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Peggy's Cove, Light of Nova Scotia

March 09, 1986|STEVE LIBBY | Libby is a Sumter, S.C., free-lance writer.

PEGGY'S COVE, Canada — For generations this tiny village of 90 hearty year-round residents has been favored by photographers and just plain visitors who agree that the place is just plain beautiful.

Peggy's Cove is built on rocks just off Route 333 overlooking St. Margaret's Bay, half an hour's drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is probably the No. 1 individual tourist attraction in this Maritime Province.

Most visitors don't realize it at first, but the principal attraction is the lighthouse, sitting precariously on rocks at the edge of the sometimes-raging sea. It's the only lighthouse in the world with its own post office.

Thousands of visitors every week use this unusual post office, opened here a dozen years ago. Canada granted the post office its own stamp cancellation, a replica of the famous lighthouse.

All postal services are available, but postmaster Edith Morash, who's been here for years, says, "We mostly sell stamps and apply the famous Peggy's Cove postmark."

'It Gets Busy'

She's a busy, cheery lady who knows the history of her office-cum-lighthouse but doesn't have much time to talk about it. "It gets busy in here," she grinned, as an American demanded to know how much it cost to airmail a post card home to Kansas City.

Picture post cards and tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners are available 500 steps away at Jack Campbell's internationally-known Sou'wester restaurant, the only commercial eatery at the cove.

The original lighthouse, built in 1868, had a home for the keeper and his family. The present red-and-white lighthouse was built in 1914 and manned until 1958. Since being turned to automatic service at that time, there have been neither housing accommodations nor other facilities for keepers and families.

The original lighthouse remained standing until 1954. During World War II it was used by the Royal Canadian Navy as a radio station. Damage from Hurricane Edna hurried the decision to demolish the historic light.

The newer sentinel was built on the acres of huge boulders believed to be relics of the Ice Age. It is a favorite place for children--under parental supervision--to let off excess energy, and for picnics.

Scarcely a summer's day passes without the appearance of a handful of artists setting up their easels to capture the spectacle of the place. Sunsets are particularly vivid.

The government of Nova Scotia has wisely determined to preserve Peggy's Cove as is, retaining its natural appeal as a fishing village of simplistic beauty. There are those who call Peggy's Cove the most beautiful village on the continent.

Turbulent Seas

Along the entrance highway is St. John's Anglican Church, which boasts two murals by Peggy's Cove resident William deGarthe. One depicts Christ walking on the water, calming the sea. The other shows a group of fisherman at the mercy of a turbulent sea. Both are singularly appropriate here, where the church is usually open. (If it is not, knock on the door of the adjacent house.)

Like St. John's, all of Peggy's Cove is worth a leisurely stop. There's little to hurry for, here along Nova Scotia's magnificent Lighthouse Route. Nearby are other worthwhile stop-overs, particularly for the visitor armed with pallet or camera. Check the free map (from Nova Scotia Tourism, P.O. Box 456, Halifax B3J 2R5, Canada) and do yourself a favor: Drive to Prospect, Shad Bay, Paddy Head and Modesty Cove.

Save the afternoon, though, for Peggy's Cove. Buy some stamps at the only lighthouse post office, then enjoy the sunset at Peggy's Cove.

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