A Trip To The Upper Clements Park
Tree Topper Roller CoasterA Little History of The Upper Clements Park
There was a lot of excitement in Upper Clements and Annapolis Valley on June 23, 1989. This was the day the first ever Theme Park in the Maritimes opened its doors for the first time.
What a gala day that was with 8000 visitors there. Music filled the air from the Annapolis West Educational Centre's Band, the Dartmouth & District Pipes & Drum Band and the C.F.B. Greenwood Pipes & Drums Band. The official song for the Upper Clements Park was sang that day by the Annapolis Royal Elementary School Choir along with the St Agnes School Choir. Members of the Nova Scotia Government were there to join in the festivities and they were the first to try many of the rides.
It had all started back in 1972 when the Provincial government purchased the 720-acre Prescesky Estate in Upper Clements. With it's castle-like house, small natural lake, rolling hills, extensive water frontage and beautiful stands of trees they thought someday it could be used as a tourist site. In 1977 a report from a select committee of the House of Assembly identified a need for a larger variety of attractions in the Province to attract and maintain the growing tourist industry. However it was not until 1986 that the idea of developing the property started to take shape.
The Evangeline is a replica of the first locomotive that ran
on the lines of the Annapolis-Windsor Railway in 1863.
The government invited private developers to submit proposals for the land. On April 22, 1987 the Minister of Tourism Jack McIsaac and Finance Minister Greg Kerr announced plans for a multi-phased family oriented heritage theme park.
The Toronto based consulting firm Forrec International was engaged to assist in the design. This company had been involved in the development of places like the West Edmonton Mall, Magic Mountain and Canada's Wonderland. Input from the local people was also taken into strong consideration for the Upper Clements Park.
On December 7, 1987 the word came that 25 areas of the Precesky Estate would be built as the Provinces first Theme Park. This 13 million dollar park was to showcase the Provinces heritage and culture. Every part of the Upper Clements Park would have a local flair, from the theme of the rides to the many crafts people showcasing their crafts there and the many entertainers performing daily at the park.
The first sod was turned on April 13, 1988. The work was contracted out to contractors across
Ryan Urges His Dad To Go Faster On The Peddle
Cars At The Upper Clements Park
the globe including many local contractors. D.J. Lowe Ltd., from Deep Brook won the bid for building the dam at the head of the lake. This had to have not only a wide walkway over it but also the tracks for the train would cross over at this point. The contract for dredging out the lake was awarded to Browns Brothers from Upper Clements. One hundred local labourers from the area were employed in the building of the Upper Clements Park.
They worked all through the winter inside on unfit days and outside on the nice ones. The local people were so interested in the work going on that they held several "Hard Hat Tours" throughout the year. After just eighteen months from the first sod turning the Upper Clements Park was ready to be opened.
The Park ran under the management of the Provincial Government for five years. Then a change in government and policy saw the park tendered out to private care in 1994. The first lease went to Amsdale Resources Management, an affiliate of the Hong Kong based company Amsdale Marketing. This company ran the park for 3 years until their lease ran out. During this time they shortened the season, changed the admission cost and cut down staff.
Then in 1997 some interested local people got together and formed the Hanse Society who won a ten year lease for the Upper Clements Park. They privatized all the business in the park and entered into lease agreements with local operators. In 2002 this park and the Upper Clements Animal Park decided to merge together to help cut cost and offer both parks available to the public under one admission.
A Trip To The Upper Clements Park
The Climbing Towers Upper Clements Park
It had been quite awhile since I had been to the Upper Clements Park so my sister and I decided to spend the day there. The morning still had a trace of fog hanging on, but it was promising to be a nice afternoon. We planned to be there early, but as usual by the time we actually got on the road heading to the park it was almost 10.30 am. Oh well, we are only a half hour behind schedule. The Entrance
As you turn into the Upper Clements Park road you can't help but notice the beautiful flower gardens. Fifty-five volunteers from the community have done all the work tending to these gardens. This is a fine example of the support the local community has for the Upper Clements Park. We continue on, winding through some very nice orchards, very typical for the Annapolis Valley. There are a few picnic tables scattered around the orchard and there is already one group of people sitting around one. The parking lot is about half full already and we choose a spot that will be shady by afternoon.
We walk the short distance over to the big building where the entrance to the park is located. They had constructed this building to represent a traditional looking train station. There is a bit of a line up when we get to the entrance, but it does not take very long to go through and purchase our tickets. They had three lines going through plus the fast pass lane.
