Great places to live: Atlantic provinces

We finish our series of great places to live across Canada along the East Coast. Here are some spots to delight visitors and residents alike.

Sackville, New Brunswick: Rush hour? Not here
Founded in 1762, Sackville represents a colourful history of Native and European settlement. With a population of about 5,400 people in the southeast corner of New Brunswick near the Nova Scotia border, it’s also the home of Mount Allison University, one of Canada’s top undergraduate institutions.


• Average Jan temp (mean): –8 C
• Average July temp (mean): 18 C
• Annual rainfall: 934 mm 
• Annual snowfall: 230 cm  

House facts

• Bungalow: $110,000 to $120,000; $150,000 (new)
• Standard two-storey: $150,000 to $160,000; $230,000 to $250,000 (new)
• Two-storey with lakefront: $250,000 to $300,000
(Average prices provided by Mary Sears, RE/MAX Sackville Realty 2000 Ltd.)

Transportation&t;r />Sackville has three taxi companies.

Great things to do
Sackville has the zest typical of university towns. The faculty of music at Mount Allison University has frequent concerts as well as a performing arts subscription series. Approximately 10 theatrical productions are staged each year in Windsor Theatre on campus. Live Bait Theatre, Sackville’s downtown professional theatre, is famous for Flying On Her Own, its original musical portrayal of Rita MacNeil’s life story. Several times a year, the Tantramarsh Blues Society brings the blues to town, usually to George’s Roadhouse.

The Owens Art Gallery is Canada’s oldest university art gallery. Artists have workshops at Struts Gallery; others co-operate in running The Craft Gallery. Fog Forest Gallery is a serene setting for paintings, pottery and finely wrought jewellery. In October, take the Art Across the Marsh studio tour and get to know local artists and crafts people.

Everyone gets into the mood during the Sackville Fall Fair in September. Galleries and other local businesses add on special events – and fairgoers might encounter a roving band of poets.

For almost a century, the Campbell Carriage Factory produced carriages as well as caskets. The mid-19th century factory has been restored as a museum. After a visit, antique hunters will enjoy checking out the various Sackville and area antique shops.

The university has a gym, weight rooms, indoor pool and handball courts. The Tantramar Regional Civic Centre includes an ice pad for hockey and skating. The town’s parks and recreation department offers a wide variety of activities, from aerobics and curling to Tai Chi and square dancing.

More than three kilometres of boardwalk thread through the 55-acre Sackville Waterfowl Park in the town’s heart, where 160 species have been spotted, and 26 species of birds breed.

An abandoned pasture behind the regional high school has been returned to its original wetland status. It now functions as the educational Tantramar Wetlands Centre.

Credit and non-credit courses are offered through Mount Allison’s continuous learning department and, for those eager to learn more about their family roots and history, the Sackville Public Library has a local history and genealogy reference section.

The nine-hole Sackville Golf and Country Club extends along the western edge of the Tantramar Marshes. Tournaments are open to the public.

If you get sick
Sackville Memorial Hospital is a 21-bed community facility. Because of its size, it offers only limited services, including special care, emergency and some out-patient services. Patients whose medical needs aren’t covered are referred to Moncton Hospital, about a 30-minute drive away. Sackville has 15 family physicians and one nursing home.

From the horse’s mouth
“Sackville: where people you don’t know greet you as you pass, where merchants know you name, where motorists stop to let you pass.” – Brian Ash

Next page: Truro

Truro, Nova Scotia: Great attitude
Originally settled by the Acadians, then the Scottish and English, Truro is known for its unique tree sculptures, its response to the ravages of Dutch elm disease. In the heart of a rural community, the town of Truro with its population of 11,500 is the home of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, which has an experimental farm and gardens.


• Average Jan temp (mean): –7 C
• Average July temp (mean): 18 C
• Annual rainfall: 991 mm
• Annual snowfall: 229 cm

House facts

• Bungalow: $130,000
• Two-storey: $135,000
• Condominium: $185,000
• Monthly rent for two-bedroom  apartment: $600 to $1,000
(Average prices provided by Sandi Lockhart, Royal LePage Truro Real Estate)

Truro is serviced by two taxi companies. In addition, LIDA (Life Improvement for the Disabled) provides low-cost transportation for persons with disabilities and for seniors in Colchester County.

Great things to do
When Truro’s substantial elm trees began dying of Dutch elm disease, the town commissioned artists to carve the standing trunks into likenesses of people who had built the community.

Town and family history is preserved and accessible at the Colchester Historical Museum and Archives located in the former provincial teachers’ college.

During the long weekend in May, Truro celebrates with a Tulip Festival featuring entertainment, plant sales, a craft market and the Golden Age Auto Club’s car show. The festival has special activities planned for children, so bring the grandkids.

The whole family will also want to be a part of the excitement at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition held in August. The exhibition grounds are the site of the Agridome, a fabric-covered hall enclosing a playing field that can be used for soccer, football and baseball. It also functions as a site for trade shows, concerts and dog shows.

