It was still dark when I woke at the Hillsdale House Inn in Annapolis Royal. Although we had finished filming at the O'Dell House Museum the day before, we had decided to keep our accommodations in this beautiful town for the duration of our trip. I was still hours away from my complimentary breakfast and drive to Kentville, to the Kings County Museum, so it seemed the perfect chance to take a foggy stroll along St. George Street to the Evangeline Trail and across the Annapolis River to Granville Ferry.
All was calmly quiet until I approached the Annapolis Tidal Power Station on a small island at the mouth of the Annapolis River. I wasn't aware at how unique this station was. It boasts being the first and only tidal generating plant in North America. The benefits seem obvious to harnessing the power of the Bay of Fundy and the world's highest tides. Walking by at full tide was deafening. The Bay of Fundy squeezed its way through a bridge-sized grate, gushing to the point of explosion creating a lake of foam. During my walk, the sun rose dimly through the fog and disappeared into the overcast sky. Weather reports were favourable but having spent three rainy and dark days on the road already, I wasn't holding my breath for sunshine.
We took the Evangeline Trail to the 101, proceeding past Bridgetown, Middleton and an expanse of empty farm fields scattered with roadside produce shops and U-pick pumpkin patches before reaching Kentville.
Kentville was at its vibrant peak of Fall foliage. Many houses displayed pumpkin people: slapdash mannequins with pumpkin heads dressed garishly and comically posed. Soon, we pulled off Main Street to Cornwallis, to the old brick courthouse that is now the Kings County Museum.
This impressive building, originally built in 1903, actually functioned as the King's County seat of justice for over 75 years. We were met in the foyer by Bria Stokesbury, the Curator, who was eager to begin filming. She took us on an impromptu tour and led us through countless rooms. We toured everything from local geology, wildlife exhibits, prolific displays on Acadian culture and the New England Planters, paintings, old artifacts, books, hooked rugs, old toys, even several rooms loaded with antique furniture and a Victorian Parlour. One room had a Huntington organ, built in Quebec in 1886.
My favourite room in the museum was the courtroom exhibit. I sat in the judge's seat with an air of importance and imaged what cases of intrigue and scandal occurred within the last hundred years.
After meeting many of the museums volunteers, Bria took us to the genealogy centre in the basement. The centre was large and well equipped to help anyone interested in history. Besides having an extensive collection of published genealogies, census records, township books, rolls upon rolls of vital statistics on microfilm, there was information on virtually every community that had ever existed in King's County. The research area offered public computers, ample seating and a number of knowledgeable volunteers ready to assist.
There was no shortage of picturesque places in this quaint town. I was amazed with the weather as I walked out of the museum. It was a record breaking 26C and the sky was unbelievably cloudless. The autumn foliage had saturated the town with a continuous backdrop of yellow, orange and red. Susan and I drove to the Oak Grove Cemetery next. This cemetery was pretty and serene. We were lucky to be there on such a perfect day. The cemetery sits atop rolling hills and shelters the gravestones from any street or house. I snapped a few photos of the large Celtic cross marking the grave of Arthur Hamilton Wentworth Eaton, a notable poet, priest, educator and historian who was born in Kentville.
With our days filming finished, we drove back to Annapolis Royal still reveling in the beautiful weather. For dinner, we decided on the Bistro East, a relatively new restaurant on St. George Street that was recommended to us by Ryan Scranton, the curator of the O'Dell House Museum. Dinner was great. We started with strawberries and brie and were prescribed a bottle of Nova Scotian wine from the general manager, Janice Buckler. She was an extraordinary host: pleasant, funny, well versed in cuisine and the Annapolis area. Susan and I finished with their delicious Thai pizza. The restaurant's atmosphere was surprisingly urban and chic. I highly suggest stopping by.
The following day, we stopped at the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal to film the grounds. It didn't seem to matter that we were there during the fall; the fading garden was still a pleasure to view. We continued home to Halifax feeling fortunate to have visited yet another beautiful region in Nova Scotia.