the other side of the shop, making jewelry was now dusting the floors and telling us how she was originally from Montreal but that during the Summer months she comes to Cape Breton to create jewelry and sell it in this shop. 

Jeremie asked the young man who had taken our order if he had any suggestions on nice places to go for a hike near where we were. He suggested two places. While we were driving to those said places, I asked Jeremie where he had gotten the info on those two spots (I had missed the conversation being busy accompanying one or all of the kiddos to the bathroom)  He said he had asked our server cause he felt like he would be the kind of person to ask for a beautiful spot to hike. Turns out he was. He sent us off the Trail to a remote place called Whitepoint. I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

We had reached the highest point we wanted to drive to on this side of the Trail. We were still in awe of the beauty of Whitepoint. We decided to head home. A two and a half  hour drive was ahead of us. We got home exhausted but grateful.

On Thursday we visited the Fortress of Louisbourg.

"As a fishing port, military base and centre of commerce, Louisbourg briefly shared front rank importance in France's overseas empire.  Home to a transplanted European civilization, it flourished for less than half a century, and then it was extinguished by military conquest. None of its structures survived the next two centuries.

In 1961, the Government of Canada began a $25 million project aimed at reconstructing approximately one-quarter of the original town and fortifications. Within this area the buildings, yards, gardens and streets are being recreated as they were during the 1740s, immediately preceding Louisbourg's first siege. Almost all of the buildings on site are reconstructions built between the 1960s and 1980s, though many incorporate original foundations.  Abandoned after 1760, Louisbourg became the only major colonial town without a modern city built on top of it.The work at Louisbourg has required an inter-disciplinary research effort. Archaeological excavation has yielded millions of artifacts as well as the ruins of fortifications and buildings. Some 750,000 pages of documents and 500 maps and plans have been copied from archives in France, England, Scotland, the United States and Canada. The historical evidence reveals much about life at Louisbourg and provides an excellent base for the study of the French in North America.”

(Info taken from the Government of Canada Website)


While some of our kids could be on the move all day every day. Others, me included, need some downtime and a bit of slow and silence once in a while. Well, to be honest, once daily, ideally. And since that wasn’t happening and we were all sleeping in a loft, and that the house was pretty small we did end up being a bit on edge after so much TRAVELLING. 

We had to squeeze in some restorative downtime. We stayed closer to the house for a few days, we enjoyed the beach, we painted, we read, we did some yoga and workouts. Life had found it’s balance again. We went for a short drive on the Saturday afternoon and ended up at Low Point Lighthouse.  The kids played on the wooden beams by the water while Jeremie took photos and I just sat in silence and admired the vastness of the ocean and the beauty of nature. A seal even made an appearance and many sailboats passed by. 

That is the weekend that Nova Scotia received about 3 months worth of rainfall in 24 hours. We stayed in, we could hear the water gushing in the driveway and making its way down to the ocean. We watched the news and waited, hoping the damages weren’t gonna be devastating.

By Monday morning, the sun was out again as if nothing had happened. It was early morning but we knew the day was gonna be hot. We packed our things, cleaned up the space, made our way out the water damaged driveway and headed to our next destination. On our way there, we had planned to stop at the Highland Village Museum. We pretended we were Claire and Jamie and that little visit just made my day! I took a few lupin seeds from one of the flower beds, hoping to sow them in my garden next year as a reminder of this beautiful place and beautiful day! 

We were in desperate need of a bit more space. We had realized by then that the kids had gotten older. We couldn’t plan our trips like we used to: Jeremie and I, the sole planners of the activities. They wanted their say in the events and they also needed their space to recharge and recuperate. We were glad we had chosen a bigger house for the next couple of days. We were also in need of freshly cleaned clothes and a shower that was longer than a few minutes without being afraid of emptying the host’s well.  

The location of the blue house, as we were calling it, was a bit more remote than we had thought and the “shabby-chic” decor that the host had described felt more like my Grandparents’ house but in a good way. It was clean, it was comfortable, it was practical and full of knick knacks that kept the kids busy for the duration of our time there. Finn who was relieved to finally have more calm and space was also the first one to mention that “thou the place was very comfortable it wasn’t his style at all.” There was a decorative hole in the kitchen wall that delighted the kids a bit too much. They pretended they were taxidermy animal mounts, placing their torso through the holes and being still. It was the joke of the day or of the couple of days, I should say!

