History of Mountain Gap Inn

History of Digby

Joshua Slocum

There is something special about Mountain Gap Inn.


Established in 1915 by a traveling salesman by the name of Ernest Alama Thornton.


Thornton who at the time originally worked for Fraser Thornton Ltd., of Cookshire, Quebec purchased the property and set up shop selling Cod Liver Oil and over twenty other medicinal products, such as ointments, to the neighbouring  communities. An interesting fact about Thornton was that he was the only individual in the village in his 20-30’s who could afford to pay income taxes.


Quite the entrepreneur, Mr. Thornton would greet passengers from the Saint John, New Brunswick Ferry in the nearby town of Digby, NS and whisk them away via limousine to Mountain Gap Inn.


Mountain Gap Inn’s original lodging is now the building in which the restaurant resides. The Bluff buildings and the Cottages overlooking the Annapolis Basin have been around almost as long as the original building. During the 1960’s the poolside units were added to the property and later in the 1970’s the Westwoods motel units were added. After a 40 year private ownership, the resort was bought by yet another family, remaining the only privately owned property of its type in Nova Scotia. Mountain Gap Inn currently has 99 rooms on the property situated on approximately 40 acres of land.


Photography courtesy of Nova Scotia tourism©

In the mid 1700s, Admiral Digby sailed from the Bay of Fundy into the Annapolis Basin. His ship, Atlanta, sailed loaded with supplies and settlers to begin a new colony in Conway, now adjacent to the Town of Digby.


Many years later the County of Digby was designated, acknowledging the growing population, which was the result of Admiral Digby’s new settlement. When it was time to assign a town side at the excellent harbour facilities in 1890, the townsfolk decided to pay tribute to the man who started it all, calling themselves the Town of Digby.


The area drew on its natural resources, a fine harbour and timber, and the Town became a major shopping point for timber to the West Indies and Europe.


Digby was also a major shipping point for goods sold to the United States, following the American Revolution. New England became a haven for Digby emigrants, and the ties between the two areas remain strong to this day.


Scallop fishing has given Digby world fame. Today the Digby scallop fleet is the largest in the world, numbering about 100 draggers.

The Mountain Gap Inn’s Pub is named after the famous Nova Scotian sea Captain, Joshua Slocum.


Captain Joshua Slocum was born in Mount Hanley, Nova Scotia, an hours drive from Mountain Gap Inn in 1844 and raised on Brier Island.


Being a gentleman who favoured the unusual, he set sail alone from Boston on April 24, 1895 to journey around the world in his tiny sloop spray. With his vast knowledge of the sea and strong determination Cpt. Joshua Slocum sailed an estimated 73,600 kilometers; Crossing the Atlantic ocean twice, to Gibraltar, South America to negotiated the Strait of Magellan and crossing the Pacific Ocean.


He visited Australia and South Africa before crossing the Atlantic Ocean for  the third time returning to Rhode Island on June 27, 1898 to earn “the greatest achievement of solo seamanship”. His account of the voyage, “Sailing Alone Around the World” published in 1900, has become recognized as a classic.


This grand marvel has made Cpt. Joshua Slocum the patron saint for all those who would take adventures and voyages in small vessels.


A cairn commemorates Cpt. Joshua Slocum’s historic voyage on Brier Island, 64 km west of Mountain Gap Inn.




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