Orca gives Whale Watchers Unusual Thrill in Bay of Fundy

 The following article was originally published in The Chronicle Herald, the Nova Scotia Provincial newspaper on Thursday, September 20th. Written by Staff Reporter, Clare Mellor, please click here to link to the original article. Special thanks to Penny, of Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours, located in Briar Island, Nova Scotia, for the fantastic photo!

Photo credit: Penny, of Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours, Briar Island, Nova Scotia

“Orca Gives Watchers Thrills
It was like hitting the whale-watching jackpot.

An orca, or killer whale, not commonly seen in Nova Scotia waters, put on an hour-long show Tuesday for a whale-watching tour boat off Brier Island.

“It was a pretty amazing sight to see,” Roy Small, who captains the Island Link for Welcome Aboard Whale Watching Tours on Brier Island, said Wednesday.

“Everybody was just ecstatic, including (the crew). It was a very, very, good day.”

The last reported orca sighting in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia was about two years ago, Small said.

“This is the very first time I’ve seen one,” he said.

Small, his crew and roughly 10 passengers had been on the water for three hours Tuesday and had already been treated to sightings of several humpbacks, a fin whale that was surface-feeding, a minke whale, dolphins and porpoises.

The boat was about 12 kilometres northwest of Brier Island watching a group of about six humpbacks when a passenger spotted an unusual fin nearby.

Crew member Tania Campbell was up on the bow when she heard Small shout.

“All I heard was, ‘Holy smokes. I think it’s an orca!’” Campbell said Wednesday.

Small said an orca’s dorsal fin is very distinctive.

“It is about three feet high,” he said. “There is no mistaking it.”

He said the male orca measured 7.5 to nine metres and was travelling alone.

Small, who has also been a lobster fisherman for 22 years, said he has not done much reading on orcas and wasn’t sure what to expect.

“He was really friendly. I was really surprised,”

he said.

“He came right to us. He made a close approach to us a couple of times. We watched him from a distance and he’d come over and check us out, go around the boat and underneath. He’d roll up on his side and look at us.”

Hal Whitehead, a biology professor at Dalhousie University who specializes in the study of whales, said orcas are not often spotted in Nova Scotia waters but are more frequently seen off Newfoundland and Labrador.

“They are pretty rare around the Maritimes in general, but they are seen from time to time,” he said.

“They come by from time to time. We don’t know quite why or what they are up to.”

Campbell said she felt a little shaky when the orca made such a close approach.

“It was a slightly different feeling, just that really tall dorsal fin,” she said. “It is just a different sort of presence — I think, I guess, maybe because it is a toothed whale.”

The orca breached, or leaped out of, the water three times, and Campbell was happy that she managed to snap a photo of the unusual sight.

Small radioed another whale-watching boat nearby so its passengers could also have a chance to see the killer whale.

“I think the other boat got a pretty good show too,” Campbell said.

Small said it seemed a shame to finally have to call it a day.

“Nobody wanted to go in. We all wanted to stay and keep watching it.

“The weather was starting to deteriorate so we had to go.””


The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast Website

Flooding in Truro

Many people who follow the news have heard that yesterday in Truro, we had the “perfect storm” which created massive flooding in our town. Hurricane Leslie, which hit Newfoundland today, was feeding a low pressure system which stalled over our area. The heavy rain (145 mm+) combined with high tide in an already swollen Salmon River, caused the dykes to be breached and the water to flow into town.

Luckily, at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, our guests were warm, cozy & dry and our home was not affected – which seemed amazing because streets very close to us, and the golf course in our neighbourhood were closed. We’ve heard stories about one friend who was rescued from her home by a canoe, other friends who were rescued from their homes in the bucket of a front end loader, and another friend’s son, who was wakeboarding in the flood water in their backyard!

I am happy to report that although this amount of water was a huge inconvenience to many, I have not heard of any injuries or worse – fatalities as a result.

Thank you to past guests, friends & family from away who have contacted us to inquire about our safety – I’m happy to report we’re all just fine!

