My mother and I decided to spend a long weekend away in the lovely Annapolis Royal in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. The weather stayed spectacular for all four days which was very lucky! The skies were nearly cloudless, the temperatures were in the mid 20s but there was always a cool breeze blowing off the Bay of Fundy so it never got too warm.
Annapolis Royal is about a 2 hour drive from Halifax and you could drive down and back as a day trip, taking in the town and Port Royal, which is about a 15 minute drive past Annapolis Royal. We decided to base in Annapolis Royal and do several day trips from there in the region.
The Annapolis and Port Royal region is the oldest continuous settlement north of St. Augustine, Florida. The trading post settlement of Port Royal was founded by the French in 1605 and lasted 8 years before an attack from Jamestown in the new colony of Virginia wiped it out.The province of Nova Scotia (which at that time also included the current New Brunswick) was created by English Royal charter in 1621. More history is here on the town website
Shortly after, a settlement also called Port Royal was re-established a bit further up the river but the province was given back to France in 1629. Over the rest of the century, the area is captured and then returned to France's posession several times until 1710 when it was captured by the English and renamed in honour of Queen Anne as Annapolis Royal. Fort Anne was then built to defend the town. The French had established very good relations with the native Mi'kmaq over the decades but the English did not fare so well and there were often skirmishes.
The province was definitively granted to Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Annapolis Royal was the capital of Nova Scotia until Halifax was established in 1749 and in 1755, the English forced the remaining French Acadians to leave the area. Many Loyalists arrived after the American Revolution though the French settlers did return over the years. The North shore from here to Yarmouth still has predominantly French speaking communities.
The area has so much history and the town, though small, is elegant and friendly. It's got one of the best Farmer's Markets for miles and plenty of craft and gift shops to keep you going. You won't find any franchised stores here. There's not a Tim Horton's or a McDonald's for miles!
With all of that in mind, Mom and I set out in a rented car on Canada Day morning. We headed down Highway 101 into the Annapolis Valley and came off at Exit 10 where Mom had wanted to go to the Evangeline Motel for pie at their restaurant. We spied a Just Us cafe and *museum* en route and marked it for our return journey on Sunday. A light lunch and pie consumed, we decided to stay on route 1 through the valley as it's much more scenic.
In the town of Kentville, there is a one way loop around the centre of the town. We followed it and there was a detour. A quick look determined that the usual street was closed for a classic car show and naturally I couldn't miss that! We found a place to park and walked through an alley to the street, lined on both sizes with a couple dozen cars. They were mainly cars from the 60s and early 70s with a handful of older models from the 30s to the 50s, most in top condition, shining in the sun with their owners proudly standing or sitting by, willing to answer questions and accept praise on their restoration efforts. Needless to say many photos were taken.
We looked around the central square that also had a market set up as well as a band playing and a bouncy castle for the kids. There were locally made products and crafts as well as some yummy temptations that we managed to resist.
Back in the car, we meandered down the road, with a stop to stretch our legs at a takeout stand where we had an ice cream cone. We arrived in Annapolis Royal about 3, just the right time to check into our inn, the Queen Anne which is one of the largest and most lovely Victorian buildings that line St. George Street, the main street through the town. We are very pleased with the inn and our room which is air conditioned and has a dvd player along with free wifi!
Conveniently, the inn is right across the street from the Historic Gardens so we walked over there next. We paid a reduced entrance fee and could hear music. There was a band set up and playing easy listening tunes for people. We wandered through the 10 acres of meticulously manicured and landscaped gardens of various types. Everything is laid out so nicely and there are park benches through the grounds for a rest and view across the marshes of the tidal basin of the Annapolis River. We stopped for a coffee and pastry at the cafe which is also connected to a German bakery. You can bet the pastries were melt-in-your-mouth!
It's supper time so we drove down around into town and decided to go to the pub, Olde Town Pub which advertises itself as the smallest pub in the province. I'm not so sure about that claim but it's not large in any case. It was also not too busy yet so we had no trouble getting a table and ordering a meal. We left there and walked around looking in the windows of some of the closed craft stores, keeping a couple in mind to return to when they were open.
It's the end of a long day so we borrowed a dvd from the small collection at the inn, picked up a complimentary newspaper and went to our room to relax for the rest of the evening.