Non-slip walking shoes are important and a sweater or jacket may be welcome.
Leave Yarmouth via Starr's Road toward Arcadia. Continue past the shopping malls and proceed straight on at the intersection along Route 3.
Arcadia was named after the brig "Arcadia" which was built here in 1817. Many of the houses in this community are over 100 years old. On the left, 1.5 km ( miles) after the Arcadia sign, is a dark green house on the knoll known as the "House of Four Peoples". Built on the site of an ancient Micmac camping ground, it is believed that part of the house was of early French construction, altered and expanded by both English and Dutch owners.
Watch for Route 334 to your right which will take you through to Plymouth, Wedgeport, Little River Harbour, Comeau's Hill, Melbourne, and Pinkney's Point.
Follow Route 334 south. The first community you enter is Plymouth. It was settled in the 1770's by English & Irish families who emigrated from Massachusetts. The community has one of only two English schools located in the Municipality of Argyle.
Wedgeport, also known as Chebeck and Tusket Wedge, was settled by returning Acadians at about the same time the English were settling Plymouth. In Upper Wedgeport -Wedgeport le haut- take the Cape Wharf Road, left, to its end. This is a vantage point for viewing the village rising from the banks of the bay. This exceptionally well protected site - Chebeck Cove - was the location of the Pothier ship yards where a lucrative trade of lumber with the West Indies was carried on.
The wharf opposite is one often used by those who harvest Irish Moss and Rockweed - both as a tie up for their boats and as a surface on which to dry their "catch". Rockweed and Irish Moss are raked from the rocks and driftwood into the boat during the summer season. Their by-product, carageen, is found in a whole range of products from ice cream and chocolate milk to cosmetics and automobile tires.
St. Michael's Church dominates the skyline. The current structure was modified in 1913. The church has played a critical role in the development of the Acadian communities of the area and the residents take particular pride in the buildings they have dedicated to the glory of God. In front of the church you will find a monument honoring the people of Wedgeport who lost their lives in World War I and II. Return to Route 334.
Turn right on the Chemin-de-l'Est and follow the signs for the Buttes-de-la-Croix, the site of the first landing and masses said in Wedgeport in 1769. Retrace your steps to Surette Cross Road, turn left and then left at the next intersection. The older houses indicate that the settlement moved from south to north and the newer houses indicate the continued growth of the area.
As this road nears its intersection with Route 334 - where you will turn left yet again - it passes the Legion Hall and a War Memorial which honours those who fought in World Wars I, II and the Korean War. The people of Wedgeport have developed excellent social facilities, the Canadian Legion and the Knights of Columbus.
As you resume Route 334 you are in Lower Wedgeport -Wedgeport le bas. The Wedgeport-Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department, run by volunteers, is located on the left. Watch for the sign on the right indicating Schooner Seafoods Limited, Wedgeport's largest processing facility. Here at Doucet's Wharf Road visitors may also see the fishing and pleasure boats under construction.
Back on Route 334 watch for the sign for New Road and turn left. At the stop sign turn right. Now you're at Wedgepoint Wharf or Breakwater. This is a real hive of activity and deserves a stroll around. A boat building shop is located right here near the wharf. The wharf is home to the Cape Islander, or lobster boat and to the small outboarders that harvest the Rockweed and Irish Moss. Sword fishing is a limited fishery as only a few licenses have been issued. A sword fishing vessel has the distinctive bowsprit from which the harpoon is thrown. There is even a marine railway here for hauling boats up out of the water. In the early evening the seiners leave the wharf hoping for a good night's catch of herring.
As you proceed along this road, drive carefully and cross route 334 to the Tuna Wharf Road. The Tuna Wharf is still important to the fishing industry but it has a past, a heyday, as it were.
From 1936 to the late 1960's, Wedgeport was home to the International Tuna Cup Match. People came from all over the world to fish for the giant blue fin tuna. These fish could weigh in at 800 pounds and more and the "reeling-in" could take hours. Many well known people visited Wedgeport to try their hand at tuna fishing: Franklin Roosevelt and his sons, Kate Smith, Gene Tunney, Bernard Baruck, Jr., and even - so the story goes - one of Al Capone's henchmen.
