Part I: How to Spend a Winter on The South Shore

September 10, 2007 § 3 Comments

So, on the South Shore, it’s easy to have fun if you’re here in summer and have vacation money weighing heavily on your wallet, but for the other nine months, everything is slower. The air is cooler, the Atlantic is frosty, some museums and restaurants close, and you’re left with nothing but your library books and bittersweet memories of summer.

…Or that’s what you’d think if you were us, last winter. Having an excellent winter here is perfectly possible, you just have to keep your ear to the ground, and your finger on the pulse of the… county, I guess.

This list isn’t comprehensive at all. Since I live in Lunenburg, I’ve kind of focussed on Lunenburg. But I’d love to include the whole South Shore all the way to Yarmouth, so if you have a hot tip about festivities in Shelburne or Liverpool, leave a note in the comments, and I’ll paste it all together in a permanent page for the left sidebar. So let us commence.

Upcoming Events
First! What’s coming up this month, so you don’t miss it.

Boscawen Inn Wednesday Patio Series
September 12 at 6:00; The Boscawen Inn (150 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg)
Bluesy-roots singer Petunia is joined by Vancouver’s one-man Minimalist Jug Band for a fun afternoon.
cover charge: $5 (meals for +/- $12), donations welcomed

St. Cecilia Concert Series: A French Connection
September 12 at 7:30; St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg
Soprano Suzie LeBlanc and pianist Robert Kortgaard perform a program of Debussy, Poulence & Kurt Weill
tickets: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for students

The Chester Playhouse
September 13-16 at 8:00, Saturday matinée at 2:00; The Chester Playhouse
Playwright David King introduces us to a series of fast-paced scenes that illustrate some of the essential life skills of contemporary urban society, in his play Life Skills. (More info at The Chester Playhouse website.)
tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for students

Lunenburg Summer Concert Series
September 16 from 2:00 till 3:00; Lunenburg Bandstand (in rain, at St. John’s Parish Hall)
Grass Market Folk Festival Winners
donations welcome

Events at The Biscuit-Eater
September 17 at 7:30; The Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay
Juno-Award-winning blues musician Morgan Davis

Lunenburg Sessions
September 18 at 7:30; Lunenburg Academy Auditorium
Folk musician Bruce Jollymore
tickets: $5

Boscawen Inn Wednesday Patio Series
September 19 at 6:00; The Boscawen Inn (150 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg)
The Klunkers offer a fun blend of country and folk for a memorable evening.
cover charge: $5 (meals for +/- $12), donations welcomed

The Chester Playhouse
September 20-22 at 8:00, Saturday matinée at 2:00; The Chester Playhouse
Playwright David King introduces us to a series of fast-paced scenes that illustrate some of the essential life skills of contemporary urban society, in his play Life Skills. (More info at The Chester Playhouse website.)
tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for students

Events at The Biscuit-Eater
September 20 at 7:30; Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay
Vancouver-based indie-folk-rock singer-songwriters Jeremy Eisenhauer & Sheree Plett
price of a drink; donations welcome

Music at the Three Churches
September 21 at 8:00 pm; St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mahone Bay
A varied program with Dartmouth, NS-based all-women’s choir The Aeolian Singers
tickets: $15, children under 12 are free

Music at Lane’s Privateer Inn
September 21 at 7:00; Lane’s Privateer Inn in Liverpool
Clas Larrson Quartet
price of a drink, donations welcome

Lunenburg Summer Concert Series
September 23 from 2:00 till 3:00; Lunenburg Bandstand (in rain, at St. John’s Parish Hall)
Banjo musician Old Man Luedecke
donations welcome

Lunenburg Art Galleries
September 22 & 23, all day; Lunenburg
Autumnal Equinox Gallery Hop— better than any collection in the province; there are 19 galleries in Old Town Lunenburg, and much as I hate the phrase, something for everyone

Boscawen Inn Wednesday Patio Series
September 26 at 6:00; The Boscawen Inn (150 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg)
Spend the evening with Calgary-based singer-songwriter Cort Delano.
cover charge: $5 (meals for +/- $12), donations welcomed

The Chester Playhouse
September 28 at 8:00 pm; The Chester Playhouse
South Shore’s own piano-based pop-jazz trio Flat Fifth
tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for students

Music at The Lunenburg Arms
September 28 at 8:00; Risser’s Casual Dining (at The Lunenburg Arms)
Clas Larrson Trio
price of a drink; donations welcome

