Travelling the Far Eastern Shore, Part Three

At the end of Part Two we were in Country Harbour and headed towards Sherbrooke, territory that we know well.

Little surprises

If you are following our route on a map, marvel at the detour that we took to eat lunch on the beach at Port Hilford. Later I realized that this community beach is at the end of the cove proposed to be used for a whale sanctuary for creatures that have been captive in amusement parks. Another Nova Scotian location that is both easy to get to and out of the way.


We followed the wide St. Mary’s River up to Sherbrooke where I lived in 1973, working on the restoration project. The water-powered saw mill was under construction at that time and now, nearly 50 years later, it feels very settled into the landscape.

Across the road is a quaint industrial building that holds a stamp mill used to crush ore during the gold rush days in the 19th century. The sound of heavy steel stamps dropping on rock to pulverize it into sand could be heard for miles around. The sand was then put through a bath of mercury, that combined with the gold. When heated the mercury evaporated and the gold remained, as did the environmental hazards. But GOLD!

Next door is a delightful house that the museum has restored. Would you guess that the three bays on the left were original (centre chimney) and the two bays to the right were added sometime later? Me too.

Sherbrooke Village was closed that day so we drove through the surprisingly busy non-museum part of town. At the far end of the community is the Anglican church which the museum also restored. Such a treat to see a small church with intact steeple and wooden shingle roof.

Looking through a window I remembered determining the appropriate colours for paint back in 1973. The yellow has been changed since then.

Liscombe Lodge

We had never stayed at Liscombe Lodge so an overnight there felt like an appropriate conclusion to our Eastern Shore tour. The setting is sublime; this was the view from our room.

In the old days the resort had a hunting and fishing lodge ambience. Under new management it feels like there is a desire to appeal to the aesthetic preferences of a new clientele. Chandeliers now abound.

And reproduction “Victorian” furnishings pop up in corners.

Does the Department of Transportation hate us?

I always looked forward to driving over the Liscombe River Bridge. Water rushed over rocky rapids beside a green shore lined with rustic cabins, all easily glimpsed through attractive, metal bridge railing. A view that felt picturesque and generous.

Google Street View, July 2009

But no more. We were sad to encounter a new highway bridge with an opaque, high, concrete balustrade that totally blocks the river view from our traditional-sized car. Might as well be driving through a parking garage. To add insult to injury the Department of Transportation has clad the barrier with bizarre panels that imitate stone.

To show how little they care, the stone wall illustration is full of running joints (rocks lining up vertically). A real stone wall built like that could fall apart the first winter. They just-don’t give-a . . .

Some gratuitous suggestions

Many new highway bridges in the province are getting odd embellishments. It’s as if someone said “make those bridges more attractive”, but fake stone panels and tiny ball finials are all the engineers have in their clipart  tool kit.

Concrete can have all manner of surface decoration. Remember the giant panels we saw at the rest stop near Antigonish (Part One)? Beautiful, stylized, aquatic motifs totally appropriate for a bridge over a salmon river. Wonder who designed them?

The province already knows how to commission beautiful structures. Remember the pavilion we saw at Tor Bay provincial park (Part Two).

Pure engineering can be beautiful. Here is an ancient truss bridge we saw near Country Harbour.

And the Department of Transportation is capable of installing attractive new bridges. We gave whoops of surprise and joy when this newish crossing near Digby came into view. It is for a walking /ATV trail and supplied by a company that manufactures bridges.

Nova Scotia spends hundreds of millions of dollars on roads. There is no reason they should not look the best that they possibly can.

A parting image

In Sheet Harbour we were stopped by a scene that symbolized some of the strangeness of Nova Scotia’s fraught relationship with resources. The Deep Panuke production platform from our defunct offshore gas field was tied up next to Stellar Sunrise loading a mountain of wood chips from our degraded forests. Our vaunted biomass bound for a far away land.

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.