Treasure Hunting for Chanterelle Mushrooms in Nova Scotia

chanterelle-picking
Picking Chanterelle Mushrooms on the Little Prince Trail at Big Hill Retreat.

During our last trip to Baddeck, Nova Scotia we discovered a new passion for mushrooms. There were so many colorful mushrooms on the trails of Big Hill Retreat where we were renting a cabin. It all started with sending pictures to Dami’s friend who was able to correctly identify the Chanterelles.  After further investigating – to make sure they really were Chanterelles and not look-a-likes – we went back to the woods with our bag and gathered some for our dinner. We were amazed that such bright mushrooms were edible. They were delicious and the best tasting mushrooms we’ve ever tasted. We tried them first cooked in a butter and had them in a beef stew that day.

baddeck-trail-picking-mushrooms
The White Pine Trail was another great trail for finding the beautiful orange mushrooms. In the rain it was easier to spot them in the ferns, leaves and moss.

We went back twice to gather some more and had them with ground beef and egg noodles, and with a pesto pasta and chicken dish.  We brought back the rest home in a lunch paper bag and had them with a shrimp and vegetable curry and with a kale, pumpkin and potato soup.

picnic-bighill-retreat-baddeck
We had been planning on going on a drive to see the Cabot Trail or visit the Sydney area but when we came outside from the cabin it was so beautiful we decided to just stay put!

While visiting The Highland National Park we bought a field guide on mushrooms although we weren’t able to identify the ones we saw on our walk to Benji’s lake. The field guide is a great addition to the two other books we have of the same collection that will most likely grow: Peterson Field Guides on Medicinal Plants and Herbs, and Edible Wild Plants. With the book we were able to identify the mushrooms we have growing on our own property, the poisonous fly agaric (amanita muscaria) that our squirrels and chipmunks just love. The red squirrel gathers them on top of our spruce tree and the chipmunk brings them in to her nest; both of them pick the mushrooms when they turn black and start fermenting.: kind of like cheese for them!

mushroom-cape-breton-island
So many amazing mushrooms along the trails!

We now have a better understanding as to why we were always told as kids that all wild mushrooms are poisonous. Many of the dangerous toxins in mushrooms are odorless and tasteless and are not neutralized in cooking. Some of the deadliest mushrooms even have a sweet smell! One interesting fact is that we have more mushroom varieties in North America than in Europe and that Europeans that visit North America often get ill while mistakenly picking look-a-likes. Needless to say we had dreams of mushrooms for many days…

benjes-lake-trail
On our hike in Highlands National Park we took the trail to Benjes Lake for a Picnic lunch on the dock. The landscape in the Highlands is awesome and we saw some mushrooms as well as a new bird!
bird-on-benjes-trail
On our hike to Benjes Lake we saw this lovely bird…some sort of Grosbeck?

 

The Fortress of Louisbourg

Fort Louisburg soldiers in the grey moment of history
On a grey and rainy day the sight of two soldiers walking together towards the main structures of the fort was like being back in time hundreds of years ago!

The Fortress of Louisbourg  is an amazing historical site in Nova Scotia. We have been here three times and it is always an amazing visit; we get swept away in the history of the place! The entire site is an accurate recreation of buildings and includes re-enactments of events and daily life by authentically costumed actors and guides on site.

This is way beyond a museum! The people dressed in costume are actually performing the day to day activities that they actual residents would perform 200 years ago! There are live animals, actual gardens, and inside the homes you can see and meet people and furnishings from the time.

You see the life and times of a soldier during the time and they recreate the cannon blasts and musket firings from the day. There are also very interesting displays from the original MiqMaq peoples of the region who helped the French and English during the period.

Drummers and Piper at Fort Louisburg, Nova Scotia
Drummers and piper at the main gate overlooking the harbor at Ft. Louisbourg

We visited The Fortress of Louisbourg in the summer of 2013 while it was celebrating its 300th. It was our second visit and this time we brought Mama D. Maybe she would have preferred a nice sunny day! It was windy and grey and cold when we got there but of course in Nova Scotia, they say, if you don’t like the weather then just wait 30 minutes and it will change!

Louisbourg Buildings

After paying the entry fee at the information center, we are transported by bus to the Fortress site, a few hundred meters away. The ride is magical, kind of like a WDW ride but this time we are talking about the real thing, an exact replica of some of the excavated buildings of the fort that passed through the hands of the French and The British colonies.

Step back in time! The well on the main street at the fort.
Step back in time! The well on the main street at the fort.

We are looking at what the Fortress would have looked like in 1745 while the French were settled there. And we’re not only talking about the buildings, but everything from the furnishings, the clothing, and of course the interpreters.  Many of them have been there for a long time, like our hostess at the restaurant where we had an authentic dinner style lunch a la Bourgeoise because soldiers ate what they could and their diet consisted of bread and any scrapped meat they could find.

The meal was the highlight of our day. The three of us had the turkey dinner with a vegetable soup, fresh bread and a mini apple tart: it was so delicious!

Louisbourg Ocean

Soldiers at Fort Louisbourg
Soldiers at Fort Louisbourg. They march and drum and patrol rain or shine. On a grey day you can almost see the misery on their faces that represents what they would have felt like in 1766! It is amazing to see these authentic costumes and the actors do an amazing job of bringing history to life!
Inside the residences of Fort Louisbourg
The fort has so many room, barracks, chambers, cells and spaces to visit and all are decorated and built in the same manner as the original fort. When you stand in a room with the maps and plans of the boat maker you become immersed in the moment and how it must have felt living in this place.
DD jammin' with the Sailor
The fun part of the fort is that you can interact with the people who are living there! Here is DD who saw a French Sailor playing music in his meager home through an open window and met him and learned about his life back 300 years ago and then decided to pick up a guitar and do a version of her original song: St. Louisbourg Woman.

Louisbourg is a very windy place, no matter what the weather is like; it almost has its own micro-climate. It was raining when we got there and it cleared up throughout the afternoon.  Mama D and I had our travel cheap Dollar Store  ponchos  but a real raincoat would have been better because of the wind that got under the poncho and all you could hear was  FlopFlopFlopFlopFlopFlopFlopFlopFlopFlop. You can forget your umbrella! I was so jealous of everyone with a decent raincoat. I have my green rubber poncho but Mama D and I were traveling light.

If you could only hear the wind blowing through our rain ponchos! As we got off the welcome bus that drives us from the main visitors center to the fort we were buffeted by winds and rain and the plastic rain ponchos rippled and blew in the wind with that familiar sound: Tapocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pock! Tapocketa-pocketa-pocketa pock! No wonder the solders 200 years ago were miserable in such a place!!
If you could only hear the wind blowing through our rain ponchos! As we got off the welcome bus that drives us from the main visitors center to the fort we were buffeted by winds and rain and the plastic rain ponchos rippled and blew in the wind with that familiar sound:
Tapocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pock! Tapocketa-pocketa-pocketa pock!
No wonder the solders 200 years ago were miserable in such a place!!
girl-louisberg
It is actually very cool to be at the fort during bad weather in the summer. Everywhere I looked I saw the costumed figures walking with amazing backgrounds and there were no guests around to cast a modern glare on the authentic surroundings! I really feel like I am in another time and another world!
Fort Louisbourg storms
Imagine how you feel back in 1755…times were tough…visiting the historical site of Fort Louisbourg is worth it to experience these moments no matter what the season.
Arriving at Fort Liouisbourg
The shuttle bus from the visitor center takes you back in time…you get off the bus and are set off into the past…meeting peasants and soldiers, tradespeople and families as you pass back hundreds of years to an amazing part of Canadian history.