Monday, March 23, 2009

Victoria Beach

I was out with my camera again yesterday. My son and I took a short trip down to Victoria Beach because he wanted to see the fishing boats at the wharf. Since we had a bit of time on a Sunday afternoon, I figured that this would be a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

We arrived at the wharf and hopped out to see what was around. He was immediately drawn to the fishing boats. If you want to impress a four year old boy, large machines will do it every time. I, on the other hand, started thinking that I should try to include some information about some of the other communities around Annapolis Royal in this blog. So, today will be the first of an ongoing series of posts on communities around Annapolis Royal. Like my other serialized topics, I will write up one of these when it is appropriate (or, when I feel like it).

My first memory of Victoria Beach was as I was crossing the Bay of Fundy aboard the Princess of Acadia ferry. Like many residents of the Annapolis Royal region, I first came here as a tourist. Not knowing the area, I looked out from the ferry and saw a small collection of houses nestled among the rocks and steep cliffs of the North Mountain. I can remember thinking "What and isolated place to live. Who on earth would want to live there". Apparently, I do as I now live on this road. While the scenery is different between Port Royal and Victoria Beach, I am still on the same road and on the side of the same mountain.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, Victoria Beach is a small fishing community literally carved out of the rock of the North Mountain. The Beach, as it is called by residents, lies directly across the Digby Gut from the Town of Digby. All of the houses in the community are tiered into rows on the face of the mountain. This decidedly adds to the charm and rustic sensibility of the place

On Marc Lescarbot's map of 1609, the spot where Victoria Beach is located is referred to as Andromeda. There is also a note about a fortification called Fort Notre Dame des Bonnes Eaux being located here. Permanent settlement in this part of Lower Granville started in 1784 with the arrival of the Loyalists. Many of today's residents are descendants of Loyalists or a group of Irish immigrants who came shortly thereafter. The strategic military use of this site overlooking the Digby Gut carried forward to the preparations for the war of 1812 when the Duke of York Battery was placed in this location. The modern name of Victoria Beach is in honour of Queen Victoria. The beach in question is a rocky area where boats could be pulled out of the water rather than a white sand beach.

Life would not have been easy in Victoria Beach. Exposed to the winds from the Bay of Fundy and at the mercy of the unpredictable fisheries, this was a hard scrabble life. Despite some hardships, the residents have a pride in place that is very refreshing. The community was, and still is, inhabited by hard working people who appreciate a good joke. This is clearly expressed in the way that one of the community's waterfalls is known as the Merry Pisser. This is also clearly expressed in the personality of former MLA Joe Casey who is perhaps the most famous son of Victoria Beach.

All of the images for today's post were taken around the wharf and the Casey's Fisheries building. Victoria Beach has many more stories to tell so I will check back here at some point.

All for now,
RGS

3 comments:

  1. THANK YOU... THANK YOU... THANK YOU
    For saying such wonderful things about Victoria Beach - its definately worth the drive. I should know - I live there... HA

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  2. The blue house on the edge of the road by the wharf was my great-grandfather's. My father said it was moved there when the government made changes to the main road.

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  3. Thanks for the information. We recently fell in love with Victoria Beach and have purchased one of the houses that you can see from the ferry!

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