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The Mists of Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia is a mythical land of mists and music. Nearly surrounded by waters, with the smell of salt water lingering in the air, Nova Scotia rises out of the sea with emerald hills and plunging cliffs. A cruise to this beautiful peninsula hooked on to eastern Canada will become a trip back in time to schooners and sailboats, Celtic beats and granite beaches. Experience the mystery of Nova Scotia on an Atlantic cruise!

Nova Scotia in Antiquity

The area that is now known as Nova Scotia has been settled for as long as 11,000 years. There is evidence that Paleo-Indians were the first people to call the region home. They were a nomadic hunter-gather people, who hunted giant sloth, bison, and a type of camel that were present at the end of the last Ice Age. Other peoples followed these early settlers, and the modern people are known as Mi’kmaq, or First Nation.

Some historians believe that Vikings briefly settled in Nova Scotia, although the only evidence of Viking encampment is on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland. Nonetheless, that evidence is proof that Vikings were present in North American nearly 500 years before Columbus.

Nova Scotia's Famous Seafood

Nova Scotia is a deeply-rooted example of maritime cuisine. A cruise to Nova Scotia will allow you to treat your taste buds. The region is mostly known for its devotion to seafood. Imagine a steaming lobster with drops of melted butter, Atlantic swordfish grilled to perfection, Nova Scotia salmon baked with a perfect blend of herbs, or steamed diver scallops with the most complimentary sauce. The abundance of the sea is rarely absent from a meal; mussels and clams, crab, shrimp, cod, and mackerel are all players with starring roles on a Nova Scotia table.

But don’t worry that seafood is the only thing you’ll eat on your vacation; visitors should try some other traditional dishes such as leg of lamb, hare pate, or Rapee Pie, made of chicken and grated potatoes. Desserts tend toward the simple traditional: blueberry pie, strawberry shortcake, or apple cake. Cruising Nova Scotia can be a very pleasing culinary experience!

History of Nova Scotia

The Italian John Cabot was the first modern explorer to land on Nova Scotia, in 1497. However, the French were the first to establish a colony, Acadia, in 1604. The capital of Port Royal was located at the head of what is now known as the Annapolis Basin.

Under King James I (England) & IV (Scotland), the Plymouth Council for New England claimed the shorelines of Acadia down to the Chesapeake Bay in 1620 as New England. Shortly after, King James granted the charter for foundation of a colony to Sir William Alexander, and the first Scottish settlement on the North American continent came into being.

War broke out in 1627 between France and England, and the French re-established their settlement at Port Royal. An English-Scottish force forced the French out, and Port Royal became the second Scottish settlement. Nova Scotia came to be defined as all land between New England and Newfoundland, and was declared part of the mainland of Scotland.

This designation was short-lived; King Charles I signed a treaty in 1631 that returned Nova Scotia to the French and forced the Scots to leave their settlements. Nova Scotia again switched hands to become a British colony in 1713. It was the sight of a flood of immigration by New Englanders during and after the American Revolution. Highland and Ulster Scots constituted the next wave of settlers. A Nova Scotia cruise will provide the opportunity to experience some of this historic culture.

Nova Scotia Politics

The Italian John Cabot was the first modern explorer to land on Nova Scotia, in 1497. However, the French were the first to establish a colony, Acadia, in 1604. The capital of Port Royal was located at the head of what is now known as the Annapolis Basin.

Under King James I (England) & IV (Scotland), the Plymouth Council for New England claimed the shorelines of Acadia down to the Chesapeake Bay in 1620 as New England. Shortly after, King James granted the charter for foundation of a colony to Sir William Alexander, and the first Scottish settlement on the North American continent came into being.

War broke out in 1627 between France and England, and the French re-established their settlement at Port Royal. An English-Scottish force forced the French out, and Port Royal became the second Scottish settlement. Nova Scotia came to be defined as all land between New England and Newfoundland, and was declared part of the mainland of Scotland.

