Spruce Grove Camp Site

The  Spruce Grove campsite on Big Tancook Island is available for responsible adults. Camping on the site is free.

For information or reservations call 902-277-2529.

Picnic table and fire pit.
Refurbished outhouse.
Entrance to Spruce Grove campsite.
View of Southeast Cove.

Notice from the Ferry Crew re Covid-19

Due to the increase in traffic, it is harder than ever to social distance onboard. On the advice of public health, we are recommending passengers wear facemasks while onboard.  This recommendation does not apply to kids under two and those who cannot wear one due to health issues

We also ask passengers to please respect the crew while they are carrying out their duties by giving them 6 ft of clearance. Don’t crowd the after deck and stairs while waiting to get to the upper deck, clear a path when the crew needs to get by and wear a mask if you can.

Things to consider when planning a visit to Tancook during the current pandemic

Dear Friends of Tancook

These are difficult times for all of us. We are doing our best to abide by the rules and expectations as outlined by Dr. Strang. We do feel fortunate that there are no places/opportunities for gatherings of more than 5 on the island during the Covid-19 pandemic, unlike city life where large stores are open.

We have noticed visitors arriving to spend some time on the island. It is understandable that people wish to get away for a day. For everyone’s safety, we do wish to point out some important things to bear in mind:

  • The ferry capacity currently is 50.
  • The rule of social distancing (6 ft or 2 meters) applies here.
  • 71% of island households include seniors.
  • Several homes have signs on their doors requesting “No Visitors”.
  • There are 2 outhouses but no publicly accessible running water on the island. (You would have to bring your own hand sanitizer.)
  • Our Medical First Responders (MFRS) have been instructed that they cannot assist in any emergency (other than vehicle collisions and difficult extractions) during the pandemic. If there is a 911 medical call out, Paramedics will attend from the mainland by either ferry or Lifeflight. BTIERA will provide transport locally for the paramedics.
  • A ban on open fires is in effect throughout all of Nova Scotia. The fire ban will remain in effect until at least 15 May 2020.

We all hope that before long, the current restrictions will ease, making it easier for all of us to visit friends and family and enjoy this beautiful place in which we live. In the meantime, it is the responsibility of each of us to be safe and sensible.

TIR Meeting re Ferry Service

This is a meeting concerning the current and future ferry service – not the condition of the roads.  The TIR staff who will be meeting with us are from the ferry service – not road works.
To help TIR staff prepare for the meeting,  we would like to send them questions in advance.  (Deadline for questions is Dec 13.)

If you wish to submit a question(s) in advance, you have two options:
1. You can leave question(s) in the comments below, or
2. You can leave (question)s anonymously at the Post Office.

Tancook Hospitality

A quote by Maya Angelou says “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Three years ago, we had the pleasure and privilege of catering a lobster dinner to Andriy Shevchenko, Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada, as well as his wife and friends. Last week, his friend Phil Hunt shared these words with me: “Just had lunch in Ottawa with my friend, Tom. He invited a surprise guest: the Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada. He told us that after 3 ½ years in Canada, the visit that they made to Tancook has been far and away their most memorable experience while visiting Canada. He says he has told the story hundreds of times at gatherings both here and in the Ukraine. Only a few weeks ago, he was at an international military security conference in Halifax. At a fancy dinner, someone tried to show him how to crack his lobster. He said, ‘I already know; they taught me how to do this on Tancook’.”

We must be doing something right!

“Tancook 101- Everything you need to know about life on Big Tancook Island”

The “Tancook 101” booklet (link below)  was developed to provide island residents with important information about health service providers who will travel to Tancook when needed.

For newcomers and people interested in exploring Tancook as a place to live, this booklet includes other pertinent information.

We are grateful to the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors “Age-friendly Communities Grant” program for funding our “Big Tancook Island: Creating a Community of Care” project as submitted by the Big Tancook Island Emergency Response Association (BTIERA).

