I was in Shelburne, NS on Monday afternoon. Shelburne was a fishing and shipbuilding out port for over 200 years- like most of the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Up and down the coast, you’ll find a great history of pirates, loyalists, sea captains and fishing. And the coastline is gorgeous (and increasingly bought up by others). Shelburne is one of those picture perfect towns with an absurd number of cute/beautiful/lovely homes. Unfortunately, many of those homes are for sale. Tourism is the primary economy now, and it’s not quite enough.
I walked up and down the streets admiring the homes, and feeling a little depressed at how quiet the streets are. Sure, it’s the off-season and a Monday afternoon, but it was too quiet. In my job, I visit the same towns year after year, and I can’t deny that the South Shore is struggling. If you live in rural Atlantic Canada, you’re watching your youth and your economy evaporate. Like many communities, Shelburne is trying to find ways to overcome this with new community and enterprise development initiatives. Moral boosters were posted in most shops: “How to Build a Community” posters.
I did manage to drop a few dollars at the Shelburne Museum where I viewed the oldest fire pump in Canada (1700 something). It looked like a giant wooden truck with a canopy. Also on exhibit were the mission rules of the Shelburne Friendly Fire-Club from 1784: what to do as a firefighter, all written in olde English. There were other paraphernalia in the town’s life: quilts, bird decoys, pictures of visiting royalty, pictures of old sports teams posing with bear rugs and sober faces, etc. Cynically, I could point out that I can see these things in almost every small town across Canada- but in a higher percentage in the Maritimes. But these towns weren’t always museums.
I bought these squares at the Beandog Café (second photo) by the water. They sell coffee and gifts. The brownie was OK, but the SKOR bar was excellent. My favourite restaurant in Shelburne is closed on Sundays and Mondays, so all I can do is show you the picture, and recommend you stop by Charlotte Lane (first photo) if you ever have the chance. Their panna cotta continues to live in my memory as a best ever experience.