As much as we wanted to rest, we felt like little kids on Christmas morning, too excited to sleep in and filled with so much curiosity we could burst. I had seen a review online last Winter of a certain boat company in Cheticamp that offered swimming with whales. When I had read that, my heart jumped a beat and I absolutely wanted to do it. The review said that the captain of the Zodiac(boat) would sail close to the whales, drop you off in the water and then sail further away letting the whales, who are curious beings, swim towards the people who were left behind! How exciting and marvellous does that sound? I had reached out to the company asking them if that could be arranged, and to my greatest disappointment said they weren’t able to offer that experience anymore because regulations had changed. Bummer! I still wanted to see the whales, so we booked a Zodiac tour for noon on Tuesday. Cheticamp was about 2 hours 15 minutes from our house, on the other side of the Cabot Trail, the side we hadn’t driven or seen yet so it was arranged that we would leave early and get there around 11.

We got there on time. Ate the picnic I had brought along. Sitting at the one and only picnic table on that port.  The kids were a bit restless, having been rushed a bit earlier to make sure we were there on time, which meant at least half an hour before our boat trip so we could register. 

When the Zodiac finally appeared, coming back from the morning tour with it’s crew and the captain, we got all excited as it was now our turn! While in line for the porta potty, the Captain came to ask us if we were the ones registered for the noon tour. I was all excited to make his acquaintance but soon lost some, if not all of my excitement, when he said that their ride back from the morning tour had been awful…they had faced 6 foot waves, the passengers were drenched and they hadn’t even seen any whales. He said the winds out at sea were getting stronger as the day passed. What a disappointment… the kids experienced a bunch of emotions, from anger to disappointment, to sadness and frustration. But they also remembered that I had wanted to swim with the whales and that, that plan had changed to a boat tour and then that did not even happen… so frustration somehow changed into compassion. We decided that rather then spending the rest of the day in sorrow, we would stop at a nice ice cream parlour, and just like our GPS, re-centered on our next activity.

The Cabot Trail, true to its reputation was grandiose! Just driving the trail leaves you speechless. In order to try to please every passenger aboard, we had to stop to a few art galleries and gift shops. We bought a few souvenirs, handmade by local artists.

We wanted to drive to the top of the Trail, to the point where we had stopped while driving through the other side. I also wanted to try to find Gampo Abbey, a monastery hidden on a dirt road, a little bit off the Trail. While going through a rough patch a few Summers ago, I had read a couple of books written by Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan-buddhist, who now teaches at this monastery. I knew my chances of getting to meet her were pretty slim but still I wanted to take a meditative drive to this quiet and peaceful place. I had forgotten to save the address in my phone, and being so off the Trail, we couldn’t get a decent cell signal. I remembered the name of the road, Pleasant  Bay Loop, and that was where we were, so might as well keep on going. The road was so close to the edge. A little dirt road, alongside the majestic cliffs. We found the Stupa of Enlightenment, hidden on the side of the road, at the base of a mountain covered in trees and surrounded by white wild rose bushes.

I am not a Buddhist, but the idea of stillness and surrender accompanied by the practice of yoga, meditation and contemplation brings peace to my Soul and compassion to my heart. We felt a little solemn as we contemplated the beauty of this Stupa in the middle of all this wilderness.

With more than half the day now gone, we decided to head back to the Trail and make our way back home. Jeremie had one more stop in mind though. While driving earlier that day, we had spotted tiny little people walking the top line of the mountains. We couldn’t believe this was actually a hiking trail. How could that be safe? Entire families walking this line that looked so perilous to us down on the Trail. Apparently this Skyline Hike is the spot you do not want to miss if you're ever driving the Cabot Trail. When we had passed it earlier, the sun was so hot, we couldn’t imagine hiking our way closer to it, but now that it was well passed 5, this 2 hour hike seemed much more doable.

We had warned the kids, and the many caution signs along the side of the trail did help give credibility to our many warnings; there was no fooling around to be done up there. The hike was a 3 kilometres walk through the forest following a trail and then a boardwalk with very few guard rails at the very end where you had the Ocean as far as the eye could see on one side and then cliffs and swirling roads on the other! The view was amazing!

The kids were in awe, I was speechless yet a little anxious at having brought so many kiddos on such an “at you own risk” hike.  We stayed at the top for a while. The sun was hot. The kids needed to regain their strength. They laid down on the platform, fuelling up on granola bars and drinking what was left of the water we had brought. Jeremie and Finn grabbed as many shots as they could. Even though the pictures will never do justice to the experience.

