Antigonish Things to Do
A very fine local Museum.
I mentioned in my introduction page for Antigonish that we really only stopped there as we saw the sign for the local Heritage Museum as we were driving out on the Sunrise Trail (Route 337) heading for the Cape George lighthouse (see separate tip) but my travelling companion RavensWing and I are both complete suckers for Museums and so we pulled in for a look. I am so glad we did as it was a delightful place. I should mention for the first time visitor to this area (as I was) that it has an absolute abundance of such wonderful places, the Nova Scotians are really keen on preserving and presenting their heritage and I loved it.
My very first sight of the building interested me as it appeared to be an old railway station and readers of my other pages will know that I have a huge interest in all things railway. This turned out to be the case as the building was the local station from it's opening in 1908 to it's eventual closure in 1989 when the Sydney - Truro line closed. At that point it could have fallen into disrepair as did so many others but the railway company sold it to the town for the princely sum of $1 on condition that it was used for "community, non profit purposes only". As I shall explain shortly, it has certainly done that, opening as the current Heritage Museum in 1991.
The building itself is in an excellent state of repair whether through continuous maintainance or perhaps some renovation I am not sure but even were there not a single artefact in the place it would still be worth a visit.
As it happens there are artefacts, many, many of them and some of which are quite fascinating. We were greeted at the door by a most charming lady who engaged us in conversation and informed us she would be more than happy to answer any questions we might have. We said we would just like to have a bit of a look round and she told us to help ourselves, reiterating that we should just call if we needed any assistance. I have to say that this is entirely typical of the friendliness and common courtesy which I have now come to associate with Nova Scotians and of which I could cite literally hundreds of examples. The traveller is certainly made to feel most welcome here.
Left to out own devices we proceeded to explore what is not an overly large building (two rooms) but into which they seem to have packed a lot of history. There are all sorts of things here from a bass drum from a pipe band to an 1864 fire truck (one of my favourites) to a collection of butter pats to some Irish style hurling sticks to native Mi'qmak crafts. You name it and it was here. We actually spent a lot longer than we intended looking round but it was worth every second.
There is also a family research section where you can trace your ancestors if you have any from that area. If you check locally or on the Facebook site
you can find details of the various lectures and regular ceilidhs and musical events they also provide.
This is yet another fine example of a local historical and community resource and I do really recommend you take a while to have a look here if you are passing, you won't regret it.
Should you wish to visit, here are the logistics.
Being on one level the Museum is wheelchair accessible.
It is open daily from 1000 - 1700 daily (excepting public holidays) but may close between 1200 and 1300 for lunch.
Highly recommended.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Budget Travel
STFX, Theatre, Highland Games
Antigonish is a great place to visit anytime of year, but Summer tends to be the best. There are tons of enjoyable things to do around the town, and throughout the county.
Within town, take in the picturesque Saint Francis Xavier University. The University is very well respected and is home to roughly 4500 students each year. The campus takes on a theme that is often compared to colleges throughout the New England states.
While at StFX, the Bauer theatre hosts several shows throughout the summer with its program "Festival Antigonish". For a smaller town, these plays are very well done and quite enjoyable. The theatre has recently been refurbished and is quite nice to watch a play in.
During the first two weeks of July, Antigonish hosts the longest running Highland games in North America. Events include track and field, caber toss, and shot put. Along with these events there is plenty of highland dancing, nightly concerts, and beer gardens with live Nova Scotian music. All make for a very good time. Also, the annual 'Kilted' golf tournament takes place during Highland Games week. This event is extremely well attended with many great spirits on hand.
Other than that, another big draw to Antigonish is the access to countless beaches just a short drive away. Some of the best include Pomquet Beach, Arisaig, Cribbons Point, and Bayfield Beach. The summers in Antigonish are often quite hot, with temperatures getting up to 36 degrees celsius (97 F).
Antigonish makes a great vacationing spot for all these reasons, plus an exceptional campground (Whiddens) right in the heart of town. Amenities include several great restaurants, 3 major grocery stores, a shopping mall, as well as many local shops. If you can't find everything you need in those locations, Walmart also recently opened up. Also, Antigonish makes for a great setting off point for exploring Cape Breton as it is only aout a 35min drive away.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
4 Hotels in Antigonish
401 HWY 245 Sylvan Valley, Antigonish, B2G 1B9, Canada
Good for: Business
RR # 7 Lower South River, Antigonish, B2G 2L4, Canada
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
41 James Street, Antigonish, B2G 1R6, Canada
Good for: Solo
158 Main St, Antigonish, NS B2G2B7
Antigonish Warnings and Dangers
A bit disappointing.
