Penny's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada

A Canadian Maritime Vacation Adventure


Peggy's Cove is a small rural community located on the eastern most shore of St. Margaret's Bay, in Nova Scotia, Canada. The town is just 43 kilometres (26 miles) southwest of Halifax city centre, and is one of numerous small fishing communities located along the perimeter of the Chebucto Peninsula.



Peggy's Cove, sometimes incorrectly spelled without the apostrophe as, "Peggys Cove", is named after the cove of the same name, a name also shared with Peggy's Point, immediately to the east of the cove. Local legend has it that both Margaret's Bay and Peggy's Cove were named after the sole survivor of a schooner that ran aground and sank in 1800, a woman named Margaret. The locals called her "Peggy" and her home came to be known as Peggy's Cove.


Peggy's Cove is primarily a tourist attraction, although its inhabitants still fish for lobster, and the community maintains a rustic undeveloped appearance. The regional municipality and the provincial government have strict land-use regulations in the vicinity of Peggys Cove, with most property development being prohibited. Similarly there are restrictions on who can live in the community to prevent inflation of property values for year-round residents.


Peggy's Cove
A view of the harbour in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada. Photo by Aconcagua.


The unique rock comprising the coastline of Peggy's Cove, and much of the Nova Scotia coastline, is the result of ancient volcanic action. More than 400 million years ago, during the Devonian Period, the movement of the tectonic plates of the Earth's crust allowed molten lava to bubble up from within the Earth. This formed the rocks we see today and are part of the Great Nova Scotia batholith.


Peggy's Cove


The unique landscape of Peggys Cove and surrounding areas was subsequently carved by the migration of glaciers and ocean tides. About 20,000 years ago, an ice ridge moved south from Canada’s Arctic region covering much of North America. Along with the ebb and flow of the glaciers, the ice ridge eventually melted and shifted and in the process scooped away and scoured large sections of rock, vegetation, and topsoil. As melted land glaciers flowed back to the oceans the changing tidal flows and rising sea levels filled the scarred areas with water, forming coves and inlets. Large boulders composed of 415 million year old Devonian granite, called glacial erratics, were lifted by the ice and carried for long distances before being deposited upon the landscape as the ice receded. The movement of the glacial ice and rocks left scouring marks in the bedrock that are still visible.


Peggys Cove has been declared a preservation area to protect its rugged beauty. The Peggys Cove Commission Act, passed in 1962, prohibits development in and around the surrounding village and restricts development within Peggys Cove.


On September 2nd, 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed just offshore from Peggy's Cove, and the 229 souls aboard all perished.


The Swissair Flight 111 Memorial is located at The Whalesback, a promontory approximately 1 km northwest of Peggys Cove. It is one of two memorials built to commemorate the victims of the disaster, which saw the aircraft crash into St. Margaret's Bay. The crash site is roughly equidistant between the Whalesback Memorial and another memorial at Bayswater, Nova Scotia, located on the Aspotogan Peninsula on the western shore of the bay, opposite Peggys Cove.


Swissair Flight 111 Memorial


The monument reads in English and French: "In memory of the 229 men, women and children aboard Swissair Flight 111 who perished off these shores September 2nd, 1998. They have been joined to the sea, and the sky. May they rest in peace."


The site of the crash and the two monuments form a triangle. The three notches on the monument at Whalesback represent the numerals 111. The sight line from the three grooves in the stone points to the crash site; while the markings on the facing stone point to the memorial at Bayswater. The memorial wall at Bayswater contains the names of the 229 passengers and crew of flight 111. The facing stone points to the crash site.

See also: Nova Scotia Historical Lighthouses