Fragments of Grand-Pré

We were in the Wolfville area for a couple of days taking cousin Betty from Mexico City to sample our wares, including a walk on the Fundy floor, eating our crustaceans, sampling Tidal Bay wines, searching out art installations and visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site at GrandPré.  This post is about some things that attract my attention at the Parks Canada Site.  

When we take visitors to the valley a standard stop for us is the relatively new  viewpoint on the GrandPré village road overlooking the dyked landscape which received the UNESCO designation. What a grand, all seasons vista with the church and Blomidon  on either side of the dyke land.


The interpretation centre for the site, designed by Terry Smith-Lamothe, is rich with symbolism and references to Acadian history.  Terry had particular fun with tree forms.  The entrances have roof trusses that represent willows, and the trusses inside symbolize family trees.  Elegant wall sconces have stylized maples.

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My favourite display element in the exhibits is a huge model of an Acadian settlement. It is so detailed you can spend a long time exploring the landscape and the activities happening about the farms.  Here is a closeup of houses and barns and an image of the windmill on a height of land above the village.

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The model was made by David Coldwell who worked at the NS Museum -his work includes the giant spring peeper that used to hang on the Museum of Natural History and some of the most detailed sailing ship models at the Maritime Museum.

Evangeline  is a powerful Acadian symbol and there are  images of her about.  The statue of her gazing into space  is the most well known image from the site.  I enjoyed seeing a big-eyed Evangeline lithograph that is similar one used on the logo for the Dominion Atlantic Railway.  You can get tee shirts with that image from our friends at Lost Cod.

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We know people who collect  products and advertising that use images of Evangeline and Grand-Pré .  Of the examples on display I fondly remember Evangeline ginger ale and the baking powder with the Grand-Pré illustration.

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On the site we noted floral references to the Acadian flag and wonderful old willows that are descendants of French trees.

1-July 201423 A more subtle plant reference was a rhododendron we recognized that was developed on the Kentville Research Station and is called   Minas Grand Pré.


The last things I’ll mention is an art installation in the old apple orchard next to the church.  Hanging in the trees were gourds painted to represent people associated with the site over its long life.  This is part of an annual Uncommon Common Art show – art pieces are installed all over the valley so it’s a wonderful way to explore the territory.

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The site is rich with visual treats to discover. And if you are vague about the Acadian story and the Evangeline legend this is a swell stop before you hit the wine tastings.



About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.