Coastal Heritage Trail

A Museum Without Walls

Coastal Heritage Trail
Discover history in its natural setting. Learn about tales of great bravery, tragedy and triumph of the human spirit as you travel the Coastal Heritage Trail - our Museum Without Walls. Our roads and villages are full of living history. Heritage homes and historic churches are around every corner.

The Coastal Heritage Trail is a self-guided tour of the Peggy's Cove Coastal Region

Our "Museum Without Walls" starts in Terence Bay and moves around the Head of the Bay and around the Aspotogan Peninsula, highlighting with Interpretive Panels some of our most significant history and culture. 

Our Interpretive Sites are:

1.   The S.S. Atlantic Heritage Park, Terence Bay
2.   The Peggy's Cove Interpretive Project
3.   Pioneer Cemetery in French Village
4.   The Old Annapolis Road Hiking Trail, Head of the Bay
5.   The Bay LookOut Park, Boutilier's Point
6.   Cleveland Beach Provincial Park, Queensland
7.   Bishop's Park, Hubbards
8.   The Aspotogan Trail, Hubbards
9.   Aspotogan Heritage Trust Premises
10. The Aspotogan Peninsula Loop - Route 329
11. Fox Point Scenic Viewpoint, Fox Point
12. The Blandford Whaling Station, New Harbour
13. Blandford Scenic Viewpoint, Blandford

Coastal Heritage Trail
Here you will learn of shipwrecks, lighthouses, churches, old fishing villages and their settlers. Hike on a trail once planned as the main road across Nova Scotia. Walk the trail once used as the Halifax South-Western Railway. See beaches and shore birds and towns full of that strong seaside spirit. With the cooperation of several community groups, some of the most important points of interest have been identified and interpreted for you on our strategically located interpretive panels along the trail. Discover history in its natural setting by the sea.

In the 1600's the Mi'kmaq  hunted and fished during the summer months in St. Margaret's Bay, and in the late 1700's the area began to be settled. Over time, the small settlements scattered around the Bay evolved into a community strong in tradition.

The ocean was vital to the early settlers as it provided a means of transportation and livelihood. For decades, fishing fueled the economy of this area as boats loaded with fish made their way to Halifax markets and returned with necessities for the settlers.

Farming the rocky terrain was difficult, however settlers tilled enough land for gardens, pastured sheep for wool and kept oxen. 

1. SS Atlantic Heritage Site
The SS Atlantic Heritage Park is a burial site and serves as a memorial to those who perished in the sinking of the SS Atlantic off the shores of Mars Head, Lower Prospect, near Peggy's Cove, on April 1st, 1873. It is a tribute to those who helped in the rescue effort, and a tranquil setting of ocean-side beauty to be enjoyed by everyone who loves nature. It is also an experience that enlightens the visitor about a part of the maritime history of Nova Scotia. 

The collection at the SS Atlantic Heritage Park reflects the history of the event and how the disaster of the SS Atlantic impacted on the local people. The collection celebrates the marine and village life and culture at Terence Bay and Lower Prospect during the period from 1800 until 1900.

The waterfront park includes a monument, a boardwalk and gazebo. An interpretive centre and panels provide an account of the heroic rescue and mass burial.


  2. The Peggy's Cove Interpretive Project
Peggys Cove
Take the time to discover the beauty of this small fishing village and its surrounding area. As you approach Peggy's Cove you will notice the undeveloped barrens about two miles on each side of the village. These are called the Peggy's Cove Preservation Area. Left behind as glaciers receded thousands of years ago, this landscape is delicate and development is prohibited.

Founded in 1811, Peggy's Cove remains an active fishing village. As you enter the village, public parking, washroom facilities and interpretive panels are to your left. Across from this parking lot you will find deGarthe's dramatic  monument to fishermen. This 100-foot sculpture is carved out of solid granite. Continue down the hill to see fishing boats nestled in the cove.

The lighthouse was build in 1914. You will find additional interpretive panels on the road near the lighthouse.

3. Pioneer Cemetery in French Village
Established in 1794, the Pioneer Cemetery, located in French Village, is the earliest documented burial ground on St. Margaret's Bay.

The majority of the Bay's residents were Foreign Protestants, from the Lunenburg area, invited by the Governor of Nova Scotia, John Parr, in the early 1780s, to take up lands not settled by the original grantees.