Reluctantly, we decided it was time to head back. We were getting tired, and the trail was getting busier as people gathered on top to watch the sunset. This wasn’t gonna happen for us this time around. With many little humans getting hungry and tired, we thought it wiser to make our way back to our car sooner rather than later. We ate every last bit of our picnic; chips, vegetables, humus, nuts… that would be our supper, now realizing that we wouldn’t be home until around 10 and adding another stop for supper would just make that drive even longer.

“When your days feel empty, your heart feels heavy, your mind trends towards comparison, your body feels restless, and your eyes lose focus, you must take a step back and come back to yourself. It is when you feel the discomfort that it’s time to prioritize restoration without any guilt and to free yourself from the obligation to do it all, all the time. Remove the ideology that in order to be adequate, you must be useful and productive. Dismiss any thoughts that make you feel like you’re falling behind. Remind yourself that your mere existence is enough as it is. Who you are today and what you have now is more than enough. So choose to rest, choose to slow down, choose to move at a steady pace.  Because just like the sun and the moon and the stars, we must give ourselves the time to shine bright, and the space to revitalize, and the strength to come home again.”

I read this beautiful paragraph during our trip. I just recently found that it’s from the book Beauty in the Stillness by Karin Hamadand. Somehow I knew that that was what we all needed. The rest of our stay at the Blue House was focused on just that: revitalizing and restoration.

The kids took the paddle boat out the next day. They were off on an adventure of their own, but as responsible parents as we are, we decided to at least be on the water with them. So we took the row boat out and tried to keep pace but even though we took turns rowing and put in all the efforts we could muster, somehow we stayed way behind and finally called for them to allow us to get that huge boat back to shore so we could exchange it for the kayak.

The kids thought we were being romantic, staying behind and exchanging glances but really we were trying to cheer each other up and manage some sort of encouraging looks just to keep us from crying… ok, maybe it wasn’t so bad, but my hands still have the scars from the blisters that I manage to get from not holding the oars right.

Anyhow, we asked Finn to take the kayak while Jeremie and I would steer the paddle boat with the rest of the crew in tow. We paddled around a little island and then headed for the house. We took some blankets and snacks outside on the shore and dwelt under the shining sun for a few moments. The kids headed back inside, Jeremie followed a brief moment after, while I decided to put into practice what I had read and just lingered a little longer in the stillness of this moment. Jeremie even brought me an iced coffee and reassured me that my presence wasn’t needed anywhere else at the moment. Sweet words to my ears!

Little did I know, that only a couple of minutes later, Zoey would come bursting out of the house screaming that Dad wanted me to come in and quickly. He had found a tick under Finn’s arm so small you could barely see it but somehow already engorged. We knew from a previous experience that we needed to take it off and get some antibiotics as soon as we could. Getting it off was a bit tricky from it being so small. But managing to get our hands on the needed antibiotic proved to be even trickier.

We knew that we could get it from a pharmacist, but a great many questions needed to be answered and with the correct answers in order for them to be able to give it to us without going through a doctor first.

I stayed home with the kids, while Jeremie made a bunch of phone calls and drove to the nearest village which was half an hour away to get the antibiotics. After much convincing on his part, and much patience I must add, the lady pharmacist ended up giving him what was needed for Finn’s weight and about 4 hours later he was back home.

Finn took the antibiotics, even though he said it was the worst thing he had ever tasted. We so did not want him to gag and then throw-up having gone through such an ordeal to get this dose in the first place.

The craziness was now over, everyone tucked in bed and safe… Jeremie and I ate supper in the cozy “Grand-parent” living room this house provided, him sitting in the Lazy-Boy while I laid on the futon. We binge watched cooking shows till finally the adrenaline from the day had left our bodies and we could put ourselves to bed with the hope that tomorrow might be a bit calmer.

On to our final destination.

As I had said earlier, while booking our stays, we had modified the number of our family members in order to get more affordable options. While we were lucky enough that for our stay in Point Edwards, the hosts didn’t mind, it did not unfold the same way for our last stay.

When we had texted the owner, he flat out refused to accommodate us and refunded our reservation as soon as Jeremie had sent the text. We were either to try to find something else, a bit of a challenge at the last minute, rent a hotel room for a few nights and then head back home, or just straight out leave right away turning our planned three weeks vacation into a little under two. Jeremie browsed the Air BnB site hoping to find something affordable and at this point mostly  just “available” when something popped up that was just out of a dream. A beautifully decorated apartment situated right in the middle of Peggy’s Cove, right next to the famous lighthouse actually.