Tuna fishing peaked in 1946-49 and in 1947 a tuna canning factory opened. The factory operated for two seasons and handled only the small stuff - the 100 to 200 pound tuna.
Drop into the Wedgeport Retired Fishermen's Club, located to the left here at the wharf. Go on in - you'll have a wonderful time. The Wedgeport Retired Fishermen's Club building is shared by the organizers of the Wedgeport Acadian Festival, an annual event highlighting Acadian food, culture and lifestyles of the past and present.
As you return to Route 334, turn right and follow the road to its very end. This is Wedgepoint look-off and from here you can see Big Fish Island and its lighthouse, Tucker Island, Inner Fish Island, Little Fish Island, to name just a few, and if weather conditions are right you can even see the lighthouse on Whitehead Island offshore from Middle West Pubnico.
Retrace your steps along Route 334 and be on the watch for the sign for Black Pond Road, for it is here that you will turn left. This area along Black Pond Road can only be described as the biggest "rock garden" in the world.
As you come to the T intersection, turn to your left. The community you're now in is Little River Harbour. This is the home of Nova Scotia's only indigenous breed of dog - the Little River Duck Dog or, as it is more formally known, the Nova Scotia Trolling Retriever. Bred for duck hunting, the muscular, heavy-boned medium-sized dog can withstand the cold water and strong tides of the region. The colouring of the dog resembles that of a red fox. It is one of five breeds of dogs totally bred and recognized in Canada.
The water on your right is Little River Harbour - a real haven for lobster boats. The lobster season in this area runs from November to May.
The next community is Comeau's Hill. The first settlers were Devillers, Fitzgeralds and Jacquards! Both Deviller and Jacquard had served in the army of Napolean 1. These men settled first in other areas, but ultimately made their permanent homes here. Comeau's Hill developed in close conjunction with Wedgeport. A "ferry" - a skiff with a capacity of 3-4 people -connected these two communities. St. Gabriel's Church, erected in 1885, was given its name in honour of the "mother parish", St. Michael's in Wedgeport.
Continue along this road until you reach the water's edge. Approximately forty offshore islands abound and are known as the Tusket Islands. These islands are a haven for recreational and commercial boaters and are sprinkled with summer cottages.
Retrace your steps to Melbourne. Turn left at the village toward Pinkney's Point. Leaving Melbourne, the highway winds across the salt marsh. Just before reaching the natural causeway, turn right to Cook's Beach is one of several bird sanctuaries where a wide variety of shorebirds and waterfowl can be seen. Continue on into the village of Pinkney's Point following the natural causeway between the pebble beach and the salt marsh. Retrace the route back to Melbourne and Arcadia. Turn right at the junction with Route 3, and continue on toward Pleasant Lake.
Pleasant Lake is actually the fourth name by which the area has been known. The Micmac called it Boona Moogwade, the Loyalists called it Riverdale, then Salmon River, and ultimately Pleasant Lake. Its earliest settlers were part of the overflow from Tusket, having come there in 1785. This small community once supported two Baptist churches. The two amalgamated about 50 years ago and today the church is the only community facility left.
On a side road in Pleasant Lake is Little Egypt. Willian Bullerwell of Sunderland, England settled here in the mid 1800's. One year shortly after the Bullerwell family arrived, there was a potato shortage in Yarmouth County. The Bullerwells had a bumper crop and the expression "there was plenty in Egypt" gave the new settlement its name.
Continue along Route 3 toward Tusket. After the Tusket sign turn left toward Tusket Falls and continue for approximately 2.1 km ( miles). Near the falls on the Tusket River, archaeologists have found the ruins of an early Norse settlement dating from 1000 A.D., believed to be that of Leif Ericson. Return to Route 3 and turn left, crossing the steel bridge into the village of Tusket. On the right is a small picnic park and viewing point over the river mouth and the Tusket Islands. This area was once famous for shipbuilding.
Tusket was settled by New Englanders in 1761, followed by Dutch Loyalists in 1784 and 1785, making it the largest Dutch settlement in the province. The interior of old St. Stephen's Church on the left reflects the austere "reformed" background of its founders. The name Tusket comes from a Micmac word meaning "the great forked tidal river".
