Only forty-four kilometres from Halifax was a tiny fishing village famous for its rugged coastline and lighthouse. It was one of the most photographed sites in Canada. Although it was home to only forty permanent residents, some seven hundred thousand visitors came to Peggy’s Cove annually.
What inspired fishers to make Peggys Cove their permanent home was its proximity to fish in St Margaret’s Bay and a safe place to land their catch. In 1811, six families became the first permanent residents. More fishing families followed, raising livestock and a few crops despite the thin soil. They built compact homes that could withstand high winds and storms with steep roofs to prevent snow accumulating. Those houses gave the community a unique feel.
Folk lore about how the cove got its name related to Peggy who came by ship to meet her fiancée. After she was rescued from a shipwreck, visitors went to call on her and would say they were going to see “Peggy of the Cove.”
Although the lighthouse built in 1868 seemed to appear in almost every photo I’d ever seen of Peggys Cove, there was more worth exploring. The white-grey granite rock of Peggys Cove had been around for three hundred and fifty million years and was scattered over a wide area. Beyond the main tourist attraction was Peggys Cove Preservation Area where a mass of stunted trees and huge boulders were spread throughout the reserve. A few kilometres from the cove, I followed one hiking trail right to the ocean, surprised that only four other hikers bothered to explore this unique region. Somehow flowers managed to spring from the soil despite the whipping winds. Lady’s slipper, blue flag iris, and purple pitcher plants grew by or not far from the main trail. I’m glad I’d asked at the visitor’s centre how to locate this trail. Although it was only about seven hundred metres one way, there was plenty to be in awe over.