Reliving Childhood Stories in Nova Scotia

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Thinking about exploring amazing Nova Scotia? Thankfully, you’ll find a lot of travel information out there about this destination’s most popular attraction and wonder of the world, The Bay of Fundy. However, today’s guest author, Debi Lander, from ByLanderSea takes us back in time as she recalls how Nova Scotia’s most unique tourist attraction allowed her to relive some of her favorite childhood stories. Wouldn’t it be fun to share these attractions and the books with your grandchildren? Sounds like a perfect Grandparents Day celebration to us.

As a young child, I was fond of reading, an activity encouraged by my elementary school librarian. Her enthusiasm for books proved infectious. When I married and had children, I delighted in reading to them, often revisiting the classics from my youth. Now, I send my grandchildren books because they live far away, but as I travel, I find myself running into places from those narratives.

In Boston, I nearly stumbled into statues of ducks crossing the road from Robert McCloskey’s winner: Make Way for Ducklings. On a recent visit to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, I met the horse Misty of Chincoteague, who is now stuffed and on display in a little museum. In South Dakota, I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder’s farmstead from Little House on the Prairie.

I also found that illustrations, tucked back in my brain, hop to life when nudged from destinations I encounter. For instance, the arched gateways, domes and fountains of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Alhambra in Granada, Spain appeared to me as scenes out the Tales of the Arabian Nights. Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona reminded me of Dr. Seuss villages. However, I was not expecting two encounters in Canada to send me back to the children’s library.

Digby Harbor
Beautiful View of Digby Harbor

In Nova Scotia, I stopped in the tiny town of Digby where I had my first look at the Bay of Fundy. This famous natural wonder is renowned for its miraculous shift of water, the highest in the world. Twice a day, 115 billion tons of water move in and out causing a rise and fall of 20, 30, often 40 feet. During a full moon and high winds, Bay of Fundy tides rise as high as fifty-three feet.

Bay of Fundy low tide
Bay of Fundy at low tide

One hundred and fifteen tons of water is difficult to imagine, and I tried to put it in more plausible terms. According to the Great Lakes Information Network: If you spread the water in all five Great Lakes evenly across the continental U.S., the country would be submerged under about 9.5 feet of water. That’s amazing, but I needed to see the Bay of Fundy do its trick.

I didn’t have long to wait. I witnessed low tide on the drive back to my hotel, the Digby Pines Resort. Immediately a drawing from a book flashed to mind, an image from the classic children’s book, The Five Chinese Brothers. The scene rekindled a memory of the brother who drank up the sea. I recalled his face as enormously bloated and his mouth and jowls about to explode.

Just two hours earlier I had passed along this route and spotted what I consider a typical coastline lapping against the shores. But, in Digby, the tides rise and fall 27 to 32 feet. I was now staring at a tidal pool of tremendous proportion, launching my mind forward to another scene in that book—the one where the little boy picks up all the fish lying on the dry seabed.

Bay of Fundy high tide
Bay of Fundy at high tide

Later that day, I drove by again, and the water had magically returned. This ebb and flow creates an impressive spectacle, a fascinating show of Mother Nature’s power. No, a Chinese man did not drink the sea but it was fun to drift back to childhood stories and imagine it.

Eventually, I traveled from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick aboard the Fundy Ferry. The three-hour passage flew by, and I then motored on to St. Andrews by-the-sea.

Passamaquoddy Bay
View of Passamaquoddy Bay from The Algonquin Resort

How can you not fall in love with the poetic sounding name of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea? The Algonquin Resort, like Digby Pines, is a grand old hotel infused with character and historic elegance — and as I later learned, ghosts. Families and couples have been returning to this country club like vacation spot for years, sometimes decade upon decade.

My room sat on the fourth floor and included a window with panoramic views of Passamaquoddy (Pass-uh-muh-KWAH-dee) Bay. I was told this body of water straddles the U.S.—Canadian border between New Brunswick and Maine and derives its name from the Passamaquoddy or Algonquian Native American people.

Now, the word Passamaquoddy kept flapping in my brain like the end of a filmstrip in the movie projector. Just what was the name of the Disney movie with the dragon set in Passamaquoddy? Annoyed that I couldn’t recall, I finally asked Google and the answer revealed “Pete’s Dragon.” Why, of course! I thought the author created a fictional setting but was happy to find the inspiration to be Passamaquoddy Bay.

Pete's Dragon in Kingsbrae Gardens
Pete’s Dragon in Kingsbrae Gardens

Next day, after breakfast on the porch of the Algonquin, I toured nearby Kingsbrae Gardens. The well-tended acres bloom with pizzazz, and a great deal of effort went into making them inviting to children. They feature a petting zoo with alpacas, toddler sized playhouses and lots of intriguing sculpture. Some pieces even move with the wind. But, my favorite was the flying dragon, reminding me of Pete. I guess someone else out there thinks like me.

Which favorite childhood stories would you like to relive with your grandchildren? Come join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook. Or send us an email with your thoughts.

Disclosure: We have included Amazon book links for your convenience. However My Itchy Travel Feet receives a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you.

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