Good tidings come to Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy

It was late in the season, and Helen Sherman wasn't expecting many visitors that day. She had just opened up the tourist bureau and fed the ducks in the nearby pond.

Then two busloads carrying 97 tourists turned up without warning. Mrs. Sherman hurriedly telephoned other staff members to come and help her with this sudden influx.

One question nagging her was: Would she have enough roses? She had only ordered 40, but to her delight she found that the greenhouses that supply her with roses had sent eight dozen. So all the women in the two busloads were handed a rose -- and there were some left over for other visitors later in the day.

Mrs. Sherman has made it a tradition to have roses on hand to present to women visitors, and the local greenhouses cooperated by letting her have their surplus flowers.

The reason for the early arrival of tourist buses that particular day was the time of the incoming tide. Windsor's tourist bureau is strategically placed on a small headland provides looking the Avon river estuary, and the headland provides an excellent view of the Bay of Fundy's famous tidal bore.

Local people say the bore is nothing like what it used to be before a causeway was built across the Avon to carry a highway and railroad. The causeway has led to a massive buildup of sand in the estuary that breaks up the incoming tide. Even then the arrival of the bore in a single irresistible wave is highly impressive.

From the tourist bureau's vantage point you can see the bore speeding in while another branch of the tide surges round a sandbar on the left. Within minutes the two currents of water meet and the sandbar is submerged.

The Fundy tides are reputedly the highest in the world. They are an endless source of fascination for the ocean lover. Because of its geographical position the bay acts as a funnel, pulling in ocean currents sweeping northward.

The great tides have carved beautiful coves and rugged cliffs along the bay's shores. Fundy's southern shore belongs to Nova Scotia and the northern to New Brunswick.

The Avon River empties into Minas Basin, in the southeastern stretch of the bay. Here the tides reach 40 to 50 feet high. The other main point for watching the tidal bore is near the city of Truro, east of Minas Basin, at the head of Cobequid Bay.

For years there has been talk of harnessing the Fundy tides for generating electricity. Until the Arab oil boycott of 1973 the project was pigeonholed, on grounds that the cost would be prohibitive. But with the price of oil rising dramatically Nova Scotia has dusted off the plans for tidal power and is hoping Fundy will provide an alternative energy source by the second half of the 1980s.

Currently this sea-girt province is 84 percent dependent on imported oil for its energy requirements, a dependence the provincial government wants to eliminate by 1990. An experimental tidal project is planned for the Annapolis River, where a dam already exists.

Minas Basin in Glooscap country. Glooscap was the mangod of the Micmac Indians, who believed he controlled the Fundy tides. Certainly the tides and the majestic beauty of the area form a fitting backdrop for the Glooscap story.

Glooscap, the legends say, had a special rapport with the animals and provided feasts for them in his herb garden near the tip of the northern shore of Minas Basin.

But some of the animals were mischievous, and once, when Beaver taunted him, Glooscap picked up five clumps of mud and hurled them at Beaver. This is said to be the origin of the Five Islands, which lie in a string off the coast near Parrsboro, on the basin's northern shore.

Glooscap, according to the folk tales, scattered jewels along the shores for his grandmother, Nogami. The stones included jasper, agate, onyx, and amethyst. To this day some of the coves are the haunts of rockhounds, and an annual "rockhound roundup" is held at Parrsboro in August. The views of the shore in the Parrsboro region are magnificent.

On the basin's southern shore, north of Windsor, is Cape Blomidon, where Glooscap made his home. The great headland, it is said, gave the man-god an ideal spot to keep watch over his people.

Part of the cape now is a provincial park. A road up the cape takes you to the Blomidon Lookoff, from where there is a sweeping view over Minas Basin and the rich farmland bordering it.

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