The Joe Howe Falls in Victoria Park, Truro. Photo Credit: Truro Parks & Recreation

Fletcher’s Restaurant, located just down the street from us. Photo credit: Robb Scott

A lake at the Truro Golf Club – located on the other end of our block. Photo credit: Truro Golf Club

The first time I’ve ever seen so much flooding at the Truro Golf Club – located at the opposite end of our block. Photo credit: Truro Golf Club

Lorne Street looking South. Stanfield’s Factory on the left, the Stadium and High School on the right. Needless to say, all were evacuated! Photo credit: Tim Roland

The parking lot of the mall on Robie Street last night; this is the main artery in and out of Truro. Photo credit: Bobby Harroun

A friend’s son, wakeboarding in their backyard. Notice the water is as deep as the trampoline is high. Photo credit: Susan MacQuarrie

Bay of Fundy Time Lapse

I came across this video earlier this afternoon of the Bay of Fundy time lapse at Burntcoat Head.  A couple of weeks ago, two of our guests were celebrating their 29th anniversary with a trip to Nova Scotia and wanted to have a lobster picnic at Burntcoat Head, located less than an hour’s drive from the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast‘s location in Truro.  They went to the store and bought lobsters and salads and we provided a picnic bag with dishes and ice packs.  We were delighted to find the following review on Trip Advisor after they arrived home:

“Anne and D’Arcy were wonderful hosts! We arrived quite early in the afternoon (before check in times) and they welcomed us and let us put our things in the room before exploring Truro. We wanted to take a lobster picnic out to Burntcoat Point for dinner followed by a walk on the ocean floor at low tide. I asked if we could borrow a few forks to take with us, and that was not a problem. They directed us to the store to buy lobster and salads, and when we returned a complete soft sided picnic pack was ready for us complete with plates, table cloth, cutlery, wine glasses, lobster cracking devices, ice packs and even wetnaps! That was way beyond a couple of forks, and it made our romantic picnic by the Bay of Fundy so special. The room was very good and the breakfast was excellent. You’ve got to try D’Arcy’s warm freshly baked blueberry muffins in the morning.”

I have to admit, I was a little bit jealous of their romantic date and I’m hoping that D’Arcy will do the same for me some nice summer day – hopefully before we hit 29 years of marriage!  🙂  When you watch the time lapse, I’m sure you’ll be able to see why!  Can’t you just see yourself sitting on the bank by the lighthouse (or at one of their picnic tables), eating lobster and watching the Bay of Fundy go in and out?  I can!

And please remember to www.votemyfundy.com !

Running in Truro

I admit that I am more of a fair-weather runner than a serious runner.  I do go out running, but more because I should than because I have a burning desire to run.  D’Arcy, on the other hand, really seems to enjoy running.  I enjoy running in races like the Bluenose Marathon 5 & 10k, but that’s because there are people lining the streets cheering me on!

Truro is a great place to run, with routes of varying degrees of difficulty.  You can run around the downtown which is very flat, or expand your run to include hills.  Victoria Park is a favorite of many, running on groomed paths under the overhang of evergreen trees.  The park has many more challenging trails and even the dreaded Jacob’s Ladder!  It always amazes me to see people running up & down and up & down Jacob’s Ladder!

One of my favorite trails to run in Truro is the Cobequid Trail.  The Cobequid Trail is a 14 km walking and cycling trail network through central Colchester County. The Cobequid Trail takes you along a former railway, through Acadian dykelands, through forests and along brooks, and beside the tidal Salmon River.

Last Sunday, after the cleanup was finished, Alex & I set off to run the 3.5k (each way) Old Barns section.  It was beautiful!  When I run along that trail, I can hardly believe I am so close to Truro!  I took some photos with my phone, as the camera would have been a little awkward to carry! Despite the poor quality of the photos, I think you can get an idea of the beauty!

Off we go!!

Taking a break for a moment to capture the beauty before turning around...

A view of the trail.

When you come stay with us at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, don’t forget to ask and we’ll share our favorite running/walking/biking trails with you!

Last day already!

