Canada: NOVA SCOTIA: No Jukebox

  • Share
  • Read Later

The 20 families that make up the year-round population of Peggy's Cove were busy getting ready for summer. Every spare room was reserved, even tenting space was at a premium. Painters, poets, writers, photographers and just plain admirers of rugged beauty were about to move in.

Every summer for more than half a century, artists—professional and amateur—from all over North America have come down the winding, bumpy, narrow road to Peggy's Cove, 35 miles southwest of Halifax, on Nova Scotia's granite coast. From dawn to dusk they have painted the surf smashing against the rocks and the jumble of houses, tumbledown fishing shacks, crooked wharves, dories, fish barrels and lobster pots that line the coast. Many go away at summer's end in agreement with Halifax Artist William E. Degarthe, who says: "A person who doesn't feel his blood tingle when he sees Peggy's has no heart for art."

Way of Life. Peggy's year-round citizens make their living from the sea, fishing for lobsters, herring, mackerel, salmon. Each fisherman owns his own home, his boat and fishing gear and most of them have a cow and an ox in the barn, a pig in the shed, a small garden behind the house. Among the rocks back of the Cove are a few grassy plots where cattle and oxen feed and small hay crops are raised. Hay is cut with a scythe, raked by women & children, hauled to the barn by oxen which move at about the same gait as Peggy's inhabitants.

The chief signs of modern life are Peggy's four telephones, a few motorboats, movies in the community hall on Thursday nights and the electric lights. There is a one-room school (with nine students) and a general store.

In Granite Hall on Saturday nights, Peggy's citizens dance to music from violins played by Fishermen Rupert Manuel and Vaughan Boutilier, an accordion played by Bus Driver Jordan Cook and a guitar played by Mrs. Cecil Caves. On Sundays, Peggy's citizens attend St. John's (Anglican) Church, where 83-year-old Fisherman Albert Crooks, known as the "mayor" of the community, pumps the organ. Each night, at dusk, Fisherman Manuel walks over the rocks to light the oil lamp in Peggy's lighthouse.

Bill of Fare. Summer boarders at Peggy's eat well. For breakfast there are bacon & eggs, toast, marmalade or jam, home-made bread or rolls, home-made butter, and coffee. The noon meal, the biggest of the day, offers steak or fried haddock, cod or halibut (taken out of the water a few hours earlier), cream-topped pies. The evening meal starts off with native clam or fish chowder, followed by a roast, hot rolls, more pie. Board and keep run from $15 to $17 a week.

The citizens of Peggy's Cove eat heartily, walk slowly, live long. They do their best to keep the oldtime atmosphere for their summer visitors, from whom they take up to $10,000 every year. But modernism is creeping in. The Nova Scotia government is going to straighten and pave Peggy's Cove Road. Says one of the younger residents, 53-year-old George Swinimer: "I'll be glad to see the pavement. The artists like Peggy's the way it is more than I do. I would like to see even a jukebox or two."