Convention write-up — Thursday, August 18th, 2016

August 22, 2016

By Mary Nordick

What better way to spend a post-convention Thursday morning than travelling through beautiful scenery with good companions to historic and scenic sites.    Three busloads of convention attendees left at 9 a.m. for Peggy’s Cove, Mahone Bay, and Lunenburg.   A well-informed tour guide dressed in a kilt and the usual Scottish accoutrements gave a running commentary on the places that we passed on the way starting with Citadel Hill just blocks from the hotel.  Citadel Hill is notable for the fact that the view of it is unobscured, very important in pre-cell phone days when it served as a signal hill to convey information about what was transpiring on the ocean, e.g. storms, and approaching ships.  Since Halifax was founded in 1749 there are lots of historic sites to point out. 

Our first stop was Peggy’s Cove with its iconic lighthouse.  Peggy’s cove itself is quite tiny nestled between The Atlantic Ocean and St. Margaret’s Bay.   We were able to stroll around the cove, see a demonstration of putting a lobster to sleep, listen to a piper, have our passports stamped, and, of course, take pictures with or without the well-known lighthouse.  We also saw the Fishermen’s Memorial carved by artist William E. de Garthe which he worked on for ten years before his death and left unfinished.  Google his name to see the images.  The rose bushes around the sculpture filled the air with delicious scent.

Then on to Mahone Bay with its historic three churches on the waterfront, actually five but two are farther back and hidden in summer by large leafy trees.  Here we stopped for a welcome picnic box lunch.  The Lutheran church was open and I went in for a closer look at the beautiful stained glass windows each in triptych form which told a story, e.g. Adam and Eve, the birth of the Christ Child and the Sower and the Seed.

Historic Lunenburg, the home of the Bluenose II and a designated UNESCO heritage site, was next.  The colourful paint on the houses and the unique and often ornate carving and decoration on buildings were a visual treat. We strolled along the boardwalk and visited the Fisherman Memorial.  Several tall black pillars in the shape of a compass rose stand as a tribute to those who have lost their lives at sea.  Each pillar contains dates and names of the men and boys lost as well as on some the names of entire ships that were lost.  There are blank pillars and hopefully these will never be filled.  One poignant thing is the number of men who have the same last name under the dates of loss.  Fishing boat crews were often family affairs with fathers, grandfathers, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins making up the crew.  One architectural feature high on some houses has a sad history.  This is the widow’s walk from which a wife or mother whose men were late to return could keep watch for the boat’s return.  If the boat returned flying a black flag the watcher knew that one or more lives had been lost.

A return along a tree-lined highway that often offered glimpses of water, islands, boats, and waterfront mansions brought us back to Halifax and the time to say goodbye to friends, old and new.  An oft-heard phrase was “Hope to see you next year in PEI”.  Thanks, Nova Scotia, for a memorable 2016 convention.