Annapolis Variety

Every summer we like to spend a moment or two in Annapolis Royal and renew our acquaintance with that very special cultural landscape. Like the store says, there’s lots of variety.

This year views of the Annapolis Basin were looking particularly sublime. It is a vista that has not changed much since the area was colonized in the 1600s.

The newish Oqwa’titek Amphitheatre in the centre of town takes full advantage of the landscape as a backdrop. A main street with a panoramic view.

Apparently there is music here every Friday night in the summer. When we passed by, Rhinestones and Romantics were singing that classic teenage tragedy song Last Kiss. 

She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be goodSo I can see my baby when I leave this world.

Comfort and Joy

When you are on the road do you look for a tourist bureau so you can use their washroom? Clever Annapolis Royal reversed that order and produced a new “comfort station” that also includes visitor information.  Other up to date comforts include phone charging.

The Comfort Station building is a repurposed school bus garage. Out in front, a planter surrounded by benches sits on a base that once supported a big gas tank. The planter is decorated with delightful tiles by Lucky Rabbit, whose gallery is just across the market square.


There are excellent food options in town these days. We came particularly for the fine dining at Founder’s House. New to us was ARCH & PO, a bakery and coffee shop where we got sandwiches to eat on the boardwalk. It’s located in the stately c1890 Customs House and Post Office. ARCH & PO is the acronym for the building, get it?


If you enjoy looking at buildings, Annapolis Royal checks off all the boxes from early 18th-century survivors to 1970s curvy. The Royal Bank was well-lit as we walked by. It features a porch that was sympathetically added in the 1980s to house those newfangled ATMs.

The reconstruction of an Acadian house in the Historic Gardens allows me to imagine the 17th century hereabouts. 

The old train station has been exquisitely restored and maintained. It’s almost like a piece of sculpture.

Take the long way home

Our ramble home was along  back roads, tacking from one side of the valley to the other like a sailing vessel. We started out travelling along the base of the North Mountain and made a couple of stops in Clarence. The United Baptist Church looked particularly picturesque and well loved.

The church, like the houses along this stretch, is on the north side of the road with a commanding view of the valley floor. Here is the view from the church looking in the direction of the village of Paradise. Paradise indeed.

At the church there was a poster for a Sunday farmers’ market and we wondered what the venue was. Turned out to be the equally beautiful Clarence School, just down the road. It seemed to have had a fresh coat of paint.

This church and the school are beautiful symbols of this tiny community and are a real gift to the traveller. When I checked for more information on why the buildings looked so good a lot of credit was given to Avery Jackson, a young heritage enthusiast. Could use more of those.

Go south

We changed course and headed towards the South Mountain on a small road between Lawrencetown and Middleton.  Our reward was an old iron bridge with romantic views of the Annapolis River.

The bridge was conveniently marked and dated: made in New Glasgow in 1930, younger than I guessed.

Honour the trees

The Nictaux Cemetery beckoned us to stop and I noticed a tassel theme. Those Victorians and their draperies. 

We are probably all a little more aware of old trees these days, and my attention was drawn to an imposing maple. On closer examination it was clear it had recently received some attention from an arborist. A good sign.

All the cheeses

We buy Holmestead feta cheese in Halifax but have never stopped at their retail shop, located above Aylesford, on the delightful Harmony Road. The shop is well stocked with many cheeses and Mediterranean cooking ingredients. Well worth a visit.


In 1982 I took this photo of Clarence church from the Nichols Mountain Road. A picture that could tell many stories.

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.