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June 12, 2009

An Island Paradise (sort of)

Hello everybody. Been gone a while, busy doing other things, but I intend to get back to blogging over the summer. Starting with my most recent trip with The Sweetness...

Imagine an island with sandy beaches, surrounded by smaller islands to explore by boat. An island with friendly villagers and fiesty, colorful birds. An island with almost no tourism, all your own to explore. This island does exist, my friends. That it lies at just over 44 degrees N latitude is part of its charm.

I'm talking about Big Tancook Island, in the Mahone Bay of Nova Scotia. To get there from Halifax, you drive about an hour to Chester, park your car wherever you can find a place (don't leave anything valuable behind!), and hop onto a ferry. All your luggage will be ported by friendly staff. Well, ported in a way: you put your goods in a container or on a palette and they crane it on. The ferry might be a bit late in leaving, if somebody is still loading their groceries, gas cans, etc. And when we were there, a 1960-era Ford truck bearing fill dirt drove onto the ferry's cargo deck, resulting in much bopping about.

After a 50 min ride in the setting sun, we were there:
Even in the dark, we could tell "this ain't the mainland". Many of the cars at the dock looked like they had utterly failed any attempt at inspection. We soon learned that it didn't matter; insurance companies wouldn't cover vehicles on the island, so people only kept license plates and inspections on cars they wanted to bring over to the mainland -- which was few of them, given the expense and hassle.
We stayed at the only bed and breakfast, and took our lunch and dinner at the only restaurant. For all intensive purposes, we were the local economy that weekend!

In many ways, it is a community in decline, with only half a dozen tykes in the elementary school and the only church shuttered due to lack of funds. Yet it seems most people are content to stay, as we saw only a handful of "For Sale" signs. Life on the island has a distinctly slower pace, and while it might be colder than your average bit of sand, it nevertheless has many of the remote charms I associate with islands -- with some pleasant ruggedness thrown in for good measure. Walking about the island, village turns to farmland, which turns to forest, which suddenly turns to, well, this:
Apparently islanders used to have evening parties, complete with adult beverages, on the edge of this cliff. The landowner, sagely, decided to place some limits on that sort of thing.

Myriad types of birds, in all shapes and sizes, take refuge on Big Tancook to forage and lay eggs. And they mean business, as we learned when we walked down "their" road and tripped a guard post. Nothing more than aggressive overhead flying transpired, but they definitely got our attention!

And it is gratifying to see that some residents manage to keep fishing alive on the island. We saw many lobster traps, buoys, and nets being prepared:

So if you go to Tancook, you may not get a tan, but we sure did have a good time.

Posted by The Greatness at June 12, 2009 08:04 PM


My dad was the last pastor of that church before it closed down (assuming you mean the baptist one in the woods)

Posted by: Paul Dixon at June 13, 2009 05:26 AM