R&R had not intended to have another brief look at Peggys Cove this year. Not being coin collectors, they were unaware that the Canadian Mint and the Canadian Geographic magazine had produced a set of coins honouring this strange birthday.

Since profits from the mint, ultimately revert to The Crown one would think that the Feds might have been good for the price of a paint job this year?

The federal government is now using updated navigational technology that renders lighthouses obsolete. Even the quaint and popular little post office in Peggy’s Cove lighthouse has been shut down. Harper's government was about to trash when the Province showed some interest in acquiring it. Nova Scotia said it would take over the lighthouse back in 2012, but because no agreement has been finalized, the lighthouse remains dilapidated as the current Trudeau federal government refuses to maintain it. May be they are hoping that Nova Scotia will drift away?

Most of Atlantic Canada has drifted here as micro continents on the plastic surface underlying bedrock in the remote past. It then ac created to the old craton of Laurentia, the geological core of Canada on which Ottawa is sited. One of these terranes was named Avalonia and it stuck to the Canada earlier that the Meguma. The Meguma Supergroup of rocks originated at the South Pole in a cold climate and is basic to structure of the old continent. The Great Nova Scotian, or South Mountain batholith is essentially a mass of granitic rocks which hardened from magma which intruded from below basement rocks. Unless it happened to get a good cover of soil as a result of recent glaciation, the regions shown in red are, at best, hardscrabble when it comes to farming.

"In geology, a pluton is a body of intrusive igneous rock (called a plutonic rock) that is crystallized from magma slowly cooling below the surface of the Earth. Plutons include batholiths, stocks, dikes, sills, laccoliths, lopoliths, and other igneous formations. In practice, "pluton" usually refers to a distinctive mass of igneous rock, typically several kilometers in dimension, without a tabular, or flat, shape like those of dikes and sills." Areas which bear the same colour share physical and chemical similarities.

To describe Peggys Cove as having "thin soil" overstates the situation as much the the area is barren rock, except possibly at the microscopic level.  This situation continues as the rocks are exposed to high winds and salt spray. The "top soil" which does settle in cracks is often carried off by rain and running melt waters from ice and snow. Plants which do thrive in this environment never attain great size. On the two above maps you will notice that the City of Halifax is not far from Peggys Cove, a matter of 30 to 45 minutes by road under normal travelling circumstances.


A regular six-month eye appointment with an ophthalmologist in Halifax, meant we were on the road again, a little too soon considering R&R's activities of late.

Mahone Bay had road work and a continuing heavy tourist season and we knew there was construction on the usual route to the city.  We therefore, left a little after noon hour, to allow for detours in order to make a 2:30 pm appointment.

Rebecca's Restaurant at the eastern edge of town is still a popular place during business hours.  This is one place where jaywalkers can be excused since there are no crosswalks from the parking lot on the waterfront, and visibility is good in bot directions, so rear-end collisions are unlikely.

Last time we encountered this stretch on a trip back from Hubbards we were stopped in the west lane for 20 minutes on a warm day.

No permanent lane markings, and here we see a flatbed trying to race a rental truck toward a narrowing of the road.

He did not get by before encountering traffic cones and directions to remain in the right hand lane.

Both east and west lands of traffic were moving and as the "Follow Me" truck was not operating we assumed tat traffic was light and the job might be winding down after three weeks. This proved to be the case after we ignored the detour.

However, when we were very close to Halifax, the St. Margaret's Bay Road proved to be inaccessible as radio reports had promised.

Signage for the detour was sparse and confusing and Ruth overshot the mark by a block, but took the next road south and then west hoping to eventually get back in the loop. On the way we got to see a lot of new building construction.

The road zigged and it zagged, and by a combination of good luck and intuition, Ruth finally emerged on Herring Cove Road, which we both new connected with the main traffic rotary into Halifax from the west. We turned left.

Here was the rotary not terribly busy as the noon rush hour was ending. Our destination was a building near the grey and tan CBC headquarters. Shadows are cast by nearby hills. Ruth hates cutting across traffic lands and took the Quinpool Road route since we had plenty of time.

That resulted in a slow passage along several blocks where sidewalks and pavement were under construction.

Nerve wracking, since some Halifax drivers and pedestrians are precipitous.

The theatre marquee on Quinpool is blank as it closed this year and the building is being recreated. Getting around the corner to the left here was dicey.

