Peggys Cove

Peggys Cove (2009 population: approx. 46), also known as Peggy's Cove from 1961 to 1976, is a small rural community located on the eastern shore of St. Margarets Bay in Nova Scotia's Halifax Regional Municipality.

Geography

Peggys Cove is 43 kilometres southwest of downtown Halifax and comprises one of the numerous small fishing communities located around the perimeter of the Chebucto Peninsula. The community is named after the cove of the same name, a name also shared with Peggys Point, immediately to the east of the cove. The village marks the eastern point of St. Margaret's Bay.

History

The first recorded name of the cove was Eastern Point Harbour or Peggs Harbour in 1766. The village may have been named after the wife of an early settler or taken its name from St. Margaret's Bay as it marks the eastern beginning of the Bay and Peggy is a nickname for Margaret. Two versions of the popular legend claim that the name came from the sole survivor of a shipwreck at Halibut Rock near the cove. Artist and resident William deGarthe said she was a young woman while others claim she was a little girl too young to remember her name and the family who adopted her called her Peggy. In both versions, the young shipwreck survivor married a resident of the cove and became known as "Peggy of the Cove" attracting visitors from around the bay who eventually named the village, Peggy's Cove, after her nickname.

The village was formally founded in 1811 when the Province of Nova Scotia issued a land grant of more than 800 acres (3.2 km²) to six families of German descent. The settlers relied on fishing as the mainstay of their economy but also farmed where the soil was fertile. They used surrounding lands to pasture cattle. In the early 1900s the population peaked at about 300. The community supported a schoolhouse, church, general store, lobster cannery and boats of all sizes that were nestled in the Cove.

Many artists and photographers flocked to Peggys Cove. As roads improved, the number of tourists increased. Today the population is smaller but Peggys Cove remains an active fishing village and a favourite tourist destination.

Roads and several homes were badly damaged at Peggys Cove in 2003 by the extensive flooding that accompanied Hurricane Juan which also damaged the cove's breakwater. The breakwater was further washed away by Hurricane Bill in 2009, allowing waves to seriously damage a home and giftshop, and washed away one of the cove's characteristic wooden fish sheds.

Peggys Point Lighthouse

Peggys Cove is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Nova Scotia and is a prime attraction on the Lighthouse Trail scenic drive. The community's famous lighthouse marks the eastern entrance of St. Margarets Bay and is officially known as the Peggys Point Lighthouse.

Peggys Cove has a classic red-and-white lighthouse still operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. The light station is situated on an extensive granite outcrop at Peggys Point, immediately south of the village and its cove. This lighthouse is one of the most-photographed structures in Atlantic Canada and one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world.

Visitors may explore the granite outcrop on Peggys Point around the lighthouse; despite numerous signs warning of unpredictable surf (including one on a bronze plaque on the lighthouse itself), several incautious visitors each year are swept off the rocks by waves, sometimes drowning.

The first lighthouse at Peggys Cove was built in 1868 and was a wooden house with a beacon on the roof. At sundown the keeper lit a kerosene oil lamp magnified by a catoptric reflector (a silver-plated mirror) creating the red beacon light marking the eastern entrance to St. Margarets Bay. That lighthouse was replaced by the current structure, an octagonal lighthouse which was built in 1914. It is made of reinforced concrete but retains the eight-sided shape of earlier generations of wooden light towers. It stands almost 15 metres (50 ft) high. The old wooden lighthouse became the keeper’s dwelling and remained near to the current lighthouse until it was damaged by Hurricane Edna in 1954 and was removed. The lighthouse was automated in 1958. Since then, the red light was changed to white light, then to a green light in the late 1970s. Finally to conform to world standards the light was changed to red in 2007.

The lighthouse used to contain a small Canada Post office in the lower level during the summer months serving as the village post office where visitors could send postcards and letters. Each piece of mail received a special cancellation mark in the shape of the lighthouse. However Canada Post closed the lighthouse post office in November 2009 citing mold growth as a safety hazard.

