No trip to Nova Scotia is complete without a trek out to Peggy’s Cove. It’s a concise snapshot of fishing village life on the Atlantic Ocean, and very welcoming to visitors. There’s a lovely lighthouse and rather dramatic rocks.
To meet your visiting needs, there’s a handy restaurant and gift shop on the other side of the parking lot, and a small village with art galleries and boats for picture-taking.
It is also a great place to see visitors and Nova Scotians with guests from out of town. It’s a busy, popular spot – I usually recommend people go early in the day, or around sunset to get photos with the smallest number of people in them.
Located about 40 kilometres from Halifax, the drive out to Peggy’s Cove on Route 333 is a twisty-turny thrillride which serves as a introduction to a vast amount of cautionary highway signage. Go slow and heed the warnings. (Stay tuned, this will come up again!)
I picked a picture-perfect day to visit over Labour Day weekend. It was sunny, with a strong, cool breeze blowing in off the water. A day which proved the point of always taking a sweater when you head out, for any reason, in Nova Scotia.
My visit started on the quieter side of the rocks, away from the growing throngs of visitors. There were piles of rocks on the rocks. Mysterious, or at least mysterious to non-Canadians.
They’re inukshuks, culturally borrowed from the Inuit of Canada’s North to signify the presence of humans, among other more practical reasons. In popular culture, they officially became a thing in Canada during the heyday of “Heritage Moments” in the 1980s and 1990s, historical vignettes depicting lesser-known aspects of Canadian history. Short version: pop culture gold.
If I were a betting woman, I’d say reciting “Now the people will know we were here” with a group of people is about the closest thing we have to an in-joke in Canada.
As I was wandering among the rocks, I got the feeling I was being watched. Turns out, I was, by this little guy.
Now, back to the warnings. The rocks are dangerous. There are many signs telling visitors they are dangerous. Some are rather dramatic about it. Any time local people provide dire, dramatic warnings, it’s for a reason.
Visitors to Peggy’s Cove are warned specifically to stay off of the black rocks. The black rocks are black because they are wet from being hit by unpredictable waves. Every year or so, a visitor is hit by a wave and swept into the water. Sometimes they are rescued. This warning goes double, even triple, during hurricane season, when the waves are higher, stronger, and even more unpredictable.
Once you have successfully taken in the rocks and waves at a safe distance, spend a little time wandering in the village. I recommend exploring the details of William deGarthe’s Fisherman’s Monument, which depicts three aspects of fishing life: a fisherman’s family, Peggy of the Cove (a local legend), and fishermen at work.
All of this touring around was making me hungry. A few days earlier, folks from Destination Halifax suggested I “complete the loop” of Route 333 and keep on driving to White Sails Bakery. So worth it. It was lunch time when I arrived, so I went for the steak sandwich with capicollo. Have mercy:
So, after looking at that picture, I’ve gotten hungry again. I’ll spend the rest of the week reliving all of my Labour Day weekend adventures, stay tuned!
See for yourself:
Peggy’s Cove Village and Lighthouse
From Halifax: Route 333 (or, from western Nova Scotia: Highway 103, Exit 5, Route 333)
White Sails Bakery & Deli: 12930 Peggy’s Cove Road (Route 333)