advertisement

The South Shore -- that stretch of coast between Yarmouth and Halifax -- serves to confirm popular conceptions of Nova Scotia about small fishing villages and shingled homes. But the 113km (70-mile) shoreline from Digby to Yarmouth seems determined to confound those same conceptions. Here, rather than picture-postcard views, you'll find Acadian enclaves, fishing villages with more corrugated steel than weathered shingle, miles of sandy beaches with perhaps but a single walker and yapping dog each, and spruce-topped basalt cliffs that seem like they could be transplanted from Labrador.

The unassuming port town of Digby is located on the water at Digby Gap -- where the Annapolis River forces an egress through the North Mountain coastal range. Set at the south end of the broad watery expanse of the Annapolis Basin, Digby is home to the world's largest inshore scallop fleet. These boats drag the ocean bottom nearby and bring back the succulent Digby scallops famous throughout Canada. The town itself is an active community where life centers around the fishing boats, convivial neighborhoods of wood-frame houses, and no-frills seafood eating places. (It also serves as Nova Scotia's gateway for those arriving from Saint John, New Brunswick, via ferry. The ferry terminal is on Route 303, just west of Digby.)

Aside from the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa, which warrants its own trip , the town is worth checking out if you have a few hours to kill before catching a ferry back to Saint John.

Digby Neck

Look at a map of Nova Scotia and you'll see the thin strand of Digby Neck extending southwest from Annapolis Basin. You might guess from its appearance on the map that it's a low, scrubby sand spit. You would be wrong. In fact, it's a long, bony finger of high ridges, spongy bogs, dense forest, and ocean views. The last two knuckles of this narrow peninsula are islands, both of which are connected via quick, 10-minute ferries across straits swept by currents as strong as 9 knots.

Although neither the neck nor the islands have much in the way of services for tourists -- just one real lodge, a couple of B&Bs, a few general stores -- it's worth the drive if you're a connoisseur of end-of-the-world remoteness. The town of Sandy Cove on the mainland is picture-perfect, with its three prominent church steeples rising from the forest. Both Tiverton on Long Island and Westport on Brier Island are unadorned fishing villages where pickup trucks are held together with Bondo and bailing wire. You get the distinct feeling that life hasn't changed much in the past few decades -- or at least since 1960, when roads were finally paved on Brier Island. And, in fact, it really hasn't.