A couple of weeks ago, our family of five embarked on a road trip from our home in Ottawa to the east coast of Canada (the map at the bottom shows our approximate route). It was our first long-distance trip with our three girls, ages 10 and 6, and we were keen to show them the ocean and hopefully create special lifelong memories.
After a two-day drive across Quebec and New Brunswick, we stopped at my in-laws’ cottage near St. John, staying three nights. We took day trips in the area, exploring the picturesque Bay of Fundy with its rocky beaches, seaside caves and breathtaking shoreline vistas, and swam briefly in the St. John River (before a rainstorm drove us out of the water). In and around St. John, we visited the local zoo, the New Brunswick Museum, and the famous Reversing Falls.
Next we headed to Nova Scotia, stopping along the way at Hopewell Rocks, where at low tide you can walk on the ocean floor among rock formations sculpted by tidal erosion. This was something I’d wanted to do for years. It was our last day of sunshine before the weather turned gray and drizzly.
On our first day in Nova Scotia, we visited the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove and its iconic lighthouse, and enjoyed a fresh seafood meal at the nearby restaurant. Later, we drove up the coast to Halifax and spent an hour exploring the wharf. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to do anything else in the city.
The next day, we drove to Annapolis Royal and toured Port-Royal, an impressive replica of the French settlement built there in 1605 and destroyed by the English is 1613. In a wigwam just outside the settlement, a Mi’kmaq woman taught the kids to play drums and sing a traditional Mi’kmaq song. She gave them each a hand-painted rock to take home.
On our last day in Nova Scotia, we drove to the beach at Lawrencetown, and although it was too cold for swimming, we waded in to let the ocean waves surge over our feet. Then it was time to start the three-day drive home.
Travelling with young kids wasn’t easy. While my husband and I were exhausted every night, the kids were too keyed up to go to sleep, and consequently they were difficult to rouse in the morning. We had to stop frequently for food and bathroom breaks, or to stretch our legs, or whenever they spotted an ice cream sign. I don’t want to see another McDonald’s for a good long while. But we all enjoyed the trip and the kids won’t ever forget all the new things they saw.