After leaving Fort Point Lighthouse, travel further south into the province's scenic countryside on Highway 103 and turn off at Port Joli. Here you will find one of the South Shore's premier outdoor experiences awaiting you at Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct which covers 22km of unspoiled Atlantic coastline on the Port Mouton Penninsula. The first trail passes through the forest, beside small pockets of bog, over coastal dunes to the beach at Harbour Rocks and on to the end of St. Catherine's River beach (5 km/3 mile return). Part of the beach is closed to public access from late April to early August, during the nesting season of the endangered piping plover. Harbour Rocks is well known as an excellent location to view seals. The second trail branches from the Harbour Rocks Trail, crosses an extensive bog by board walk, and follows the edge of the coast to Port Joli Head, looping back along the shoreline to Harbour Rocks (9 km/5.5 mi return).
Return to Highway 103 and continue south to Sable River where you can branch left on Highway 3 to Lockeport, renowned for its fine white sand beaches. There are five of them in and around the town, including Crescent Beach, a stunning scimitar of sand that was once featured on the back of the Canadian $50 bill. Crescent Beach, 1.5 km (1 mi) long, is just the right size for a stroll, and a perfect place to get reacquainted with the feeling of warm sand sliding between your toes. The attractive visitor centre at Crescent Beach is a good place to start; it offers parking, visitor information, a canteen, gift shop, scenic look-off, change rooms, and shower facilities.
Also worth investigating in Lockeport is Nova Scotia's first Registered Historic Streetscape, made up of five houses built by descendants of Jonathan Locke between 1836 and 1876. The houses offer an interesting cross section of historical architecture with excellent examples of Colonial, Georgian and Victorian styles. A walking-tour guide book is available at the Little School Museum, which displays artifacts from early settlers. From the town wharves, Carter's and Gull Rock lighthouses can be seen. This is also a great birding area, with ocean beach, salt marsh, freshwater pond and forest habitats.
Return to Highway 3 and complete the loop by heading through East Jordan and rejoining Highway 103 at Jordan Falls. The next stop on your route is at Shelburne, a town whose rich history and picturesque charm has captured the hearts of many and attracted the attention of the film industry.
Shelburne was settled in 1783 when 3,000 United Empire Loyalists, who had maintained allegiance to the British Crown during the American Revolution, arrived by ship from New York City, creating an instant boomtown in the wilderness. Their numbers quickly swelled to over 10,000, making Shelburne the fourth-largest community in North America, but declined again within a few years as the settlers moved on.
The town's history comes alive in a harbourside stroll along Dock Street, where 18th-century houses and more recent commercial buildings have been restored and revitalized. Many waterfront events feature re-enactments, and visitors can watch barrels being produced in the factory. This historic area also holds a fascinating complex of museums. The Ross-Thomson House contains the oldest restored store in North America. Nearby, the Shelburne County Museum presents displays and artifacts on the county's intriguing history and impressive shipbuilding heritage. The museum houses the oldest fire-pumper in North America. The Dory Shop, on the waterfront, produced about 350 of these sturdy work boats each year in the early 20th century, and museum visitors can still watch them being built by hand. Many visitors each year come to Shelburne to trace their family roots, and the Shelburne County Genealogical Society on Water Street has extensive records and research facilities. The Muir-Cox Shipyard, last of the wooden shipbuilding yards on the waterfront, is now an interpretive and boatbuilding centre.
At Clyde River, take the circular route 309 which follows the coastline through Thomasville and Reynoldscroft to Port la Tour. A left turn here leads to Smithville and Baccaro where the Baccaro Lighthouse offers a terrific vantage point for watching seabirds.
Your next stop is Barrington, an attractive village with several historic attractions. The replica of the Seal Island Light was built in 1979 as a lighthouse museum. Enjoy the panoramic view of Barrington Bay from the top. The massive Fresnel lens is the one that warned vessels away from the Seal Island shore.
Nearby, the Old Meeting House, built in 1765, was used by the early settlers for public meetings and as a place of worship. The oldest nonconformist church in Canada, it is now operated as a provincial museum.
The Barrington Woollen Mill, built in 1882, was in production until 1962, making it the last operating 19th-century mill in Nova Scotia. Now a provincial museum, it brings to life the days when small water-powered mills were a common part of life in rural Nova Scotia . The museum features displays of original machinery, exhibits on sheep-raising and wool-processing on the South Shore, and a large mural made up of hand-woven pieces, which includes the origin of the Nova Scotia Tartan.
Barrington is also home to two local museums. The Cape Sable Historical Society Centre has displays on local history, and the Western Counties Military Museum in the old courthouse features displays of historic military artifacts and uniforms.
