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If you’re not familiar with Alexandra Duckworth, let us get you acquainted. Alex found snowboarding when she was 10 years old and latched on to the creativity, friendship, and challenges inherent in the sport. Her dedication and perseverance to her craft led to competing in the halfpipe at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
Beyond snowboarding, this Olympian has some of the best fashion sense of any human we’ve met, is casually crazy good at any athletic pursuit she tries, is a closet yogi, a videographer, writer, philanthropist, and perhaps most importantly, a total goofball. She’s also from the snowboarding mecca of Nova Scotia. We sat down with Alex to get the lowdown on how she recommends spending time in her native province.
SB: So, what would you recommend someone do when they visit Nova Scotia?
AD: Well, first and foremost, you have to visit Lunenburg, home of the Blue Nose. It’s a super colourful town with good restaurants, amazing whale watching, and sailing. Fifteen minutes out of Lunenburg in any direction you can find hundreds of amazing destinations. Primarily, I would go to Hirtles Beach and do the Gaff Point Hike where you can rappel down to a secret beach. You’ll be all secluded in a private little nook–that is until everyone reads this.
My family holds a Boogie Boarding tournament in August at Hirtles Beach. If you show up around that time of year you can enter and my mom will school you.
SB: What would make someone’s visit to Nova Scotia better?
AD: You definitely have to rent a car for your visit because you’re in the boonies. If you have a car, you can do things like take the ferry to West LaHave and go to the LaHave Bakery. LaHave Bakery is a super old bakery with an art co-op on the second floor and a skateboard factory and indoor skate bowl on the third floor. Get a cheese pizza at LaHave Bakery for sure. If you drive an hour past LaHave Bakery, you reach Carter’s Beach, which is a series of amazing and secluded white sand beaches with completely Caribbean-clear water. Drive the Coastal Route and stay at some bed and breakfasts. You can visit the Annapolis Valley for a wine tour and you can bike around the Cabot Trail; all sorts of good things.
SB: How about some distinctly outdoor-oriented adventures?
AD: Visitors should go to Three Pools and of course,the Bay of Fundy and the Mudslides, where you can slip n’ slide into deep water so quickly that you’ll lose your bathing suit.
Another good one that’s not especially popular is tubing in the valley down the Gaspereau River. Depending on the time of year the river conditions can go from leisurely to extreme, so plan it out. One summer while I was attending Acadia I was working for a drink company and was given a backpack cooler and tasked with giving people cans as I leisurely floated down the river. The river was going super fast and half way through there was a cow crossing. My group had rounded a corner and I could just see cows ahead starting to step into the river. Well, they all just cut me off. So I just chilled with the cows, fell off my tube, lost my backpack, lost my bikini. Good times.
SB: What should someone do in Halifax?
AD: Check out the Saturday farmers’ market on the waterfront, visit restaurants, cafes and bars in the North End, grab a cocktail at the Field Guide and join a dance party with a pack of sweaty twenty-somethings at Gus’s pub.
SB: Is there a must-attend party in Nova Scotia?
AD: Chester Race Week. It’s a sailing Regatta and people come from all over. Even if you have no interest in sailing you should go. It’s the biggest party Nova Scotia has. Chester is sort of like The Hamptons without the frills.
F+W: Favourite Bar?
AD: If you’re looking for a real local’s spot, The Knot Pub in Lunenburg. If you want hip, the Field Guide in Halifax.
SB: Favourite beach?
AD: Hirtles Beach
SB: Favourite restaurant?
AD: Edna in Halifax
SB: Favourite Nova Scotian?
AD: Sid the Kid. I met him at the Sochi Winter Games. It was the day after my event, I rolled into the Canada House cafeteria and the first person I see is Sidney Crosby. I was losing it. I went to the salad bar and grabbed some radishes and put them on my plate so it looked like I was eating something, then went up to his table where he was sitting with two other famous hockey players I should probably know. I was like, “Hey. Do you mind if I join you?” Sid was like, “Yeah, of course. Sit down.” Crosby and I just talked about Nova Scotia. They were asking me how old I was because they didn’t think I was old enough to be there. I’m his fan.
SB: Best trait about Nova Scotians?
AD: They’re not afraid to start a conversation. It’s weird if you’re not talking to the stranger next to you while you’re pumping gas. Oh, and their accents.
SB: What do you miss most about home?
AD: The pace of life.
SB: Best donair and garlic fingers in Nova Scotia?
AD: I’m the wrong person to ask. I always go for pizza with too much ranch. But I’m going to go back to Nova Scotia and eat some donair this summer.
SB: What’s overrated in Nova Scotia?
AD: Anchor tattoos. Maybe that’s everywhere, but especially in Nova Scotia.
AD: Kitchen parties. They naturally form because it’s the room that has the beer in it. They are cozy and just awesome.
SB: Best place for a date?
AD: Public Gardens in Halifax. But if we’re talking about where you want to lay the first French, probably your parents’ pantry, because everyone still lives at home in Nova Scotia, even as an adult.
SB: Best place to stay for the night?
AD: My dad’s vacation rental cottage. Stay at the Beach House or the School House because those rentals are next door to my folks, so we can hang, and my parents are awesome. Even if I’m not there, they’ll tour you around and serve you aperitifs in the backyard. It’s also the mecca of all the beaches, and I’m not being biased when I say it’s the nicest part of the province, period. Kingsburg, Nova Scotia. Google it.