HALL’S HARBOUR - When it comes to an office with a view, there are few that rival that of the Cameron Seafoods Company.
Administrator Hope Shanks recalls spotting whales, herds of seals and even a rare sea turtle in her 20 years with the business nestled in the historic fishing community of Hall’s Harbour.
Her workplace, including the Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound & Restaurant, overlooks the world-renowned Bay of Fundy tides. The picturesque coastal community dating back to 1779, Shanks proudly notes, is home to one of the most-visited harbours in Nova Scotia.
“We are one of the best places to see the high and low tide and we are one of the last authentic fishing villages in Nova Scotia,” she said, adding that the wharf has been maintained and the harbour is known for being a relatively safe area for ships to drop anchor during a windy storm.
Thousands upon thousands of visitors descend upon Hall’s Harbour throughout a typical tourism season from May to October. They plan to extend the open season until Oct. 28 this year.
“October is getting nice and there’s more traffic in Halifax because the cruise ships come in that late as well, so we’re going to hopefully capture that last bit of tourism that’s there,” said Shanks.
“We have a lot of locals that come every year and anticipate our opening.”
Last year, with the tourism numbers increased as a result of Canada 150 activities and the value of the U.S. dollar, Shanks said the restaurant alone seated roughly 157,000 guests.
Those numbers don’t include the people who dropped in to tour the packing and grading facility Cameron Seafoods operates beside the restaurant, browse through the gift shop or stroll along the beach.
“We could write a book on funny comments,” said Shanks, smiling as she reflects on some of the feedback from guests.
“We’ve had people ask how the boats get drug out to the water at low tide. We’ve had people ask us if we could make it low tide.”
The allure of the seaside sights has attracted the likes of National Geographic and, some time ago, Sesame Street, Shanks said.
“We had nine film crews here last year and we have a history of being filmed.”
Food networks have visited the restaurant, which opens for a new season May 11.
“Mostly the tourists come for the tides and stay for the food,” said Shanks.
A lifelong local, Lowal Simpson, functions as a tour guide when groups want to have a closer look at the lobster packing and grading operations. Participants learn some interesting facts, such as: how to tell male and female lobsters apart, what is considered a large lobster, how powerful the claws can be, and why lobsters might drop a claw, which can later be regenerated, to escape danger.
They’ll also learn about a few things about the ever-changing state of the industry.
“The lobster industry changes every five minutes,” said Shanks.
“It all depends on the catch, the weather, the prices, how many people are in the industry.”
An international exporter, Shanks said Cameron Seafoods shipped about two million pounds of lobster out of Hall’s Harbour last season.
“Our biggest customers are in South Korea and China,” she added.
The Centreville resident said both businesses can require “all hands on deck” in the busy seasons. The packing and grading facility has 18 workers and the restaurant can have as many as 22 employees in July and August.
“I absolutely love the place and the owners have been fantastic to work for,” said Shanks.
“I’ve always wanted to work on the water. The industry itself changes every day. I learn something new every day.”