Events at The Biscuit-Eater:
September 29 at 7:00; The Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay
Scary Stories, part of the Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival— listen to the spine-tinglers or tell one yourself…
price of a drink; donations welcome

The Chester Playhouse
September 29 at 8:00; The Chester Playhouse
Beloved Canadian comedian Ron James previews his newest TV special at a show to benefit The Chester Playhouse
tickets: $25

Little River Folk
September 30 at 6:30; Petite Riviere Fire Hall
Halifax singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett joins forces with banjo king Old Man Luedecke and Little Miss Moffat as part of the Petite Riviere series
tickets: $15

And now, the day-to-day stuff to keep you sane through the winter…

Parks
Nobody brings the outdoors in, do they? Stamping across the icy grass towards a park bench with a thermos of hot mulled cider or (possibly alcoholic) cocoa on a weekday afternoon has to be one of the Northeast’s greatest pleasures. Wear a scarf, fingerless gloves, and a tweed cap and pretend you’re at Dartmouth.

There are lots of parks and green space in every town lining the Atlantic Coast. In Lunenburg alone we have six in easy walking distance, and there are four more in Mahone Bay.

Trails
If you’ve got cross-country skis or snowshoes, you’re set; if just have a pair of warm, waterproof boots, you’re not badly off, either. And in summer, of course, all you need is a pair of comfy shoes. The Rails-to-Trails network spans the entire South Shore region and beyond…

Nova Scotia Trails Federation— South Shore
Shared Use Trails— Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, and Yarmouth Counties
Kejimkujik Trails
And there’s rails-to-trails in almost every community

Beaches
Just bundle up against the wind, and a walk along the beach is a great way to spend an afternoon all year round. Hundreds of miles of nearly-deserted beaches line Nova Scotia’s coast in summertime, and they’re completely deserted in winter… you may as well be alone on the planet. Or, if you’re feeling sociable, get together a group of friends and a pot for mulling wine, build a bonfire and have a convivial evening.

As a bonus, winter brings in a dozen species of rarely-seen oceangoing ducks and other seabirds. Here are my favorites on the South Shore, listed in order of preference; please note Queensland Beach is nowhere to be found. I’m not familiar with beaches farther South, especially around Yarmouth, so if I missed your favorite, let me know in the comments.

Risser’s Beach*
Hirtle’s Beach*
Bayswater Beach
Carter’s Beach
Beach Meadows
Crescent Beach (demoted because people park their cars on the beach)
Cleveland Beach
*denotes boardwalk

Year-Round Concert Series
Lunenburg Sessions doesn’t seem to have a website, I’m sorry to report. Every third Tuesday of the month, they present a $5 concert at the Lunenburg Academy auditorium.

The St. Cecilia Concert Series often makes stops at St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg, though it’s mainly based in Halifax, They’ve announced their season to the end of the year, but there’s more to come in 2008.

Live Music While you Sip
You can’t beat it when a pint is the price of admission…

As you might have gathered, The Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay features concerts, prose and poetry readings year-round for the prices of a cup of chai. All the food and drinks are terrific, too, and the place doubles (triples?) as a used-book store.

The Mug & Anchor in Mahone Bay has live music on the third Thursday of every month from 8:00 till midnight, which attracts everyone who’s anyone in the music biz on the South Shore. But seriously, just have the beer.

Lane’s Privateer Inn also hosts a variety of shows all winter long. I believe last year there was a ukelele series (!!!). In Yarmouth at Kelley’s Pub, every Saturday brings the Blues Band & Jam, and I understand there’s also a fellow called Simon Leblanc who performs there with his own one-man band machine.

The Knot Pub in Lunenburg also hosts live music, but they live in the stone age (no website) so I’ll have to physically check their posters later this week. I can tell you that during the winter at The Knot, every Thursday Night is Trivial Pursuit Night.

Theatres and Playhouses
Of course, live theatre is alive and well all over Nova Scotia. On the South Shore alone, we have half a dozen options. The Chester Playhouse has a fabulous fall season lined up already— I really hope we can get to the Ron Sexsmith-Jill Barber concert on October 11. And at The Pearl Theatre in Lunenburg has an upcoming Garnet Rogers show on October 6, and another with Matt Andersen on November 10. The Unicorn Theatre in St. Margaret’s Bay features children’s theatre (nothing on right now), and Th’Yarc has a few new shows opening in November.

If I’ve missed something, I urge you— I implore you— to let me know. Drop a line or leave a comment. I’ll add any oversights, promise.

Still to come: Museums & Festivals. Just let me catch my breath.

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