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Phil Neville

Port Greville and the Age of Sail Museum

by Phil Neville, on Tue, 01 Nov 2011 | 1 comment

Brendan and I had decided to stay in Advocate Harbour so that we wouldn't have far to drive before arriving at the Age of Sail Museum in Port Greville.  I was disappointed with the weather: a solid mist covered with a dark, overcast sky.  We were staying in the private cottage at Reid's Tourist Home which also functions as a working farm.  By 6:00AM, I could see workers milling about the field from my window.  Even a few deer approached the area curiously.

Cape d'Or DeerWe grabbed a frugal breakfast from a gas station down the road and drove towards the Cape d'Or Lighthouse, just outside the Advocate area.  Access to the lighthouse was a windy, dirt road.  I was surprised by the number of deer that walked in front of our vehicle unconcerned by the threat of us.

Cape d'Or LighthouseThis was my first time at Cape d'Or and I couldn't believe how beautiful it was.  It's a must-see for anyone traveling around the province.  Many locals have called this section of coastline "the mini Cabot Trail".  The lighthouse was atop a perfectly manicured bright green field of grass that tapered to a narrow point above the tumultuous Bay of Fundy.  The view of the cliffs from this point was stupendous.  By then, the sky had cleared somewhat revealing azure patches and morning sun.
Age of Sail Museum, Port GrevilleYou can't drive by the Age of Sail Museum without staring.  There are several buildings surrounding a towering ship's mast and overlooking the tidal Greville River.  There's a blacksmith shop, the Port Greville Lighthouse, a separate structure for bathrooms and a café/gift shop.  The largest building is the museum itself and it was here that we met the friendly and welcoming curator, Oralee O'Byrne, as well as her dutiful volunteer and husband, Jeff.

Oralee O'Byrne, Curator of the Age of Sail MuseumThe museum is a collection of very well laid out displays and exhibits.  It's designed in a way to reflect the contour of ocean waves and with many engaging displays reflecting such themes as lumbering, shipbuilding, marine life and many items that immerse visitors in this important era of Nova Scotia's history.  The majority of the museum is virtually hands-on which is an amazing feature for the curious individual or families with kids eager to see and touch everything.  The basement of the museum holds the largest collection of old tools that I've ever seen.  Oralee mentioned that the Age of Sail Museum held what was probably the largest collection of wood planes in Canada.

During our tour, Brendan and I viewed many important old documents including census records, published and unpublished genealogies, newspapers, scrapbooks, ledgers and a wonderful collection of old photos including many that showed the shipbuilding industry of the area.

Lobster Roll from the Age of Sail MuseumOralee invited us to stay for lunch in the museum café where Jeff stated that we would find the best lobster roll anywhere.  He was right!  It was delicious and could only be outdone by the scrumptious carrot cake served for dessert.

Original Shipbuilding Wharf Destroyed in the Groundhog Day Storm of '72After we finished filming the museum, Oralee suggested that we continue to a look-off where the original shipbuilding wharf had stood before the infamous "Groundhog Day storm of '76 destroyed it completely.  Today, where the Greville River reaches the Minas Basin, there's a large sign card explaining the significance of the site and also a gorgeous vista of seacoast and sandbar.

Captain John Hatfield, Loyalist, in a blueberry field near Fox River 1804 Next, we drove to the Hatfield Cemetery, a somewhat secret location to all but locals.  Oralee warned us that because the small cemetery was located in the centre of a blueberry field, we may have a problem gaining access because of the harvest.  We saw a tractor making its way across the blueberry field and received permission to walk to a small site surrounded by iron chains and tall grass that exceeded the height of any monument.  The tombstones rose at odd angles, jutting up through unrestrained overgrowth.  The main monument celebrated the bicentennial of Captain John Hatfield, the first British Loyalist granted land in the area.

Bare Bones Bistro PastaWith all obligations behind us, Brendan and I decided to stop at the Bare Bones Bistro in Parrsboro that had been recommended so many times throughout the trip.  The serving sizes were large and plated well.  Brendan opted for the seared scallops, double smoked bacon and grilled vegetables with pernod cream while I had sautéed chicken, bacon crisps and grilled peppers with a sun dried tomato sauce.  It was absolutely fantastic!  The head chef, Glen Wheaton, said that soon they would be revamping their menu with some venison, it being now in season.  I also chatted briefly with the manager, Sue Wheaton, and complemented her on a pleasurable dining experience.  

Economy FallsWe decided to walk off our full stomachs at the trail system that led to Economy Falls.  After setting foot on the trail, it began to rain but I didn't mind after the day we had.  After a quick glimps of the falls and with two days of jam-packed sightseeing behind us, we were ready to return to Halifax.


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    by Yvonne on, November 1, 2011 5:47 PM

    Looks like a wonderful place to discover! I want to go!