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Digby: small town, big heart, and lots of action

Digby Neck has hundreds of beautiful sights like this
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By Sandra Phinney

 

One day, many moons ago, I wheeled up to the ferry terminal to take the Princess of Acadia from Digby in Nova Scotia to Saint John in New Brunswick. Alas, I was ten minutes late and missed the ferry. Knowing the response I’d get from my sister on the other side of the Bay of Fundy, I panicked. Then I remembered seeing a small sign that said “Airport” on the outskirts of town on my way to the ferry.


Eventually I found the airport which consisted of a small club house and runway in a big field. No planes in sight. But I did get directions to someone’s home and yes, he would fly me over. As we flew over the Bay of Fundy the pilot confided that he had cancelled his insurance. I swallowed hard and smiled. But he saved the day; my sister was ecstatic and I’ve had a soft place in my heart for Digby ever since.


People in this little town are friendly and accommodating. Don’t be afraid to ask where to find a decent cup of coffee and who gives the best whale watching tours on “the neck.” (Digby Neck is the longish peninsula that extends from Digby down to Briar Island. This region has some of the best whale watching in Canada). 

 

Of course Digby is world-famous for its scallops and has a very active scallop fishery. If you roam around the waterfront you’ll find piles of scallop shells. Further along Water Street you’ll find the Boardwalk Café, which serves the best sautéed scallops on the planet (and a great iced espresso coffee.) Feeling flush? Arrange to have dinner at The Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa. Your meal will be memorable. You can also take a short hike on the property, whether you are a guest or not. The trail starts just past the last cottage. There are benches along the way where you can take photos of the majestic Bay of Fundy or simply sit and catch your breath before looping through the woods back to the parking lot.


Poking around the main drag you’ll also find gems like Crooked Timber Books in a 19th century house. Owner Bill Schrank loves to talk about used books. He has thousands. Someone recently discovered a first edition of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and was one happy dude. But Crooked Timber is more than a second hand book store. Things like sequined dresses, funky stuffed animals and vinyl records lend a whole new dimension to book browsing.


And for a real show stopper, plan to be in Digby for the annual Wharf Rat Rally, commonly referred to as the WRR. The event started off five years ago with 750 motorcycles and drew 5000 people. Since then it’s “just growed” like Topsy, and last year, there were around 30,000 bikes. Yep. The ground rumbled for days (oooh the chrome and the power!)


I’ve often wondered how this little town (population 2200) manages to pull off such a “wow” event. Part of it is due to the fact that everyone supports the rally, including locals to town council and shop keepers. There’s also a small army of volunteers who roll up their sleeves to help. That’s what it’s like in small communities throughout Atlantic Canada. Things happen.


As you can see, there’s more to Digby than meets the eye. But don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and make your own discoveries. By the way—Digby still has that little airport. You might find a pilot who will take you for a spin around the region. Just be sure he’s insured.