Shelburne and Graves Island and the Halifax Jazz Festival


Outside the Birchtown museum.  Some people have been looking for a place to be happy and free for a long time.

I took the weekend off because everything seems to happen the second weekend in July for some reason. There were festivals I can’t even remember but my aim was the Women’s Music Festival in Lockeport and the Mackerel Snappers Picnic on Grave’s Island.  There was the jazz festival in Halifax and something on the North Shore too I believe.

I needed to get psyched despite the great weather.  I wasn’t in a driving mood but somehow got into the fourish hour drive.  It seems it should be closer but was a good two hours one way.  I went to Shelburne last year but didn’t really fork out for the museums but this time I did.  There were three.  The first was the most interesting which was a store and the girl was from the city and seemed to wish she hadn’t taken up this distant post but she couldn’t find any similar jobs closer to Halifax.  She seemed very jaded for her young age.  She must have been bored with the social life there.  She said some people came there only for the summer or even a few weeks  despite owning places which sat empty for the rest of the year.  This happens all over the province which must be because of cheap rural properties.


She gave a tour of the Ross-Thomson House and Store Museum and mentioned that there could be ghosts in the store as well as people had mentioned seeing  them.  She hadn’t but seemed fearful at the prospect.    I immediately felt a presence in the first room we entered off of the store.  Also in the main bedroom upstairs.

Maybe if I had to spend a night in a haunted room I would be scared but mainly I think ghosts are harmless.  It would be cool to see a rocking chair rocking but of  course I wouldn`t want to see something flying through the air at my head like in a horror movie.  I believe that if there are ghosts there is not much they can do.  There could be the odd one that has some power but I`m not sure how much and what they would actually do with it.

Once just after landing in London on the red eye I was sleepily walking down a street and a dead branch on a tree almost fell on me.  Hmm.  I`m sure that is a place that could have many ghosts.  I thought I felt the presence of a dead cat before but that was a pleasant thing.  Who knows.

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She said the Cooper’s Inn had ghosts as did many houses.  She seemed creeped out and bored at the same time.  She wondered why there were ghosts  but since there were so many old houses it made sense that in those days people would die in them and be laid out in them.  Maybe they were also very unhappy with their lives not to mention their deaths.

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The rooms in old places were built quite small and usually for shorter people as that is how many were in those times I suspect.

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There was a basement area for the help to work the kitchen.

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Some of them may have been the black people whose story we heard about in the nearby place of  Birchtown with a new museum  just opened this year.  It had an old church and nice view of the ocean.

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In this area  there was also the Boxing Rock Brewery which is one of many craft breweries cropping up in the area that are doing well.  It is a nice new building with leather seats within its tasting facilities.  I have had Vicar’s Cross which was much stronger than I expected when I bought it (note to self – read the label on craft brews) but not bad and Red Temptation which wasn’t bad either.  They were very busy when I was there and partially sold out so choice was limited.  Good for them as it was nearly the middle of nowhere.  If you build it (or brew it) they will come.

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On the way back we managed to make it to the Mackerel Snappers Picnic on Grave’s Island which was about 36 years old except for when they didn’t have it last year due to lack of volunteers.  It was hot and sunny like two years ago as the second weekend in July often tends to be.  I heard people say it wasn’t doing so well this year after one year off.  They sold rolls and pies off for cheap at the end but unfortunately we were too late to get them as we we were busy eating during the announcement which followed the pretty bad country music that they generally have playing there.  Like they are distorted and out of tune and on steroids but they don’t seem to know that.  Joys of the small towns and villages.


We arrived late but managed to get the meal of battered fried mackerel and many boiled potatoes and a sweet creamy cucumber salad with a roll and pie.  The mackerel wasn’t as good as before.  The view from the island of the fancy houses was nice.  It was warm and comforting to eat on a picnic bench with the sun in your face for a change . Then we were directed across the short and thin bridge back across to reality which was a drag after a warm day aloft in history and pleasure.


