Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink the area is known for. Today, we visit Atlantic Canada’s most populated province, Nova Scotia. Let’s see what this ‘New Scotland’ has to offer:
Motto: “One defends and the other conquers” – Them sounds like fighting words!
Food: Mrs. Sip and I once did a food tour in Nova Scotia and among the many highlights was trying a Halifax Donair, the official food of the city. King of Donair (KOD), a chain founded in Halifax in 1973, is responsible for bring the dish to the area. KOD has been featured in the Trailer Park Boys, as well as visited by celebrity chefs, such as Anthony Bourdain. December 8 is National Donair Day.
Drink: Alexander Keith’s Brewery was founded in Halifax in 1820. The brand is best known for the India Pale Ale offering. The brewery tour is a lot of fun, as the experience tries to take you back in time, allowing visitors to play old drinking games, as they enjoy beer samples. Today, the brewery is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Nova Scotia also has a Good Cheer Trail, covering breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, and meaderies.
Site to See: Peggy’s Cove and its famous lighthouse are a top tourist attraction in Nova Scotia. In 2021, a new viewing platform opened to the public, although walking the rocks is a lot of fun. The area is also home to the Swissair 111 Memorial, which was erected after the plane crashed into the nearby St. Margaret’s Bay, killing all 229 passengers and crew aboard.
Street: The Cabot Trail can be found on Cape Breton Island, named after explorer John Cabot, who landed in the region (most historians now agree Cabot reached Newfoundland, not Nova Scotia) in 1497. Some notable sites along the highway include the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Nova Scotia also has a Lobster Trail, for those interested in dining on the tasty crustacean.
TV Show: Trailer Park Boys is a mockumentary of life at the Sunnyvale Trailer Park. The trio of Julian, Ricky and Bubbles are always getting into trouble with each get-rich-quick scheme they are working. Always on their heels is on-again, off-again trailer park supervisor Jim Lahey. The Trailer Park Boys franchise has spawned an animated series, as well as feature movies and other specials.
Movie: Goon and its sequel Goon: Last of the Enforcers are set in Halifax, where main character Doug Glatt is the enforcer of the Halifax Highlanders minor league hockey team. Ironically, the movies were filmed in Manitoba and Ontario, respectively. In a nice Nova Scotia crossover reference, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys appear in the movie as control room workers.
Book/Author: Novelist and short story writer Alistair MacLeod spent a great deal of time on Cape Breton Island and did much of his writing there, while staying on his family’s land during summer breaks. MacLeod has been praised for providing vivid images of Cape Breton Island’s landscape throughout his works. His novel No Great Mischief, was voted Atlantic Canada’s greatest book of all-time.
Fictional Character: Theodore Tugboat operates in Halifax Harbour and was the inspiration for a children’s TV series, before branching out into toy lines, books and other merchandise. Many of the other characters in the franchise are named after places in Nova Scotia, along with the other Atlantic provinces. A life-size version of Theodore Tugboat, named Theodore Too, was built in Dayspring.
Fictional City: While more of a community than a city, Sunnyvale Trailer Park is home to a vast collection of eclectic characters. Aside from those already mentioned, other notable residents include Randy, the always shirtless assistant park manager; Cory and Trevor, used by the main three as errand boys and scapegoats; and J-Roc, a white rapper who struggles with his identity.
Actor/Actress: Elliot Page (formerly Ellen), star of movies such as Juno, Inception and a couple of the X-Men films, was born in Halifax. Page currently stars on the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, where his character has been written as transgendered, to match Page’s real-life gender identity. One of Page’s earliest credits was as Treena Lahey on the Trailer Park Boys.
Song: My Nova Scotia Home by Hank Snow is among many songs dedicated to the province. Perhaps the strongest line in Snow’s ode to his birthplace is “Nova Scotia is my sanctuary, and I love her so.” Snow was born in Brooklyn (not New York) and enjoyed a long career in music, releasing 140 albums and numerous chart-topping singles. The Hank Snow Museum can be found in Liverpool (not England).
Band/Musician: Nova Scotia’s most notable musicians are female artists, including Sarah McLachlan and Anne Murray. McLachlan, with hits such as Building a Mystery and I Will Remember You, has sold 40 million albums globally and started the Lilith Fair tour. Murray has enjoyed a decades-long career and is viewed as someone who paved the way for future Canadian females to crossover into international markets.
People: Danny Gallivan enjoyed a long broadcasting career, including 32 years as the voice of Hockey Night in Canada. His unique calls became known as ‘Gallivanisms’, including inventing the now common term spin-o-rama. Gallivan, who was born in Sydney, created the Danny Gallivan Golf Tournament, which has raised close to $1.5 million for Cystic Fibrosis Canada.