This place was not only available but affordable, the only little thing that kind of made us uncertain about this was the fact that the apartment was on top of a boutique that was open from 9-5. We knew we weren’t planning on staying in the apartment a whole lot while there but we weren’t too keen on having to keep reminding the kids to walk gently and to use “indoor voices” all the time. There was also the issue of it having only one bedroom, that Jeremie and I had shotgunned, so now the kiddos would have to share the sofa bed and use the little camping cots we had brought for the time we were gonna stay there.

Turns out the view, the sunsets, the people and the food we had during our stay at Peggy’s Cove made up for all the discomforts we had dreaded beforehand. 

We fell head over heels for this beautiful Cove. We had originally planned to spend a day at the Cove, arriving early in the morning and visiting the many little shops and art galleries, but now, we could walk to the restaurant next door, order our food and come back to the apartment to eat in the comfort of our home while admiring the beautiful sunset. And dare I say that the view we had from our place was even better than on the terrace next door. We felt so small standing in front of such breathtaking landscapes and yet so alive and grateful for being able to take it all in.

From our “pied a terre” in Peggy’s Cove, we visited Halifax one day and then Lunenburg another. We also walked to the Swissair Memorial site where the bodies of 229 people on board the Swissair Flight 111 were recovered when the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Halifax Stanfield International Airport at the entrance of St. Margaret’s Bay on September 2, 1998.

Many trails surround Peggy’s Cove. We just had to drive a few minutes from where we were staying, find a spot on the side of the road to leave our car and go in-land exploring the boulders and the moss, the juniper bushes and the trees all the while having the great Ocean as a backdrop. This was the perfect playground, as much for Jeremie and I as it was for the kids!

Our day spent in Halifax was quite pleasant. We had made a reservation, after many recommendations, to The Bicycle Thief restaurant. A reservation at 11:30 for a party of six. Yes we are that crazy, bringing 4 kids into a classy restaurant, but we feel that by expecting them to behave, they actually do! Who knew! 

We walked into this nice restaurant and the kids said they felt like they had walked into a movie! It was that beautiful. We wanted them to taste seafood and new flavours so we were in charge of ordering for that day. Faithful to himself, Jeremie had to ask our server what she recommended. We ordered their Two-minute flash fried Calamari with sundried tomato aioli, the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with avocado, sesame cucumber spaghetti, pickled ginger and wasabi cream. The Downeast Fresh Lobster Roll on an old-school split bun, chili & lime mayo, sea salted frites & vinaigrette with drizzled greens. And lastly, the Spaghettini ai Frutti di Mare, Jumbo Shrimp, Scallops, local Mussels, Limoncello crema, roasted garlic, vino bianco.

The food, the ambiance, the awe in our kids faces, the gratefulness for being able to experience this special meal together, these are the memories that I will keep from The Bicycle Thief. And if you ever are in the area, do make a reservation! 

We walked the Port of Halifax back and forth. The kids were invited to join into a match of La Crosse. They jumped the hopscotch that was drawn on the pavement, they browsed the souvenir shops. I admired the Patagonia style hoodies that were showcased in the boutiques, knowing too well that Jeremie finds them just so ugly! He was well forgiven when he decided to lead the way to Halifax Public Gardens. We walked the grounds, the Asian section reminding us of our travels to Thailand. The gazebo at the centre was alive with musicians and people had gathered with their lawn chairs all around to appreciate this afternoon of shared creativity and beauty. Were we suddenly into the Gilmore Girls movie set? 

A visitor’s station was at another entrance. We made the acquaintance of a volunteer who was so passionate about the history of the place. He talked and shared maps and highlights about each area. The kids received a scavenger hunt list and off we went to explore some more! We took many pictures of the more modest gardens, the ones that could serve as inspirations for our landscaping back home.  We smuggled a few seeds and a few cutlets from branches, hoping to be able to transplant them in our own backyard. Our walk back to our car was punctuated with a stop to a quaint little ice cream stand. We sat on the sidewalk, enjoying our treats and the diversity of the passerby. 