Tancook 101 Booklet 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Boaters – We’re planning a trip to Tancook and want to dock and explore the island. Can you help us understand docking privileges in Northwest Cove?
A: Once Lobster season closes on May 31, boaters are welcome to tie up along-side the lobster boats docked at the main wharf. As a courtesy, you can contact David Baker, Harbour Authority of Tancook Island representative to advise of your docking location and expected length of stay – Phone 902.299.0035.

Q: How do you get supplies to the island?
Almost everything is shipped by way of the ferry. Groceries and small items get loaded from our mainland vehicles into large freight boxes that the ferry crew load by crane onto the boat. Larger items, such as building supplies, appliances or furniture, get loaded onto wooden trays or in cattle boxes. Cattle boxes are so named because years ago when there were many farmers on the island, cattle would be shipped to the island in these boxes.

When the ferry reaches the island, the boxes and trays are unloaded from the boat. Each person gathers their supplies from the boxes and loads them into their island vehicle to take home. Many people use large plastic tote containers or large bags, with their names written on them, to put their groceries in for transporting because it makes it easier to keep all of the groceries together.

Gas may be transported in small plastic jugs, although there is a limit to the amount that the ferry can take on passenger runs. A special trip is made on the last Saturday of each month to transport gas in larger amounts.

Q: Do the children go to school on the island?
We have an elementary school where children from grade primary to grade five are taught. When the students reach grade six, they travel each day on the ferry to attend school in Chester.

Q: Are there walking trails along the shoreline ?
Much of the road is along the shoreline. There are trails in the woods but they are sometimes overgrown with brush and blocked with fallen trees. Much of the shoreline is cliff which makes passage challenging but not impossible.  Southeast Cove is generally easy to walk with some rocky areas.

Q: Where can we go if we encounter bad weather ?
The Recreational Centre will be open to visitors this summer with a tourist ambassador there to help you with any questions you have. Wishing Stones  Gallery, Museum & Library has an area for reading, playing a game, or mingling with other folk. Also, there is a building on the government wharf that would shelter you while you wait for the ferry departure.

Q: Can I bring my bicycle ?
Yes, A bike is a great way to get around on Tancook. Ask the ferry crew to help you get it on the ferry.

Q: Can I bring my car ?
The Tancook ferry is not a car ferry but is able to carry a vehicle provided the deck is not full of other cargo. Tides also influence whether you are able to load a vehicle so chances are you would have to do some planning with the ferry crew to organize this. (Ferry phone # 902.275.7885)

Q: Do people live here year round ?
A: There are about 120 people living full time here.  When you count the part-timers and weekend residents you can double that number.

Q: What are winters like on the island?
The island doesn’t get as much snow as the mainland, probably because we are surrounded by the sea. When we do get snow, it usually doesn’t last very long. We get a lot of high winds in the winter months, particularly January through March. They can be fierce and raw and really make a lot of island residents thankful for their woodstoves. When there is a long cold snap, the ponds freeze enough for us to ice skate on and there have been rare occasions that the bays and harbours freeze over with thick pads of sea ice.

Q: What kinds of wild animals live on the island?
We have white-tailed deer, muskrats, rabbits, mice, snakes and many birds. Once in a while an otter will be seen coming out of the sea to enjoy a swim in one of the ponds. As well, seal pups are occasionally spotted in Northwest Cove near the wharf. The mother seal drops her pup off for a few hours to bask in the sun while she swims out to sea to feed.

Q: Many of the island vehicles don’t seem to have license plates. Do the island vehicles need to be registered or inspected?
Many of the island vehicles are not inspected or registered. Because of the dirt roads and salty air, vehicles deteriorate much more rapidly here than on the mainland, so many islanders look for very inexpensive vehicles that will hopefully last for a couple of years. These vehicles may not be road-worthy on the mainland, but are fine for getting you around the island. 

Q: What do you do if you run out of bread or toilet paper or any other necessary grocery item?
Borrow from your neighbour or plan a trip to the mainland for some shopping.