Seeing a need for more cultural facilities, local business people have persuaded residents to invest in the Marigold Cultural Centre project to renovate an abandoned cinema, creating a 280-seat theatre space, an art gallery and the Truro Sports Hall of Fame.

Currently, the Hubtown Theatre Society presents shows at the Alumni Theatre at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. Movie fans go to the cinema at the Truro Power Centre, owned and administered by the Millbrook First Nation.

An annual Christmas Dreams fashion show launches the season in style, with three nights of food, fashion and entertainment – and thousands of dollars in door prizes. Handmade fashion for the home attracts buyers to a sale of quilts and hooked rugs sponsored by the Quilters of St. David’s and the Rug Hookers of Northern Nova Scotia.

Victoria Park’s nearly 400 hectares of woodland is the heart of Truro and a haven for nature lovers, bird watchers, photographers and walkers, such as the members of the Central Nova Volkssport Club. It has an outdoor pool, ball diamonds, a band shell, tennis courts and a picnic pavilion.

The town’s indoor Centennial Pool is located on the campus of Nova Scotia Community College, whose wellness centre runs fitness classes and has an indoor driving range, tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts. Residents can also buy memberships giving access to similar facilities at the agricultural college’s Langille Athletic Centre. Both colleges offer continuing education courses.

Track and field events, baseball and football take place at the Truro Amateur Athletic Grounds. Sport fans cheer the Truro Bearcats of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League at the Colchester Legion Stadium as well as the Truro Saints, a rugby team.

Maritimers have a special fondness for harness horse racing. The track in Truro has been operating since 1875.

Greenfield Par 3 and Ridgewood Golf Course are public nine-hole courses; Mountain Golf and Country Club and the Truro Golf Club (semi-private) are 18-hole courses. All are close to town.

If you get sick
Truro residents have access to the Colchester Regional Hospital, a 126-bed acute care facility that provides a wide range of services including surgical, emergency, intensive care, X-ray and laboratory. Plans are in place to build a new hospital to service the area.

Truro has 37 family physicians serving the area and two main nursing homes as well as four smaller ones to choose from.

From the horse’s mouth
“Truro has long been recognized for its achievements in business, sport, music, culture and heritage. The people are passionate in everything they do. The record shows the achievements of citizens from this area.” – W.R. (Bill) Mills, Mayor

Next page: Montague

Montague, Prince Edward Island: Waterfront enchants

Incorporated as a town in 1917, Montague is a pretty community gracing the Montague River in the heart of Kings County with easy access to the Northumberland Strait and the Atlantic Ocean. The population is under 2,000.


• Average Jan temp (mean): –8 C
• Average July temp (mean): 19 C
• Annual rainfall: 1,201 mm
• Annual snowfall: 339 cm

House facts

• Bungalow: $70,000 to $140,000
• Two-storey: $70,000 to $140,000
• Condominiums: no condominiums in this community
• Lots: waterfront: $60,000 to $100,000; waterview: $25,000 to $40,000, no waterview $12,000 to  $18,000
• Monthly rent for two-bedroom apartment: $450 to $800
(Average prices provided by Brad Oliver, Brad Oliver Realty Inc.)

Two taxi companies service the town.

Great things to do
Lobster boats line the wharf on one side of the Montague River, across from graceful pleasure boats moored at the town marina. A refurbished railway station now serves as a visitor information centre, complete with café overlooking the marina and a shop stocked with works by Maritime artists and crafts people. Confederation Trail, for cycling and hiking, lies just beyond the marina.

The Garden of the Gulf Museum preserves Montague’s history. Books can be borrowed from the public library located in the town hall building.

More mental stimulation is available through Holland College’s adult education courses, although they focus on literacy improvement and employment issues. Senior’s College has programs available through the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

That city’s theatre and concert performances lure Montague residents, but the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown occasionally has shows only a short drive from Montague. A Homecoming Festival is slated for July 2005. And just north of Montague, more than 2,000 turned up for the opening of Three Rivers Roma last year. The historic site is dedicated to the French settlers who arrived in 1732 led by Jean-Pierre Roma.

The Montague River, which flows into Cardigan Bay six miles away, is home to mussel-producing farms. It’s also a natural aquatic playground for residents, who sail, fish, sea kayak and watch the seal colonies. Birds regularly spotted in the area include bald eagles, blue herons and cormorants, but many more species are seen during migratory seasons. Provincial parks offer an opportunity to swim or picnic.

Fitness facilities in Montague include Atlantic Fitness East, a business operating at the town’s aquatic centre, where facilities include a 25-metre pool, fitness equipment and weights, saunas and hot tubs. Fundraising has begun for a new complex that will add a walking track and an ice rink to replace the current Iceland Arena. The complex will be used as a Canada Games venue in 2009. In addition to ice skating and hockey at the arena, active residents enjoy cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Several fine golf courses are within a 30-minute drive. Among them are the renowned Links at Crowbush Cove and Seal Cove Golf Course, a nine-hole public course. The Rodd Brudenell River Resort has two well-regarded courses. Dundarave is its championship 18-hole course, while Brudenell River Golf Course is possibly the province’s most popular. Not a golfer? The nine-hole Canadian Golf Academy at the resort offers group or private lessons. The head instructor there is Anne Chouinard, coach of Lori Kane.

