Starting in the Halifax Regional Municipality, at the junction of Routes 111 and 322 in the Woodside area, follow Route 322 along the Marine Drive to Eastern Passage and the Shearwater Aviation Museum. This former military airport chronicles the history of Canadian Military aviation from the dying days of World War I up to the present day.
Eastern Passage is also home to Fisherman’s Cove, a lovingly restored 200-year-old fishing village where residents still make their living hauling in the world’s most flavourful tuna, lobster, haddock and herring. Take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, or visit the many craft shops and restaurants nestled among the colourful shacks and boats of this picturesque harbour. You can also plan a whale-watching trip, deep-sea fishing excursion, or a boat tour to McNab’s, Lawlor’s and Devil’s Islands.
Continue on the Marine Drive to the community of Cole Harbour and the Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum. This community run museum highlights the challenges and lifestyles that were typical of Nova Scotia’s early farming communities. It also features farm animals that will delight the kids, heritage buildings, authentic tools and antique equipment, as well as beautiful old-fashioned gardens.
While in Cole Harbour, take time to explore the Salt Marsh Trail for its great coastal views and abundance of shorebirds. The marsh at the heart of this 7km/4.34mi trail — part of the Trans-Canada Trail system — was once farmland, but is now a great location for clam digging. Built on an abandoned rail line, the trail connects with Lawrencetown Beach, a fully supervised provincial beach park that is one of the province’s most popular surfing destinations. Its large swells allow you to experience the raw power of the Atlantic Ocean. Change houses, showers, toilets and a canteen are also provided on site for your convenience.
From Cole Harbour, turn up Ross Road, which leads to the Black Cultural Centre. Located in Westphal, the Centre recalls the history and legacy of Nova Scotia’s early African-Canadian settlements and communities. An extensive library and informative displays further help to preserve and illustrate the heritage, culture and achievements of African-Canadians in Nova Scotia, like renowned singer Portia White.
Returning to Route 207, turn left on Crowell Road, which will take you to the Old Hall Wilderness Heritage Centre at Porters Lake. Dedicated to preserving and presenting the cultural and natural history of the Porters Lake area, the Centre’s unique combination of displays, artifacts, and video presentations help illustrate the intensive logging operations that were once the mainstay of this community. The hall also served as a temporary schoolhouse, and one of the schoolrooms has been preserved for you to visit.
Afterwards, return to Route 207 and visit the Acadian communities of Three Fathom Harbour,Seaforth, Grand Desert and West Chezzetcook, which is home to the Acadian House Museum. Built in 1850, this museum retains all the character of a typical 19th century Acadian home. Its many displays of clothes, documents, tools, photos and artifacts illustrate the traditional lifestyles of Acadians in Nova Scotia.
The Marine Drive continues to the end of Route 207, where it connects with Route 7. Look for the East Petpeswick Road and follow it until you reach Martinique Beach Provincial Park. At 5km/3.1mi, Martinique Beach is Nova Scotia’s longest sand beach, and one of the province’s most popular. It’s also home to a bird sanctuary — where large numbers of Canada geese and black ducks winter — while the beach itself is a protected nesting area for the endangered piping plover. The gentle surf, scalloped coves and rocky outcroppings are a great backdrop for relaxation or exploring.
Then, head back to Route 7 and to the picturesque community of Musquodoboit Harbour, where you’ll find many shops and services, along with the Seacoast Celtic Music Concert series, which runs from May until September. You’ll also find the Musquodoboit Railway Museum. Housed in a beautifully restored, Canadian National railway station built in 1918, this museum illustrates the important role the railroad played in the growth of our region, province and our country. Many of the exhibits are geared for children, like the caboose and snowplow car, but lifelong aficionados will find many informative artifacts here, including maps, posters, tickets, schedules and photos. Part of the old rail line has been converted into the 14.5 km/8.99mi Musquodoboit Trailway. This woodland walking and hiking trail takes you along the Musquodoboit River, past lakes and granite ridges, to Gibraltar Rock, where more spectacular views await you.
Continuing east along Route 7, you’ll arrive in Lake Charlotte, home to Memory Lane Heritage Village. This community-owned living heritage museum brilliantly recreates a rural Nova Scotia community from the 1940s. Almost all of the buildings in the village — the general store, church, schoolhouse, barn, ice house and outhouse — were rescued from around the region, lovingly restored, and moved to Memory Lane. There’s even a working cookhouse where you can sit down for a hearty, down-home meal. Or, you can visit the Webber homestead, where classic radio broadcasts and the smell of freshly baked cookies permeate the air.Once you are rested from your hike, return to Route 7 and follow it all the way to Jeddore Oyster Pond, where you can explore what life was like for the average fisherman and his family in the early twentieth century at the Fisherman’s Life Museum. Guides in period clothes will take you on a tour of the house and stage informative recreations of a time and quality of life that made an enormous contribution to our heritage and culture.
A nearby side road will take you to Clam Harbour Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Nova Scotia. Its broad, seemingly endless ribbon of sand is ideal for a seaside stroll — as is the adjacent hiking trail — and perfectly suited for building sandcastles.
Next, head for Ship Harbour and visit the Mussel Farm, the largest cultivated mussel farm in North America. If the sight of all this seafood makes you hungry, continue along Route 7 to Tangier, home of the world-famous J. Willy Krauch & Sons Smokeshop and its mouthwatering array of wood-smoked fish, like Atlantic Salmon, mackerel and eel awaits you. Take time to visit the Prince Alfred Memorial Arch located at Masons Point, built in recognition of the prince’s visit in 1861.
Route 7 continues along the coastline past Spry Harbour, where you’ll find a road that will take you to Taylor Head Provincial Park. Considered by many to be among the finest coastal trail systems on North America’s eastern seaboard, Taylor Head offers both gentle walks and hardy hikes that encompass the rich diversity of our seacoast landscapes.
Head further east on Route 7 and you’ll arrive in Sheet Harbour, where you’ll find the MacPhee House Community Museum. This unique museum illustrates what life was like along the Eastern Shore in the days before plastic, with a number of interesting artifacts and curios that will delight, intrigue and challenge young and old alike.
From Sheet Harbour, you can go inland along Route 224 to Upper Musquodoboit, and follow it until you reach Elmsvale. Turn left and make your way to the Moose River Gold Mine. The mine was the site of a 1936 mining disaster that kept listeners around the world glued to their radios for updates on the fate of three trapped men. Two were rescued over the twelve-day ordeal. Today, the Moose River Provincial Park commemorates the site of the rescue, and the Moose River Gold Mine Museum houses many fascinating artifacts of the region’s mining history.