TIDAL BORES, MAGNETIC HILLS (September 11/98)

Kings County farmer Louis Millett tells me he laughs when he hears someone sending tourists down to Hants County to see the tidal bores. “We have a tidal bore in Kings County and few people seem to be aware of it,” Millett says.

Millett is referring to the tidal bore – or more accurately mini-tidal bore – on the Cornwallis River, which while not as awesome as the one on the Avon or Shubenacadie, can be quite a show at times. Millett farms the dykeland along the Cornwallis in New Minas where he says he has witnessed some impressive, fast-moving bores on the river at tide change. “At times,” Millett says, “the crest reaches as high as (an estimated) two and three feet.”

Like our Minas Basin tides, which for a long time were neglected as a tourist attraction, the tidal bore on the Cornwallis may simply have been overlooked. It appears that the bore on the Cornwallis is more evident higher up the river where the banks are narrow and the tide waters constricted. One of the best place to see the bore is the Middle Dyke Road extension which crosses the Cornwallis at New Minas.

Magnetic Hill

“Old-timers in this vicinity recall the days when it was thought the hill at the foot of the mountain possessed some fantastic illusion, while others failed to believe it was more than the exaggerated imagination of pleasure-seeking holiday makers,” A. Marie Bickerton writes in the history she compiled in 1980 on Canning and Habitant.

Ms. Bickerton was referring to another little-known phenomenon, the “magnetic hill” located on the road running from Canning to the Look-Off. Ms. Bickerton places the magnetic hill at the base of the Look-Off mountain and that’s where I began my search for it some 30 years ago. With the help of residents, I found the section of road where vehicles appear to be magically drawn uphill when placed in neutral.

Actually, it’s an optical illusion. The “hill” appears to be an uphill rise in the road, but if you look at it from different angles you can see that it’s a downhill grade. But illusion or not, Kings County’s “magnetic hill” should be marked or at least noted. Perhaps this is this another tourist attraction we’re overlooking.

Great Views

While the view from the North Mountain at the Look-Off is undoubtedly the most spectacular and most popular in this area, Kings County has other vistas worth investigating.

If you appreciate pleasant, sweeping scenery, check out the Ridge Road which runs from Wolfville to White Rock. If you drive up the highway that passes the Old Orchard Inn and new Horton School and turn east on the Ridge Road, there are several magnificent views of the Minas Basin and the mouth of the Cornwallis River with Blomidon and the North Mountain in the background. Drive farther along the Ridge Road and at the Stile near Wolfville there’s an interesting view of the Gaspereau Valley.

At the east end of the Gaspereau Valley take the road up West Brooklyn Mountain for a look at the Minas Basin from a different angle. The ridges along the West Brooklyn Mountain road are among the highest in Kings County and the view almost rivals that of the Look Off.

Other views worth checking out in this area, especially when fall foliage is on: From the Gaspereau Valley drive up the Wallbrook Mountain road and look north when you reach high ground. From the village of White Rock drive south to the top of White Rock mountain for a look at the Gaspereau Valley and the ridges that define it.

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