World-famous scallops, world-class whale watching and 23,000 motorcycles.
One day, many moons ago, I wheeled up to the ferry terminal to take the Princess of Acadia from Digby to Saint John. Alas, I was 10 minutes late and missed the boat. Knowing the response I'd get from my sister on the other side of the Bay of Fundy, I panicked. Then I remembered seeing a small sign that said "Airport" on the outskirts of town on my way to the ferry.
Eventually I found the airport, which consisted of a small club house and runway in a big field. No planes in sight. But I did get directions to someone's home-and yes, he would fly me over. As we winged over the Bay of Fundy, the pilot confided that he had cancelled his insurance but he would discount his fee when we landed. He saved the day; my sister was ecstatic and I've had a soft place in my heart for Digby ever since.
People in this little town are friendly and accommodating. Don't be afraid to ask where to find a decent cup of coffee and who gives the best whale-watching tours on "the neck." (Digby Neck is the longish peninsula that extends from Digby down to Brier Island. This region has some of the best whale-watching anywhere.)
Of course, Digby is world-famous for its scallops and has a very active fishery. If you roam around the waterfront you'll find piles of scallop shells. Further along Water Street you'll find the Boardwalk Café, which serves the best sautéed scallops on the planet (and a great iced espresso coffee.
Feeling flush? Arrange to have dinner at the Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa. Your meal will be memorable. You can also take a gorgeous hike on the property, whether you are a guest or not. Go past the main building and cottages and you'll find the entrance to the trail. There are benches along the way where you can take photos of the imposing Bay of Fundy or simply sit and catch your breath before looping through the woods back to the parking lot.
Poking around the main drag you'll also find gems like Crooked Timber Books in a 19th century house. Owner Bill Schrank loves to talk about used books. He has loads. Someone recently discovered a first edition of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and was one happy dude. But Crooked Timber is more than a second hand bookstore. Things like sequined dresses, funky stuffed animals and vinyl records lend a whole new dimension to book browsing.
And for a real show stopper, plan to be in Digby for the annual Wharf Rat Rally, commonly referred to as the WRR. The event started off five years ago with 750 motorcycles and drew 5,000 people. Since then it's "just growed" like Topsy, and last year, there were 23,000 bikes and 85,000 people. It's six days of people struttin' their stuff (oooh the chrome and the power!) and exchanging road stories.
A lot of time and thought goes into entertainment and both the calibre and variety is as good as it gets. I've often wondered how this little place (population 2,311) manages to pull off such a "wow" event. Part of it is due to the fact that everyone supports the rally, from locals to town council and shopkeepers. There's also a small army of volunteers who pitch in to make it work. "There are some secret ingredients that we keep to ourselves," says Peter Robertson, one of the co-founders of the event, adding, "Digby is in the middle of nowhere but connected to everywhere-and bikers like to ride to get here."
Jamie Rogers started attending when he was 13. He's crazy about the Kawasaki bikes and he loves talking with bike owners. Last year, he turned 16 just before the rally and was able to participate-riding his own bike. Now he takes to the road every chance he gets (he highly recommends a spin around Bear River as it's full of hills and curves and it's close to Digby.)
Geraldine Hedberg, another Digby native, looks forward to the town's influx of bikers every year. Although Geraldine does not drive a bike, her husband was a die-hard Harley man so she has an appreciation for the passion that people have for biking. At age 80, she'd prefer to keep her feet on the ground, but she takes part in all the activities. "I don't even notice the noise," she says.
As you can see, there's more to Digby than you'd think at first glance. But don't just take my word for it. Go ahead and make your own discoveries. By the way-Digby still has that little airport. You might find a pilot who will take you for a spin around the bay. Just be sure he's insured.