The stunning Annapolis Valley and the ghost of Miss Anderson in Nova Scotia
ANNAPOLIS VALLEY, NOVA SCOTIA – I had no idea.
I’ve heard tell of the Annapolis Valley, of course, usually referred to as the breadbasket of Nova Scotia or some such. But for some reason I never had a mental picture of it in my mind. Until last week, when I drove from Halifax up to Annapolis Royal and then drove through the valley on my way to Wolfville, N.S.
I crossed over the water and headed towards Port Royal, then took a five-minute ride over a dirt road out towards Delap's Cove. There are said to be nice hiking trails but Id didn’t have time. Instead, I turned right and drove along a quiet, rolling country road that hugs the south coast of the Bay of Fundy, passing impeccable homes dotted with brilliant, white apple blossoms and small coves with fishing boats bobbing in the water.
It’s a cliché, but this most decidedly is a kinder, gentler Canada, with Legion Halls and sings for lobster suppers and small churches with gleaming white steeples. It’s got a bit of a Niagara Parkway feel, but not nearly so planned or manicured, and the views out to the Bay of Fundy and over towards New Brunswick are inspiring.
The area, however, is not without its quirks. As I drove through a “town” called Hillsburn, I spotted a small spur road that dropped down a gentle hill towards the Bay of Fundy.
I drove a few feet down the road and spotted a large fish processing plant. Then, over to my right and alongside the rocky shore, was a picnic bench and a small red hut with a sign that read, “Anderson Cove and Ghost of Miss Anderson.”
I couldn’t resist.
There was, naturally, not a soul in sight. There was a latch on the hut, or cabin if you will, so I opened it up and stepped in. It was maybe four by eight feet, and there was a bare floor with a table and chairs and some books and papers spread out. One book On one wall were some old photos, all blurred and faded. Another wall had a story written out about how there was a terrible fishing accident on Dec. 23, 1912 (100 years ago to the year, cue the spooky music) and several folks had died. I saw a fellow named Stewart Robinson mentioned but didn’t see any words regarding Miss Anderson.
I didn’t spend hours investigating, but the only mention I saw of the poor girl was her name printed out in pen with a small face etched alongside.
I think I might have wandered into somebody’s idea of a practical joke. Or maybe there was a hidden camera and there’s a YouTube station out there where people in Nova Scotia tune in to see what idiot travel writers will do when they see a sign advertising ghosts. I don’t know, and part of me doesn’t care, although I admit I’ve spent a few minutes googling about the Internet in a fruitless attempt to find out what in blazes this is all about.
I’d read somewhere that there were fine views of the Annapolis Valley if one went up over the “mountain” that separates the Bay of Fundy from the valley, so I turned right near Hampton and headed that way, driving up over a hill that feels very much like the Niagara Escarpment.
As soon as I came to a clearing on the other side I looked out and immediately saw what the fuss is all about from Annapolis Valley fans. It was a positively bucolic scene, with a wide valley filled with flowering trees, deep green fields and the meandering blue stream of the Annapolis River. You could see small, tidy homes and the odd white church steeple.
The whole thing felt freshly scrubbed and picture perfect.
I drove down into the town of Bridgetown, past the tidy, brick town hall and then down to the deep blue Annapolis River. Everywhere I looked were lovingly painted wood homes with front porches and wide, deep lawns and impossibly pink cherry blossoms. I wouldn’t quite call it Leave it to Beaver or Pleasantville, but you get the idea.
I took mostly back roads from there to Wolfville, driving past more white church steeples and yellow or blue wooden homes and small shops. As I entered the village of Paradise, a bald eagle swooped directly over my car. Mind you, at the other end of town is Paradise Cemetery, so not everything ends well in the Annapolis Valley I guess.
It’s a thoroughly charming and simply beautiful part of the world. Highly recommended if you ever get the chance.