If you get sick
The Kings County Memorial Hospital is a 30-bed acute care hospital with emergency and lab/X-ray facilities. Specialists visit on a weekly basis, providing surgery, internal medicine and orthopedics. For any other medical service, patients are referred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, a 45-minute drive.

There are five family doctors listed in Montague and one nursing home.

From the horse’s mouth
“Montague has two top-notch grocery stores that compare to the best urban grocery stores in the country. Most routine business and health needs can be met in the community. There are 13 churches and numerous service clubs. In short, this is a great spot to live. I moved here 30 years ago and have never regretted it.

Waterfront and waterview properties command the highest prices; however, there is good public access to the shorelines so buyers don’t need to buy on the water. Waterfront prices have been increasing at an annual rate of 20 per cent a year over the past five years, and the trend appears to be continuing.” – Brad Oliver

“The people are what we most like about Montague. They endeared themselves to us with their welcoming of two “come-from-aways.” Its natural beauty and the charm of its people make Montague a very pleasant place in which to live.” –Robin and Regan Campbell

Next page: Gander

Gander, Newfoundland: Accustomed to welcoming the world
With the dubious distinction of having the most freezing rain days and the lowest average pressure as well as being the snowiest city in the country, Gander with its population of 9,700 has other attractions to appeal to 50-plus Canadians. Gander boasts an international airport that can handle the world’s largest aircraft and the nearby mighty Gander River has one of the most remarkable recoveries of Atlantic salmon stocks in Eastern North America.


• Average Jan temp (mean): –6 C
• Average July temp (mean): 16 C
• Annual rainfall: 739 mm
• Annual snowfall: 443 cm

House facts

• Bungalows: $90,000 (older area); $131,000 to $160,000 (newer area)
• Standard two-storey: $250,000
• Condominium: $70,000 to $75,000 (older); $163,000 to 215,000.00 (new construction)
• Monthly rent on two-bedroom apartment: $450
(Average prices provided by Gaye Turner, Turner Realty Inc.)

Gander is serviced by one taxi company.

Great things to do
Gander’s significance as the “crossroads of the world” is illuminated in the North Atlantic Aviation Museum, which details the town’s strategic role in commercial and military aviation, including the situation on Sept. 11, 2001, when the small community welcomed passengers stranded as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York. Each midsummer, the Gander Festival of Flight pays tribute to the world of flight.

Concerts and theatrical productions are staged in the Arts and Culture Centre. Commercial films are shown at the Fraser Mall Cinema, but readers prefer the Gander Public and Resource Library with its Internet connections. The Gander campus of the College of the North Atlantic offers continuing education classes, some of general interest while others are job-oriented.

Larger concerts rock the 1,100-seat arena of the community centre linked to the Arts and Culture Centre. The building also includes a 200-metre walking track and swimming pool as well as the Sports Hall of Fame/Archives. A tennis court, gym, pool, weight room and other recreational amenities at the Canadian Forces Base 9-Wing near the airport are open to civilians for a fee. Curlers can enjoy a bonspiel on the Gander Curling Club’s four sheets of ice and then celebrate in their club’s lounge.

Outdoor facilities invite participation or spectator support for baseball, soccer, basketball, and tennis. Stop for a picnic with the grandchildren at Cobb’s Pond Rotary Park after taking a nature walk over its four-kilometre boardwalk. Newfoundland and Labrador forestry takes the spotlight at the Thomas Howe Demonstration Forest on Gander International Airport land. Interpretive trails detail forest management techniques used in the province. The great outdoors provides a playground for cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. Nearby wilderness boasts great salmon fishing.

Terra Nova National Park, about an hour’s drive away, has an informative Marine Interpretation Centre. Rent a kayak or take a sea tour to learn more about the ocean’s environment. Afterwards, camp out for the weekend. There are lots of trails for hiking, and there’s golfing at the Terra Nova Golf Resort in the park, with its spectacular Twin Rivers Golf Course, an 18-hole course described as Canada’s Pebble Beach; and the nine-hole Eagle Creek course. (Golfers who want to stay closer to home can play the 18 holes of the Doug Carrick-designed Gander Golf Club.)

If you get sick
Gander’s James Paton Memorial Hospital is a 106-bed facility offering a wide range of medical and surgical services including general surgery, orthopedics, psychiatry, ophthalmology, internal medicine, radiology and anesthesiology. The hospital also hosts visiting specialists in urology, rheumatology and neurology. Special services include diabetes education, respiratory therapy, physiotherapy, asthma clinics and audiology services. There are 21 family doctors serving the area and one nursing home.

From the horse’s mouth
“Gander has everything you’d expect to find in a modern, cosmopolitan suburb – shopping malls, restaurants, the finest health care and communications – but we also cherish our small-town values. We are very much a part of the global community, but the children’s Christmas concert might still be the biggest night of the year.” – Claude Elliott, Mayor