My wife Nancy and I just returned from a visit to Nova Scotia. I should probably mention that , being of Scottish descent, I am likely to find anything Scottish at least a little bit interesting. That minor caveat aside, we were both deeply taken with the beauty of this part of the world, both natural and man made. The natural terrain bears a strong kinship to that of Scotland, with its rugged, rocky coastlines and deep, dark spruce forests. The polished granites of Peggy's Cove speak directly to a far distant geological past, much like that of the Scottish landscape. A little research indicates that this particular stone mates with similar from northern Africa, though, and not Europe! So much for first impressions. The northern coastal climate is the real source of the biological similarities, favoring spruce over the deciduous forests found farther south. The proximity of the sea accounts for the rest, with its inevitable impact on the local sea oriented culture.
It is the overlay of man made history that drives our interest today. Like much of North America, the incoming Europeans displaced the Native Americans, who have left little more than place names to remind us that they predated the present residents. We Europeans have all but obliterated any other trace of their presence, a direct result of our greater (and still increasing) numbers and tendency to build more extensive and relatively permanent structures. The expansion has occurred over some several centuries now and, where the earlier European settlements remain, they call to the more attentive visitor about our history, relatively brief though it is.
Our main focus on this trip was such a place, a rather well known tourist stop: Peggy's Cove. Traveling as much as we do, Nancy and I are all too familiar with the commercialization which tends to destroy the heart of many of these historic places, leaving a thin shadow of the former reality. Fortunately, Peggy's Cove is largely spared this ignominy. While there is a fairly constant flow of tourists, fed by a series of large tourist buses, the accommodations for the buses and tourists are all kept outside of the small village. If you want to see Peggy's Cove up close, it is necessary to get off the bus and walk through the little village, which is still an occupied and functional fishing village. It remains 'the real thing', not some gussied up caricature of a recently deceased community. The changes are limited to a parking lot just outside the village and a rather large gift shop and additional parking at the highpoint just above and beyond the opposite side of the village, near the well known lighthouse. This seems to have worked well to keep the village relatively untouched from the more typical effects of the tourist invasion, with the hardscrabble nature of a thin existence by the sea evident in the ubiquitous peeling paint and mossy, rotting, but still functional, and functioning, structures.