At the village centre, in Van Cortland Square, two monuments share the park. One is a monument dedicated to the United Empire Loyalists who founded the community, and the other is a War Memorial that proudly honours those who answered "The Empire's Call" during the Great War, and in gratitude to those who survived that call. Walk over to the Old Courthouse and Gaol with the cupola or bell tower on the top. This heritage building is the oldest extant courthouse building in Canada, having been built in 1803-1805 and has an archive in the rear of the for historical genealogical research. Extensive historical data for Yarmouth County, as well as resource material for the rest of Nova Scotia, is available. A lot of early newspapers are on micro film and you will also find vital statistics for the rest of the province. The archives also houses an extensive library of historical periodicals. Guided tours are available during the summer months, and the guides will explain the history of the structure. (Please check with the Argyle Township Courthouse for the summer schedule)
A short diversion up the lane by the courthouse brings one to a large white house on the left, an excellent example of what can be done using imagination and the "Acadian gable" style of architecture. The Acadian gable features variations on a two story house which includes one or more steep, high, central gables. Many of the homes in this part of Yarmouth County are constructed in this style.
The drive from the Court House to the Hanging Oak, although short, is flanked on one side by the Tusket River and on the other by some of the village's architectural majesty. The hanging oak tree stands on the riverbank near the juncture of Route 3 and Route 308 south. Local tradition has it that at one time the land around the tree was used by local butchers as a site for their slaughters and that their carcasses were hung from this very large, sturdy tree.
The road drops down the hill from Tusket into the community of Hubbard's Point -"La Pointe à Bouleau". There is a small, coppertone building on your left that was once the blacksmith's shop. The blacksmith was one of the leading artisans in any community, for he was the creator of diverse objects.
On you left, just three houses beyond the Hubbard's Point sign is a Modified Gothic house circa 1878. It was locally referred to as "house by the side of the road" for the residents opened their doors and made a cup of tea for those who walked from as far away as Surette's Island to come to the Post Office in Tusket. Emilie Doucette, the daughter of these welcoming people, was elected in 1941 as a municipal councillor - the first woman ever so elected in Yarmouth County and only the second to be elected in the province.
Further along on your right is a run down building that was once the social centre of the community. Built in 1910 it was a combination general store and post office. The second floor was the local dance hall. In earlier times weddings were not followed by honeymoons. Rather, the community would celebrate the happy occasion with a dance. Some lasted for 2-3 days!
A large slat marsh - the trademark of Acadian settlements - separates the community of Hubbard's Point and Amirault's Hill. The circles of wood that can be seen on the marsh are called staddles and were used as platforms on which to pile marsh hay. Holy Family Church stands high on the horizon. The parish was established in 1901 and erected this Romanesque style church in the same year.
The neighbouring community, Sluice Point gets its name from Indian Sluice, that channel of rushing water that separates the mainland and Surette's Island. The Great Sluice Bridge that links the island with the mainland - the centre span of this one lane bridge, constructed in 1909, was built upriver and floated into place on the rushing tide. According to legend the name Indian Sluice comes from the tragic story of a young Indian couple. The groom was taking his bride, by canoe, from her home on Surette's Island to the mainland. The canoe overturned in the powerful currents created by the changing tides and the newly weds were drowned.
In the churchyard on Surette's Island you can find the tombstone of Marie Babin Surette. The tombstone says that she died on 30 December 1862 at the age of 110 and that she was the last survivor of all the Acadian deportees who returned to Nova Scotia.
St. Joseph's Church dates back to 1874, but the first mass on the island was celebrated on November 28, 1855. The house in which the mass was celebrated no longer stands but a small chapel was built in 1934 to mark the site.
Just beyond the church the road forks. Take the road to the right. This road with its two natural causeways will lead you to Far Point Island and the Tittle. The Tittle was a fishing community inhabited only during the fishing season. Sometimes the entire family would move here for the duration of the season. The view of the Tusket Islands as seen from this point is absolutely breathtaking.
Return to where the road forked. Proceed to Morris Island where you'll find beautiful inlets and marshes. The route follows a line parallel to the road to Far Point Island. Follow this to the tip of the island. "La Grande Passe" separates Morris Island from Roberts Island and on a clear day you'll have no difficulty seeing the mainland (Central-Lower Argyle).