There wasn’t enough time for Lockeport but I usually plan too much and after the store in Shelburne we saw the regular museum which even had pics of Queen Liz’s mom and pop who deigned to come there for some reason.  The guide thought she was Queen Elizabeth the first but she was just Queen Elizabeth even though the interlopers often tend to do better than the born and bred.


There was also a dory museum though the builder was not there that day.  It was the weekend and we went to the market too but were told that actually weekends were less busy than weekdays for some reason.   The dory museum had pics of Charles and Di when they visited the area so it is that kind of British Loyalist place.  Not that it really got them anywhere to have that visit.   In fact being any kind of British Loyalist just gets you stuck with a big tab when they come to visit and deign to wave at you while eating the best of your plunder.

In that book I saw pictures of Diana visiting various places in Nova Scotia including one picture of here in an off white dress with light brown trim.   It reminded me of when I took photos of her too in this dress when I saw her on the commons on a tour in Halifax.  Those photos have since been lost and most of them had people blocking the view of her.  Just over 14 years later I was having breakfast at a diner on the edge of those same commons not far from where I saw her when I was told about her sad end.

Strange how one place and time can cause you to remember another one.  And on it goes.  If you leave home and stay away I suppose this doesn`t happen.


In the craft shop she claimed it was in the banana belt and didn’t get all of the storms in winter.  I had heard that claim made about Lunenburg too and wondered if it were true.  It would be nice especially being so remote.

Coming up are some pictures from last year’s visit.  This is the place where historical movies have been made including  The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore.  I’m not sure if there were planters here too as seen in previous posts about Liverpool and Grand Pre.  They are an important part of the history of Nova Scotia that I never about learned in school.

It is interesting that many New Englanders came here in the 1700’s because they got free land in my favorite locations of the Annapolis valley and the South Shore.   How lucky were they.   Farmers and fishers were given boons it appeared.  In Grand Pre it was due to the ousting of the Acadians..  There are times in history when populations luck in to great situations.  This hasn’t happened lately for Generation X and beyond but before that things were fortuitous for a while too.

During Prohibition the Rum Runners up the coast also built nice houses due to their sneaky importations.   Money making often does best under temporary conditions and sometimes you have to move to take advantage of best case scenarios.  These things never last.  I got in on the end of the Japan boon but it is not so great these days for example.


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The market takes place under this Shakespearean building.

There were visitors in the visitors books from Eastern Canada and Northeastern US plus Germany though a few  Mid US show up as well.   In other books I have seen California or England.  License plates show a lot of Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey people are visiting here.  A few from Maryland as well  They are on to the cooler temperatures, ample space, less people and cheaper prices with the dollar exchange.  One NJ summer resident mentioned the great beaches and parks plus the nice people.  He forgot the local food especially in season produce as it is in the summer.  What more do you want?

A Maryland resident said he now flies up as driving through Conneticut and Massachusetts is too stressful.  We don`t realize how good we have it here.  Even with too many single lane roads there is still not much traffic.


It was warm enough to sit outside and we ate at  Charlotte Lane. It was nice but though the chowder that got me another stamp in my passport(see previous posts)  won an award I was slightly underwhelmed with the mini shrimp and average fish content  with veg.  No high quality shrimp, lobster or scallops.  It did have maple syrup which was OK.  My salad wasn’t bad.  The place has a good reputation but last year’s swordfish was bland so something is lacking though the location is nice.  My travelmate had a meat sandwich was was OK but again nothing special.  They have the bare bones but need to pump it up a notch.

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Maybe next year for the festival in Lockeport.   Here is a picture from last year.


Also Blue Rodeo was playing that weekend in Liverpool but I didn’t see that.  I did make it to the Jazz Festival in Halifax but found the bands mostly so so and the tent was not up to speed.  There was much less seating and a bandstand in the sun.   A drive to another part of town also found OK music with no seating so I didn’t get too much out of it.  About a band and a half but at least they were free.  Things change and often for the worst.  Happiness and freedom are a life long quest.