Not surprisingly, my blogging has taken a back seat to my school work over the past three days.  Being at Cornell – in a university setting –  has been a very intense experience.  Yesterday, for example, I met my group for an hour before class at 7:30 then class went until 5:00, with a one hour break for lunch.  I came back to my room for an hour and got my things packed up before meeting my group again to work on our case study of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.  We stopped working (note the choice of words – I didn’t say finished) at eleven.  Class today only goes until 3:30, then I hope to have time for one last walk on Campus to take some more photos before taking the shuttle to the airport.  If all goes well, my flight will land at 11:31 p.m., and D’Arcy should be there to pick me up!  As far as I know, we have two rooms booked tonight, so I’ll be back to making breakfasts tomorrow morning!

The class here at Cornell has been amazing!  I have met industry people from all around the world.  The people in my class alone come from: Turkey, Russia, the United Arab Emirates,  USA, The Philippines,  China, Japan, Brazil, Australia, India, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Ghana & Germany!  I will try to sum up the whole experience – maybe while flying home and have more time.

Now I’m off to check out, print off my boarding pass, then go to present our case studies – it should be interesting since we have the executive director of Sales at the Atlantis Dubai in our class!!  I encourage you, if you have a few minutes to click on their website to see these properties – one of their core values  is to “blow people away” and I’m sure they do!

**By the way, there is still time to register for the Not-Since-Moses Run which is taking place at Five Islands on the Bay of Fundy on Sunday, July 3rd!!

Best of Colchester 2011

The following article (and photo), written by Monique Chaisson,  was featured in the Truro Daily News on Friday, June 17th, 2011:

Anne and D'Arcy McDonah are co-owners of the Belgravia Bed and Breakfast in Truro. They took home the best bed and breakfast award during the Best of Colchester awards ceremony last night. Monique Chiasson - Truro Daily News

TRURO – A number of Colchester County businesses were honoured last night for being the best in their speciality.

The second annual Best of Colchester awards were handed out in Truro. Taking home the bed and breakfast award was Belgravia Bed and Breakfast. It was the second consecutive win for the business.

“I’m happy and excited,” said co-owner Anne McDonah. “I think it’s because people enjoy our hospitality. We are committed to giving people an authentic Maritime experience with food, directing them to sites … we do it all.”

The business, in its ninth year, is expecting a healthy tourism season if early-season visitors are an indication.

“Tourism looks fantastic. We have a full house and only had one day without anyone and that’s because I was away,” said McDonah, estimating business is up about 20 per cent from last year.

Best entertainment venue and festival honours went to the Marigold Cultural Centre for the second time.

“It means a lot,” said the Marigold’s executive director Donald Ferguson.

“It’s nice to get your peers and customers (feedback) and it keeps you motivated.”

Ferguson said the Best of Colchester awards are a benefit to all local businesses.

“The community starts to take notice and visitors will want to check it out.”

Taking home the computer sales/repair award was first-time winner G&G Computers.

Anna Feltmate, employee, and Cory MacDonald, manager, accepted the award.

“It’s amazing,” said Feltmate of the business that was also nominated last year and will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Truro in the fall.

“It gives a little boost to the shop and it gives a voice to people” by voting for their favourite businesses, she said.

The winners were voted on by the community. There were 2,000 more votes this year compared to last year. Online voting took place for two weeks in May. The three nominees with the most votes in each of the 25 categories became the finalists and all awards were handed out last night at the Best Western Glengarry. The awards were hosted by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce.



Here are the winners of this year’s Best of Colchester awards.

