The Place: Across Nova Scotia
The Treasures: National Parks
We have a large number of parks in Nova Scotia. Although we have a lot of wilderness in the province, parks are special in that many times they are untouched.
We had the opportunity to speak with Parks Canada on a variety of subjects and learn a little more about what Parks Canada does and how we can support their work.
With the warmer weather coming we hope this 9 Questions gets you out and visiting our national parks and historic sites.
9 Questions with: Parks Canada
1 – NST: When people think Parks Canada, Nova Scotia, most will know of Cape Breton Highlands, Kejimkujik, and the newly designated Sable Island national parks. What other sites are you responsible for?
Parks Canada: In addition to these three national parks, Parks Canada is responsible for 18 national historic sites in Nova Scotia, including the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Fort Anne National Historic Site and Port Royal National Historic Site.
Guarded by the 78th Highlanders, the Halifax Citadel is the fourth and final fort built atop Citadel Hill. This site is best known for the firing of the noon gun, which takes place every day except Christmas Day. Visitors can choose to become a soldier for a day where they’ll be fitted for an authentic Highlander uniform. After donning a costume, “soldiers” proceed to participate in drills and learn how to fire a rifle. There are many activities for children and families, including the Xplorer program. And for those who love a thrill, in the evenings from mid-July through October, you can sign up for a ghost tour and listen to some haunted tales as you explore the fort by night.
On Cape Breton Island, the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site are all must-sees when visiting the island. The Cape Breton Highland National Park boasts 26 hiking trails, many magnificent beaches, 24 stunning viewpoints along the Cabot Trail, numerous waterfalls, eight campgrounds, special events and weekly activities during July and August. It is an ideal getaway for families, couples or solo adventurers.
At the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, visitors can transport themselves back in time to the 18th century. Fire a cannon, set up camp in the King’s Bastion and taste Fortress Rum, which is stored and aged at the Fortress. In the evening, take in one of our many concerts or evening programs under the star filled sky during the summer months. Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is an architecturally unique exhibit complex where models, replicas, photo displays, artifacts and films describe the fascinating life and work of Alexander Graham Bell. It is situated on 10 hectares of land overlooking Baddeck Bay and Beinn Bhreagh peninsula, the site of the Bell’s summer home.
2 – NST: In relation to that, do you have any lesser known sites that you really enjoy that people should go see?
Parks Canada: Fort Anne and Port Royal are located in beautiful Annapolis Royal and can both be visited the same day given their close proximity to one another.
Located in Annapolis Royal, Fort Anne boasts several 18th and 19th century buildings for visitors to explore. Visitors can head to the Officers’ Quarters Museum to try on Acadian period costumes as well as French and British military attire. A visit to this site would not be complete without visiting the Fort Anne Heritage Tapestry, which was completed with the help of over 100 volunteers and three million stitches.
Did you know that the Order of Good Cheer was established right here in Nova Scotia? In fact, it was founded at Port Royal. This historic site brings the 17th century back to life and was fully reconstructed in 1939-40. The site boasts a variety of interactive experiences where visitors learn construction techniques, the healing properties of herbs and test out some wooden sabots to really get into character.
Home to the oldest blockhouse in Canada, Fort Edward National Historic Site in Windsor is a great spot for a stroll and a picnic.
On Cape Breton Island, we have the scenic St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site. You may be able to see a sail boat traveling up the 800 metre canal linking the Atlantic Ocean with the Bras d’Or Lakes. At Marconi National Historic Site, the foundation of a station and towers played a key role in the development of modern communication. At Canso Islands and Grassy Island National Historic Site, visitors can take a boat ride to Grassy Island and walk the interpretive trail.
3 – NST: We’ve had a lot of snow this February (2015) – What are some of the responsibilities of Parks Canada during and after major weather events? Not limited to snow, but any significant weather event.
Parks Canada: Parks Canada works to maintain accessibility to our parks and sites at all times. During our peak operating season we work to ensure our programs and services remain available. If this is not possible for a short time we share information in as many ways as possible (website, media advisories, email) with our visitors to make them aware of important updates that could affect their visit.
4 – NST: What separates a provincial park from a national park?
Parks Canada: A Canadian national park is operated by the Canadian federal government and falls under the Canada National Parks Act, with Parks Canada Agency responsible for oversight and operations. National Parks are a country-wide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. By law, they are protected for public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations. National Parks have existed in Canada for over a century.
5 – NST: What are some of the challenges you feel are unique to the Nova Scotia division of Parks Canada?
Parks Canada: The national parks and national historic sites in Nova Scotia are spread out from one end of the province to the other, so it is sometimes difficult for visitors to fit in everything during short visits. Some would call this a challenge, but we just look at it as an opportunity to extend your vacation for a few extra days or to come back again to visit the rest of the province!
6 – NST: There are very few marine protected sites nationally, and none that we could find in Nova Scotia, is this something Parks Canada is working on?
Parks Canada: The Government of Canada, through the National Conservation Plan, makes the protection of our land and marine life a priority. The Government of Canada works with communities and organizations across the country to identify opportunities to protect and preserve these special places.
7 – NST: Outside of the enjoyment people get from national parks, why is it important to preserve these areas as close to natural as possible?
Parks Canada: Steps to protect wildlife and recover species at risk help to ensure clean water and the integrity of ecosystems within national parks. By preserving our national parks we ensure that the natural beauty iconic to Canada is preserved for current and future generations.
8 – NST: What can people do to better support the work of Parks Canada?
Parks Canada: Come visit! We encourage Canadians to explore the natural wonders found across the country. And for those who want to be more involved, there are volunteer opportunities throughout our national parks system. For example, at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, people can volunteer for LoonWatch or Piping Plover Monitoring, among others, and at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, you can help restore health to the Boreal forest by volunteering to plant a tree during various events.
9 – NST: Treasure Bear would like to know if there are currently any plans for a yellow stuffed bear national park in Nova Scotia.
Parks Canada: No, but we encourage Treasure Bear to come hang out with our mascot Parka at national parks and national historic sites in communities across Canada!
Thank you Parks Canada for doing 9 Questions and thank you for all the work you do which allows us to enjoy our national treasures, right here in Nova Scotia!
Be sure to follow Parks Canada – Nova Scotia on Twitter(en) or Twitter(fr), bookmark and visit Parks Canada’s main page, and like each park’s page on Facebook (available on each park’s government page).