Off to Lunenburg the next day…

While in Lunenburg, we took a walking tour of the oldest part of the town. Our tour guide was the most lovely little lady. The two oldest, I’m kind of proud to say, are such nerds when it comes to history. It made my heart so happy to see them absorb the information shared and asking questions and wanting to learn as much as they could. We told them they could go up front and stay close to our guide as we were staying a bit behind with the two younger ones. Finn was in charge of taking pictures, but we soon realized that his interest in what our tour guide had to say took over his job as photographer. Looking back on the pictures that Jeremie took of that walking tour, we often find Finn either standing or sitting right next to our guide with Zoey not too far behind! We learned lots but this was also a reminder for me of my homeschooling WHY. I do this so we can share moments like these where learning is everything but boring and where we can have this shared experience of knowledge from having read books or travelled together. 

Our little jewel of an apartment was always a joy to come back to. How lucky were we to have these amazing iconic rocks as our playground for days? By the end of the day, the commotion of tourists was over and we could linger in the beauty and greatness of the Cove. Jeremie and Finn tried twice to get photographs of the milky way in the early night time, but the light from the Lighthouse prevented them from being able to capture the grandeur of the skies. In other words, you had to be there! 

As much as we wanted to learn and see everything the area had to offer, I’m always a stickler for the unconventional and off-road experiences. From going back and forth from the city to the Cove we had spotted what looked like an old fishermen spot with barracks that were perched on the shores and nets hanging from their decks.

Cameras in hand, we decided to park alongside the gravel road and immortalize the charm of the non-touristy seaside.  I headed down an alley, verbalizing my deep appreciation for this little piece of incredible beauty to whomever wanted to hear it. Zoey, Keilan and Norah in tow, as for Finn and Jeremie they were busy capturing their own little piece of paradise a bit further along the road. Little did I know that my ramblings could be heard by an old man reeling in his nets from his perched deck. 

“What was that?” He asked. "Was I talking to him? Did I need anything?" 

“It’s just soooo beautiful!” I replied. “So much beauty. Your flower beds are amazing, your fishing shacks(as they are called) are so charming!”

He had the most interesting reply… And the kids later referred to him as “Mom’s Mr.” cause I think we must have been “cut from the same cloth.” He simply asked: “How much time do you have?”

“Enough” I said. 

He took us on a tour of his little piece of land which was surrounded by juniper bushes, amazing native flowers, beaches, sea shells; treasures to the kids eyes but also to mine. He talked about his travels, having had the opportunity to visit many countries for his work. He told us all about his acquiring these fishing shacks about 20 years ago, and how he slowly renovated them and turned one of them into a 3 seasons cottage. He shared his recollection of the Swissair flight crash and many more stories.

He then walked us through the bushes back to his property with one small detour on our way. He shared with us his little getaway spot where a swing hung from old wooden beams and an old shelf served as an exhibit for his collection of sea washed treasures.  Back to his shacks, he invited un inside the one he uses as his shop. He crafted me a pair of earrings with pieces from the bill of a swordfish.

He gave wooden rings and dried seaweed beads to the kiddos. And although we had said we had enough time to walk the seaside with him, we now had to call it a night. Peter was his name. He lived there 3 seasons out of the 4 we have here in Canada. His wife kept busy washing dishes and entertaining his daughter, his son-in-law and their 18 month old daughter. We never saw her. He spent over 2 hours with us. Time he had. And shared passions and connections were created within lingering hours. 

Peggy’s Cove will forever be engraved on our hearts…

Off to the last adventure of this travel journey. Port-Royal, here we come.

The kids were getting a bit irritated from spending so much time in the car, pressed one against the other and listening to Charlotte Cardin on repeat(Zoey was our designated DJ). We still had a few locations we wanted to cross off our list, but we had to come to the realization that one last stop was probably more realistic then the 3 or 4 we had hoped.

Jeremie indulged my wishes and even though the location of Port-Royal was about 3 hours off course we decided that that was where we were heading…without mentioning the added kilometers to the kiddos of course. I loved the historical indentation of the grounds. We remembered having watched a documentary of Samuel de Champlain a few years ago. And being in the very place where he held his “Ordre de bon Temps” was magical, at least for me.

“In the summer of 1605, French explorers built a settlement on a beautiful river basin near the present town of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. There the soil was fertile and the natural surroundings plentiful with fish and game. Most importantly, the Mi’kmaw people whose ancestors had lived in the region for thousands of years welcomed the men and showed them how to survive in this new climate. Christened Port-Royal, it became the first European settlement north of Florida. While only in existence a few years, the settlement, and what it accomplished, proved to be a model for future exploration of the continent.

“…this place was the most suitable and pleasant for a settlement that we had seen.” 