This designation was short-lived; King Charles I signed a treaty in 1631 that returned Nova Scotia to the French and forced the Scots to leave their settlements. Nova Scotia again switched hands to become a British colony in 1713. It was the sight of a flood of immigration by New Englanders during and after the American Revolution. Highland and Ulster Scots constituted the next wave of settlers. A Nova Scotia cruise will provide the opportunity to experience some of this historic culture.

Animals of the Land and Sea

Although it is small in size, Nova Scotia is home to a plethora of wildlife. A cruise to Nova Scotia is sure to be full of bird sightings, both rare and common. Some common species that might appear during the winter include the snow bunting or the Iceland gull. Gannets, grebes, loons, and sandpipers are abundant during migratory seasons. Those rarer species that travelers need to keep a sharp eye out for are the rough-legged hawk, snow goose, green-backed heron, and laughing gull.

The waters off of Nova Scotia are habitat for several species of whale; visitor may be lucky enough to see beaked whales, humpbacks, pilots, and killer whales. Several seals, porpoises, and many different types of dolphins can be seen frolicking off the coast.

Land mammals that roam Nova Scotia include cougars, black bears, coyotes, red fox, lynx, and bobcats. More cuddly examples are the river otter and deer.

Nova Scotia's Rich Cultural Heritage

Nova Scotia’s culture is very much influenced by its history and location. Residents are very proud of their Scottish heritage, although descendents from other countries have contributed to the mosaic that is Nova Scotia culture: French, Irish, German, and English. The Mi’kmaq people also play a significant part of the whole of this beautiful culture.

Maritime traditions are huge part of Nova Scotia identity. The coastlines are dotted with fishing villages, and tall ships and sailboats line the horizon. The smell of salt water lingers across the countryside. A Nova Scotia cruise will reveal this sea-faring culture in all of its honesty.

Nova Scotia is becoming more and more famous for its music traditions. Although its tradition dates back centuries, it has just recently achieved international recognition. Regional music blends Celtic rock and traditional sounds with Acadian jigs and gospel hymns. No Nova Scotia party or celebration is complete without the distinctive sounds Scottish beats and modern instruments.

Surrounded by Waters

Nova Scotia is located on the eastern edge of Canada, and is one of its Maritime Provinces. It is known for its many fishing villages, and beautiful bays and coves.

Nova Scotia is nearly surrounded by water, and is only attached to the Canadian mainland by the narrow Isthmus of Chignecto. The majority of the peninsula fronts the Atlantic Ocean with rugged granite cliffs, while the Gulf of Maine flanks the western edge. The Bay of Fundy defines the northwest, and the Northumberland Strait and the Strait of Canso lap Nova Scotia’s remaining shores. A cruise to Nova Scotia will reveal some of the most dynamic waters in North America.

The mainland peninsula of Nova Scotia is augmented by some offshore islands, the largest and most famous of which is Cape Breton Island. Cape Breton is known for its Scottish Highlands, which slope upward from south to north. It has been discovered that Cape Breton is the missing west coast of modern Scotland, lost due to continental drift. This island is also home to five native Mi’kmaq reserves. Sable Island is another one of Nova Scotia’s famous satellites; it is known for the mysterious quantity of shipwrecks off its shores.

The Bay of Fundy is also worth a visit, as it experiences the word’s highest tides with a 54-foot change. Overall, Nova Scotia is a charmingly beautiful destination for an Atlantic cruise!

Maritime Weather

Nova Scotia has a maritime climate that brings in the characteristic magical mist of the Canadian coast. The ocean also brings hearty winters, green springs, lingering autumns, and refreshing summers. Summer temperatures average a perfect 70 degrees, although it can be warmer inland and cooler on the coast. Travelers should keep in mind that the coast of Nova Scotia keeps the best weather; it avoids the chill of the winter that inland areas experience.

Nova Scotia experiences frequent precipitation, although the wettest times are in late fall and early winter. Winters can be quite chilly, and snow falls throughout the season, although much less on the coast. Nova Scotians are fond of pointing out that if you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes!

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