Bagpiping in Vancouver: Bagpiping in Nova Scotia.

Piping onboard "Smoke n'Oakum"

The sun is shining in Vancouver, the sky is blue and finally the summer breezes are upon us. It’s great to be back on the west coast, but it’s memories of my recent trip to Nova Scotia, to family and friends, of sunshine, beaches and music, that continue to flood my mind as I settle in for the long haul until next summer.

Setting sun on Northumberland Strait

A two week, mid-summer holiday in Nova Scotia is a splendid vacation indeed. I don’t need a tourist brochure to enlighten me. Accompanied by my daughter, we spent our days with family, cousins and friends at our cottages along the lovely Northumberland Strait that separates Nova Scotia and PEI. It has been a wet spring in the east, as it has in the west, and during our vacation, the weather continued to be unpredictable. However, we enjoyed several glorious days on the beach and in the warmest waters north of the Carolinas“. Our evenings were spent soaking up the camaraderie of  friends and family, enjoying bonfires on the beach and relaxing on-board my brother-in-law’s new fishing boat “Smoke n’Oakum”.  An evening boat trip from the Arisaig wharf with my sister and her MacDonald clan would not be complete without the bagpipes, which I duly drew from their case and provided a few tunes for all boaters and fishermen enjoying a beautiful calm evening on the Northumberland Strait.

Nova Scotia bonfire

From the fishing boats, to the large field overlooking our cove, my pipes were busy this past holiday. A visit to a nearby cottage provided an opportunity to play Bonnie Dundee for a former resident of that Scottish town, along with a number of older tunes that our good friend Dr. Brand recognized and commented upon. The usual family summer birthdays would not be complete without “Uncle Michael” piping in the candle-adorned home made cakes. And it doesn’t seem possible that the summer sun could set into a glorious horizon without Hector the Hero, Leaving Lismore, Fifty Years of Bliss and other Wilfred Gillis, Scott Skinner and Dan R. MacDonald tunes echoing across the calm evening water and up and down the Malignant Cove shore. Drams of good single malts on the deck overlooking the Strait at a brother’s cottage and trips to Cape Breton to visit Acadian relatives in L’Ardoise rounded off the trip.

Summer certainly seems short when you wait so long during the cold Vancouver months.  With August upon us, the days are shortening, the breezes will be cooler and once again we will prepare for the “indoor” season of band practices and lessons. But for me, the memories of my Maritime trip, picking wild roses and daises with my daughter, snuggling by a blazing bonfire and piping for and visiting with family and friends will last many more months as the summer of 2011 starts looking for the exits.


About Mike Chisholm

Official Piper: Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours. Pitt River Resort. Exec. Dir. ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games, Director, BC Pipers' Assn. Former journalist, Nova Scotian, Dad.
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