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The South Shore is on the Atlantic side of the narrow Nova Scotia peninsula; the Annapolis Valley is on the Bay of Fundy side. Although they're less than an hour apart by car, the two seem like different worlds. The former, with its rocky coast, island-dotted bays, and historic fishing villages, has launched 1,000 ships—and 1,000 postcards. The latter is most notable for
its fertile farmlands, vineyards, and orchards. Highway 103, Highway 3, and various secondary roads form the province's designated Lighthouse Route, which leads southwest from Halifax down the South Shore. It ends in Yarmouth, where the Evangeline Trail begins. This trail winds along St. Mary's Bay through a succession of Francophone communities collectively known as the Acadian Shore. The villages blend into one another for about 50 km (35 miles), each one, it seems, with its own wharf, fish plant, and Catholic church.
The verdant Annapolis Valley runs northeast, sheltered on both sides by the North and South mountains. Occasional roads over the South Mountain lead to the South Shore; short roads over the North Mountain lead to the Fundy Shore. Like the South Shore, the valley has numerous historic sites—some of Canada’s oldest among them—and is punctuated by pleasant small towns with a generous supply of Victorian architecture.
The Acadians are descendants of French colonists who settled here in the 1600s. In 1755, they were expelled by the British for refusing to pledge allegiance to the crown. Some eluded capture and slowly crept back, many making new homes in New Brunswick and along this shore of Nova Scotia. Others, however, migrated south to another region held by France at the time: Louisiana, where their name was shortened to Cajun. (Say "Acadian" five times fast and the reason will be apparent!)