When Samuel de Champlain wrote those words in the early 1600s, he was describing a terrain of wooded hills, meadows and a luminous stretch of water that came to be called the Annapolis River-Basin in southwest Nova Scotia. Surrounded by natural abundance with many resources—fish, fur, timber, soil—the area held a grand vision: the creation of a better world in Acadia.

The reconstructed Habitation is based in part on Champlain's sketch.

Sketches of the Port-Royal Habitation by Champlain show a rectangular shape 18 metres (60 feet) long and 15 metres (48 feet) wide, resembling a fortified farm hamlet as seen in France during the early 1600s. At the southwest corner of the rectangle, the men built a bastion with four guns. The structure held lodgings for the settlers according to rank. Standing alone at the northern corner of the Habitation was a small house with a high-hipped roof where Pont-Gravé and Champlain lived in 1605-06. Next to their house spanned a row of smaller dwellings for gentlemen. A Catholic priest and Protestant pastor lived there, along with the surgeon Deschamps and a skilled shipwright named Champdoré. On the southwest was a dormitory for skilled workmen.

Proposed in the winter of 1606-07, the Order of Good Cheer provided good food and good times for the men to improve their health and morale during the long winter. Although it lasted only one winter, the society was a great success. As Lecarbot reports, every few days, supper became a feast where, on a rotating basis, everyone at the table was designated “Chief Steward.”

(Info taken from the Government of Canada Website)

We walked the site, bought a few historical pamphlets and journeyed away. It did not take long for the kids to realized that we were driving out the same way we had came in. Even though Annapolis County is known for being one of the most charming towns in Nova Scotia, we weren’t able to fool them and had to come clean with the fact that we had added a few kilometres to our travels to see the area. 

Good thing we had a reservation in Moncton which was about 5 hours away and then another one in Riviere-du-Loup for the next night. We splurged on the last night, rented a suite with a whole kitchen, a bedroom with a jacuzzi and a huge tiled shower. We ordered in, took turns in the jacuzzi. We washed the salt out of our hair and off of our skin. We soaked in the warmth of the large bathtub, alternating with cold showers. Feeling tired but at the same time refreshed and grateful.

I had brought a few books with me on this trip. But by the end of our stay in Edwards County, most of that reading was done.  When we arrived in Peggy’s Cove, I was anxious to get my hands on a few new reads. An old man, sitting in his fishing shack, selling buoys, also had a stack of used books for sale. I settled for Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for 5$. I had been meaning to read that book for a while. Even though I had watched the movie plenty of times, this particular combination of memoir and adventure is really my favourite kind of read so the perfect companion for the rest of our trip.

If you’ve ever read that book, you must remember the part where she goes on associating a word to each place she’s travelled to… Rome becomes sex, New York City: Achieve, Los Angeles: Succeed, Stockholm: Conform. This particular part inspired me to do the same with each member of our family. I reflected on this exercise and came up with a word for everyone and asked them to do the same. It was interesting to get to see ourselves through each other’s eyes but also a good exercise to bring us back to the source of who we are at our deepest core.

Here are the words I chose for each one:

Jeremie- Growth

Zoey-Leigh- Lover

Finlay- Passionate

Keilan- Contemplative

Norah-Fay- Happy

As for myself, I chose “Beauty”. At first the kids had a great laugh thinking that I had chosen that word because I found myself so pretty… not the case kiddos, have your laughs! It had more to do with finding myself inspired by all the beauty that surrounds us daily. I want to surround myself with beauty, create beautiful things, think beautiful thoughts and share all of that beautifully! I want to meditate on the beauty of things. Not just the obviously beautiful things but the beauty that is also found though struggles, awareness and growth. Not the easily accessible beauty that anyone can see but the beauty that sometimes needs a bit more nudging and digging in order to burgeon.

Beauty has imbued most of my projects, goals and accomplishments since the time I decide to make it MY word last Summer. I am now feeling impelled to maybe try on another word and see where that one takes me. Finishing this little writing project kind of fits into this new word I’m trying on… I invite you to try this little experiment and see where it may lead you! I might share what that new word is with you in another piece sometime, or not;).

In the meantime, this is where I leave you, thank you so much for following us in our adventures but mostly for having read through my writings and musings on my family and how I’m Being and living among them. One last quote: " I am trying to know myself. I want a better sense of what kind of mother the kids will remember me to be. It's hard: I am not done becoming me. I am still in the works..."

-The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs.

To my kids and Hubby,


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