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Published: September 5th 2016
Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia wine country 31 August 2016
We stopped at Windsor on the way to the Annapolis Valley and popped into the Visitors Centre. Wow, were they full of helpful information and maps. It was great talking to them about the area as well as the Annapolis Wine Region. We learned that Windsor was settled in 1685 by the Acadian French, who built a network of dikes along the rivers. It has always been a meeting place, first for the Mi’kmaqs, then the Acadians, and later the English gentry.
Windsor became a permanent English settlement in 1749. Its strategic location prompted the British to build Fort Edward. The Blockhouse which we saw, is the only structure remaining from the original Fort and it is the oldest structure of its kind in North America. Fort Edward is a National Historic Site.
The area quickly became a favourite locale of the British gentry, particularly with those living in Halifax. The area’s growth and prosperity was heavily affected by this influential collection of politicians, merchants and military officers from Halifax. In fact, Windsor was such a popular “get-a-way” for people in the provincial
capital that it became known as “The Athens of Nova Scotia”.
Shortly after the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists from New England in 1783, Kings College was established in Windsor, in 1788. We drove past Kings College which was the first independent school in Canada, and today is a world-renowned co-educational preparatory school.
We also learned that Windsor is recognized as the "birthplace" of hockey and represents an inextricable part of Windsor’s heritage and culture. In his book Attache, Windsor’s own Thomas Chandler Haliburton, generally regarded as the father of North American humour, alluded to a form of hockey being played by the students of King’s College, now King’s-Edgehill School.
The passage from the Haliburton book, which deals in part with memories of his days at King’s in the early 1800s, is believed to be the earliest written reference to the game we now know as hockey, and goes as follows:
“the boys let out racin’, yelpin’, hollerin’ and whoopin’ like mad with pleasure... with games at base in the fields, or hurley on the long pond on the ice...”
The area is also
famous for growing massive pumpkins and at harvest time, the biggest pumpkins are dug out and used as boats in a fun event floating the ‘’boats’’ across the river. Sounds like fun.
Next was Grand Pre an historic site where the Acadians (French settlers) settled but were deported by the British on the verge of the Seven Years War in 1755. The site had a big interpretive centre with museum. There was also an open air section of the museum.
We then drove onto the Damain de grand winery of Grand Pre. They made Champlain (they can’t call it Champaign) which was really dry but fruity. As it was Tom’s birthday the next day we purchased a bottle. We walked through their vineyards which were very trimmed local red grapes. The view which met us was spectacular. The hills rolled in the distance to falling into the Minus Basin. The headlands and lighthouse added to the scene.
Port Williams was the next port of call. We were looking for the Fox Hill Cheese House. We agreed that eastern Canada, where we had travelled, wasn’t known for its cheese. We are so
spoilt in Australia for our mature, tasty cheeses. After asking a few locals, we found the place and sampled 8 different local cheeses. We chose a 4-year matured cheddar to have with our Champlain.
The other feature of this shop was gelatos. Now we couldn’t walk out without sampling these gelato….and ended up with a cup of different gelatos each!!! I think we have been certainly eating icecreams around Canada. A special note: Tom’s birthday is on 1 September and due to the time difference from Canada to Australia, Sheryl and I decided that we should celebrate his birthday on Australia’s 1/9 as well as Canada’s 1/9. This gave Tom almost a 2 day long birthday. When we were at the vineyard I realised it was 5.00am on Australia’s 1/9 so birthday kisses all round. The next day in Halifax was more celebrations with a dinner down at Harbour side which was lovely. Happy birthday Tom xx
We were running out of time so change our travel plans (as we did frequently) and drove straight to Halifax down the 101 Freeway.
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