Small Town Nova Scotia: Finding the Sweet Spot

In this month’s travelogue, ArtsvilleUSA founder Louise Glickman heads to Nova Scotia for an art- and nature-filled adventure on the Canadian peninsula.

Small Town Nova Scotia: Finding the Sweet Spot

When businessman and author Robert Townsend said, “Getting there isn’t half the fun—it’s all the fun,” he might have been talking about the route from Nova Scotia’s lighthouse-dotted South Shore to Annapolis Royal on the peninsula's Bay of Fundy. Recently, I visited this special area of the world for a fourth time, so give it a whirl for an art- and nature-filled adventure.

Driving out of Halifax, travel along to Peggy’s Cove to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg, all maritime delights, before heading to Annapolis Royal. Established in 1868, picturesque Peggy’s Cove has long inspired tourists and artists who come to photograph and paint its picturesque lighthouse. A walk out over the Atlantic on the Cove’s rocky mound, followed by lobster rolls on an outdoor deck, makes for a magical day in Nova Scotia.

The Studio of Brad Wiseman

Visit Brad Wiseman’s studio in Chester to peek behind the curtain of his artistic process.
Brad Wiseman’s hand-built kiln holds up to 100 pieces.

Heading towards Lunenburg, take a detour to the home studio of Brad Wiseman, who lives near Mahone Bay. Brad is a potter whose studio graces the front lawn of his home in Chester, Nova Scotia. Visit Brad’s home studio and see his process, from throwing forms for functional ceramics to painting and glazing. His new, hand-built kiln holds up to 100 pieces, all available for use in your home. Brad’s wife, artist Kate Church, is a consultant to Cirque du Soleil, who creates whimsical figures that tow the line between sculpture and puppetry. Her works are known worldwide to gallerists and museum curators.

Visit Brad’s studio at this address or email him here.

Lunenburg and Nearby Towns

The seaside town of Blue Rocks is beloved by artists for its picturesque vistas.

You will gravitate to the heart of this beautiful seaside town, perfect for leisurely strolls along the harbor and among arteries of brightly painted buildings, delightful galleries, and outdoor dining porches. Established in 1753, the port of Lunenburg on the South Shore boasts unique architecture that belies the town’s British heritage; it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Step aboard the Seafarer II, an ocean-going vessel that leaves the dock twice daily. It’s one of many maritime vessels available for fishing and whale watching. Stay a day or more traveling to smaller hamlets such as Rose Bay, Shobac Farms, and nearby Blue Rocks, the home of Blue Hog Gallery and the adjacent Blue Hog Eatery—a community favorite for homemade ice cream and BBQ.

LaHave and Petite Riviere

Treat yourself to the sweet and savory goodies at LaHave Bakery.

Leaving Lunenburg, take a short ferry ride to the eclectic village of LaHave to relish sweet and savory goodies at the LaHave Bakery. Stop at Heart to Hand Gallery to meet gallery owner and mixed-media artist Monica O’Halloran-Scut, who makes jewelry by converting special clays into silver. Her wall boxes and scarves are collectibles.

Enjoy the variety of works at the Painted Saltbox Fine Art Gallery in nearby Petite Riviere, now in its 26th year. Meet Peter Blais and Tom Alway, who have turned their passion for art into a happy hideaway—a converted barn and the Coop, a spectacular outdoor exhibit space in their glorious garden.

As you head toward Annapolis Royal, take time for afternoon hiking and picnicking in Kejimkujik National Park. This area holds thousands of years of Mi'kmaq history and is an excellent place to learn about Canada’s First Nations peoples.

Annapolis Royal

The North Hills Museum boasts fine art, hand-crafted furnishings, and architecture from Nova Scotia’s Georgian period.

Just forty-five minutes further brings you to the Bay of Fundy and the small historic town of Annapolis Royal. Book a few nights (in advance!) to experience the coastal beauty of this town, where British, French (Acadian), African, Indigenous Mi'kmaq, and Scotch-Irish history collide. Annapolis Royal occupies land once belonging to the Indigenous Mi'kmaq. The territory passed back and forth between France and England before the land was ceded to the British in 1713 for a final time. The Acadians and native warriors fought valiantly against England and Scotland, but famously, 225 Acadians were deported from Annapolis Royal in 1755 on the British ship Pembroke, headed to North Carolina. Today, visitors can learn about Nova Scotia history at Fort Anne, the Port Royal National Historic Site, and the beautifully restored North Hills Museum, one of the oldest private homes in Canada. To fully indulge in this immersive experience, seek knowledgeable tour guides who shed light on authentic fine art, hand-crafted furnishings, and architecture from Nova Scotia’s Georgian period.