The Lighthouse Route continues to the busy service centre of Barrington Passage, where it turns left on Route 330 to Cape Sable Island, a noted birding destination.
Cape Sable Island, the most southerly point in Atlantic Canada, is the home of the famous Cape Island boat, first built by Ephraim Atkinson at Clark's Harbour in 1907. Today the design is a standard for small boats that require high stability and efficiency in the North Atlantic. A typical Cape Islander is 11.5m (38 ft.) long, with a 3.5-m (12-ft.) beam. It draws little water, sitting right on top of the surface, and is used primarily in the lobster fishery.
The first village on the island is Centreville where the Archelaus Smith Museum features local history and displays on lobster fishing and shipbuilding.
Continuing back on the route, in Shag Harbour you can climb the tower in the Chapel Hill Museum for a panoramic view of the sea and outlying islands. At night the lights of five lighthouses - at Cape Sable, Bon Portage Island, Seal Island, Baccaro Point and Woods Harbour - are visible from this point. The post office in Shag Harbour has a special stamp cancellation commemorating the sighting of a UFO which crashed and sank here in 1967.
These lighthouses still perform a vital function that was even more critical in the days when virtually all traffic and commerce went by ship. The rocks around Seal Island, called the Sea Wolves by Champlain, wrecked hundreds of ships before the building of the first lighthouse in 1830.
The life of a lighthouse keeper was hard and sometimes lonely. Bon Portage Island was the home of noted author Evelyn Richards, whose book We Keep A Light described her life on the island when she and her husband tended the light in the 1930s and 40s. The island is now a research centre and bird sanctuary, and the Fresnel lens from the lighthouse is on display at the Seal Island Light Museum in Barrington.
Off Route 3 to the left, Route 335 leads to the French speaking communities of West Pubnico, Middle West Pubnico and Lower West Pubnico. Settled in 1653 by Acadians, these villages make up the oldest Acadian settlement in the province. In Middle West Pubnico, a monument displays millstones used here in 1699. At West Pubnico, there are two sites dedicated to preserving the area's rich heritage, and a cenotaph commemorating the founding of the village and the lives lost in the two world wars. Le Village Historique Acadien restoration features period homes and fish houses, artifacts, and plenty of Acadian joie-de-vivre. Le Musee Acadien, a homestead dating back to 1864, has costumed interpreters and offers various programs and demonstrations throughout the summer. Chez Nous a Pombcoup is an annual village festival held here in early August. Also in West Pubnico, the Abbott's Harbour Lighthouse offers a pleasant place for a picnic. The many islands in the area can be explored by sea kayak.
In nearby Middle East Pubnico, the Church of the Immaculate Conception was built in 1919. Its cemetery contains the grave of Simon d'Entremont who, in 1836, was the first Acadian elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.
Two complementary Acadian experiences await you in the Pubnico region: le Village historique acadien de la Nouvelle-Ecosse and the Musee acadien et archives. The Village is a feast for the senses that resonates with the fascinating tale of Nova Scotia's Acadian people pre-1920. Feel their perservering spirit as you explore the site. Learn the old methods of fishing, catch a glimpse of a farmer tending his field or building a unique mushroom-shaped salt haystack. Farming was made possible here with the innovative wooden aboiteau dyke system, a living example of the ingenuity of this industrious people.
In the Musee acadien et archives, tour the gardens, overflowing with traditional ingredients for herbal remedies and nourishing meals that helped the original Pubnico residents survive in their new environment. Watch an early printing press create a page of the daily news from 1937, see an actual aboiteau, and learn to delicately stitch with traditional quilters as they create the same type of bed coverings that kept their ancestors warm on cold winter nights.
Acadian roots are here. Some local families can trace their lineage to France as far back as 1632 using the genealogy resources housed within the museum, proudly recognized as a UNESCO archive portal. Many of the small towns and villages along this coastline, like Wedgeport, West Pubnico and Woods Harbour, depend on the sea for their livelihood. Colourful fleets of longliners, trawlers and scallop draggers work the offshore fishing grounds, while smaller craft like lobster boats harvest the inshore areas. All along this shore, fishermen collect rockweed, a type of seaweed used as fertilizer, and Irish moss, a seaweed that is the source of a natural additive used in many foods, including ice cream and gelatin. You may see the small open rockweed boats, almost buried under their towering cargo, as they approach the wharves for unloading.
At Roberts Island a 1.5 km (1 mi) interpretive trail leads through the Goose Creek Marsh wetlands management area. The wetlands include an area of dykelands constructed by Acadian settlers in the late 1800s. Here birdwatchers may glimpse herons, osprey, geese, kingfishers, and several species of ducks. Just beyond Roberts Island on Route 3 is the Glenwood Provincial Park, whose broad, shady picnic sites and tree-lined lake offer a choice resting spot.
