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Annapolis Basin

The Annapolis Basin is a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy, located on the southwestern shores of the bay, along the northwestern shore of Nova Scotia and at the western end of the Annapolis Valley.

The basin takes its name from the Annapolis River, which drains into its eastern end at the town of Annapolis Royal. The basin measures approximately 24 km northeast-southwest and 6 km at its widest from northwest to southeast.

It is a sheltered and mostly shallow water body, framed by the North and South mountain ranges of the Annapolis Valley; the basin is geologically a continuation of the valley floor. A break in the North Mountain range at the northwestern edge of the basin, called the "Digby Gut", provides an outlet to the Bay of Fundy.

The Bay Ferries Limited ferry service operating across the Bay of Fundy between Digby and Saint John maintains a terminal on the western shore of the basin near the Digby Gut.

This is the view of the Annapolis Basin view from Birchvilla Cottages

Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is known for its high tidal range and the bay is the highest vertical tidal range in the world. The name "Fundy" is thought to date back to the 16th century when the Portuguese referred to the bay as "Rio Fundo" or "deep river".

The bay was also named Baie François by explorer/cartographer Samuel de Champlain during a 1604 expedition led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts which resulted in a failed settlement attempt on St. Croix Island.

The Bay of Fundy at high tide
The same location at low tide

Folklore in the Mi'kmaq First Nation claims that the tides in the Bay of Fundy are caused by a giant whale splashing in the water. Oceanographers attribute it to tidal resonance resulting from a coincidence of timing: the time it takes a large wave to go from the mouth of the bay to the opposite end and back is the same as the time from one high tide to the next. In other words, the 12.4 hour period of the lunar tides is close to the natural sloshing period of the bay, so the moon sloshes it as if it were a bathtub. During the 12.4 hour period, 115 billion tonnes of water traverses in and out of the bay twice.

The highest water level ever recorded in the Bay of Fundy system occurred at the head of the Minas Basin on the night of October 4&endash;5, 1869 during a tropical cyclone named the "Saxby Gale". The water level of 21.6 metres resulted from the combination of high winds, abnormally low atmospheric pressure, and a spring tide.


Digby, Nova Scotia

Digby is a town in western Nova Scotia which lies on the Annapolis Basin of the Bay of Fundy. Digby is the shire town and commercial hub of Digby County. The town is famous for its scallop fishing fleet.

The area was settled in 1783 by the United Empire Loyalists under the leadership of Sir Robert Digby.

Digby's World Famous Scallop Fleet

Tourism has played an important role in Digby during the 20th century following the construction of a large resort on the town's outskirts named The Pines. Built in 1929 by the Dominion Atlantic Railway, the resort provided the stimulus in the local tourism industry which has continuously expanded into the 2000s.

Digby's economy is still based largely on the fishing and tourism industries. The annual Scallop Days Festival brings the two industries together to showcase the town's history and heritage to the tourists. The festival offers a variety of themed activities for all ages, including scallop shucking contests, a parade, and an exhibition of local artists. Another attraction for the tourism industry is the annual Wharf Rat Rally which attracts mortorcycle enthusiasts from afar to enjoy a weekend of events. The area is also widely known for the enormous Bay of Fundy tides that sweep the coastline boasting some of the highest tides in the world

Access to Digby is primarily by Highway 101 and by the M/V Princess of Acadia ferry service to Saint John, New Brunswick (operated by Bay Ferries Limited).

Digby is about a 5 minute drive from Birchvilla Cottages


Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Annapolis Royal (2006 Population 444) is a Canadian town located in the western part of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. Known as Port-Royal until 1710, it is one of the the oldest continuous European settlements in North America.

The community is situated at the western end of the fertile Annapolis Valley, nestled between the North and South mountains which define the valley. The Bay of Fundy is just over the North Mountain, 10 kilometers out of town, and Annapolis Basin forms the waterfront for this historic town on the southern bank of the Annapolis River at the mouth of Allains Creek. Directly opposite Annapolis Royal on the northern bank of the river is the community of Granville Ferry.

Settled by Samuel de Champlain and Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts in 1605, this region comprises the oldest continuous European settlement in North America. The original community was founded on the north side of the Annapolis Basin in 1605. It was moved to its present site after being destroyed by British attackers in 1613. There, the capital of the French colony of Acadia prospered for nearly a century, though it was subject to frequent attack and capture by the British or its New England colonists, only to be restored each time to French control by subsequent recapture or treaty stipulations. Acadia remained in French hands throughout most of the 17th century.

In 1710, Port-Royal surrendered for the last time to British forces who renamed it Annapolis Royal after Queen Anne (1665-1714), the reigning monarch. The name is formed through a mix of the former French name Port-Royal and combining the queen's name with that of 'polis', the Greek word for city. The French fort was renamed Fort Anne and established as a British garrison. The Fort, built originally around 1703, was designed to defend the capital from seaward attack. Today, much of the original earthen embankments are preserved for tours by the public, as well as some buildings original to the military facility.

Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Acadia was granted to the British; however the vague boundary definitions saw only the peninsular part of Nova Scotia granted to Britain, and the next half century would be turbulent years as Britain and France acted out the final struggle for Acadia and North America.

Annapolis Royal served as the first capital of the Colony of Nova Scotia from 1710 until the founding of Halifax in 1749. Incorporation as a town under the provincial municipalities act took place in 1893. The Annapolis Basin, Annapolis River and the Annapolis Valley all take their name from the town. Under the French reign, Annapolis River had been known as Rivière Dauphin.

Since the early 20th century, the outskirts of the town has been the site of a bridge connecting the south side of the Annapolis River to the north side at Granville Ferry; before the bridge, there was a ferry connection. In 1961, the bridge was replaced with a causeway or dam and in 1984, as part of Nova Scotia Power's tidal power project, the causeway was incorporated as part of the Annapolis Royal Tidal Power Generating Station.

The construction of the tidal generating station at Annapolis Royal by the then-provincially owned electrical utility was part of a pilot project to investigate this alternative method of generating electricity. It is the first and only tidal power facility in operation in North America. The generating station has created tangible environmental changes in water and air temperatures in the area, siltation patterns in the river, and increased erosion of the river banks on both sides of the dam.

Annapolis Royal, N.S., J.F.W. Des Barres, 1781.

The trains of the Dominion Atlantic Railway ceased operations in 1990, bringing much industrial commerce within the confines of Nova Scotia's smallest town to a halt. Today, after many years of neglect, the old brick railway station is being privately renovated into professional office space.

The fleet of scallop boats moored in the Annapolis Basin continue to generate millions of dollars of economic activity each year, and support many businesses in the Annapolis Royal area. Fort Anne, contained within the boundaries of the town, was designated as a National Historic Site in 1917 and is a natural tourist attraction. The town also contains the largest Registered Historic District in Canada, as well as a waterfront boardwalk, a variety of unique shops, and many mature trees. Visitors can enjoy the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens (established in 1986), and a number of historical walking tours. An added benefit is the scenery of the surrounding countryside, much of which is agricultural. The mild climate and scenic location make this a favourite destination in all seasons. Nova Scotia's largest amusement park, Upper Clements Park, was built several kilometres west of the town in nearby Upper Clements.

The town, along with most of Annapolis and Digby counties, experienced a severe economic decline during the mid-1990s after a nearby military training base, CFB Cornwallis, was closed as a result of defence budget cuts. The former base located on the shores of the Annapolis Basin in Cornwallis is now the site of an international peacekeeping training centre, and an innovative industrial park for small businesses.

Annapolis Royal is about a 20 minute drive from Birchvilla Cottages


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