One more left turn and we approached that CBC building from the back door. You do have to know these lanes

Taking a supposed short-cut ended in another dead end due to road construction. That meant retracing the route to the point where  the intersecting roadway went downhill toward the traffic circle. Big time wasters at every juncture, even so we arrive at the

My appointment was in the CUA building, third floor. Might have wasted some time in mindless pursuit of nothing in that outlet store, but as everyone knows Sears departmental stores are no more as of 2017.

So we took the road around this complex in a clockwise direction. The main Sears store, where the Mackay kids went to shop each Christmas, is across another street and in now verboten as well.

So we went to its replacement, a cut-rate box store, which yielded a $35 floor mat for the sun room and Calvin Klein winter socks for me.

Next door. This will be "huge" as President Wee Donnie MacLoud would say.

When we arrived back they were removing electrical equipment from this sign and patching up a hole in the facade. Evey thing was declared OK by 3:45 pm when we took the rotary and found traffic redirected along Herring Cove Road. Taking a chance, because the St. Margarets Bay exit was signed "Open To Local Traffic Only," Ruth followed that road. It was completely devoid of asphalt and bumpy but no work was taking place anywhere along the path to Bayers Lake.

As it was now only :10 pm, Ruth, decided to lunch at Peggys Cove. This was a possibility we had discussed supposing we could beat the afternoon crowd to the Sou' Wester Restaurant.

This road out of Halifax to the southwest is the quickest connector, but we knew that tour buses ATVS and all the rest would not take that quick but bumpy road through hell.

It was wonderfully clear of traffic moving in either direction excepting this school bus.

Aside from a scattering of homes and businesses, this remains the first sizable community seen while traveling in this direction.

To this point, both sides of the road are forested with small stunted evergreens, but after Dover much of the land is classified as barrens and the plants that occur there are those more often seen in an arctic alpine environment. They have adapted to thin acidic soils and a micro climate which is very changeable.

There are a few trees in this landscape, but most of the spruce and pine found on the most exposed part of this peninsula are small and warped and referred to as "Krummholz," the German for "crooked wood." The red seen in this autumn landscape is caused by the colour change seen in blueberry and huckleberry shrubs.

Fresh water ponds and bogs exist inland and insectivorous plants such as species of sundew and pitcher plant subsist here. What soil there is supports orchids  including the Dragon' Mouth, Ragged Fringed Orchid and the Grasspink, which are only easily spotted in the flowering season.

Species of lichen are found on rock faces.  The mustard coloured material seen on rocks nearer The Salt, are a type of lichen that thrives on the nutrients provided by seagull droppings.

That vehicle in the distance is making a left turn from Peggys Cove Road into the community.

The Chebucto Peninsula. Looping away from Highway 103 into the peninsula is a definite diversion whether one takes the Herring Cove Road out of Halifax West, or St. Margarets. In the former case, a novice automobile driver can get lost in the hinterland and possibly stumble out on Byway #3 and chance on Highway #3 near Bayers Lake intersection. We started at 1.The once-upon-a-time Sears Complex area and turned off on the road to 2. Goodwood, Hatchet Lake, Brookside, Prospect Bay, Big Lake, Dover, and 3. Peggys Cove. To continue on home, we traveled north through Indian Harbour, Hackets Cove, Glen Margaret etc., leaving the Peggys Cove Road at Upper Tantallon for  Highway #3. ultimately turning north once more at 4. Boutiliers Point Rotary, emerging on the Fishermen's Memorial Highway #103, the major connector with Mahone Bay, Lunenburg and Yarmouth.

Google maps gives us this simplified closeup of a place which is not complex but has a little more to offer than this suggests. Peggys Cove may be named after St. Margarets Bay and stands at the south eastern point of that embayment.  It is 26 miles southwest of downtown Halifax and shares its name with Peggys Cove and Peggys Point on which the lighthouse stands.
The cove was first recorded in 1766 as Eastern Point Harbour and later as Peggs Harbour. All roads are dead ends except that near the lighthouse.

"The village was founded in 1811 when the Province of Nova Scotia issued a land grant of more than 800 acres (320 ha) to six families of German descent. The settlers relied on fishing as the mainstay of their economy but also farmed where the soil was fertile. They used surrounding lands to pasture cattle. In the early 1900s the population peaked at about 300. The community supported a schoolhouse, church, general store, lobster cannery and boats of all sizes that were nestled in the cove."

