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Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

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Bridgewater in Nova Scotia.

 

Bridgewater is a town in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada, at the navigable limit of the LaHave River. It is the largest town in the South Shore region. While the majority of the South Shore's economy is based upon the tourist trade, Bridgewater is more a commercial and industrial centre and attracts far fewer visitors. One of the primary employers is a Michelin tire plant.

Culture

Being more industrial than its now tourist-driven neighbours Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, much traditional culture has been lost in the town, having been replaced with mainstream affairs such as the annual Canada Day Celebration. Unique cultural events include the Hank Snow Music Festival and the South Shore Exhibition. Over 100 years-old, the "Big Ex," as it is locally known, is primarily a week-long agricultural fair that is held each July, attracting around 50,000 people. One of its traditional featured events is the International Ox Pull, bringing together teams come from the Maritimes and the Northeastern United States.

Like much of Lunenburg County, many of Bridgewater's residents can trace their lineage back to the Foreign Protestants who arrived in the 18th century. While much of that original culture has been lost, especially in Bridgewater, a few remnants remain. Lunenburg pudding, a type of pork sausage, is still widely available, and some residents still speak in an accent unique to the county, dubbed Lunenburg English, featuring one of the few non-rhotic speech patterns remaining in Canada.

Community music has been a part of Bridgewater's heritage for almost a century and a half. The Bridgewater Fire Department Band has been a fixture in the town since 1868. The South Shore Chorale, a seventy-voice mixed chorus, has been active since the 1960s. For many years, the Hospital Chorus and Drama Society (now defunct) helped to raise funds for the Dawson Memorial Hospital (later South Shore Regional Hospital) through its production of Broadway-style musicals.

Parks and recreation

Residents of Bridgewater enjoy a relatively extensive parks system, which the town estimates at 100 acres (0.40 km2). This, however, does not include open green space within the town, the inclusion of which would give a much higher total. The crown jewel of the parks system continues to be the 25-acre (100,000 m2) Woodland Gardens, locally known at the "Duck Pond." This park includes The DesBrisay Museum, the town's only public swimming pool, a large pond and various trails. Notably, during the 1970s, Participaction had set up rudimentary exercise equipment around these trails, but these have since been removed. Other parks include Pinecrest and Glen Allen, both playgrounds, and Riverview Park, overlooking the rapids of the LaHave River. The system also includes smaller parks such as a gazebo downtown and a boat launch park and grandstand on lower King Street. As well, the town hosts 8 kilometres of the Centennial Trail which was constructed over abandoned rail lines.

Recreation facilities in the town are slowly improving after decades of stagnation. Currently, the town hosts the Kinsmen Field (a soccer field, baseball diamond and tennis courts), the LaHave baseball/soccer fields at Glen Allen Drive and LaHave Street, a curling club and a skating/hockey arena. In 2008, the South Shore Fieldhouse Society started construction on a $1.7 million indoor track & field at Glen Allan Drive. Meanwhile, the town and Lunenburg County have teamed up to construct a multi-purpose facility. Despite guaranteed funding from the province of Nova Scotia for one centre, the two governmental entities had been bickering for most of the past decade over exactly where it would be located: in the county (near the new Wal-Mart development, as the county wanted), or within town limits. At one time, both stated their intentions to build their own centres, but both eventually decided that the $30-million facility will be built on York Street in Bridgewater. Dubbed the "Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre," it will likely include two ice surfaces, an aquatic centre, a new town library, and a multipurpose centre likely to be used as an auditorium for the performing arts.

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