Thursday, 22 August 2013

Peggy's Cove and Lunenberg

I went to Peggy's Cove yesterday, and then on to Lunenberg. Both of these locations are famously picturesque, classic Canadian tourist spots. Both of them are on the seashore. Both of them are set in steep shoreside locations. Neither of them is particularly wheelchair accessible.

Peggy's Cove is home to a beautiful light house, famously set out on the giant round rocks of Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast. The rocks are smooth, buffed by ten thousand years of waves washing over them, water pushed high by storms and tide, sometimes snatching from their perch a soul too brave or too unknowing, a person unaware of the reach of Poseidon's hand. It happens often enough that there are numerous warning signs advising tourists not to go on the outer rocks. Yet go they do.

I, one the other hand, was completely unable to go anywhere past the parking lot of the tourist reception centre. The path is simply not well set out for a wheelchair, nor could it be. These hardened foreshore rocks lump up and down, making all but the narrow access road impassable for anything with wheels. Rather than simply get out and wheel round the parking lot, I watched the sea from my truck for a few moments, then, accepting the limits of my mobility, moved on.

The next stop in my wander was Lunenberg. Direct on the inland highway, Lunenberg is about 40 minutes from Halifax. If you take the coast road, the one that follows the edge of every beach and bay, the ride is more like three hours. I took the coast road, the road more likely to show me the water, the boats, the small marinas and towns along the way. It took almost two hours along this drive to get from Peggy's Cove to Lunenberg. It was likely the kind of drive only I would find interesting.

Lunenberg is built up on the steep slopes of the Fairhaven Peninsula, in a cove cut into western side of Mahone Bay, one of many beautiful, photogenic towns on the South Shore of New Scotland. It is a village of stately old homes, many converted to small botiques and restaurants to serve the tourist trade, where narrow streets are hacked into the rocky up-slope. It is also not very wheelchair friendly.

I tried getting into one restaurant. They had a ramp which was hauled out when a wheelchair showed up. The doors were narrow, the hallway was narrow. There was no wheechair washroom but if I wanted, I could try the staff washroom. It was in the back, past the piles of dirty tablecloths, around the corner from the washing machines, opposite the ironing board, with standard, hard to get to fixtures. I felt like a second class citizen being hustled to the back of the bus or a hidden room somewhere. I said "No thanks" and left.

My second choice of location proved much, much, much better. It was in a converted fish warehouse. There was a handicapped washroom on the main floor, set up as a part of the fisheries museum housed in this building. The restaurant was on the second floor and there was an elevator. I got a table by the window, overlooking the docks and the cove. Boats sailed by as I drank my beer and ate my seafood medley.

It proves the value of not taking the first option until you have seen the second, and sometimes the third. Being in a wheelchair does not define me; it simply limits me. Being in a wheelchair should not make me a second class person, yet at times it does. I refuse to accept that; I demand to be treated like able bodied people, with access and services that I will be happy to pay for..


  1. When we lived in Halifax we drove that coast road many times. Mahone Bay was one of my favourites. There were so many lovely craft rooms many of them on the main floor of those beautiful homes. So you have been on that road often but as a very young boy. There was no other road to get to those fabulous towns.

  2. Pretty sure I would have enjoyed that drive too dad :) I love those little out of the way places!

  3. Glad you work so hard to make the trip work out.