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A Morning In Peggy's Cove

Story ID:267
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Travel
Location:Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia Canada
Person:A Swissair pilot
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A Morning In Peggy's Cove

A Morning In Peggy's Cove

A Morning In Peggy's Cove

A Morning in Peggy’s Cove


Nancy Julien Kopp

Early morning traffic in Halifax, Nova Scotia is not difficult to maneuver with two of us in charge. My husband, Ken, drives, and I read maps and signs, acting as navigator, guiding him on this sunless June day. We make our way easily through the Canadian coastal city and travel beyond to the road that will take us to Peggy’s Cove.

I’m eager to see this tiny fishing village which friends have recommended, and I check the map for the umpteenth time to gauge the distance.

“You must be sure to go to Peggy’s Cove,” said one friend upon hearing we were planning a driving trip to explore Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s easternmost provinces.

“Don’t miss Peggy’s Cove,” said another.

Thus, the village is high on our list of places to visit.

Road-signs mark the route clearly, and soon we turn off the main highway onto a secondary road. We wend our way along the curving stretch of road that will bring us to the coast. I search the sky for an absent sun and silently wish it would make an appearance. More clouds roll in, some dark and seeming to threaten rain. It is the first such weather we experience on our trip. Prior to today, the sun has spread its gentle warmth and makes our daily excursions most pleasant.

I wonder, as the car makes each twist and turn in the road, what can be so beguiling about Peggy’s Cove. I know that it is the site of the 1998 Swissair jet crash, but surely more than that steals into the hearts of those who visit.

One more bend in the road, and the fishing village appears. It is small and picturesque, the few homes and fewer businesses situated on hills near the water. The town seems to stand guard as the ocean slaps against flat-topped boulders that line its edge. Sea terns perch serenely on rooftops and dot the hillsides, while fishing boats line the harbor area.

We come to the end of the road, and Ken parks the car. We emerge into air that carries both a chill and a fine mist, as well as that special scent found only by the sea.There is no doubt in my mind that I will traverse those huge boulders to the lighthouse standing near the water’s edge, and I wish I had worn sturdier shoes.

I pick my way carefully across the boulders to the whitewashed lighthouse, which sports a cheerful red top. A few other tourists step slowly and cautiously across the great boulders. Some sit silently on the rocks gazing out to sea, their thoughts known only to themselves. What a wonderful place to ruminate, I muse, as I study those who are seated, their thoughts sealed within themselves.

I reach the lighthouse and peer inside the open door. To my amazement, I find that it is now a government post office. I exchange greetings with the clerk, purchase post cards and Canadian stamps, then retrace my path a short distance. I can see the ocean waters on my left and on my right, even though I am facing the village. As though called, I turn slowly and look out to what is now a calm and friendly-appearing sea. The mist has ceased, and the sky brightens a little.

I watch this piece of nature that sustains the village inhabitants who fish its waters daily. The sea calls to them like a siren of mythical tales. She promises a bountiful harvest, entices them into deep waters, and produces more fish than can be counted at times. But in the wink of an eye, she can become menacing and dangerous. Churning waves tossed upon the flat-topped boulders, angry and vengeful, have swept more than one person to a watery grave. Signs posted here warn of such a possibility. How could this be, I think, as I gaze at the now peaceful scene before me.

Only the day before, I noted the detailed story of the Swissair crash while reading a Halifax newspaper. The feature article centered on the widow of the pilot, who guided the doomed flight. She and her children have visited Peggy’s Cove more than once since the tragedy occurred. On their first visit, men from the village transported the Swiss woman and her two small children out to sea where the plane went down. The three of them scattered flowers across the water, and the small son said he is glad his daddy is in such a beautiful place. The Sea, I think, must have smiled to hear his words.

I say a silent prayer for all who perished at Peggy’s Cove, then slowly make my way back across the unique path of boulders, passing close to an iron anchor imbedded in the rocks. The air feels warmer as the clouds part, and a welcome sun emerges.

I meet Ken, and he holds out a hand and helps me travel the remainder of this precarious pathway. We meander slowly down the narrow road together to visit a small gift shop, take pictures of the fishing boats, and investigate a magnificent sculpture carved in stone which depicts the life of the fishermen who live here. Finally, we visit the memorial site of the Swissair victims commenting softly to one another, as we stand shoulder to shoulder, reading the plaque. A few other tourists join us, but no conversations take place. Instead, each one focuses on a personal meaning of the site which tragedy visited. The entire village resembles a place of meditation rather than the usual tourist chatter and banter.

Walking back to our car, I inhale the scent of the sea once more, and I know that this small village and the sea around it are now etched in my memory and on my heart forever. Quaint, picturesque, charming, even somber--it is all of these and more. I am now another who will urge travelers to be sure to see Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia.