I have a great love of museums devoted to one thing. However, the eclectic type of small town museum can also be a great delight, as my dad and I unexpectedly found when we went to the Rossignol Cultural Centre in Liverpool, NS. We were looking for a toilet and to our delighted surprise found — among a wide variety of other things, including a set of taxidermied big game — an outhouse museum.
Outhouses might have been the theme for our long weekend driving around the southwestern part of Nova Scotia, from Halifax south and west to Lunenburg, Yarmouth, Digby, and then up through the Annapolis Valley to Kentville, Wolfville, and the parts I’ve already mentioned sing to me. We went to the tip of the series of islands extending North Mountain (the northwestern side of the Annapolis Valley) out into the Bay of Fundy, and on the ferry to the last, Brier Island, we discovered signs for the 25th Outhouse Family Reunion. Our thought was that the women in that family, no matter how emancipated, probably look forward to getting married as an excuse to change their surnames.
Actually, what we were doing on Brier Island — apart from looking at it — was hoping to see whales. We took a tour at 9:30am, in what we’d hoped would be clearing weather but turned out to be variations of fog and haze. Most of what we saw were birds: shearwaters and puffins, eider ducks and phalaropes, a deeply confused sandpiper that followed our boat desperately looking for shore.
For a long time, no whales. The captain stopped the boat twice so we could listen for them. The fog ebbed and flowed around us, the foghorn from the lighthouse on Brier Island sounded out regularly, water lapped on the boat, the shearwaters made quiet high-pitched chuckling noises. The first time nobody heard anything; the second, two pitches of exhalation, like somebody sighing vehemently off in the distance.
A humpback whale named Flash and her calf, who remains unnamed this year by the people who get together to name whales. We watched them feeding for a good twenty minutes, with a much better view than the other boats that came up (because the whales were playing hard to get that morning, the tour operators were cooperating; they have a code of conduct that meant that when the third boat came up to us we left so they would have their chance to watch Flash and calf without disturbing them).
Not quite like the previous day, we were told, when the lucky folks on the evening cruise got to see fourteen whales of different sorts (including the very rare northern right whales). But delightful nonetheless, a marvellous part of a lovely weekend.