Tourism

From its inception, the community's economy revolved around the fishery, however, tourism began to overtake fishing in economic importance following the Second World War. Today, Peggys Cove is primarily a tourist attraction, although its inhabitants still fish for lobster, and the community maintains a rustic undeveloped appearance. The regional municipality and the provincial government have strict land-use regulations in the vicinity of Peggys Cove, with most property development being prohibited. Similarly there are restrictions on who can live in the community to prevent inflation of property values for year-round residents.

The historic Carpenter Gothic style St. John's Anglican Church, the only church in Peggys Cove, is a municipally designated heritage site.

Geology

More than 400 million years ago, in the Devonian Period, the plate tectonics movement of the Earth's crust allowed molten material to bubble up from the Earth's interior. This formed the rocks we see today and are part of the Great Nova Scotia batholith. The unique landscape of Peggys Cove and surrounding areas was subsequently carved by the migration of glaciers and the ocean tides. About 20,000 years ago, an ice ridge moved south from Canada’s Arctic region covering much of North America. Along with the ebb and flow of the glaciers, the ice ridge eventually melted and shifted and in the process scooped away and scoured large sections of rock, vegetation, and topsoil. As melted land glaciers flowed back to the oceans the changing tidal flows and rising sea levels filled the scarred areas with water, forming coves and inlets. Large boulders composed of 415-million-year-old Devonian granite, called glacial erratics, were lifted by the ice and carried for long distances before being deposited upon the landscape as the ice receded, leaving rugged barrens. The movement of the glacial ice and rocks left scouring marks in the bedrock that are still visible.

Peggys Cove has been declared a preservation area to protect its rugged beauty. The Peggys Cove Commission Act, passed in 1962, prohibits development in and around the surrounding village and restricts development within Peggys Cove. The area comprised about 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) stretching from Indian Harbour to West Dover and includes barrens, bogs, inland ponds, and rocky coastline.

The Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic tide runs about 1.5 – 2 meters (4 – 6 feet). The ocean temperature ranges between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius (50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer and falls to between 0.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius (33 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter. The ocean moderates the air temperature over the land year round.

The shape of the ocean floor and the numerous ocean currents facilitate a rich diversity of marine life along the Atlantic coastline. The Labrador Current flowing south from the Arctic cools the ocean during the summer months. Offshore, the Gulf Stream, travelling northwest from the Caribbean to the northern Europe warms the ocean waters. The confluence of currents off Nova Scotia brings unusual Arctic and tropical species to St. Margarets Bay. Marine life includes northern bluefin tuna, white-sided and white-beaked dolphins, and pinnipeds. Endangered Atlantic leatherback sea turtles are seen in the waters near shore. Endangered right whales and many other species are found in the waters.

William deGarthe

Sculptor and painter William E. deGarthe lived in Peggys Cove. A gallery exhibiting his work is open to the public between May 1 and October 31 each year. Outside the gallery, in the William E. deGarthe Provincial Park, is a carved granite outcropping. This 30 m (100 ft) sculpture was carved by deGarthe as "a lasting monument to Nova Scotian fishermen." It depicts 32 fishermen, their wives, and children enveloped by the wings of St. Elmo, the patron saint of sailors, as well as the legendary Peggy.

Swissair Flight 111

The Swissair Flight 111 Memorial is located at The Whalesback, a promontory approximately 1 km northwest of Peggys Cove. It is one of two memorials built to commemorate the victims of the Swissair Flight 111 disaster, which saw the aircraft crash into St. Margarets Bay on 2 September 1998. The crash site is roughly equidistant between the Whalesback Memorial and another memorial at Bayswater, Nova Scotia, located on the Aspotogan Peninsula on the western shore of the bay, opposite Peggys Cove.

The monument reads in English and French: "In memory of the 229 men, women and children aboard Swissair Flight 111 who perished off these shores September 2nd, 1998. They have been joined to the sea, and the sky. May they rest in peace."

The site of the crash and the two monuments form a triangle. The three notches on the monument at Whalesback represent the numerals 111. The sight line from the three grooves in the stone points to the crash site; while the markings on the facing stone point to the memorial at Bayswater. The memorial wall at Bayswater contains the names of the 229 passengers and crew of flight 111. The facing stone points to the crash site.

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