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Carla Allen

Yarmouth - where sea monsters are free

by Carla Allen, on Thu, 01 Mar 2012 | 1 comment

The sight struck fear in those aboard a schooner sailing the Gut of Canso in 1787. One of the crew members cried out 'a shoal a-head.' To their great astonishment the shoal moved off. As it passed athwart the bow of their vessel, the men discovered it to be an enormous sea serpent, four times at least as long as the vessel. Its back was a dark green colour, forming above the water "a number of little hillocks, resembling a chain of hogsheads." Sightings of  strange creatures off the coast of Nova Scotia have been documented for hundreds of years and continue to be so. Just ask any lobster fishermen if he's pulled something unusual out of his trap.
A fascinating exhibit at the Yarmouth County Museum & Archives explores what mariners have seen at sea and how some of these "things" could be construed as monsters. There's the bottled viper fish, one of the fiercest predators in the ocean; an elegantly formed seahorse; a goosefish mask with savage-looking teeth, along with dozens of other interesting items. There's no charge to view this Sea Monster exhibit. You can explore all of the museum for free during the month of March, thanks to sponsorship by a local corporation.

stagecoach_3.jpgThis award-winning museum is perfectly situated in a historic former church. My favourite artifacts are the two stagecoaches used to deliver mail between Yarmouth and Pubnico in the mid-1800s. I can just imagine a ride in one of those - careening over bumpy dirt roads behind a team of galloping horses. The costume collection can entertain for hours. There's also an electric car and Canada's third largest ship portrait collection. The archives are the largest non-institutional collection in Nova Scotia, with roughly 25,000 photographs, newspapers dating back to 1833, extensive genealogical records and a research library.

After the Sea Monsters, the Titanic exhibit can be viewed from April 12 to August 30, 2012. This commemorative display looks at Yarmouth's connection to the mystery ship purportedly seen by the Titanic. Could it have been the Samson? Another exhibit coincides nicely with the arrival of spring. "Wings" will feature amazing photographs of birds, butterflies and dragonflies by Reigh Higgins starting April 18 through to June 2, 2012.

The Yarmouth County Museum is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m. until May 30, when it switches to its summer schedule:  Mondays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's closed on Sundays.


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    by Moe Fraser-Deveau on, March 1, 2012 4:38 PM

    So, it sounds like Nessie may have some long lost siblings .