Canada holiday: Amazing food, seaside landscapes found in Maritimes
Friendly people, delicious food and stunning seaside landscapes are just the beginning of what’s on offer in Canada’s glorious Maritimes.
On the coast of Eastern Canada, which has been equally caressed and pummelled by the mighty Atlantic Ocean for eons, you’ll find a huddle of petite provinces called the Maritimes. Visit mid-year to chart new personal territory through the landscapes and across the waters of this mariner’s paradise.
Each has its own distinct personality but Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all share common traits. You’ll find salt-of-the-earth people, a burgeoning food and drink scene, fun festivals, historic cities, pretty fishing villages, handcrafted treasures, natural beauty and a rich culture.
The Maritime provinces are the ideal place for a unique coastal summer holiday (that’s not of the hot and tropical variety). Pack a spray jacket and your appetite and embrace the adventure.
Navigate through Nova Scotia
They’ve got lobster dinner, lobster rolls, lobster fondue, lobster tacos, lobster poutine. This staple food of Nova Scotia is available year-round but, in summer, is pulled fresh from the sea. Locals consider the southwest of the province to be the lobster capital so start your Nova Scotia Lobster Trail journey from Halifax by driving the coast road towards Peggy’s Cove.
Five Fishermen restaurant, in the capital, offers a fairly formal approach to the crustacean while Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound & Restaurant keeps it simple with choose-your-own lobster and casual “cook shack” dining. There’s also a Chowder Trail, which intersects with the Lobster Trail in Mahone Bay, where Mateus Bistro’s seafood chowder is award-winning. And for dessert? Petite Riviere General Store in West Dublin makes their own water buffalo milk ice-cream.
To get into the spirit of Nova Scotia, designate a driver and tour the province’s many craft distilleries, cideries, breweries and wineries. Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg makes their vodka from locally-grown apples and keeps the sailors happy by producing rum. Nova Scotia’s cool climate wines are starting to make a splash internationally, especially those of Domaine de Grand Pré. Taste onsite over a meal at Le Caveau.
From the agricultural patchwork of the Annapolis Valley to the uncultivated Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Nova Scotian scenery is a feast for the eyes. Its UNESCO world heritage sites include Joggins Fossil Cliffs on the Bay of Fundy coast and the Landscape of Grand Pré – significant for its 17th century Acadian heritage. At national historic site Kejimkujik National Park, you’ll learn about Mi’kmaq culture first-hand.
Be a bon vivant in New Brunswick
Acadian people are scattered throughout Atlantic Canada but New Brunswick’s community is so large and strong that French is one of the province’s two official languages. Most of this francophone population lives on the province’s east coast, known as the Acadian Coast. A road trip from Dalhousie down to Port Elgin will get you into the swing of their language, food and music.
Restaurant la Sagouine, in Bouctouche, has Acadian dishes on the menu – such as fricot au poulet and tarte aux coques – and is popular with locals. In the same town, Le Pays de la Sagouine is an animated village inspired by the creative works of nonagenarian Acadian novelist and playwright Antonine Maillet. Stick around for bands on the veranda and dinner theatre.
Most of New Brunswick’s southern coastline is the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy. Shared with Nova Scotia, this bay is well known for having the world’s highest tides and for its dramatic geological features such as Hopewell Rocks. What is less known is that it has sandy beaches, tidal pools and very swimmable summertime water temperatures.
Listen to the sounds of Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island may be the country’s smallest province but it has a great big musical heart and has spawned many a brilliant instrumentalist. The capital, Charlottetown, has such a healthy live music scene that all styles can be heard down the cobblestoned length of Victoria Row most nights. Outside the capital, find a table at Trailside Music Cafe & Inn in Mount Store and get along to a ceilidh in Stanley Bridge Hall.
All kinds of festivals run through summer. There’s PEI Jazz and Blues Festival in Charlottetown, Summerside Lobster Carnival, St Peter’s Wild Blueberry Festival and what could be more homegrown than the Potato Blossom Festival in O’Leary? Cavendish Beach Music Festival is held every July in the same town as the island’s most famous historic site: Green Gables Heritage Place.
Prince Edward Island’s highest point of elevation is about 150 metres above sea level, so you can be active there without busting a gut. Cycle or hike some or all of the 435-kilometre Confederation Trail and enjoy passing villages, waterways, trackside wildflowers and fields of bright yellow canola. Or hire a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle-board and explore Prince Edward Island’s rivers, bays and gorgeous pink-beached and red-cliffed coastline.
Naturally the island is celebrated for its seafood, particularly mussels and oysters. Locals don’t believe you can make a bad choice when deciding where to buy, but remember: the later in the season, the colder the water, the plumper the oyster. You’re welcome.
Canada is home to many unique experiences. The picture-perfect towns, friendly people and unique experiences of the Maritimes make it perfect for a mid-year getaway. Book now.