Monday, August 12, 2019

New Glasgow, Stellarton and the Museum of Industry

We began walking in April of this year when we started our training hike. We continued hiking on the Great Trail on June 1st. Since that day we haven't really had a single day "off" where we weren't getting caught up, writing a presentation, or dealing with resupply and logistics. Today felt kind of like a day off (mostly anyway - we still walked 14 km and still did about 4 hours of work).

We spent a leisurely morning slack packing the Great Trail through New Glasgow and Stellarton. It is really a beautiful area, and the trails, which wind along the water, through beautifully landscaped municipal parks, were a joy to walk.

We walked through downtown New Glasgow, which is a charming town filled with blooming planter boxes, small sitting areas and gardens, and colourful murals. There is a lot of artwork and creativity here, and we really enjoyed it.

As we walked downtown we were fortunate to be able to find the site of the iconic Roseland Theatre, a location which is important in Atlantic and Canadian history.  This theatre is the site where Viola Desmond a Nova Scotian lady and entrepreneur was arrested in 1946, ostensibly on the the charges of tax evasion, but which in fact reflected the social and racial stereotypes of the period.  The events of her life and court case which followed her arrest in New Glasgow would go on to inspire Nova Scotia's Civil Rights movement.  Ms. Desmond's biography is too complex and far too fascinating for a brief recounting on this simple blog.  However, I can say that it was a great honour to visit this location and would encourage everyone to read more about her life, achievements and influence.

We continued down the street, admiring the storefronts and local culture.  After crossing the river, we spent quite a bit of time searching for Box 4 in the Great Trail Treasure Hunt, but we came up empty. We did a pretty extensive search of the area, and probably freaked quite a few people out by creeping through the shrubbery in the park, but no luck. After 20 minutes we were told by a local resident whose house backed onto the coordinates that the Treasure Box had been removed to stop people from climbing through the hedges.  Sigh, ah well.   We are wondering if it might be MIA and it appears it is.

After thoroughly exploring the park we continued on along the trail to the Museum of Industry. The interactive exhibits in this modern museum showcase the history of Nova Scotian innovation, and they are very well done. They describe the way people lived and worked, and the tools and machines they invented and used. The displays explain to visitors how falling water was used to power industry, then steam engines, and finally electricity. The Samson, which is the oldest steam engine in Canada can be seen, as well as exhibits on quilting and crafts, the printing press, cars manufactured in Nova Scotia, glass blowing and chocolate making, and the Clairtone.

Prior to our tour we enjoyed a display of artwork by Joseph Purcell, which was on loan to the museum. The exhibit consisted of 30 watercolour paintings that had originally been commissioned for the Silver Dart Motel in the 1960's, and showed scenes from the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.  Apologies for the poor pictures, they certainly do not do Mr. Purcell's wonderful paintings justice.


A large part of the museum is dedicated to telling the story of the General Mining Association and the history of coal mining in this area and other parts of Nova Scotia. Visitors can learn about what life was like as a coal miner, the tools and equipment they used, and the dangers they faced. The displays also tell the story of the coal mine in this area, which is now an open pit mine.

Given the stories which this museum revealed we were fascinated.  This museum is definitely worth a visit! 
After our visit to the museum we walked back downtown via the Trans Canada Trail / The Great Trail which took us back along the river way.

En Route, we made an impromptu stop at The Dock Pub. We enjoyed a plate of bruschetta, a fantastic salad (we have been craving veggies!), and a bread pudding that tasted like Christmas on a plate. It wasn't rice and beans, and it was absolutely wonderful!

After this luxurious morning we buckled down to do some planning and work, but it really did feel like a mini holiday.

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