If you ask a Nova Scotian for advice on a place to get away from it all – a place with lush forests, meandering rivers and crystal clear lakes – you’ll likely hear the name “Keji” again and again. What they mean is Kejimkujik National Historic Site and National Park. It truly is a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the world and immerse yourself in the beauty of Nova Scotia.
Kejimkujik National Park and Kejimkujik Seaside
Kejimkujik is actually one park divided into two areas. The main park is located 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the village of Caledonia on Highway 8, and there is Kejimkujik Seaside, which lies approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of the main park, along the coast near Port Joli. Both offer incredible opportunities to explore Nova Scotia’s natural heritage, see a wide range of wildlife or to simply sit back and soak it all in.
History of Kejimkujik
The main part of Kejimkujik was first established as a National Park in 1968, being recognized for its old growth forest, rare wildlife and traditional Mi’kmaq waterways. The park took its name from Kejimkujik Lake, which is a Mi’kmaq word believed to mean “tired muscles” – a reference to the effort it took to canoe across the lake. Keji’s canoe routes had been used by native inhabitants for thousands of years as they traveled between the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Coast. They also made their mark while on those journeys, leaving stone carvings, or petroglyphs, on large boulders. These Mi’kmaq petroglyphs can be seen on guided tours and contain images of traditional Mi’kmaq life, including hunting, fishing and wildlife.
Canoeing and Kayaking in Keji
Visitors to Kejimkujik can explore these traditional waterways by canoe, following the same routes that were once taken by Archaic Indians, Woodland Indians and then the Mi’kmaq. They are also the same rivers and lakes that Albert Bigelow Paine travelled and described in his famous 1908 book The Tent Dwellers.
Hiking Trails at Kejimkujik National Park
Hikers will love Keji’s 15 hiking trails that cut through a wide range of forest, including Acadian Forests, red maple floodplains, windswept pinetrees and old growth hemlocks. The trails are open throughout the year to hikers, cyclists and skiers, giving lots of opportunities to spot the park’s wild inhabitants, such as deer, foxes and the endangered Blanding’s Turtle.
Camping at Keji
After a day in the woods or on the water, visitors can set up camp at one of the many campsites throughout the park, including serviced sites with electricity and others that are lit only by the stars!
For those who enjoy looking up at the night sky and admiring the stars, Keji is the perfect place to do it. The park was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 2010, which restricts the use of artificial light in most of the park. The result is a stargazer’s paradise, with clear nights offering unparalleled views of the moon, constellations and planets.
For those seeking breathtaking views of a different sort, head down the coast to the Kejimkujik Seaside. The oceanfront section of Keji offers hikers a myriad of landscapes and wildlife to admire over a 12 kilometer (7.5 mile) loop. The park’s white, sandy beaches, lagoons and patches of oak and maple offer plenty of opportunity to spot harbour seals, yellowthroats and the endangered piping plover.
For more information about Kejimkujik National Historic Site and National Park, including guides and maps, visit http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ns/kejimkujik/index.aspx.