I have vivid memories from living in the Martimes from 1971 through 1987.
At the time I thought the blues and greens of Nova Scotia were unlike any that I had ever seen.
Some of the snows we lived through in New Brunswick were truly epic storms that we will always remember and that grow deeper with each telling of the story.
In certain ways living north of the border was like rolling back the clock. Life in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the seventies was much like growing up in North Carolina in the fifties. Neighbors had a similar feeling of trust towards each other and children played outside with a freedom that is unheard of today.
Twenty-seven years later, I am living along North Carolina's Crystal Coast, another spot with amazing blues and greens. I have changed a lot and so has the world arround me. My wife and I even wrote a book, A Taste for the Wild - Canada's Maritimes, about some of the changes that we noticed north of the border after a 2012 trip to our favorite part of Canada.
Hurricane Arthur recently brushed our area but went on to devastate parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Friends who have a farm just one mile from where we used to have our Tay Ridge Angus farm twenty miles north of Fredericton were without power for over a week and had tremendous damage to their woodlot. Fredericton lost over 4,000 trees in the storm.
While our area on the coast of North Carolina is in general well prepared for hurricanes. New Brunswick is much better prepared for snow storms. This started me wondering how my life would been different in Canada if I had lived on the North Carolina coast before I lived in the Maritimes.
One of the big differences in life here on the Southern Outer Banks is how much time we spend on the water. In my case I am either kayaking, visiting the marshes, or out by the big water in our boat, a 20 ft. Sundance skiff. The skiff was a new addition to our life after we moved here, but I have logged well over 225 hours in it and that does not count the countless hours bouncing at anchor someplace in Bogue Inlet.
When we lived in Nova Scota we were on the Bay of Fundy where tides are up to 28 feet. Here in Carteret county our tides are generally from 1.5 to 3 feet. Much of the White Oak River and other water that we kayak on is less than three or four feet deep. There are places where I float above the oyster rocks that the water is so shallow that the oyster rock is well above water at low tide.
When I think back to the waters that were part of my life in Canada, I am doubtful that having boated in the warm waters of Bogue Sound would be sufficient training for the harsh cold waters off of Canada's east coast or especially the huge tides and very cold waters of the Bay of Fundy. The summer water temperatures of the Bay of Fundy are between 46F and 54F. Our water temperature in the middle of July is 84F. As a safety precaution I usually decline to kayak in water below 50F because while the water often looks very enticing in early spring, it can be deadly. Sixty percent of the people who drown, drown in water that is below 50F. I was pretty sure that the Bay of Fundy might not be a place that people would kayak, but I found a YouTube video of people doing just that. Still I am not certain that I would.
I can still remember seeing fishing boats grounded in the mud at low tide in the Bay of Fundy. Here on the shores of the White Oak River, we can have our skiff on a simple lift. Obviously that is impossible on the Bay of Fundy, but certainly there are Nova Scotia lakes and spots in sheltered coves of the Atlantic where it would be possible. While I was able to find the YouTube video on kayaking easily, boating information seemed to be clogged up with boats for sale. I did find that Nova Scotia has a tremendous number of boat launches so I am guessing there are lots of boats to go with them.
Likely the boating season in the Maritimes is much shorter than ours here on the North Carolina coast. Our season actually stretches through all twelve months. Usually our waters only get as cold as the Bay of Fundy for a few weeks during the winter and then warm quickly. The heat captured by our waters helps us have a magnificent fall where we surf fish in warm waters and enjoy cool air temperatures. Kayaking into December is something we count on here. Often November is one of our best fishing months.
New Brunswick with large lakes and the Saint John River might be a better boating home than Nova Scotia, but then what about Prince Edward Island? It did not take a lot of searching to figure out that Prince Edward Island is a premier boating and kayaking destination with summer water temperatures in the sixties. While I might not do any swimming in 64F water, I would probably try kayaking and I certainly would feel comfortable in my skiff.
My guess is that if I had lived in coastal North Carolina before living in Canada, I might well have ended up in Prince Edward Island instead of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Now that would have been another interesting adventure.