First settled by the French in 1605, Nova Scotia (Latin for New Scotland) has a long and unique history, shaped by its people and the sea. This History Buff Itinerary is the perfect road trip route, for those looking to learn more about the province’s roots.
Discover the history and heritage of the Maritimes with the History Buff Itinerary.
Your historical adventure starts in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, home to communities with roots over 400 years deep. The Acadian identity is still very strong and you can immerse yourself in the culture, traditions and food throughout the region. Bask in Acadian heritage at Le Village historique de la Nouvelle-Ecosse, a early 1900s seaside village, situated on a beautiful 17-acre site overlooking Pubnico Harbour.
Before retiring for the night, plan to watch the sunset over the Cape Forchu lightstation. It truly is a breathtaking sight.
Begin your day discovering the beginnings of Annapolis Royal’s history with a tour of Port-Royal. The French Port-Royal was the country’s first successful settlement in North America. When it was destructed by the British less than a decade later, the settlement moved up the Annapolis River and became Annapolis Royal. The original site is now the home of the Port-Royal National Historic Site – a replica of the original French settlement.
In the afternoon, drive through the Annapolis Valley to visit the Grand-Pré National Historic Site, which tells the story of Le grand dérangement, or the forced, mass-deportation of French Acadians from the province (Nouvelle-Écosse in French). Some Acadians returned to their homeland, but many traveled on to Louisiana and formed the state’s famed Cajun culture.
This evening, stay in the vibrant university town of Wolfville – home to many delicious restaurants and cafes. Don’t miss out on sampling a glass (or two) of wine from one of the many local wineries in the area.
Enjoy an early start to the day with a morning drive to the capital city of Halifax to tour the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, commonly referred to as Citadel Hill. At the top of the hill sits the star-shaped fort that helped protect the city from intruders. Time your visit to end with the firing of the noon gun, which goes off every day except December 25th.
The noon gun doesn’t just delight tourists, it acts as a signal to hungry locals that it’s time for lunch! Head down to the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market to grab a bite. The Market is filled with local vendors offering lunch options to please everyone.
Right next door to the market is Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Similar to Ellis Island, Pier 21 acted as the gateway to Canada for welcoming in more than one million immigrants. Today it stands as a museum, telling the story of how immigrants shaped the country’s history.
For dinner, dine in one of Halifax’s iconic pubs or restaurants. The Henry House, Five Fisherman and Press Gang are all housed in historic buildings dating back to before the Halifax Explosion in 1917. These eateries all provide great food, drinks and atmosphere, and are just a few of the historic dining options in the city.
It’s time to hit the South Shore and learn a little about Nova Scotia’s seafaring history, with a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg. Tour the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic to learn how the Atlantic ocean, and the fisheries shaped our heritage. If you’ve got little ones with you, don’t miss a trip to their Tidal Touch Tank. Afterwords, pay a visit to the Bluenose II – an authentic replica of the original ship – the fastest schooner in her time, which went undefeated in its 17 years of international racing. The Schooner is a big part of our heritage – it’s featured on our Canadian dime, and Nova Scotians are even nicknamed Bluenosers!