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The Register

August 31, 1938

On The South Shore

By Nellie L. McClung

The visitor to Nova Scotia is always advised to see the South Shore, and looking at the pictures of it, which I did as I travelled down from Sackville, I wondered if anything could be as beautiful as Mahone Bay with its 365 islands.

I read what President Roosevelt had said about it – he had spoken of the "unhurried ways of the Fisher folk" …. Ramsay McDonald had called it the "Land of Heart’s Desire," and wondered why he had missed it, for so long … Dr. Brinkley of Del Rio, Texas, had caught a tuna fish weighing 758 pounds, off the coast at Liverpool.

A woman, to whom I had been speaking on the train, a Lunenburg woman, looked at me enviously, when I said I was on my way to Nova Scotia – for my first visit.

"I wish I could see Lunenburg Harbor for the first time," she said, "when the ships return and the masts stand up like a forest!"

She told me something about the coastline, with its indentations, and its coves and creeks.

"The paved road has done a lot for the people," she said, "I am not one that wants to keep the fisherfolk as primitive as they were in some places, just to make the tourists stare and rave about them. I want them to have some comforts too, and now they are getting them, even radios and table-cloths."

"There are places along the South Shore where the people lived on fish and potatoes," she went on, "never bothering about any other vegetable, but with tourists coming and wanting meals, they began to make gardens, and live better, in every way." Her maid lives in one of these places and she had heard about it from her. "The women work in the hay fields, with the men. Mary says she won’t take her holidays until the haying is over. Her two sisters work in Boston, and have learned American ways but when they come home, they do what father says. When father says, We’ll make hay, they make hay and they daren’t talk back to him." The heavy father who can rule his household may have gone from other parts of Canada but he still rules in some of the fishing villages on the South Shore.

We motored from Windsor to Chester, through Upper Falmouth, following the Avon River, until we saw where it had its source. The streams here, no longer subject to the tide, are clear, and dark as if the color of the trout has dyed the water. The road we travelled is winding, and narrow in places, but in good condition, and well made. Drinking troughs along the way reminded us that much of the transportation has been b y ox-teams, though we saw only two or three of these bringing out loads of hay. The heavy rains have damaged the hay crop, but there is already a fine crop of aftergrass.

We passed some beautiful orchards before we reached the heavily wooded country, and I was interested to see that the space between the rows of trees was planted with buckwheat, now in bloom. This will be cut, and left on the ground for a mulch. I wondered why the ground was not cultivated, but the sod-culture is in favor now, and appears to be successful for the trees are well set with fruit.

At Chester we went to the Lovatt House, where travellers have been fed and sheltered for more than a hundred years. In the low ceilinged dining room, with its brown walls, and floor and great carved sideboards, we had a good meal of liver and onions (at least that’s what I had.) I knew I should eat fish in Chester, but I could not resist my two old friends.

The pictures on the walls are of royalty: King Edward the Seventh with Queen Alexandria and their eldest child, Kings Edward the Eighth in his young boyhood, and the present King and Queen. The lights above our heads, suggested lanterns. Under our feet were hooked mats whose patterns were growing dim with the heavy-footed years! We met people, at the next table, who were going over to an island near by, which they own now, and have planted with potatoes, making an experiment of growing a red potato, much favored in Jamaica.

We hurried through the meal, to get out to see the bay, for the sun was pouring down. It was all I had hoped, and more – peace lay on the water, and on the islands, which lead the eye step by step out to the open sea. It was all so sweet and calm, it was hard to believe that this haven of rest had been the scene of robbery, pillage and murder. I wondered about the Payzant Island, where poor Marie had seen her husband fall across the doorstep, shot by the Indians who carried her and her four children away, nearly two hundred years ago. One of her descendants in Wolfville had told me the story, and given me Dr. MacMechan’s book: - I had thought of Marie, too, as we passed through Upper Falmouth, where she had found sanctuary after her tribulations and where the family still live.

