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Posts Tagged ‘Nova Scotia’

It was hard to leave the Lunenburg area, so we eked out one more night at an RV park right in Lunenburg itself.  You’d never know we were in the town, (and close to the filming of Moby Dick)  given the view and the visiting deer.

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Out my bedroom window

Out my bedroom window

But after five nights, it was time to move on to Halifax.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has exhibits on both the Halifax Explosion and the Titanic (bodies were recovered and buried in cemeteries here).

I got interested in the history of the Halifax explosion after reading Anita Shreve’s novel, “Wedding in December”.  So then I read Laura MacDonald’s non-fiction account “Curse of the Narrows”.  Two ships , one carrying tons of explosives, collided in the Halifax Harbor in 1917 , set off a fire,and then an explosion,  that killed at least 2000 and injured 10,000 more, leaving Halifax in ruins.  It was the most powerful man-made explosion ever, prior to the atomic bomb, and caused a tsunami in the basin – as if the fire and shock waves from  the blast weren’t enough.  So many people, standing at their windows, watching the ship on fire after the collision, were blinded or killed by the shattering glass when the explosion went off.  The chaos that followed, the search for dead and wounded in the blinding blizzard that arrived the next day, and the sheer magnitude of the medical and relief efforts were  mind-boggling.

We also visited Pier 21 – Canada’s Ellis Island, which has been transformed into an immigration museum, rode up to Citadel Hill and around the downtown on the free and friendly bus, “Fred”,  and toured Alexander Keith’s Brewery, before having a delicious dinner and heading back across the bridge to Shubie Park Campground.

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Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

To say Lunenburg is a colorful little port is an understatement.  It’s a candy store for the eye.  Oh, please don’t let me say William Hurt is too…oops!  Yes, they’re filming Moby Dick here (with William Hurt, Ethan Hawke, Donald Sutherland and Gillian Anderson), but that’s not why we came. We had no idea they were filming here – we came to see a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site town (only two in North America, the other one is Quebec City) and were here for two days before we discovered the film crews.  Which was good because it gave us time to visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and enjoy the town without distraction.

Lunenburg Harbor

Lunenburg Harbor

Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

The museum is great – I didn’t know my favorite fish (to eat), halibut, was a bottom-feeding flat fish, but I’ve seen one in person now.  I’m still going to eat it.  We had a long, great talk with a scallop fisherman.

So okay,  back to William Hurt.  I fell in love with him in “Kiss of the Spiderwoman”. Would it help if I said Dick did too?  Probably not.  Let’s just say we were both surprised and happy to see him in person.  And even more surprised to see him in these circumstances, sitting alone on a small chest, in costume,  on the side of the street.  No make-up artists hovering, no production people around, he was just sitting there, almost on the curb. Definitely not a prima donna – or whatever the masculine version of that is. We walked within feet of him before we realized who he was.  He raised his eyes, lowered them. Respecting his privacy, we walked right past him, like he was just any other person on the street.  Saw him again the next day, this time he had one of his legs wrapped in green tape, so as to make it disappear for the peg leg… aren’t movies wonderful?!

We also walked to one of the sets they built at the foundry in Lunenburg to re-create a Nantucket wharf.  They were dis-assembling it while we watched.  Look for it in the movie, though.

Lunenburg Set for Moby Dick - representing Nantucket

Lunenburg Set for Moby Dick - representing Nantucket

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View out door at campsite

View out door at campsite

I could rhapsodize about Ovens Natural Park for pages, but am way behind on blogging – so will sum it up quickly and share a campfire story.

Being off-season, we had the place to ourselves, with unlimited ocean views and crashing surf.

There are sea caves to explore.

Looking out of sea cave

Sea cave

And great hiking, along rocky shoreline overlooking the ocean.

And on the very first night, we’re sitting outside in the dark, around a campfire.  Suddenly, we see a strange silhouette appear… out of nowhere, really close by us.  Dicks says racoon – we strain our eyes, and I make out the definite form of a fox.  We’re freaked because he’s coming right up to us, so we grab our chairs as weapons and back towards the Navion, thinking there must be something wrong with it to come so close.  We train a flashlight on him (from inside) and he’s as pretty and healthy as can be, he looks into the light and lies down next to the fire.  We hadn’t finished cooking our hot dogs yet, so when we head back outside, Dick shoos him away with the light.  A little later, in the dark of the campfire, he joins us again.  This time we let him stay and we share a hot dog.

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Statue of Evangeline, in front of Memorial Church, Grand Pre

Statue of Evangeline, in front of Memorial Church, Grand Pre

The opening lines of Longfellow’s poem, “Evangeline”, have thilled me ever since I was a little girl.  I can’t take credit for any literary precociousness – “Forest Primeval” was the name of the northern Wisconsin resort where my family rented a cabin for several weeks each summer when I was growing up.  The entry sign would begin the poem, “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks…” and we’d turn off a paved road onto the bouncy, two tire tracked,  pine-needle strewn dirt road that would lead us to the old log lodge and one of the primitive log cabins, all with names like Evangeline, Gabriel and Longfellow.  The whole family would get into such a dither of excitement, cheering and clapping, that our black labrador once jumped out of the car window along the route, showing his own exuberance for a couple of weeks in the woods and lake.

I did read and love the poem though, because of those summers.  I thought the story of the ill-fated love between Evangeline and Gabriel was the most romantic story in the world.

Visiting the Grand Pre National Historic Site is a much more somber experience.  The visitor center, film and memorial church bring to life the history of Acadia and the tragic deportation of the Acadian people by the British in 1755.

Grand Pre National Historic Site

Grand Pre National Historic Site

No sign of the struggles and heartbreak today.  We walk through beautiful grounds, orchards and gardens, and statues commemorating the brave heroine, Evangeline, and her creator, Longfellow.  They brought this incredible story to the world’s attention.

And I feel like I’ve filled in a bit of a childhood chapter of my life that started in the north woods of Wisconsin.

Grand Pre National Historic Site

Grand Pre National Historic Site

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