Turn back toward Tusket. When back in Hubbard's Point be watchful for a directional sign to Chemin Mecoque. Turn left on this road. This will lead you to Abram' River. At the T-intersection turn to the right. This will take you to the Abram's River Wharf. Near here still stands what was once a one room school house. It was built circa 1886.
Going north from the wharf this road intersects with Route 3. A right turn will bring you to Ste-Anne du Ruisseau. Soon the trees and bushes give way to the full expanse of marsh at the so called Aboiteau (a system used to regulate the flow of seawater to the marshlands) and causeway down the hill from the church. It was this very marsh that enticed the early settlers to this region. The marsh provided a ready source of pasture and hay for the animals. The availability of such lush growth meant that all efforts could be devoted to clearing the necessary land for houses rather than finding forage. These salt marshes are a characteristic of all the early settlements. Once you've crossed the Aboiteau, you'll find Ste-Anne du Ruisseau Church. The parish of Ste-Anne du Ruisseau is the oldest in the region, having been established by Abbé Jean Mandé Sigogne in 1799. The Church that was built under his direction and burned in 1890, to be replaced by the present magnificent structure, blessed in 1902. The building is open to the public throughout the summer months and staffed with knowledgeable guides.
To the left of the church is a monument to Ste Anne. Erected to stand as a public testimony of the devotion of the people of the parish to the saint who had guided their destinies. It was erected August 23, 1938.
The road just to the left of the church, to the right of Route 3, leads to Rocco Point. It is a dead end road but is one easily travelled. This was Father Sigogne's landing place, and the site of the firsf chapel in the area.
As you proceed back to route 3, notice the school buildings. Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau is not only the religious centre from the area, but the educational centre as well. The high school serves French-speaking and English-speaking students. The church and the school figure prominently in the activities of Le Festival Acadien de Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau.
Continue on along Route 3, but be watchful for a road sign indicating Belleville, to your left. The road crosses over Eel Lake and the view to both the left and right is beautiful. There is a variety of bird life found on the lake and surrounding areas. Continue on to Belleville crossing Highway 103.
Belleville is also an Acadian community. It was founded in the 1780's and 1790's by families from nearby Eel Brook or Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau. The names of the original settlers, such as Pottier, Surette, Bourque and Babin, still exist in the village today. Belleville is situated on Eel Lake, one of the largest lakes in Yarmouth County. The village was once a major farming and saw-milling community. In the last century Belleville was known for her highly skilled carpenters and craftsmen. The evidence of their handy work is everywhere here in the form of many well kept 19th century homes. Now turn right at the T intersection and proceed trough the village of BellNeck to Sprinhaven.
Sprinhaven is a mixture of French and English families living in harmony in a rural setting. The gentle rolling hills and neatly kept properties make for an enchanting drive through this part of the country. Continue on to Quinan.
Quinan, one of Yarmouth County's inland communities, was settled in 1782 by Jean-Baptiste Muise and his family. Early settlers came here due to the fertility of the soil and the hunting advantage. This is one of the few inland Acadian communities. Quinan has always been primarily a farming and logging community. In the past, its forests and its wildlife have drawn many sportsmen from the United States and elsewhere for the hunting and fishing seasons. This was a lucrative business for the "guides" of Quinan. Today Quinan is still a favourite haunt of local deer hunters in the autumn. The people of Quinan are primarily French speaking, although everyone here speaks English as well
The most prominent building on the landscape is Ste-Agnes Church. The first local mass was celebrated in a local home in 1858. A chapel was soon built and blessed in February 1859. A cemetery was designated nearby. Look for the small cairn erected in 1984 to mark the site of the humble chapel. In 1883 the present church replaced the small chapel. Each year on Labour Day the people of Quinan host a Firemen's Day with lots of fun for everyone. If you feel that you need a rest or a place to stretch your legs, there is a small picnic area next to the river on your right.
As you cross the Quinan River look to your left. Here the river forks and the Tusket branches off to the Quinan.
Retrace your steps to either Belleville or Tusket where
you may connect with the main Highway 103.