The land for the cemetery was originally purchased for 6 Pounds Sterling by local residents from James Boutilier, yeoman, and his wife Susanne Elizabeth Marriot. The property was conveyed to : John Andrews, David Jr., Jacques, James, James Frederick, John, John James, Frederick and George Boutilier; Christopher, John Christopher, George and Joseph Dauphinee; James and George Jollimore/Jollymore; Robert Keddy; Henry Lewis; Peter Marriott, and George Mason.

Although St. Paul's Church used the cemetery until 1849, the site was never actually deeded to the Parish, and was used by people as far away as Dover and the north and western shores of St. Margaret's Bay.

There are very few headstones in the cemetery and most of the grace markers are ordinary fieldstones; many of which are missing. No church or burial records prior to 1834 exist. Burials are believed to have filled the site and may have even exceeded its boundaries. From the research of wills, deeds, probate papers and inventories of estates, a list of names of those interred perhaps prior to 1834 has been compiled. This list also includes 1834-1964 burials from church records.

4. The Old Annapolis Road Hiking Trail
Hiking in the Peggys Cove Region
Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited established this hiking trail in 1975. Travel 8 km on the logging road, crossing Highway 103, to the beginning of the trail. Parking and washroom facilities are available here. The Old Annapolis Road Hiking Trail forms a 2.6-km loop and is a leisuely, one-hour walk along a scenic footpath. 

In the early 1800s, the prosperous logging communities of Wellington and Kemptown were established along what used to be the Annapolis Road. Intended to stretch from Halifax to Yarmouth, the road was never completed. In the late 1860s, a large fire destroyed much of the area. The community slowly dwindled away and, by the early 1900s, was abandoned. For the safety of visitors, the Old Annapolis Road Hiking Trail may be temporarily closed from time to time when the fire index is extreme or when the road conditions or forestry operations dictate.

5. Bay LookOut Park

The Bay LookOut Park, located in Boutilier's Point, is a seven-acre waterfront park. The property includes a public wharf and a slipway and is adjacent to a saltwater marsh - home to many varieties of waterfowl. The shoreside grounds provide beach access and informal parklands. Washroom facilities and picnic tables are available during the summer months. The Isle View Hotel, built in 1912, was once located on the hill. The hotel operated during the summer months until it closed in 1958 and was torn down in 1973. The hotel's foundation can still be seen on the top of the hill.

6. Cleveland Beach Provincial Park
Cleveland Beach, Nova Scotia
Located in Queensland, the 11-acre Cleveland Beach Provincial Park has a picnic area, a sandy beach and a fresh water lagoon. An excellent example of a seaside ecosystem, the park has a wide variety of wild flowers including water lilies, sea peas and wild roses. There is an excellent view of Shut-In Island from the park, the largest island in St. Margaret's Bay. The name, Shut-In Island refers to the fact that a masted vessel could be hidden from coastal patrols of the Royal Navy. The park is closed at dusk. Camping and open fires are not permitted, pets must be leashed, motorized vehicles are allowed in the parking area only, and collecting or removing flora and fauna is not allowed.

7. Bishop's Park
Bishop's Park is located across from St. Luke's Anglican Church on Shore Club Road at the head of Hubbards Cove. The park provides benches, picnic tables, open areas, and two gazebos with interpretive panels providing historical information on the Hubbards Cove Fish Plant and St. Luke's Church. Also found in the park is a plaque honouring Bishop Arnold, a Bishop of Nova Scotia who spent summers in Hubbards. Overnight parking and camping are not permitted.

8. The Aspotogan Trail

This trail was created from 11 km of the disused South Shore railway, running from Hubbards in the east to East River in the west, and cutting across the inland end of the Aspotogan Peninsula. It is easily accessed from Highway 3 and there is ample parking at both ends. Open year-round, the trail is generally level and may be used by hikers, cyclists, ATV's and snowmobilers. The trail features a rolling landscape dominated by spruce and pine forest and tamarack swamp. An interpretive panel describing the area's natural history is located at the Hubbards end of the trail. Picnic tables are located at scenic points along the trail.

9. Aspotogan Heritage Trust Premises
The Aspotogan Heritage Trust, a community-based not-for-profit organization, occupies the building in Hubbards at 10 Pte. Richard Green Lane that was formerly the Visitor Services and Interpretive Centre. Interesting artifacts provided by the Hubbards Heritage Society are on display.  Two exterior interpretive panels outline this area's rich past. One panel traves the early history of St. Margaret's Bay to explorer Samuel de Champlain, who may have named the bay after his mother, Marguerite.  The other panel tells the story of the Hubbards Train Station, built on the Halifax and Southwestern Railway line in 1905. The design of the building reflects the architecture of the old train station; a trailhead to the Rails to Trails lies adjacent to the premises.  Parking, washroom facilities, and Internet access are available, courtesy of the Trust.