This is an illustration of Peggys Cove as seen in the early part of the last century before lobsters came to be appreciated at a delicacy and when this place was seen as an unattractive backwater. In 1910, a much less urban Halifax was seen as the tourist destination. This was because the first tourists to Nova Scotia were wealthy Americans, who traveled to Yarmouth on steamboats, and then took the newly built Dominion Atlantic Railway to summer in expensive resort hotels. These were initially located in the north west of the province. Some of these itinerates were "sports" visiting places inland to indulge in hunting and fishing. Henry Ford's mass-produced, relatively inexpensive automobiles changed the face of tourism and in the end paved dirt roads including that seen above.

Even with a bit of Photoshop do-jiggery does this elderly photo look like a tourist draw?

There were no restaurants on site and most importantly no public throne on which to sit and contemplate the error in overeating and drinking before taking the open road.

It will be recalled that Odin sent his ravens Thought and Memory into the world to collect espionage. He always worried that the latter might not return, and that is what happened on the road to turning the entire Province of Nova Scotia into a premier tourist destination. In their book, In The Province of History, writers Ian Mackay and Robin Bates
have argued that the region's history has been presented and misrepresented, to the extent that, "even the province's residents have become tourists in their own lives and towns."

Seeing is believing?  This illustrative scene showing tourists traveling by train never did exist. McGill-Queens University Press has this to say, "Using archival sources, novels, government reports, and works on tourism and heritage, Ian McKay and Robin Bates look at how state planners, key politicians, and cultural figures such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, long-time premier Angus L. Macdonald, and novelist Thomas Raddall were all instrumental in forming "tourism/history." The authors argue that Longfellow's 1847 poem Evangeline - on the brutal British expulsion of Acadians from Nova Scotia - became a template a new kind of profit-making history that exalted whiteness and excluded ethnic minorities, women, and working class movements. A remarkable look at the intersection of politics, leisure, and the presentation of public history, In the Province of History is a revealing account of how a region has both used and distorted its own past." The book remains available at about $35.

That statement does simplify the story which was never confined to Nova Scotia alone. This hotel chain was not above publishing posters promising disproportionate views of the landscape, climate and amenities.  Further Premier Angus L. MacDonald's supporting team of cheerleaders went far beyond Thomas Raddall, who was popular at home but not overly influential abroad. One has to give the devils their due?


Two of the most influential were women who lived within driving distance of Peggy's Cove. One, was the provinces first female travel writer and the other, a woman who established the concept of simple, uncluttered, sympathetic, rural Nova Scotian "folk." Over 900 black-and-white photographs taken of, or by pioneer folklorist Helen Creighton have been digitized as an online resource. Clara Dennis showcases  eighty photographs with the Nova Scotia Archives, but the printed word was her forte.

Creighton is perhaps better known? Beginning in 1928, she collected over 4,000 traditional songs, stories, and beliefs in a career that spanned several decades, and she published many books and articles on Nova Scotia folk songs and folklore. Although she was untrained, she is regarded by some as among the most significant collectors in North America. Historian Ian McKay argued that Creighton was a product of her class and upbringing and that her folk collections contributed to the commodification of "Scottishness" in Nova Scotian tourism literature in the late 1930s.

These ideas defied class and historical realities, but were taken up by a succession of Nova Scotia governments
to create a myth of "hardy fisherfolk" and "Nova Scotia rustics" that actually "demean, commidify, and mythologize the realities of working-class lived experience in Nova Scotia."

Clarissa Archibald "Clara" Dennis, the daughter of Senator William Dennis and Agnes Miller, was educated at Mount Allison College, Dalhousie University and Halifax Business College. She worked for her father's newspaper, the Halifax Herald, until his death in 1920. Dennis published several travel books illustrated with her own photographs: Down in Nova Scotia: My Own, My Native Land (1934), More about Nova Scotia: My Own, My Native Land (1937), and
Cape Breton Over (1942). She also wrote a number of travel articles for newspapers and magazines.

She was not as overtly engaged in myth-making as Creighton, but her efforts did help tourism, and her best photographs did hep to  romanticize Peggys Cove near her base in Halifax.

Her reference snapshots (there were thousands of them) were not intended for publication and were often revealing of the less tan idea life lived in the rural outback.

The Peggys Cove archival collection on line shows a much less studied approach toward representing the folk.

Peggys Cove before gentrification.

Peggys Point had a lighthouse and a lighthouse keeper's home.

There were no motorized vessels in port. Lobster traps were dropped from sail boats immediately off shore.

