Explore the campus of one of Canada’s oldest universities, watch traditional Scottish events at the annual Highland Games and walk a beautiful coastal path when you visit the town of Antigonish.
Europeans first settled this area in the 18th century, and in 1855 a group of Scottish Catholics founded St. Francis xavier University. This remains one of the most highly regarded universities in the country, and a student population of around 4,000 ensures the cafés and bars of Main Street are always buzzing.
Antigonish is a superb place for lovers of the outdoors to spend some time. The tracks along Fairmont Ridge northeast of town offer great views. Head a little way south of here for Pomquet Dune, a large dune system. Spot attractive plants and birds as you make your way towards the coast. Antigonish is also the start of the Sunrise Trail that runs along Nova Scotia’s northern coast and ends at Amherst. Walk along part of the route to the Cape George Lighthouse. Spend an afternoon here and enjoy superb views towards Cape Breton and Prince Edward Islands.
When the cold winter makes trips to the beach less appealing, you will find plenty to do in town. Visit the Heritage Museum and view photos and artifacts covering more than 100 years of the town’s past. Tour the university campus and see the work of Nova Scotia artists at its StFX Art Gallery. Attend an ice hockey match or a concert at the Charles V. Keating Millennium Center.
July brings one of the highlights of the year, the Antigonish Highland Games. Scottish settlers began this tradition around 1863 and it is the longest running event of its kind in the country. Enjoy traditional Scottish music, join in a Scottish dance and watch strength events like the tug of war.
Reach Antigonish by flying into Halifax Airport and then drive 114 miles (184 kilometers) west to the town. Summers are the best time to visit, as the long days and milder weather allow you to spend more time enjoying the area’s natural beauty.