Accommodations Nova Scotia

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Bear River, Nova Scotia

Bear River is a small village situated at the head of the Bear River. The river itself is the border between the Annapolis and Digby counties of Nova Scotia and thus, splits the village so that half the village is in one county and the other half in the other. The Bear River rises and falls more than 20 feet with each tide change, pushed upstream by the Bay of Fundy influence. There are two primary bridges which span the Bear River. The longest bridge is the Bear River Bridge located on Highway 101 at the mouth of the river (which drains into the Annapolis Basin), approximately 6 km from the village. The second bridge is located in downtown Bear River and connects the two halves of the village together.

The village is also conjoined with a First Nations Reservation (also called Bear River). This eclectic community is a traditional home to the Mi’Kmaq peoples and now boasts the largest artistic community in Nova Scotia.

Bear River is noted for its picturesque old buildings on stilts along the riverside. The scenery has made it popular with photographers and a tourism destination. Bear River is affectionately known as "the Switzerland of Nova Scotia" because of the steep hills which surround the village.

Bear River was an important shipbuilding location in the late 1800s. One of many large vessels built in the village was the brigantine Dei Gratia, the vessel which discovered the famous mystery ship Mary Celeste in 1872.

The climate and soil conditions in the Bear River area are conducive to the growing of grapes and several vineyards have emerged. The unique topography of this settlement also hosts the newest winery in the province and the largest collection of vineyards on the Fundy Coast.

Bear River is home to the first solar aquatics waste water management facility in North America; however, for reasons unknown the facility was altered by the Municipality of Annapolis in 2004 and, regrettably, is no longer fully utilizing solar aquatic technology.

The community is known for its thriving artistic community, the largest per capita in Nova Scotia. There are many artist studios, shops and galleries in the downtown and immediate area. Tour nearly two dozen individual studios, watch the artists at work, and shop for truly unique gifts. Crafts produced include clothing, woodwork, pottery, quilts, fibre items, and an assortment of painted media.

The village is run by volunteers as there is no town government. The Bear River Board of Trade is the primary organization to pursue economic development and also maintains the waterfront park and Visitor Information Center.

The Bear River Historical Society operates the Bear River Heritage Museum which is open through the summer and early fall with displays of historical photos, archival materials and artifacts of the rich history of the area.

The village is working to become an eco-village in its determination to remain low-tech, with no fast food, malls or box stores, and the exploration of alternative energy sources.

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