This was our 2nd stay at the OUTSTANDING Graham's Pioneer Retreat- this time at their newest cottage- Felicity- a beautiful, like-new, 2 bedroom cottage on a bluff overlooking tranquil St. Mary's Bay.
Like the other 2 bedroom on the property (Serenity) it has a full, modern eat-in kitchen and a comfortable living room with 2 sofas (one is a fold-out sleeper). But Felicity also has several marvelous touches that set it apart: There is a cozy and efficient Vermont Castings "woodstove"- type gas stove AND a 16-foot covered gazebo just off the kitchen. The gazebo had a brand-new propane grill, a swing and great furniture to relax-in while soaking in the sights and sounds of the Bay below.
David and Linda Graham's cottages are situated on beautiful Digby Neck- one of Nova Scotia's premier whale watching, hiking, and kayaking spots. While only a 20-minute ride from Digby and services like restaurants, supermarkets, and banks, Graham's Pioneer Retreat is located more than a mile off the beaten path on a private road Dave had built. The road takes you to the cottage sites on the Bay, where you will feel about as close to your natural surroundings as you can get (short of camping). There are 3 cottages, but they are situated with great care so they are not visible from each other. The sense of privacy, the quiet, and the serene and natural surroundings of the woods that surround the cottages yields one of the most relaxing and comfortable vacations spots we have ever experienced.
As for the Eco-Tourism slant, the cottages are powered by gas generators that only need to be run when using the bath or kitchen appliances. The stove, full-size fridge, and the living room "woodstove" are all powered by propane. We used the push-button-start generator for less than an hour per day, using LED lanterns and rechargeable lights at nights to read by. So you'll use very little power and leave a minimal carbon footprint in these cottages. Perhaps someday, Dave will add the same solar and wind power that keeps his own home on the property powered, but totally, "off the grid".
The cottages share some steep roads down to the water level of the Bay, where there is a shared picnic area and free wood for a great evening campfire by the Bay (Dave cuts the wood from driftwood found on the beaches, and manages the recycling of bottles and containers from a bin in the picnic area). The beach is is a rocky splendor unto itself. Except for the rare occasions when guests in the other cottages were there, the beach was empty and private. Perfect for beach-coming, fishing, hiking, watching for the seals and porpoise who occasionally cruise by, or even swimming (for the hearty).
Except during lobster season, there are very few boats on the bay, so it is a magnificent, clean and serene body of water to be near. We launched our kayak right from the beach and paddled along the unblemished shore- never seeing so much as another person or boat. And the views, the clean salt air, the clear ocean water were- spectacular.
A short drive from the cottage, we swam and kayaked on gorgeous, warm, Lake Midway- adjacent to the property (accessible via the Provincial Park area just off Hwy 217), went whale watching off of Brier Island (about 40 minutes and 2 short ferries down the 'Neck), and hiked near Sandy Cove (a 10 minute drive) where we could relax on a sand beach and watch the awesome Fundy tide. We also made day trips to Kejimkujik National Park (1 hour drive), and Halifax (a 2.5 hour drive).
If you are going to Nova Scotia for an outdoors-type vacation, trust me, you cannot do better than Graham's Pioneer Retreat. We spoke to other guests- some from Europe, some from other Canadian Provinces, and some, like us, from the States. Everyone loved the comfort of the cottages, the unbelievable views, and the quiet, natural tranquility of this place. Even folks from other parts of Nova Scotia were awed by what Dave & Linda Graham have opened to the world by putting these cottages on this secluded and wild part of beautiful St. Mary's Bay.
Dave and Linda themselves are wonderful, honest and knowledgeable hosts. Dave got us a couple of the most delicious 2-pound lobsters we have ever eaten (at a quarter of the market price), and Linda knows all of the best stops for touring, shopping and eating. They are local people who know and love their home- and are generous enough to share it.
If you are a hotel person who tolerates noisy neighbors, a chlorinated pool, and crowded parking lots, then this place is not for you. But if you are going to Nova Scotia to revel in the natural splendor of the Province, then there is NO BETTER PLACE than Graham's Pioneer Retreat. It is simply outstanding.
- Also Known As:
- Graham's Pioneer Retreat Digby, Nova Scotia
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Do you like your privacy? Peace and quiet? There are 4 secluded self-catering, oceanfront cottages located on 50 acres of Mother Nature's best just waiting for you. Each cottage has a propane bar-b-q on the deck where you can also watch porpoise and seals at play, birds fly by, rabbits come and go, and breathtaking sunrises while the waves wash ashore. Enjoy a beach bonfire, rock hounding, hiking, star gazing, awesome sunrises, and beachcombing. Go whale watching, birding, to the theme park, golfing. There is lots to see and do. ... more less