Thursday, June 27, 2013

Celebrating Canada


With Canada Day coming up on Monday, I have been thinking about one of my favourite spots in Canada. Everybody thinks the water is cold in Nova Scotia and, for the most part, that might be true. But we often spend summer vacations visiting a spot where the water is relatively warm and the beach is as beautiful as you would expect.

My parents were born and raised in Nova Scotia and it's where my grandparents and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins lived when I was growing up. We didn't visit often, but I enjoyed the hospitality, the natural beauty and, of course, my grandmother's baking, when we did.


My little guy enjoying an unspoiled Nova Scotia beach on one of our summer trips.

Little did I know then that one of the best spots for family vacations in Nova Scotia is the very beach my dad walked on as a child. Dad was born and raised in Judique, Nova Scotia. His ancestors, the "Bogainn MacDonalds," came to Canada from Scotland in the closing years of the 18th century.

The Gaelic word "bogainn" means marsh and the Gaelic "bog an lochain" is a type of water bird. According to oral tradition, this family of MacDonalds had a reputation for going out fishing on the ocean in all kinds of weather. On one particular stormy day, they were sighted out on the water by some neighbours, who commented, "Tha gu leoir dha fhein a'bhi a bhogainn amuigh an diugh!" It's enough for the "bogainn" himself to be out today!

One of the cottages (with a picturesque view) we rented over the years.
The group of Bogainns consisted of four married brothers and a sister who emigrated to Pictou, Nova Scotia. Three of the brothers became pioneer settlers at Judique, where Dad's family house sits today, built on acres of land deeded to the pioneer families.

Perfect for vacationing families, nearby Port Hood is a seaside community on the west coast of Cape Breton Island on the Ceilidh Trail, 30 minutes north of the Canso Causeway (which links mainland Nova Scotia to the island). Port Hood boasts miles of sandy beaches on "the warmest waters in eastern Canada." Look for the annual Chestico Days events as well as lots of opportunities to hear Celtic music.

Dad on the beach at Mabou.
The public beach at the town of Mabou is something to behold too, surrounded as it is by rocky "hills" topped with beautiful, green expanses.

If you throw a stone on the beach in Port Hood, you are likely to hit a MacDonald (probably one of my relatives). If you do, tell them I say "hi!"

Happy Canada Day friends!


The Great Canadian Blog Bash

38 comments:

  1. I love Nova Scotia! My favourite area is the South Shore, but really, it's all beautiful :-) We'll be vacationing on Cape Breton in the fall - can't wait to get back to the ocean!

    Happy Canada Day!

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    1. I don't know as much about the South Shore, but that's next up! I miss the ocean too! Have a great weekend Kelly. :)

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  2. Happy Canada Day! What foods will you eat? :P I'm thinking of doing a little Canada Day down here. I have a maple leaf cookie cutter :)

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    1. Thank you! I haven't thought about the food at all. I certainly didn't think about maple leaf cookies, but I like your idea. ;)

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  3. Replies
    1. Since I know you are a nature lover, I really think you would enjoy it!

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  4. Interesting Post! Love the Picture of the Cottage ,the red Chair <3 :)

    Lovely Greetings :)

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    1. I love the coloured chair too. It had a great view of the ocean in the distance too. :)

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  5. Love this post! Cape Breton is probably my favorite place in the world...

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    1. Hopefully we can meet up there one day, cousin! :)

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  6. My parents took us to the East Coast many years ago, but I've never been back. We keep thinking about it though, so I'm sure we'll do it one day in the next couple of years ... maybe with the camping trailer. Nice post Jo, love the shot of your dad with his Oprah magazine ;)

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    1. We used to go with the trailer when I was a kid. That's lots of fun!

      I had to get a picture of him reading Oprah's magazine. He's not normally an Oprah fan. ;)

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  7. I've always wanted to go to Nova Scotia. This beach is beautiful.

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    1. You should definitely go! It's even worth the drive if you want to drive. :)

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  8. What a beautiful area! I've gotten close to Nova Scotia but never quite made it there. I've heard it's stunning. How lucky you are to get to enjoy it :)

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    1. It is pretty amazing! I hope to go soon. :)

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  9. I've never been to Nova Scotia so I'm very pleased for my daughter who took the train there, just yesterday!

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    1. How exciting for her! I've never gone on the train. That should be interesting too. :)

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  10. Beautiful shots and what an amazing, rich history your family has!!! I love the Gaelic! The beach is beyond perfect , Jo!!!

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    1. Thanks Wendy! I actually don't know any Gaelic so that could be wrong for all I know. ;)

      It is a lovely beach. Makes me miss the ocean!

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  11. I would love to visit Nova Scotia one day! Happy Canada Day from the other side - British Columbia!

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    1. Thank you! BC is very beautiful too! :)

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  12. Looks beautiful! I'm sitting here in front of a lake north of Toronto, but one day I hope to be closer to the ocean. And my Grandfather was a "McDonald," so does that make us distant cousins? Probably not, but hi anyway! (www.cookingdangerously.com #tgcbb)

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    1. I would take a lake for now! ;)

      Over the years, people have asked me if I'm related to the McDonalds restaurant people. Your grandfather has the right spelling for that!

      Have a great weekend.

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  13. Looks like a perfect spot to take the family and just "get away from it all". Happy Canada Day!

    Patricia, Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice

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    1. It is that, for sure! :)

      Happy Canada Day!

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  14. I live in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, but it's on my bucket list to go to Cape Breton. My fiance loves it there and has said it's the perfect spot for our wedding. From the pictures I've seen of Cape Breton, I'd have to agree.

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    1. Oh my gosh, it would be AMAZING to be married there! All the best for your wedding! :)

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  15. that's a fun history, I found the water to be so cold when we were out East even in August. Love that shot of your Dad reading O magazine lol Thanks for linking up to TGCBB this year!

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    1. I know, the water can be cold for sure. :(

      I'm sure my dad probably doesn't even know who Oprah is. That's why I had to get a pic. ;)

      Thanks for hosting a great Canadian-themed party!

      Jo

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  16. Looks like a lovely place to visit! I've always wanted to visit the maritimes. It's going on my bucket list for sure. Hope you had a nice long weekend.

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    1. It is wonderful there! You should definitely try to get there. :)

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  17. Love the picture of your dad with O. Nova Scotia is a place I definitely want to visit. I've never been. :) Thanks for participating in The Great Canadian Blog Bash and we are very happy to have you! #TGCBB

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    1. Thanks! Yes, Nova Scotia is a must-see!

      Thanks for bringing us #TGCBB! What a fun opportunity. :)

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  18. The hubs hails from cape Breton and we even got married there! I've met a couple macdonalds !!!!!

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    1. What a wonderful place to get married! I'm jealous. ;)

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  19. At the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre!

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    1. Cool! My mom is from Sydney Mines. Not too far away, I think. :)

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