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Tancook Island, Chester Basin

#14 of 22 in Nature in Nova Scotia
Island Nature / Park
Big Tancook Island is a Canadian island located off the coast of Nova Scotia. The island is one of the 365 islands dotting Mahone Bay. It measures approximately 4km long (north to south) and 1.6km wide, forming roughly a "C" shape. The island is separated from nearby Little Tancook Island to the east by a 1km wide strait called "The Chops". Big Tancook Island is approximately 4km from Sandy Cove Point on the Aspotogan Peninsula - the nearest point on the mainland.The island measures 550acre and has a rocky shoreline with open fields and softwood forest dotted by ponds, tidy residential properties and fish stores. It is the largest island in Mahone Bay.The community of Big Tancook is the only one located on Big Tancook Island. Big Tancook has a population of about 200 people during the summer months and approximately 120 people during the winter months. It is home to one of the last remaining one-room schoolhouses in Canada: Big Tancook Island Elementary School. The residents primarily make their living through lobster fishing, although a unique artistic community adds a certain dynamic vibrancy to the island.Wildlife populations are limited to deer, muskrats, snakes, and pheasants. There is however, a great variety of birds.The island was originally a summer fishing ground for native peoples. The word "Tancook" is an anglicized Mi'kmaq term that translates into "facing the open sea." The island was later settled by German immigrants. The industry at that time was mostly agricultural, and primarily consisted of cabbage farming. Tancook was at one time the leading producer of sauerkraut in Canada, which was transported to market in barrels packed in the holds of Tancook schooners. Only after the popularity of the cabbage and sauerkraut industry diminished did the island shift to fishing.
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Where to stay in Chester Basin

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  • Went over on bikes and checjed out every road and some beaches. We were amazed as to how quiet it was there. People are friendly very quaint.  more »
  • Full day needed to explore this island gem out of Chester. Bring a pic nic lunch or stop by one of the islands restaurants. Great place to hike, bicycle rentals available. Make sure you stop by the Se...  more »
  • We took the 10:30 ferry over to the island and returned on the 1:30 ferry. That gave us enough time to walk to the other side of the island to visit the mesuem and gift shop by the beach. Great walk b...  more »