With fewer than 400 residents, Hubbards has a weekend entertainment scene that punches well above its weight. With its own community radio station (88.7 Cove FM) a single, dedicated taxi driver, a nationally celebrated farmers’ market, and one of the best historic dance halls in North America, Hubbards is the ideal spot for a one-night getaway from Halifax – even if you don’t make it to the beach.
Breakfast at the farmers’ market
My weekend in Hubbards begins early Saturday morning at the Hubbards Barn Farmers’ Market, a former cattle barn on six-acre wooded property, recently chosen as one of Canada’s 11 best by Chatelaine Magazine.
A lively band plays Acadian music in the bright, airy space. Oversized Chinese paper lanterns hang from a high ceiling. Fresh coffee, bagels and delicious pastries are the perfect breakfast. For sale: plants, vegetables, wine, jewelry, handmade soap, floor mats made from fishing rope, and small jars of cooking salt sourced right from St. Margaret’s Bay. Outside, children dart in and out of the woods, playing without supervision, the way kids do in the country.
“I’ve heard this barn and this market described as the unofficial church of Hubbards,” says Marsha Wilson, co-owner of South Shore Sea Salt. “It’s where the community comes together once a week to reconnect and see old friends.”
Lunch: food trucks and trinkets
The market closes at noon, so my next stop is Sheila’s Too, a fish and chip truck that has been in Hubbards for 15 years. Situated on the concrete pad of a long-gone Esso station, along with a second truck, Leisa’s Cool Treats, there is a road-trippy ambiance to the Sheila’s experience, made even more interesting by the unsophisticated yard sales that pop-up to share the space.
I can’t resist buying a souvenir: a small gold bracelet for $1, which I wear as I enjoy a tray of fresh, greasy-delicious fish and chips, followed by Moon Mist ice cream from Leisa’s.
While day-trippers like me love Sheila’s, locals recommend Gallant’s, a takeaway kiosk tucked behind Hubbards Cove on the Shore Club Road.
For a sit-down meal, the patio at Trellis Café has reliably good burgers, local art and live music on the weekends. Here too, you can shop and eat at the same time: Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard antique store is next door.
Saturday night at the Shore Club
After checking into the luxurious Rosewood on the Cove condominium-cottages, I walk to the Shore Club where the first batch of lobsters is being placed in two giant, steaming pots. The outdoor kitchen is only one of the aspects of the Shore Club that hasn’t changed in over 70 years.
Tonight, guests wearing plastic bibs, sitting on high-school plastic chairs at foldaway banquet tables, will devour 200 pounds of lobster, while overhead, a giant decorative fishing net threaded with white lights protects a small flock of Styrofoam seagulls, swaying gently from the rafters.
If this sounds tacky, it’s not. The building is a tribute to the mid-20th century. A striking Art Deco style door canopy shelters a set of double doors with porthole windows. Inside, the original wooden dance floor and beautiful wood-panelled walls emit the pleasant polished aroma of grandmother’s house, mingled with fresh-cooked seafood.
After dinner, the tables disappear and the band arrives. It’s a busy night for Said Abou-Hamad, (a.k.a. Lucky Cab, Hubbards’ one-man taxi service). By midnight, the place is literally thumping with the sounds of Halifax’s legendary Asia & NuGruv. The capacity of the Shore Club for an event like this is 479 people — more than the population of Hubbards itself.
The seagulls are swaying faster now, with the heat from the crowd, while the twinkly white lights in the fishing net are saying ‘disco’ not ‘lobster.’ The smell has changed: perfume, beer, weed, and a slight whiff of campfire. With no dress code, the atmosphere on the floor is a cross between an Irish wedding and a David Lynch film. And with no age-code (as long as you are 19 plus), this is anyone’s party. The Big Lebowski meets Dirty Dancing.
Breakfast at Hubbards Cove Coffee
Sunday morning brings me to Hubbards Cove Coffee, a busy independent coffee shop where co-owner Haley Mombourquette hands me a life-restoring double latte. As I sip, I notice a few familiar faces from the Shore Club last night. Like me, many are ordering the Hubwich: bacon, egg, cheese and sausage stacked between two pieces of bread.
On the drive home, I tune into 88.7 Cove FM, which stays with me until the transmission finally fades at the Bayer’s Road exit. Before I leave the car, I save it as a radio preset, a reminder to return to Hubbards soon – maybe even next Saturday night.
Hubbards is a 40-minute drive from downtown Halifax. Take the scenic route by getting off at Tantallon, exit 5. Cyclists can reach Hubbards in about four hours, cycling along the Rum Runner’s Trail.