For some reason, the whole French Shore region is quite barren and stark. You don’t see a lot of trees or high bushes – just low lying grass and brush. My thought is this may be due to the violent winds and weather that blows in off the ocean. Regardless of what causes it, every time I am in this area I am always struck by how desolate it looks.
Of course – the Acadian people make up for this lack of trees in warm hospitality (want some rappie pie?) and in the amazing Catholic churches you find along the route. Here are some of the more famous churches:
The Paroisse Ste. Marie (the light blue church with the Virgin Mary in front) is the tallest wooden church in North America. Tall columns within the church are actually entire trees taken from the area and covered with layers of jute and plaster. Due to the awesome size and its exposure to the strong winds that come up off Saint Mary’s Bay the steeple would often sway back and forth. To better secure, the structure forty tons of rock ballast was placed in the base.
L’Eglise de Saint-Bernard (the grey rock church) looks like a European castle in the middle of Nova Scotia. It is a perfect example of a community working together as Acadian farmers, fishermen and lumbermen worked together from 1910-1942 to build the church adding one single row of granite blocks each year. The church walls are an amazing three feet thick and reinforced with steel beams. The 8000 blocks of stone were hauled 120 miles from Shelburne by train and then by two men with ox teams.
Eglise Sacre-Coeur (the huge white church on the hill) is the oldest parish church in Clare having been founded in 1879. Sacred Heart Church sits atop a hill and its steeple can be seen from both ends of the village. Again, the area around the church is barren like a “little church on a prairie”.
L’Eglise St-Alphonse is a white boxy looking church and is the first you see when if you are heading up the lighthouse route from Liverpool. It is not as pretty as some of the other churches you see later in the trip though inside there is an amazing altar and wooden grotto painted to look like stone.
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Humm! It could be they cut all the trees down. I noticed this same phenomenon around Cheticamp on the western shore of Cape Breton. A place that should be heavily forested. Those churches are really impressive, eh.