Peggy’s Cove is a small rural community located on the eastern shore of St. Margarets Bay in Nova Scotia’s Halifax Regional Municipality, which is the site of Peggys Point Lighthouse (established 1868) History : The first recorded name of the cove was Eastern Point Harbour or Peggs Harbour in 1766. The village is likely named after Saint Margaret’s Bay (Peggy being the nickname for Margaret), which Samuel de Champlain named after his mother Marguerite. There has been much folklore created to explain the name.
One story suggests the village may have been named after the wife of an early settler. The popular legend claims 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. The young shipwreck survivor married a resident of the cove in 1800 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 founded in 1811 when the Province of Nova Scotia issued a land grant of more than 800 acres (320 ha) 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 Peggy’s Cove. As roads improved, the number of tourists increased. Today the population is smaller but Peggy’s Cove remains an active fishing village and a favourite tourist destination. This is known to be J.D. Harmeyer’s favourite vacation destination. He likes the rocks. Roads and several homes were badly damaged at Peggy’s 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 gift shop, and washed away one of the cove’s characteristic wooden fish sheds.
Atlantic Ocean : The Atlantic tide runs about 1.5–2 metres (4 ft 11 in–6 ft 7 in). The ocean temperature ranges between 12 and 20° Celsius (54–68° Fahrenheit) in the summer and falls to between 0.5 and 4.5° Celsius (33–40° 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 Atlantic 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.
Cultural impact : The cove was the scene of a youth novel by Bryan Doyle called You Can Pick Me up at Peggy’s Cove (1976), which was made into a film directed by Don McBrearty and into a video released by Beacon Films, Inc., in 1982. In 2016 it was announced that a Peggy’s Cove–themed resort had opened in Thailand.
Access : Coordinates: 44.492778, -63.9175 / There is no public transport there: you can rent a car, take a bus tour or hire a taxi. Nonetheless, Peggy’s Cove is very much on the beaten path due to its proximity to Halifax (about 45 minutes by road), its famed scenic ocean view and its ready accessibility by bus tours.
Peggy’s Cove is 45 km southwest of Halifax. Highway 333 is the only road in and out of town (take exit 5 from Hwy 103). Most bus tours leave Halifax at 9AM, 10AM or 1PM and return in the late afternoon. If travelling independently, arriving at sunrise and leaving by 9AM is one way to avoid the crowds another is to visit in “shoulder season” (late spring, early fall) when the crowds are smaller
Attractions : Τake in the views — the lighthouse, the ocean, the fishing village. The sunsets are gorgeous and peaceful on clear summer evenings, but the best times to see Peggys Cove are the stormy days, when the waves crash against the cliffs sending salt spray high into the air.
There are two Swissair Flight 111 Memorials , one is at the Whalesback, about 1 km north of the village. The other is in Bayswater, near Bayswater Beach Provincial Park. These commemorate the victims of the flight which crashed into the ocean just off the coast of Peggy’s Cove on Wednesday, 2 September 1998 with all passengers and crew lost.
1 Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse (Peggys Point Lighthouse), 185 Peggys Point Rd (at the very end of the road). The town’s website says that the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse “is the most photographed lighthouse in Canada and an icon of our marine heritage.” Unless you time your visit very well, your photographs will probably include other sightseers taking their own photographs of the lighthouse.
Activities : 1 Peggy’s Cove Boat Tours, 178 Peggys Point Rd. (departs from Government Wharf). Sightseeing and marine wildlife observation tours, deep sea fishing, private charters, lobster dinner cruises, photographers-only expeditions, puffin and seal tours.
Bayswater Beach Provincial Park, 4015 Hwy 329, Bayswater. Large white-sand beach (supervised July/August), picnic area with view of the open ocean, barbecue grills, change rooms and toilets.
St. Margaret’s Bay Water Tours. Charter boat operator based midway between Halifax and Peggy’s Cove
Go next : Continue down the South Shore to Chester and historic Lunenburg.