Shuck and Awe ; Nova Scotians Are Mad about Shucking Scallops and Eating Ice Cream. but There's Far More to This Canadian Province. Noah Richler Reveals a Land Rich in History, Wildlife and Beauty

By Richler, Noah | The Independent (London, England), June 9, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Shuck and Awe ; Nova Scotians Are Mad about Shucking Scallops and Eating Ice Cream. but There's Far More to This Canadian Province. Noah Richler Reveals a Land Rich in History, Wildlife and Beauty


Richler, Noah, The Independent (London, England)


Fresh out of the water, Digby scallops have such a sweet smell that the temptation is to eat them raw - something you can easily do during the Nova Scotian port town's "Digby Scallop Days". Last year, a shucking contest was held on the back of a flatbed truck, parked on the busy town wharf: seasoned fishermen ousting the muscle of the mollusc from its pretty flat shell with a flick of the knife. Stalls offered the scallops gratis, cooked or not at all, nearby.

This competition for old-timers, as well as shuckers newer to the prosperous local fishery, was a highlight of the four days of festivities that take place in a comely but unsung corner of Atlantic Canada each August. A warehouse on the wharf turns into an information centre celebrating the area's lobster and scallop fishing industry. Events last year included a fun run for families, art fairs and - true to Digby's slightly atavistic nature - a "Haunted History Ghost Walk", as well as the anointing of a high- school student as the summer's "Scallop Queen".

Digby is a working, not a flashy town. A few grand houses with turrets and gables and wraparound verandas stand on the hill. Others line the road to the sailing club, hinting at wealthier times. Today, most people who know Digby at all regard it as little more than a ferry port: as tourists arrive across the Bay of Fundy from the mainland province of New Brunswick, trucks laden with the region's prized seafood head in the other direction to reach the rest of mainland Canada and the US.

This is the epicentre of the eponymous - and remunerative - scallop industry. The town's lobster trade is also booming; a lot of "Maine" lobster actually comes from here. There are still some haddock left, but most of the rest of the fishing industry has collapsed, with negligible halibut and no cod. Consequently, many people have left this part of Nova Scotia for the booming oil fields of Western Canada.

But there is some incoming traffic. Several years ago, I accepted an invitation to visit a log cabin belonging to a friend (now my wife), situated in Sandy Cove, on the Digby Neck. It was a part of Canada I did not know at all, and have since come singularly to appreciate.

During later summer holidays in Sandy Cove, I have listened to the children explain to their friends on the telephone, at length, that "there is nothing to do". Not a criticism at all, but a warning to those who cannot cope without a mall, a movie theatre, copious shops or satellite television. On the Neck, "nothing" means everything: swimming, beaches, hikes, the very Atlantic Canadian habit of impromptu kitchen parties or cookouts by the water - and delicious food, of course. Those scallops and lobster are the best in the world.

To the visitor, Digby can seem staid at times, as the place is Presbyterian by nature and has only fitfully come to terms with the idea that the region merits tourist attention. Such easily gained soft money can appear suspicious to those who dream of travel more than they manage to do it. In the local liquor store, proferring my Air Miles card, the cashier broke out into laughter.

"Jeez, if they gave Air Miles for liquor round here, there wouldn't be anybody left on the ground," she said.

Locals know that most visitors to Nova Scotia are drawn by other attractions.

One is Cape Breton, with its spectacular Cabot Trail.

And nearer the capital of Halifax, the Unesco-anointed harbour of Lunenburg, and neighbouring Chester, lure tourists to the province's wealthy, iridescent South Shore - to this part of Canada as the Hamptons are to New York.

The less glamorous port of Digby, on the backside of the southern part of Nova Scotia, is easily bypassed. Yet the town and the surrounding territory offers not only striking landscapes but an equally storied heritage.

The first time I arrived was by car from Halifax.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Shuck and Awe ; Nova Scotians Are Mad about Shucking Scallops and Eating Ice Cream. but There's Far More to This Canadian Province. Noah Richler Reveals a Land Rich in History, Wildlife and Beauty
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?