This is not a danger as such but more of a warning to the traveller to beware and not build their hopes up too much. It would equally well sit in the off the beaten path section as I have had to put it in Antigonish when it is really in Cape George but there is no location for that on the database. I will not put it in things to do as I do not write things to do tips on things I have not done!
I have mentioned on many other tips concerning Nova Scotia that they are excellent about presenting their history and my travelling companion and I had some wonderful experiences in Museums there, they really do it rather well. As we were going to Cape George to see the lighthouse we had checked up for other things to see and do on the way and had noticed the Heritage School Museum which is housed in an old 1925 building that used to accommodate up to 50 pupils of varying ages with only one teacher! Obviously we decided we would like a look at it.
Driving North on Highway 337 it was well enough signposted and just off the road in a delightful location so in we went. Now the publicity for it had stated that it during the months of July and August it is open every day except Friday between 1000 - 1600. Having checked my images, we arrived there at almost exactly 1400 on a Saturday afternoon and the place was closed with the large "closed" sign you can see prominently displayed in the window. I thought it was perhaps lunch break but a look in the window and a try of the door showed the place to be completely locked up and desterted which was somewhat disappointing.
Nothing to do then but take a couple of images of the outside of the charming and well-maintained old building and head off again. I should mention that I also had a quick look at the trail map as this is one of the trailheads for a 22 mile system of local hinking trails although unfortunately I did not have time to explore any of them.
I really don't blame anyone for this as there could be one of a thousand very good reasons for the situation. I would advise the traveller to 'phone ahead and check but a thorough internet search has failed to provide a number. I suppose you'll just have to take pot luck as we did.
Should you be using GPS or whatever, the full postal address is 5758 Highway 337, Cape George, Nova Scotia, B2G.
Good luck.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Hiking and Walking
Antigonish Off The Beaten Path
Lovely lighthouse with free...
I have had to put this in the off the beaten path section for Antigonish as there is currently no entry in the Virtual Tourist database for Cape George and there is not a heck of a lot there except for this rather wonderful lighthouse. When I say it is off the beaten path it is about 20 miles out of central Antigonish North on Highway 337 aka the Sunrise Trail. It is well enough signposted so the traveller should not miss it.
We drove the short distance down the rather unimaginatively named Lighthouse Road and came to a decent sized parking area where there were already several other vehicles. It was a Saturday and this seems to be a popular spot for a day out. Rightly so with the excellent views out over St. George's Bay and on land a delightful garden area planted on the site of the old lighthouse keeper's vegetable garden..
We started off by examining the lighthouse itself. I have mentioned in many other of my Nova Scotia tips that lighthouses are a sort of unofficial symbol of the Province and with good reason as there are so many of them, made necessary by the often treacherous waters and fogs on the coast here.
The Cape George light is actually the third on the site and was built in 1968. The original light was constructed in 1861 and burnt down in 1907. This was not an unusual event in wooden lighthouses operated by oil, you can just imagine the potential for a conflagration. Rebuilt in 1908 the second structure was in use until 1968 when the current structure was built as an automated light, thereby removing the need for keepers. What I found amazing was that between 1861 and 1968 there were only four keepers of the light here, it really must have been a job for life.
You cannot enter the building as it is still a working light but it is pleasant enough to look at from the outside albeit that the traditional octagonal wooden design has now been replaced by concrete or breeze block or whatever. Less fire risk and maintainance I suppose.
Whilst we were admiring the building we noticed a family group pointing excitedly out to sea and had a look to sea what was happening. There, some distance offshore were the unmistakable outlines of a couple of whales. I had only ever seen whales in the wild once before, about six months previously whilst I was travelling in Sri Lanka, and so this was a complete thrill for me.
I do not suggest that the traveller will be as lucky as to see whales although apparently they are quite common thereabouts but the light is well worth a visit, just keep your eyes peeled and you never know what you might spot.Related to:
- Whale Watching
- Budget Travel