Best bar/lounge/pub: The Engine Room

Best bed and breakfast: Belgravia Bed and Breakfast

Best Clothing store: Margolians

Best coffee shop/café: The Wooden Hog

Best computer sales/repair/service: G & G Computers

Best contractor/building/renovations/repairs: Cameron’s Paint Centre

Best dining/restaurant: Murphy’s Fish and Chips

Best entertainment venue/festival: Marigold Cultural Centre

Best fast food: Subway on Elm Street

Best financial institution: RBC

Best fitness centre: Joyful Yoga

Best golf course: Truro Golf Club

Best grocery store: Sobey’s on Prince Street

Best hair salon/barber/day spa: Jennifer’s & Company

Best hardware store: AJ Walker and Sons

Best home décor/furniture store: Berry’s Furniture Plus

Best hotel/motel/inn: Best Western Plus Glengarry

Best insurance provider: Caldwell Roach

Best jewellery store: Inglis Jewellers

Best media: Big Dog 100.9

Best non-profit organization: Big Brothers/Big Sisters Colchester

Best pet care/groomers/vet/supplier: Central Nova Animal Hospital

Best print/copy centre: Sid Sells Signs

Best real estate agency: Remax Fairlane Realty

Best pharmacy: MacQuarries Pharmacy, Esplanade

We were thrilled to get to spend the evening with our friends, Ann & Larry MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle Bed & Breakfast and Maarten Schurmans from Baker’s Chest.  We are fortunate to have B&B’s of such high quality in the Truro area.

Maarten, Anne, D'Arcy, Ann & Larry

Before the evening was over, I was able to go back up onto the stage to put in a plug for the Bay of Fundy as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.  The Bay of Fundy is Canada’s only entry in this contest and I was trying to stress that as a room full of people doing business in this area, it is our responsibility to make sure we “Vote Fundy!!  (To do this, you can go to:  VotemyFundy.com or text Fundy to 77077)

It’s going to be a busy weekend in Central Nova Scotia!

There is so much going on in this area this coming weekend; it’s a shame some of these festivals couldn’t be spread out a bit more!  We’ve been booked full for this weekend since April and have turned – no exaggeration – at least 50 rooms away for Friday & Saturday night!   The following is a list of some of the events that will be happening:

Dutch Mason Blues Festival
Date(s): 08/13/2010 – 08/15/2010
Location: Exhibition Grounds, Ryland Avenue, Bible Hill

Millbrook Pow Wow
Date(s): 08/13/2010 – 08/15/2010
Location: Hwy 2 Millbrook

Kempt Shore Bluegrass and Oldtime Music Festival
Date(s): 08/13/2010 – 08/15/2010
Location: 5701 Hwy 215, Kempt Shore

Motorcycle Weekend
Date(s): 08/13/2010 – 08/15/2010
Location: Truro

Not Since Moses Race
Date(s): 08/14/2010 – 08/14/2010
Location: Five Islands

The Alexander Brothers
Date(s): 08/14/2010 – 08/14/ 2010
Location: Marigold Centre 605 Prince Street, Truro

Days of Sail
Date(s): 08/14/2010
Location: Creamery Square, Tatamagouche

Blueberry Winefest
Date(s): 08/14/2010
Location: Jost Vineyards, Malagash.

Carolyn & Garett’s Wedding, August 14th, Truro, NS!

Video from 2010 TIANS Awards Gala

I recently received the link to this video in my inbox.  It’s a clip of the TIANS Gala when Dick Lemon won the TIANS Award for Tourism Innovator of the Year.  When you watch this video and listen to Dick’s acceptance speech, I think you’ll understand why we felt compelled to nominate him!  (By the way, registration for the 2010 Not-Since-Moses will soon open.  Check back for information on our Bed, Breakfast & Run package!)

Big News in the Bay of Fundy

As I’ve mentioned before, we are so fortunate to live so close to the Bay of Fundy.  When I was in university, I had a chance to take a train from Amsterdam to Berlin to visit my “sister”, an exchange student who had lived with us while I was in Gr. 12.  On the train, I struck up a friendship with a boy from Iowa and  was stunned when he revealed that he had never seen the ocean!  It had never occurred to me at that time that there might be (many) people in the world who had never seen the ocean.  I certainly don’t take it for granted anymore!

Two days ago, NASA’s “photo of the day” was of a snow-covered Bay of Fundy.  Awesome!

We are located in Truro, at the "V" where the silt has built up.

The Bay of Fundy, right in the heart of Canada’s Maritime provinces, is a 270 km (170 mile) long ocean bay that stretches between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the country’s east coast.  It is currently a Top 28 Finalist (Canada’s only representation) in the global “New 7 Wonders of Nature” campaign.