The Island of mystery, four miles from Chester, Oak Island, draws everyone’s interest. Here it is supposed that Captain Kidd buried his illgotten treasure. We heard the story of the dying sailor who confessed that he had been one of Captain Kidd’s crew, who buried two millions of money on a secluded island east of Boston." A queer pit has been found on Oak Island, and many

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On the South Shore

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attempts have been made to recapture the treasure, but the pit fills with water, and nothing has been found yet. I was interested to hear the story of Captain Kidd who began his career as a recognized English trader, but chose the career of a pirate, robbing any ship he met, English or French. This was in 1696. In 1698 he arrived in New York, loaded with spoil which he buried on Gardmer’s Island. He was arrested by the order of the Governor of Massachusetts, sent back to England, tried and hanged in 1701. The loot on Gardmer’s Island was found and amounted to something like sixty thousand dollars.

But the people who live on the South Shore, today, are much more interesting to write about than the pirates who roved its waters years ago, robbing and killing.

After leaving Mahone Bay we saw many berry pickers, offering baskets of blueberries for sale: there were stands beside the road where lovely waterlilies in crocks could be bought. Signs told us that handmade rugs and quilts were ready for us, and about this time we began to notice that we were crossing the railway tracks very often. That is true of the whole South Shore – the highway and the railway tracks seem to vie with each other, in showing the traveller everything that is to be seen. No one can see it all, but we drove slowly and did our best.

Little sheltered coves, with canoes at anchor; beaches of pure red sand, where people lay in the sun; a party of picnickers, opening their baskets; a woman on the verandah of a lovely white house, reading a newspaper; two women driving by with a horse and covered buggy. (I am sure they had a lap-robe embroidered in chain stitch); a white house, with rain barrels at each side, painted white too; fish drying on the shore in front of Frolic School; cobblestone houses at Dublin Shore and then the sign, "Railway Crossing 300 feet, speed limit 15 miles an hour"; and always the sea with its fishing boats, steamers and at least one lovely yacht with gleaming sails.

Near Petite Reviere we got into the honeysuckle country – great hedges of it, fragrant and beautiful. We left the railway track for a while, travelling on a good gravelled road. We smelled the odor of Linden trees, and saw roses on lawns, supported by leaning trellises.

At Liverpool we stopped for supper at a neat little restaurant where tourists with bandanna handkerchiefs on their heads, sat at the next table. We wanted to reach Lockeport for the night, but a fog settled in from the sea, and we stayed at White Point Beach, where the great rollers of the Atlantic threw spray on the rocks, and filled the air with a sound, so much like a heavy rain that every time I wakened I had to resist the impulse to get up and shut windows all over the house.

The next day in spite of some fog and rain we caught glimpses of great beauty. Sea and sky and green meadows, with cattle on the land, and ships on the sea.

We had a good map with us, and had been looking ahead for a place to have lunch.

We agreed that the Pubnicos should be seen – there are so many of them, all in a row, on both shores of Pubnico Harbor. There is Lower West, Middle West and West Pubnico and the same number of East Pubnicos, and at the head of the harbor Pubnico itself. These are on the map. In reality there are Mids and Centrals as well. But we had a good lobster salad with the Amiraults there, I think it was at Mid. East Pubnico, in a neat little restaurant, which displayed a sign that "no intoxicating liquor will be tolerated on the Premises." The dark-eyed proprietor told us liquor "makes plenty trouble," and we agreed with her. The Highway Department is with her too.

We went to the little shop which advertises Acadian Handicrafts, and there we learned about Pubnico:

Sieur Philip d’Entremont, first Baron Pubnico, settled here in 1651, with his tenants. In 1755 he and all his people were deported with the rest of he Acadians but they were allowed to return in eleven years – the only Acadians who were thus favored. Their holding contains fifteen hundred square miles, and is now the oldest Acadian settlement in the world.

The folder, given to us, tells that the "d’Entremont family has descended from the highest nobility of France and Savoy, who are related to the Royal Family and this nobleness has been transmitted by marriage to most of the Acadian families of Digby and Yarmouth as well as many of New Brunswick and Quebec."

The window of the little Handicraft shop is made into a winter scene, with salt for snow, and little houses made of bark, and ox teams carved from wood, drawing loads of logs. Inside the shop there are pictures made by a needle instead of a brush, with wools instead of paint, and with carved frames. We saw two of the Amirault family here, who told us these handicrafts are carried on by the women in the winter, the designs handed down from mother to daughter. They invited us to visit the museum nearby, but rain was threatening, and we pushed on. Crossed the railway at Pubnico – just plain Pubnico – and went on to Yarmouth.