Two men were usually involved
  in sailing to an onshore location, dropping traps and retrieving them.

In the so-called "good old days" were unobtrusive although unaesthetic. This is the roadway from Peggys Cove which intersects the Peggys Cove roadway.

It is smoother driving these days, but there is more overhead clutter. Of course, there is no way of putting power and telephone lines underground.

It was not long before enterprising photographers got into the postcard business.

John C. Hayward of Halifax was in the photographic print business and tool this version of the cove in 1940.

The prolific photographer Wallace R. MacAskill (1890-1956) was born in Cape Breton. He was very interested in romancing the stones at Peggys Cove. In addition, he produced a number of 16 mm motion picture films in the 1930s. In 1940 he produced Nova Scotia Travelogue
"MacAskill's early use of colour film shows remarkable and romantic glimpses of Nova Scotia's land and seascapes. Used as tourism promotional films these moving images from the 1930s offered potential visitors to Nova Scotia sample views of 'The Province by the Sea'."

He was not alone in this interest as this still photograph reveals. My grade school art teacher, Thomas Acheson Jr was using a similar camera to photograph historic fortifications at Chignecto as this time. However, the war cut that off for security reasons and because film became scarce.

Aesthetically, Peggys Cove landscape did not compare favourably with that of coastal Lunenburg County, but it was closer to Halifax and the road into the southwest was exceptionally problematic. The Town of Lunenburg did not became a tourist trap until the 1970s.

The rocks were not overrun with visitors or tourists in that time. Colour film was expensive, but before World War II polychromatic postcards were being sold.  This one shows a fine artist at work, and they were another factor in publicizing this tiny odd ball place.

In those days Canadians thought of the British and continental visitors as innately superior in social and cultural ways. One of these was Stanley Royale whose mural featuring a fisherman graces the splash page of this essay. Stanley Royle was a post-impressionist English landscape painter, In the dirty thirties he and his wife emigrated to Canada to get work at Nova Scotia College of Art in Halifax. He was at odds with the female principal there and fired in 1934, but being more generally popular, was hired in 1935 as a professor of art at Mount Allison University. From there he led summer expeditions, executing studies like this at Peggys Cove.

This one was painted from the rocks at Peggys Point.

Alex Colville, one of his students at Mount A'  finished this oil on board in 1940.


And this one showing those slipper black tidal zone rocks that same summer. Personally, I would prefer having one of these to his mature work. Students were discouraged from producing romanticized versions of the area, although Royale admitted an admiration for Walt Disney colour schemes.

I don't think it unfair to suggest tat Nicholas Hornyansky (1896-1965) was a fine artist/illustrator although not as deeply immersed in overt commercial art as some others. He was Hungarian, who with his wife and two children, came to Toronto as an emigrant in 1929.  He became best known for his aquatints of buildings and landscapes in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

And then there was this expat, William DeGarthe (1907- 1983), born Birger Edward Degesstedt in Sweden.  The depression and threat of war also impelled this 19-year old to leave the Continent in 1927. Landing in Montreal he changed his name hoping to integrate more readily with the French-speaking population.  Unhappy with is progress there he was on his way to Brazil when he stopped off at Halifax, and decided to stay.

In Halifax he worked for fifteen years as an illustrator studying art at Mount A' under Royle. During the war years, 1939-1945, his interest in Fine Art re-emerged and by 1949 he had sold his first painting to the Imperial Bank of Commerce in Halifax. In 1931 he made his first visit o Peggys Cove and in 1935  married Phoebe Agnes Payne (1906-2008). They bought a summer home there in 1948.

In 1951, Nova Scotia Light and Power commissioned deGarthe to paint a Nova Scotia seascape for the cover of its annual report. The artist and company repeated tis commission over the next two decades. In all, deGarthe created 21 paintings: scenes of the Atlantic coast, including fishers at work and sailing vessels, as well as some of Halifax Harbour. In 1955 he and his wife took up permanent residence at Peggys Cove. Beginning in 1959, NSLP produced fine art prints of deGarthe's work, which it made available at no cost upon request.

De Garthe authored and illustrated three books: This is Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia (1956), Painting the Sea (1969), and The Story of the Herring Gull: Larus Argentatus (1977).