Last month, actor James Tupper (born in Nova Scotia), announced his support of the Bay of Fundy! James is well known for his current role as Dr. Chris Sands in the highly-rated NBC primetime medical drama “Mercy”. James Tupper is rated by US Weekly as one of 2009’s “Sexiest Stars” and recently made TV Guide’s coveted “Sexiest Men on TV” list.  (He is also married to actress Anne Heche who used to play the roles of twins “Vicky & Marley” on the long running soap, “Another World“.  I used to watch that show every afternoon with my grandmother when I was in high school, but I digress…)

James had the following to say about the Bay of Fundy:

I am so excited that the Bay of Fundy is representing Canada in the contest,” stated Mr. Tupper. “Through its online voting campaign so many more people will discover and appreciate the extraordinary natural wonder created by world’s highest tides.

While growing up on Canada’s east coast I spent my summers exploring the Bay of Fundy and as a child walking on the ocean floor at low tide was absolutely mesmerizing to me. To be able to explore the beach where only a few hours’ earlier tides were the height of a 4-story building…now that’s adventure! And because of the Bay’s crazy tides, it’s also the only place in the world where fishermen have to climb a ladder for their daily catch.”

The Belgravia is a perfect stopping point to base yourself for exploring the Bay.  This Fall, I spent an afternoon exploring the north shore of the Bay.  You can read that post and see a few photos from my day here: A day on the Bay of Fundy.

The link to vote for the Bay of Fundy as a New 7 Wonders of Nature can be found here:  Vote!


A day on the Bay of Fundy

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get to take a day trip to Joggins to represent the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia at a presentation given by the Cumberland Wilderness Society as they unveiled their plan for a new Protected Wilderness area around and including the Chignecto Game Sanctuary.  An article about the presentation can be found here:  http://www.amherstdaily.com/index.cfm?sid=303455&sc=58

Because the trip along the Bay of Fundy is an easy and beautiful drive from Truro, we often recommend it to guests who are interested in a day trip.  There are many interesting spots to stop and see and the scenery is spectacular.

Because I had a time line in which to get to the presentation, I drove the Trans Canada Highway to get there.  The day wasn’t too promising as I started out, with thick fog making it hard to see.  I took the old road through the Wentworth Valley rather than the Toll Highway.  The drive is much more scenic and only adds about five minutes to your time.  Not to mention you don’t have to pay the $4.50 toll!  As I passed Ski Wentworth, the fog lifted and the sun started to shine.

I got to Joggins in about an hour-and-a-half.

The Joggins Fossil Center and Fossil Cliffs were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 and the Centre opened on Earth Day that year.  This was my first chance to get there to see the new building and it is beautiful!!  I would highly recommend this attraction to any guests who are visiting Northern Nova Scotia!  I just wish I’d had more time to explore.  Alas, business called…

When the presentation was over, I took the shore road along the Bay of Fundy to go home.  The half-hour it takes to get from Joggins to Advocate is mostly trees, but the wild blueberry fields were glorious!  I wish I’d been able to get a photo that did them justice.  Although the colour of the trees is over now that the leaves have fallen, the blueberry fields are still in their splendor!  As I turned a corner in Advocate, there was a cemetery on a hill which is covered in blueberry bushes and the sun was illuminating them.  I wish I had stopped for a photo.

I did take the 5km side trip to go to Cape d’Or.  It is one of my absolute favourite places in Nova Scotia!  To get there, you travel on a very twisty and hilly dirt road, but the views when you get to the end are spectacular!  The following photos were all taken from the top of the road.  In the summer, from May – October, there is a restaurant that we highly recommend located in the lighthouse!  The food and the service are wonderful and you just can’t beat the view!!

I traveled back to Truro, passing some favorites:  Shaw’s Country Store in Port Greville, Ship’s Company Theater & The Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, Mo’s at Five Islands, The Joy Laking Gallery in Portipique, the antique shop in Great Village, and of course Bass River Chairs in Bass River!  I drove 355 km in total during the day and was home in time to make supper!