The Stores & Buildings
Once you enter the Upper Clements Park you feel like you are in an old village square. To your right is the Loose Caboose General Store where inside you may buy souvenirs of the park among many other things. I collect pins so I stopped in here to buy a couple from the Upper Clements Park. Next-door is a tearoom. This building used to be the old staff house for the Prescesky estate and was located near the stone house. During the building of the park they moved it here and did some massive decoration changes. Straight ahead is Lottie's Ice Cream Parlour where you will find your
The Loose Caboose Store
Upper Clements Park
favourite flavour of ice cream. Clementine and Sparkles the Clown are usually here in the square to welcome you to the park. Lots of times there are buskers in the square or entertainment going on in the grandstand. The Train
As we made our way down the walkway towards the rides we looked to see if the train was in. The Upper Clements Park train, the Evangeline, is a replica of the first locomotive that ran on the lines of the Annapolis-Windsor Railway in 1863. They had this engine built at a manufacturer in the United Kingdom. This train will take you around the park on 922 metres of track to another little station close to the food court. The train was not in, so we decided we would try to catch it to come back later. The Play Area
A short distance down the path and we come to a children’s play area. There are lots of things here including the top of the Tube Slides. There several tube slides all the way down the hill to the boardwalk. There are also smaller slides for the little tots and the popular Ball Room. We did not go down there. Instead we stayed on the path and came to the Pulley Ropes where there was a batch of kids taking turns.
The two big towers of the Climbing Towers are just ahead. In fact we walk right under them. The
The Kids Love The Many Tube Slides
At The Upper Clements Park
kids love going up one tower, walking across the rope bridge to the other tower and back down. Close to here is the path leading to the Peddle Cars and their racetrack. We continue down the hill and across the dam just as the train is crossing over. We wave to Clarence the Engineer. He waves back along with half of the passengers, which is fine.
Little Kids' Rides
After we cross the dam we head under the tracks to look at the rides there. The kids were laughing and waving to their moms from on the Red Baron Airplanes. Each airplane has individual elevation controls and it is a big hit for the little ones. Next to it we see the parents taking pictures of their kids on the Convoy Ride. Every little boys dream is to drive one of those big rigs and the Upper Clements Park gives them their chance.
We walk on a little further and there is another stand where you can buy ice cream, cotton candy and other good treats. Back when the Upper Clements Park first opened this was a woodworking shop. In this building they carved the beautiful horses for the
Carousel here in the park. The 20 steeds were hand carved out of 55 pieces of basswood and they couldn't look better.
Just take a look across the lane and you can see for yourself. They purchased the base of the carousel from Maryland and added on the hand carved horses and chairs. The carousel is so colourful and inviting the parents enjoy the ride as much as the kids do. It takes us back to a time when life was simpler and the highlight of going to the local fair was a ride on the horses.
The 20 steeds were hand carved
For The Carousel Ride At The Park.
Big Kids' Rides
From here we can see the big three-loop Fundy Splash Water Slide. After many request from the public the Upper Clements Park added this 15 metre high waterslide for its 10th anniversary year. A trip down the slide will take you down the slide for 106 metres around corners and drop you down into the pool at the bottom. Now that is a fun way to cool off in the heat of the afternoon.
Now we take a detour in behind the water slide and we come to the very thrilling Rock-O-Planes. This is a ride the teenagers love as it spins and rolls and turns you upside down and inside out. Maybe when I was younger I may have considered this ride fun. I'm afraid my old body would not take kindly to this ride now though. It must be popular though there always seems to be a line up to get on.
The next ride is more my speed, and it is the one Judy and I have already decided we were going to go on later this afternoon before we leave. The ride is the Sissibo Sizzler Flume Ride. It was named after the Sissibo River, a river in the area that was used to float logs down from the hills to the bay below. That is the feeling you have when you sit in the cutout logs, which are floated along the waterways and down over the falls.
The Flume Ride was one of the original rides at the Upper Clements Park. It was purchased for $450,000 from Expo '86 in Vancouver.
You Are Sure To Get Wet On
The Popular Sissiboo Sizzler Flume Ride
The ride had been shipped across Canada to the Upper Clements Park on 16 large trucks. It had been one of the most popular rides at Expo '86 and even though it was remodel some, it is still one of the most popular rides here. The log boats travel along 461 metres of imitation river. It is pulled up two hills and around to two vertical drops of 9 metres and 12 metres. Be prepared to get wet no matter which spot you sit in the logs. Believe me I have tried both the front and the back, you still get wet.
From here you are close to the Turnpike Ride with its Antique Autos and track way. The autos are replicas of the Model T Ford in various colours. This is a good ride for those young drivers that are too young to drive. They have no choice but to drive around the track and stay behind the car in front of them. Crafts & Other Displays
Back out on the main trail we come to one of the craft buildings. Upper Clements Park has several crafts people in the park showing their talents. Both Judy & I love looking at crafts so we have to go in and take a look. There are a lot of beautiful crafts in there, but we decide we do not need any more ourselves today. We also admire the colourful gardens around the house of crafts; they sure do a good job with them.Judy stops to talk to someone she knows and I take a stroll over to the fence and take a few pictures of the lake area. You have a nice view down through the trees to the lake from here.
The Fundy Splash Water Slide
Is Very Refreshing On Hot Summer Days
Next we come to a replica of Troops barn. This is an octangle shaped barn that is located in Granville and is designated as a heritage building. Inside this replica at the Upper Clements Park you won't find farm animals. Instead you will find games of challenge and arcade games.