The Lighthouse Route follows the picturesque shore to Tusket, settled in 1785 by Dutch United Empire Loyalists from New York and New Jersey. The Argyle Township Courthouse, built in 1805, is the oldest standing courthouse in Canada. The courthouse has been carefully restored and is open to the public, with interpretive guides in summer. Upstairs, the airy courtroom offers insight into the judicial processes of the 1800s, while the restored cells in the basement give a view of the hard life of those the judgments went against.
Just before Tusket, the Church of Ste. Anne in St Anne de Risseau is a magnificent structure with high, vaulted ceilings featuring beautiful paintings, and ornate stained glass windows. The church was built in 1900 near the site of the original parish chapel, built in 1784. It is open to the public, with interpretive guides in the summer.
Off Route 334, remnants of Acadian dykes can be found at Pinkney's Point, a thriving small Acadian fishing community on a peninsula. The waters off the coast teem with schools of sleek, powerful tuna, and the town of Wedgeport was once known as the Sport Tuna Fishing Capital of the World. It was the site of the World Tuna Cup Match from 1937 to 1976, and attracted such luminaries as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart and Ernest Hemingway. Today, Wedgeport is home to the Sport Tuna Fishing Museum and Interpretive Centre. The museum is also the starting point for a 5.4-km (3.4 mi) interpretive nature trail that leads through coastal wood lands and along the Tusket River Estuary.
In Wedgeport, the Butte-de-la-Croix is an historic site commemorating the first mass held here in 1769 for the returning Acadians. Marked by a cross, the site remains a symbol of Acadian courage and perseverance. The site also features a salt marsh boardwalk and a magnificent view of the Tusket Islands . The Festival Acadien de Wedgeport is held at the end of June.
Many of the coastal areas in this region were settled by Acadians, some as early as 1653 and others after the expulsion of 1755. In 1767 the first of these Acadians settled in Wedgeport and other nearby areas. With most of the productive farmland already occupied, the returning Acadians turned to the sea for their livelihood.
The Lighthouse Route ends, appropriately, at one of Nova Scotia's most dramatic and historically significant lighthouses. The Yarmouth Light stands on the rocky point of Cape Forchu, named by Samuel de Champlain in 1604. Follow the Yarmouth waterfront north to Vancouver Street, then take scenic Route 304 to Cape Forchu . The original lighthouse, built in 1839, was replaced by the current structure in the 1960s. Rising 23 metres above the ground, the lighthouse's two-million-candlepower beam can be seen over 30 nautical miles out at sea. Today it's a great place to have a picnic or to walk the short shoreline trail, enjoying the views and crisp salty air of Yarmouth Harbour. In addition to a picnic area and trail, there is a canteen, gift shop and lighthouse interpretive centre.
The town of Yarmouth is an historic seaport whose proximity to New England and rich offshore fishing grounds contributed to the town's development and prosperity. Yarmouth was settled in 1761, and the town's proximity to the ports of New England and lucrative trade with the West Indies brought a prosperity that can still be seen in the town's splendid architecture. Yarmouth today has the salty romance of a working seaport.
Yarmouth 's great shipping heritage is reflected in the exhibits of the Yarmouth County Museum, which includes one of Canada's largest collections of ship paintings, as well as exhibits on the early Acadian and English settlements of the area.
Another of Yarmouth's delightful surprises is the Firefighters' Museum. Dedicated to the history of firefighting and firefighters in the province, the museum's extensive collection includes several horse-drawn pumpers, steam pumpers and historic firefighting equipment from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The town's waterfront park is a great place to enjoy views of the harbour. Nearby, the Killam Bros Shipping Office Museum offers a look at coastal shipping businesses of the type that were prevalent along this coast in the 1800s. Yarmouth is also home to the Yarmouth Arts Centre (Th' YARC), which offers a variety of entertainment in its 350-seat theatre on Parade Street .
Stop at the Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre, 228 Main Street (up the hill from the ferry terminal), for information and travel literature about Nova Scotia. An excellent brochure describes a self-guided walking tour of 26 historic buildings and heritage sites, including the Collins Heritage Conservation District.
If you are looking for a campground close to downtown Yarmouth, we recommend you consider staying at Campers Haven Campground on Highway 3 east (Starrs Road). Or maybe you prefer a more lakeside location away from the city. In this case, we recommend Lake Breeze Campground on the shores of Darling Lake, about 20 minutes north of Yarmouth on the Evangeline Trail Route 1.