Annapolis Royal Galleries and Museums

In this month’s travelogue, ArtsvilleUSA founder Louise Glickman heads to Nova Scotia for an art- and nature-filled adventure on the Canadian peninsula.
‘Cultivated Threads,’ an exhibit at ARTSPLACE, delves into the multifaceted nature of memory.

Start at ARTSPLACE, the area's active arts council, then visit historic house museums and galleries such as H’Arts Gallery, Far-Fetched Antiques, Tripps Gallery, and Sinclair Inn Museum. This active community art space offers three galleries, a residency and pop-up studio/gallery space, workshops, and live performances. Down the street, buy tickets to King’s Theatre, which delights locals and visitors with a show almost every night.

Annapolis Royal Saturday Market

In this month’s travelogue, ArtsvilleUSA founder Louise Glickman heads to Nova Scotia for an art- and nature-filled adventure on the Canadian peninsula.
Mi'kmaq artist Crow Eddy sells hand-crafted dreamcatchers at the Annapolis Royal Saturday Market.

The Saturday Market in Annapolis Royal is Nova Scotia’s largest outdoor bazaar. This weekly festival has fun, food, music, and a friendly atmosphere that engages residents and visitors. The community’s commitment to hand-crafted wares and good food brings smiles, stories, and insight into the creative process. Bask in the authentic glory of tasty bread and multicultural cuisines, one-of-a-kind home specialties, and table and body salts direct from the Bay of Fundy.

Annapolis Royal Gardens and Trails

The Harvest Moon Trailway connects Annapolis Royal to the Grand-Pré National Historic Site.

Beautifully designed, The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens showcase gardening methods representing more than four hundred years of local history. A reconstructed Acadian House sits beside a specialty vegetable garden, while water and sculpture gardens stand nearby. The grounds’ replenished and cultivated marshlands reflect the wetlands management begun by Acadians and Mi'kmaq. Early wetlands management first started here and still prevails today in lowlands worldwide.

Minutes from the garden’s entrance, you’ll find a restored train station at the head of the new Harvest Moon Trailway. This walking and biking path follows what were once train tracks to Grand-Pré, the true heartland of Acadia. Today, the trail is an environmental extravaganza of grasses, birds, and natural species, all spelled out in well-designed signage along the walking and biking paths.

Bear River

The Flight of Fancy Gallery in Bear River showcases work from high-profile First Nations artists.

Make time for a detour to the nearby town of Bear River to visit The Flight of Fancy, the finest contemporary area crafts and art gallery in the region. The gallery includes outstanding work from several high-profile First Nations artists.

Grand-Pré and Tangled Gardens

In this month’s travelogue, ArtsvilleUSA founder Louise Glickman heads to Nova Scotia for an art- and nature-filled adventure on the Canadian peninsula.
Grand-Pré’s Memorial Church commemorates the expulsion of Acadian settlers from the area.

Just outside Wolfville, you’ll delight in Tangled Garden's natural, almost wild landscapes. Created by Beverly McClare, the garden’s corridors and wandering paths are open for guided tours. Its gift shop is a wonder of special oils, body balms, crafted soap, and jams extracted from its bountiful natural plants. Take selfies, have lunch in their cafe, or picnic in hideaway garden spots.

Down the road, Grand-Pré National Historic Site brings bygone Acadia to life. Poetry lovers may recognize the tale of the Arcadians’ expulsion in English author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline.” The visitor center exhibits the story in detail. The statue of Evangeline stands in an open field; its intimate chapel envelops visitors in an understanding of this diaspora’s painful yet romantic history.

Louise Glickman’s travelogue series invites ArtsvilleUSA readers to explore art worldwide. Book a private tour with ArtsvilleUSA partner Art Connections to discover top craft artists throughout Asheville and surrounding counties. For more on this story, follow us on Instagram.