10.The Aspotogan Peninsula Loop
The Aspotogan Peninsula Loop, which encompasses the entire Route 329, is a scenic 44 km drive. Each turn in the road has something to offer every visitor. Steeped in history, tradition and natural beauty, the peninsula must be experienced. Take a stroll along the warm sands of Bayswater Beach, one of the peninsula's many enticing roadside beaches. One of the peninsula's small, picturesque fishing villages is Northwest Cove - home to fishers of Irish and Huguenot descent. Nearly every village comes with its own church by the sea. Of the first Christian churches, St. Barnabas in Blandford, built in 1867, is extraordinary. Experience the unique sense of place.

11. Fox Point is a scenic and lively fishing community that extends along the western shore of St. Margaret's Bay, from Hubbards to Mill Cove.
In 1825, land grants of approximately 200 acres each were given to Joseph Coolen, George Joshua Coolen, William Francis Shatford, a cooper from England, and James Croucher, a native of the St. Margaret's Bay area. Fishing, and to a smaller extent, farming, became the main source of income for the community. 

For over a century, Fox Point has been a significant fishing centre for the St. Margaret's Bay area, and Nova Scotia. Into the twentieth century, Fox Point's fishery was diverse, with catches of tuna, lobster, mackerel, haddock, cod and swordfish. For many years, the Coolen brothers were the most prolific fishermen in this area, and were key players in the mackerel/tuna trapnet fishery. Another famous fixture of the fishery at Fox Point is the Shatford Lobster Pound, which was established in 1948, and continues to sell fresh lobster and fresh fish.

Today, Fox Point's fishing fleet centers on the lobster, mackerel and tuna fisheries.

Built in 1876, the Fox Point Lighthouse served as a beacon for local fishermen for eighty-one years. On February 8th, 1957, the lighthouse and adjoining lightkeeper's facilities were destroyed by fire. Today, an automated light tower guides fishermen into the harbour. 

12. The Blandford Whaling Station
Blandford Nova ScotiaThe people of Blandford and the Tancook Islands have relied on the sea's bounty for over two centuries. From the late 1940s to the early 1970s, the Blandford Whaling Station was a valuable economic resource for these communities. In 1948, Norwegian Karl Karlsen established a sealing plant, Karl Karlsen and Company Limited, across from the New Harbour Wharf. Seals were hunted in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and off the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts in late February and early March. The plant could process up to two thousand pelts per day, which were then sold in Newfoundland, England and Europe. The plant operated year-round and during peak season it employed some thirty-five men.

In 1964, Mr. Karlsen expanded his company to include whale processing. At that time, the North Atlantic waters supported a variety of whales such as sei, sperm, fin back and blue whales. 

Boats left the New Harbour plant for the open ocean to hunt whales. Once sighted, whales were shot with a 90 mm harpoon gun attached by rope and wire to a winch, which hauled the whale alongside the vessel. The whales were towed into the whaling station, where the flesh was cut up, or flensed, on a flensing deck. Company records show that between 1966 and 1972, Karl Karlsen and Company Limited harvested and processed some 2,115 whales.

With the Federal Government of Canada's total ban on whaling in 1972, an important part of Blandford's economy was lost. The moratorium came as a shock to the people of this community, as Karlsen's quota for 1973 had already been assigned, and Canada had voted against a whaling moratorium earlier in 1972. 

The plant continued to operate as a processing plant for herring, mackerel, salmon and squid, until its closure in 1999.

13. Blandford Scenic Viewpoint
Blandford is located on the southwestern side of the Aspotogan Peninsula, in the county of Lunenburg. From this viewpoint, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of this charming community, with its nineteenth century buildings, as they would have stood over a century ago. The waters of Shoal Cove and the Big Tancook and Little Tancook Islands lie straight ahead, which the communities of Chester and Mahone Bay can be viewed to the west.

The first European settlers in Blandford were Irish. They arrived in 1750, and were soon followed by English settlers in 1767. In 1807, a group of Foreign Protestants from Holland (via Rose Bay) purchased land in Blandford. Bringing bricks and lumber from Lunenburg to their new home, it was these resourceful and resilient people who contributed to Blandford's unique heritage, culture, and character. 

The surnames of the 1807 settlers - Publicover, Seaboyer, Meisner, Zinck, and Gates, followed later by Cleveland, Schnare, Young, Bachman and Covey - are still found throughout the community.