Discover Acadia by taking Nova Scotia’s Evangeline Trail. Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is one of the oldest places of European settlement in North America. In 1604, legendary French explorer Samuel de Champlain helped establish the first permanent French colony in North America at Port Royal in present day Nova Scotia. From this tiny settlement French colonists made their way up the Annapolis River and around the Bay of Fundy to create the land that became known as Acadia.
For the next 150 years they lived here in peace until the English overran the colony and deported many Acadians; some went to Louisiana to become Cajuns. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized this historic tragedy in his epic poem Evangeline. With the Acadians gone, their lands were rapidly settled by the New England Planters who were amazed at the fertility of the soil, producing a veritable cornucopia of fruits, vegetables and farm animals. The Annapolis Valley, Canada’s oldest agricultural area, remains one of the richest and most productive today.
This two-day itinerary along the Evangeline Trail combines the bounty of the land and sea with the wealth of history that can be found in the area. The Trail starts at Exit 3 on Hwy-101, some 25km from downtown Halifax, then follows Hwy-1 about 200km to Annapolis Royal.
The first stop is nearby at Nova Scotia’s finest country estate, Uniacke House, where you can see how a country gentlemen lived in opulent style two hundred years ago.
Not far away is the town of Windsor, known as “The Birthplace of Hockey” as well as the home of Thomas Chandler Haliburton, a writer almost as famous as Charles Dickens in his time. You can tour his estate, Haliburton House, and learn more about his famous character, Sam Slick, and the birth of hockey on nearby Long Pond.
Moving along, the highway crests a hill and there is a breathtaking first view of Cape Blomidon, legendary home of the aboriginal god, Glooscap. You are now in the land of the Acadians and the first stop is Grand Pre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site marking the scene of their deportation. Walk the tranquil grounds to visit the church built on the deportation site and marvel at the enigmatic statue of Evangeline.
The scenic town of Wolfville is the first night’s stop. Walk the fabled Acadian dykes or tour the botanical gardens at Acadia University before settling down at one its great inns and restaurants. Make sure to sample some of the local wines that are rapidly gaining world recognition.
In the morning take a detour to The Look-Off for one of the best views in all Nova Scotia and stop at any the many wineries and farmer’s markets in the area. For lunch head to the lobster pound in Hall’s Harbour and catch a view of the Bay of Fundy.
In the afternoon visit The Habitation, site of Champlain’s original settlement and end the day touring Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, Canada’s oldest town. As in Wolfville, there are a number of very fine dining and lodging options here.
South of Annapolis Royal you can move on to the Lighthouse Route via Highway #8; cross the Bay of Fundy on a ferry from nearby Digby to Saint John in New Brunswick, or continue south beyond to Yarmouth.