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Lochaber Lake gaining reputation across Canada as ideal spot for rowing

Row Nova Scotia says Lochaber Lake in Antigonish County has been gaining the reputation of being an excellent rowing venue. ROW NOVA SCOTIA
Row Nova Scotia says Lochaber Lake in Antigonish County has been gaining the reputation of being an excellent rowing venue. ROW NOVA SCOTIA - Contributed

A rower’s dream

LOCHABER, N.S. —

The sun glistens off the still, pristine water of Lochaber Lake, beckoning to rowers both competitive and recreational.

Known for its annual Strawberry Festival, Lochaber is a small cottage and farming community that has remained relatively quiet over the past few years. But recently, this Antigonish County destination has become a rower’s dream, known for its serene views and perfect conditions for both practice and elite racing events. A bustle in rowing activity has brought new excitement to the town, and members of the community have been welcoming visitors with open arms.

Patrick Thompson, lead administrator for Row Nova Scotia, says recent events - including the Atlantic University Rowing Championships, CanAmMex Regatta, and the Canadian University Rowing Championships - have brought significant notoriety and recognition to Lochaber Lake.

“It has become known among rowers across Nova Scotia and the rest of the country as being an excellent rowing venue with great water and beautiful scenery,” Thompson said.

The near-perfect topography of Lochaber Lake has encouraged the St. Francis Xavier University Rowing Club to adopt the lake as its training facility, running regattas out of the Lochaber Community Centre throughout the year.

The Community Development Association says the club’s activities have provided a major financial contribution toward the operation of the hall.

Lochaber Lake is long enough to allow for a two-kilometre rowing track and is popular with both competitive and recreational rowers. Scott Mackay
Lochaber Lake is long enough to allow for a two-kilometre rowing track and is popular with both competitive and recreational rowers. Scott Mackay

Embracing the dream

Lochaber Lake is long enough to support two kilometres of racing, and is relatively sheltered from the weather and wind, making for ideal rowing conditions.

In Thompson’s opinion, though, the greatest strength of Lochaber Lake stems from the incredible sense of community in the Lochaber area.

“The community has embraced the dream of having a two-kilometre rowing venue on Lochaber and has supported its use by the St. FX Rowing Team, as well as the Antigonish Rowing Club,” he said.

Community members have jumped in to assist in organizing events, volunteering, and welcoming athletes from around the world. Thompson says it is this hospitality that has truly caused Lochaber Lake’s reputation to spread across Canada. 

Local business owner Scott Mackay says the impact the new Lochaber Lake Rowing Club has had on the community has been extremely positive.

“There are a number of small businesses in the area, including our own Lochaber Lake Cottage Rentals, which are benefitting from the increased number of visitors to the lake,” he said. Despite seeing higher numbers of lake visitors, Mackay says he is pleased that the community has retained its small-town charm and tidy nature.

“The rowers and visitors have been very respectful toward the lake and the surrounding community,” Mackay said. “I think it’s because rowers have the same respect for the pristine, clean environment as we do.”

Mackay says the new Lochaber Centre building itself has also become a great asset to the community at large, hosting the town’s strawberry and blueberry summer festivals, card parties, pot lucks, and even weddings.

Because many rowing regattas take place in the fall, Mackay says the disruption to the lake has been minimal to cottage-goers, and that having some extra folks in town a few times a year has only added to the vibrant feel of the area.

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