Food, fun, otherworldly mystery awaits in southwest Nova Scotia


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SHAG HARBOUR, N.S. — More than 50 million visits by people from around the globe were recorded during the six months the Expo 67 world’s fair took place in Montreal. But as the event wound down in October, some believe extra-terrestrial travellers also thought Canada might be worth a visit.

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SHAG HARBOUR, N.S. — More than 50 million visits by people from around the globe were recorded during the six months the Expo 67 world’s fair took place in Montreal. But as the event wound down in October, some believe extra-terrestrial travellers also thought Canada might be worth a visit.

For the residents of Shag Harbour, near the southernmost tip of Nova Scotia, something of a very unusual nature happened Oct. 4, 1967.

Laurie Wickens was the first witness to phone the local RCMP detachment and report what he thought was an airplane crash in the harbour. His call was followed by at least 11 other non-related calls, with most believing the blinding light that had lit up the harbour that night was from a crash of some kind.


The Sand Point Lighthouse helped create one of the largest cities in Canada when it opened.

The light continued to float down the harbour before it disappeared, callers said.

RCMP searched the harbour, but there was no sign of aircraft debris or otherwise. The only clue they could see was a yellow foam that remained on the surface of the water.

Today, Wickens is the host at the Shag Harbour UFO Museum. When asked if he thought it was an extra-terrestrial event he witnessed as a young man, he would not be drawn in.

“All’s I can say is something landed on those waters that looked like a plane crash — and complete answers have never been given,” he says.

RCMP detachments, and Canadian and U.S. investigators spent weeks in the area — followed by press from around the world. However, Wickens insists he provided the exact longitude and latitude of where the crash took place and when he saw the spot U.S. investigators had noted, it was not the same one he had sent them.

The complete story may never be known — but the museum is an interesting place to let your imagination flow.

Laurie Wickens was the first person to report what looked like a plane crash on Shag Harbour.

Today, life is long back to normal in Shag Harbour. The area is home to some of the best lobster catches in the province. Along with nearby Barrington, it is proud to share its identity as the “Lobster Capital of Canada.”

It is not an idle claim. Sou’west Nova Scotia, as the region is called, hauls in more than 23 tonnes of these delicacies annually. This is 40 per cent of the entire Canadian intake and almost 25 per cent of what is caught in all of North America.

During a tour of the local ultra-modern, independent lobster processing plant, Fisher Direct, visitors are told not only is China the largest customer for lobster, but slowly it has been buying up many of the other processing facilities and may well be on the way to controlling the sector of the Canadian industry.

Later, after having consumed a number of different chef-inspired versions of lobster during this journey, an opportunity to work off some of the calories sounded, at first, like a good idea.

Darren Hudson is a seven-time Lumberjack World Championships winner. His Wild & Wooly Lumberjack Axeperience is as the name suggests.

Was it an aviation incident or something really not of this world that lit up Shag Harbour on Oct. 4, 1967?

Hudson is Mr. Personality-plus, and it is easy to get drawn into participating in each of his sport’s competitions. (Minus log rolling, which he still teased would be on the list.)

Sawing through logs two to three feet in diameter definitely will draw some perspiration, while tossing axes numerous times at a target without hitting it will raise the frustration level for a while. But once Hudson coached technique, it became a fun competition. (A second-place finish was enough of an achievement for me.)

What makes Hudson a great host shone through when he would not let us quit the axe competition until the last person — fellow travel writer Arlene Karpan from Saskatchewan — hit the target. (After many tries, she not only hit the target but scored a bull’s-eye.)

While finding lighthouses is a pretty easy task around most of the Nova Scotia coastline, near Shelburne, there are a number whose architectural and historical significance is notable.

The Sandy Point Lighthouse, a federal heritage building, is especially important.

Constructed in the late 19th century on a sandbar at the entrance of Shelburne Harbour, it was a critical development. After it was built it created an economic hub as “A community grew up around the tower, and came to include wooden cottages, a wharf, a community hall, a beach and tennis courts.”

Forty per cent of all lobster caught in Canada comes from the area around Barrington, N.S.

Today, because of its unique design and scenic location, Sandy Point Lighthouse, is one of the most visited and photographed sites in the region.

Ron Pradinuk

Ron Pradinuk
Travel writer

A writer and a podcaster, Ron's travel column appears in the Winnipeg Free Press every Saturday in the Destinations and Diversions section.

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