In the late 1970s, deGarthe began a ten-year project to sculpt a "lasting monument to Nova Scotia fishermen" on a 30 metre granite outcropping behind his Peggy's Cove Home. In 1976 deGarthe invited one of his students, J. Rene Barrette (Lt. Col. Retd) to help him with the sculpture. They worked together for 5 years. The project was about 80-per cent complete when the artist died in 1983.

Excepting de Garthe, most professional artists stopped short of picturing the lighthouse, which stood in splendid isolation in 1955, having lost its light-keeper in favour of an automated light. The keepers house was destroyed and no restaurant graced the highland to the right in the middle distance.

Rod Mackay was at Mount A' studying art under Colville, Pulford and Harris Jr in 1954-55. There he met classmate Anne Torey of New Glasgow.  Unable to finance further training both went into the workforce, Rod as a Teacher at Fredericton Junction, N.B. They married on the inauspicious Candlemas Day, December 28, 1957 and visited fog-enshrouded Peggys Cover driving her dads brand-new Ford (which worked well at first).  It was a very warm day, but there was nothing to eat and nowhere to stay out there so they returned to New Glasgow on December 30. Rod never has painted Peggys Cove.

Home movies taken by other visitors that same year suggest that the tourist industry was not well established in the shoulder season.

In those days amateur film makers concentrated on actors rather than the scene.

At that time no one could have imagined that this would happen sixty years later. We will pass on the process tat issued out of all that early  overt and unintended positive advertising, except to say that the lighthouse became an official post office which stamped all outgoing envelopes with an illustration of the light and the roads were improved and tourist cabins were erected nearby on land having some topsoil.

A major force in the tourist economy is "The Sou'Wester Restaurant and Gift Shop began in 1967 as a small five table tearoom at the side of a house at its present location. It has been expanded over the last four decades to a 180-seat restaurant offering traditional Maritime and seafood dishes,The Sou'Wester is still run by the family of its founder, Jack Campbell." John Brown Campbell died October 20, 2008. The restaurant can be seen in this aerial photo on high land immediately left of the lighthouse.

A building at this site was owned by Lizzie Morash in the 1960s.  It was in an unfinished state internally when purchased by Jack Campbell although entitled the Lighthouse View Tearoom. The new owner lived in the residential portion of the building which was heated by a Key Mac Stove. The "tea tables" were five folding card tables. Possibly to finish the place it was divided and the house portion sold. Extensions of the building allowed it to seat 56 people.
The main entrance now faces the lighthouse. A commercial kitchen was added in 1978-79 along with a new addition facing Peggys Cove rather than the light.

In the late 1980s the gift shop was added creating the complex which now stands.

"FREE Hop on- Hop off Double Decker Bus Tour of Peggy’s Cove Area.  Great for families of all ages. Take a guided tour of the Peggy’s Cove Area with multiple stops along the way. Have your questions answered by our ‘guide.’ Don’t worry if he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll make one up! Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Free service but donations are welcome."

"We invite you to celebrate the Sou’Wester’s 50th Anniversary with us. We are planning to have a big party with a live band and spectacular fireworks. Once we have the date picked we’ll let you know."


In the 1950s this was the height of entertainment.

Which reminds us that aside from its political place in the Halifax Regional Municipality Rural District #13, it is part of the Peggys Cover Preservation area, which is amorphous in name and deed.

That dotted line indicates the land boundary of the region."Peggy's Cove Preservation Area is a Preservation Area and community enacted by the Nova Scotia government to preserve the unique scenic beauty, character and atmosphere of Peggy's Cove for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors within Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia mandated by the Peggy's Cove Commission Act. The area includes the Swissair Flight 111 memorial site at Whalesback." What period in time they wish to preserve and how they hope to do this is not clearly stated. Clearly the pre-tourist era is not an option.

And it does look as if the government is going to keep on trucking to fuel the electrical meeds of their great urban centre. I don't think anybody will be harvesting trees within the area for obvious reasons and they won't be moving those erratics, huge glacial boulders deposited there when the glacier melted about 15,000 years ago. However, it will take more than regulations to prevent happenings like the spraying of rocks with graffiti in 2012. Like it or not, we do have global warming, sea level rise and surge and flooding in this area.

Meteorologically 2017 has been filled with sunshine but weather gurus are predicting a wet but warm winter.  We hope we won't be returning old style travel anytime soon, but honestly social and economic developments in the current century suggest that the sunshiny fictional little girl named Maggie Muggins was correct in predicting that, "Nobody knows what's going to happen tomorrow."

Next: Is Nova Scotia now on the rocks, or just headed there?