Not to far from Troops Bard is the authentic Red Log Cabin. This is an original log cabin built by the Mi'kmaq. The cabin was built about 75 years ago at Sandy Bottom Lake. This is one of the original buildings that were moved into the Upper Clements Park.
We walk a little farther and on the right we see the other station for the Evangeline Train. There is a nice shady rest area and we decide to sit for a bit and watch the people.
We are pleasantly surprised when David Moon the Magician performs right there in front of us. I had to laugh at the looks on the kids’ faces as they watch his mystifying magical tricks. The Food Court
We are too close to the food court area though and the many wonderful smells get to us and we decide to go get some dinner. There are many places to choose from. One of the first buildings in the restaurant area was constructed to represent a hunting or fishing lodge, similar to one you would of found at Kedgie Park at the turn of the century. There is a bakery, but we decide we had better stay away from there until after we have some dinner. We think about a slice of pizza, but finally decide on some Chinese food. We take our food outside and sit to eat at one of the picnic tables. When we finish we decide we are too full to have desert right now, so a trip to the bakery will have to wait until later. The Stone House
From here we take a walk up to view the Bumper Cars and then over to the Wading Pool. I like to watch the real young children playing in the water. Now we decide to head to the Stone house. This had been the Precesky's house and I had been in it years ago just before it was sold to the Provincial Government. I wanted to take a look in to see if it had changed. I had been impressed with the castle like house with its tunnel like hallways and the round staircase. We were pleasantly surprised to see it is now used as an art gallery.
The Stone House At The Park
Is Full Of Local Art Displays
Now we knew we had to go in and take a look at not only the house but at the art from over 30 local artists displayed inside it. We even found some paintings and drawings that had been done by Judy's niece. I did not know she was so artistic.
The Wooden Roller Coaster
Now it is back outside and stroll down the hill and then over to watch the Tree Topper Roller Coaster. You have to go up the hill for the entrance to the roller coaster, but we decide just to watch it. This is a very good place to see the wind-blown faces on the people as they scream over the highest hill. Some have their arms straight up in the air; others are hanging on for dear life.
This is Atlantic Canada's largest roller coaster and the only wooden one. The track is 323 metres long (1,050 feet) and reaches spreads of 75 km/h. It has a 20-person capacity. When building the Upper Clements Park they planned the roller coaster to be built around and compliment the natural topography. They had it built in Dallas and it was themed to represent an old iron mine, similar to the one that used to be in Clementsport. Ryerson Lake Area
We are back around Ryerson Lake again and we stop to take in the nice scenery. There is lots of activity going on around and on the water. A couple is passing by in one of the paddleboats. Now that is a good way to explore the park and exercise your legs at the same time.
Now we come to some little buildings built on and around the lake. Some of them have crafts people in them demonstrating their crafts, like the Silversmith. Others are replicas of different business that would have been in the area years ago, like the Blacksmith Shop. Along the lake you will also find the entrances to both the Kiddie Bumper Boats and the Adult Bumper Boats. They are safe and life jackets are a must, but they are a lot of fun at the same time. Both the young and older kids enjoy them, as well as the adults. This is evident by the line up waiting their turns.
My Niece Ashley Having Fun On The
Bumper Boats At Upper Clements Park
We come now to the 250 seat outdoor Amphitheatre that is the center of the entertainment in the Upper Clements Park. There are shows going on throughout the day and a fantastic closing show at the end of the day. For an example in 1999 the park featured 200 acts during the summer. Twenty of these were East Coast Music Awards winners and nominees. The 2000 season seen the Upper Clements Park host the largest live entertainment line-up in the Province.
I love the walk around the lake on the boardwalk. There are plenty of benches for those that like to sit and watch the activities going on and listen to the laughter. Just off shore is the island that is shaped like Nova Scotia. It has a 9-hole mini gold course on it. Pirates Island is an Island play area for kids only. Keep your eyes open for Captain Kid Ryerson here. Shanty Cove is also in this area providing the kids with a playground on the lake. There is always plenty to watch and lots of laughs to hear around the lake.
Shanty Cove Upper Clements Park
By now it is getting late and the sun is warm shining down on us so Judy & I decide to go for a ride or two on the Flume Ride. There is a little line up, but not too bad. From here we head back up to the bakery where we buy our treat we had promised ourselves. We sit and rest while we wait for the Evangeline to arrive at the station. A nice ride on the train back around the Upper Clements Park to the village square area and we decide to call it a day. It has been a good one and we decide that we definitely have to visit the Upper Clements Park soon to do it again.
Directions To the Upper Clements Park
To get to the park take exit # 22 off the 101 and head towards Annapolis Royal. Turn left at the stoplights and follow Rt. #1 west for 5 kms.
The Upper Clements Park is open full time from June 30 - Sept. 3, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The admission cost varies according to what you would like to do during your visit. They have several packages to save you money. This is one of the great family places to visit in the Annapolis Valley. Check out the Upper Clements Park website to see their admission prices and any other up-dated information.
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