Animal: Rutledge the Lion was born at Aylesford’s Oaklawn Farm Zoo (Nova Scotia’s largest zoo) in 1991. The big cat grew so large, at one time, it held the Guinness World Record for heaviest lion in captivity at 807 pounds. Sadly, Rutledge was euthanized in February 2009, at the age of 17. He had stopped eating and begun losing weight. Rutledge was buried at the zoo.
Invention: Newsprint, allowing newspapers and other publications to operate more economically, was invented by Nova Scotia’s Charles Fenerty in 1844. After perfecting his process, Fenerty took a sample of the finished product to the Acadian Recorder, Halifax’s most popular newspaper of the time. Despite his work on newsprint, Fenerty never tried to patent the invention.
Crime: In April 2020, Gabriel Wortman murdered 22 people before he was killed by police, ending the 13-hour rampage, the deadliest in Canadian history. The spree resulted in a federal ban of many assault-style weapons. Another infamous crime in the province was the 1992 Sydney River McDonald’s Murders, where three friends went from robbing a McDonald’s to murdering three employees.
Sports Team: Two Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams, the Halifax Mooseheads and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, are perhaps the biggest games in the province. The Atlantic Schooners are a proposed expansion team for the Canadian Football League. The franchise had a failed 1984 bid, which was revived in 2018, although no official application has been made.
Athlete: Sidney Crosby was born in Halifax and has gone on the meet all the expectations that were thrust upon him as a young hockey prodigy. Crosby has won three Stanley Cups, along with earning nearly every personal NHL award available. In a “you couldn’t write a better ending” moment, Crosby scored the ‘golden goal’, which won Canada a gold medal on home ice at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Famous Home: The Maud Lewis House, originally located in Marshalltown, is a work of art. So much so, that the cottage now resides in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, allowing for its safe preservation. Maud Lewis was a Nova Scotian folk artist, who used her home as a canvas. Despite living most of her life in poverty, Lewis’ work is now recognized on postage stamps, while paintings have sold for record prices at auction.
Urban Legend: The Oak Island Mystery is so legendary, it inspired the reality TV series The Curse of Oak Island. The mystery involves tales of buried treasure on Oak Island, with the lost artifacts believed to be anything from Marie Antoinette’s jewels to the Holy Grail or Ark of the Covenant. Legend says seven men will die before the treasure is discovered. Thus far, six men have perished while searching.
Museum: The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic can be found on the Halifax Waterfront. It was opened in 1948 and is the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada. The museum is home to more than 30,000 artifacts. Exhibits include Shipwreck Treasures of Nova Scotia, a Convoy Exhibit on the World War II Battle of the Atlantic, and Titanic Exhibit, including items from the doomed ship.
Firsts: On December 15, 1902, electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi successful made the first wireless message from North America to Europe. Thus, Marconi is viewed as the inventor of radio. He was co-awarded the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics for his continued efforts in the field. The Marconi National Historic Site and Marconi Wireless Station National Historic Site can be found on Cape Breton Island.
Company: Sobeys, Canada’s second largest grocery store chain, was founded in Stellarton in 1907. The company, which operates each of the country’s 10 provinces, is still headquartered in Stellarton today. Grocery chains under the Sobeys banner include IGA, Safeway, Thrifty Foods and FreshCo. The Subsidiary has also dabbled in the movie theatre and gas station industries.
Events: The 1917 Halifax Explosion occurred when a French cargo ship, carrying explosives, crashed into a Norwegian boat. The resulting explosion killed at least 1,782 people and completely decimated the Halifax Harbour. As if the blast wasn’t enough, a tsunami followed. The Halifax Harbour also played a role in the aftermath of the Titanic sinking, being where recovered bodies of those who perished were shipped.
Miscellaneous: Nova Scotians are known as ‘Bluenosers’, a reference that was later used to name the famous racing schooner Bluenose, which was built in Lunenburg in 1921. The sailing ship and fishing vessel was nicknamed ‘Queen of the North Atlantic’. The Bluenose appears on Nova Scotia licence plates, the Canadian dime, three different postage stamps, and was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955.
Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia
- 2 oz Scotch
- 0.25 oz Yellow Chartreuse
- Dashes of Orange Bitters
- Garnish with a Lemon Twist
Nova Scotia has a cocktail named after it, so I had to use the recipe. I didn’t have any Yellow Chartreuse on hand, so I used Drambuie as a substitute. We finish by saying “sociable”, the province’s version of “cheers”!