Music Meets The Ocean at the Bay of Fundy Discovery Site - Nova Scotia, Canada

The Fundy Discovery Site in the Bay of Fundy is home to the world's largest ocean tides and considered one of the 7 wonders of North America.

Located halfway between the equator and the north-pole on Canada’s stunning east coast, Fundy is a unique coastal environment. The Bay of Fundy is renowned for its geological discoveries (dinosaur fossils) and marine life (whales) but mainly for its incredible tides - twice each day, the waters rise and recede by a difference as great as 19 meters. A tidal bore occurs at predicted times offering a natural demonstration of the extremity of Fundy’s renowned tides.

The action of this tremendous volume of water rushing in and out of the bay has created many of the region's top tourist attractions. Located in the Cliffs of Fundy Geopark, the Fundy Discovery Site (a project of the Municipality of Colchester in partnership with the Town of Truro) sits at the head of the Bay of Fundy and is the central anchor and orientation site for visitors to the area. Overlooking the Salmon River, it is one of the most convenient and accessible places to experience the incredible tidal phenomena and tidal bore and houses a visitor information centre, washrooms, picnic area and brand new playground featuring swing sets, slides, climbing boulders as well as a new musical area for sensory play.

The project was funded by the Municipality of the County of Colchester with support in the form of grants from the Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Communities Culture and Heritage (Community ACCESS-ability Fund and Recreation Facility Development Program). Working to a 'master plan' for the new visitor experience, prepared by Landscape Architects and Planners 'Upland Studio' from Halifax NS, the new playground was designed, created and installed by Nova Scotia-based Recreation Specialists and suppliers of Percussion Play - Cobequid Consulting Ltd

We asked Tory Phinney, Consultant at Cobequid Consulting Ltd, a little more about the project.

What was the main objective behind the new playground design - what did you hope to achieve?

The main objective behind this new play area was to create a special space that provides for and encourages a diversity of play: quiet and passive, active and physical, fine motor, social, imaginative, creative, solitary and group play.

Through the design process with the client, we explored themes and elements which represent the natural phenomena of the Bay of Fundy and the cultural heritage of this region. The client wanted an inclusive play space that would appeal to a wide range of interests and abilities. They also wanted play elements and structures that would foster the development of children’s motor, sensory, and social skills.

This custom-built playground includes a very popular sand kitchen shelter and sand play area with a water pump and digger. Three blue slides – including a triple hill slide and a double-wide stainless steel slide - represent the many waterfalls along the Cobequid Fault and rivers flowing into the Bay of Fundy. Three climbing boulders anchor the north end of the space; we call them the “Three Sisters”, after a sea stack formation off Cape Chignecto. Sandstone boulders the colour of Upper Bay of Fundy mudflats and natural logs are placed in the hills and along the borders. The triple-bay swing set includes expression swings and a bird nest swing.

Phase 2 construction is now underway; it includes an impressive log and net climbing tower, timber wharf and a boat sitting on the ocean floor at low tide. After the installation of the play features, the client will provide seating and plant vegetation native to the Bay of Fundy coast and Acadian forest region, including scented and edible plants.

The musical area is part of the sensory experiences the client wished to provide. It is located at the edge of the play area, beside a mature, shady tree. The instruments are installed on a stamped concrete surface for accessibility and visual interest.

Why did the folk at the Discovery Centre chose the Small Babel Drum, Cavatina, Congas Trio and Pentatonic Symphony Freechimes for their musical area.

We assisted the client in choosing a mix of types of instruments, and ones that would sound lovely when played together, and that fit within the space and the client’s budget. There is a mix of pentatonic and diatonic instruments that can be enjoyed by both beginners and professional musicians. The client is delighted with the chosen instruments.

The instruments will be used for family fun (all ages!) and could be used by small groups for therapy. There is potential to use them for programming at the site as the instruments are located beside the amphitheater.

The Congas Trio are painted in customer colours. Why did your client choose to do this? The client chose one of the Fundy Discovery Site brand colours for the drum bases, for a more sophisticated look and to complement the colours of other site features. The muted colour of the drum bases, with a splash of colour in the brightly coloured tops, look nice in this natural environment.

And what did your client think about the finished playground and outdoor music circle? The natural playground is an important component of the Fundy Discovery Site. We wanted to create a unique play space that would appeal to a wide range of people, and we seem to be achieving that! The Percussion Play instruments add to the artistic and creative elements in this custom-built space; we are very pleased that we included them. The instruments are high quality, attractive and appealing to budding and experienced musicians.

About Cobequid Consulting Ltd

Cobequid Consulting is a family run business based in Nova Scotia, specializing in outdoor recreation design and construction. They provide eco-minded building techniques and equipment to maximize user experience while minimizing environmental impact and maintenance.

Working with community groups and municipalities around Atlantic Canada, they build exciting play spaces primarily out of natural materials and designed to harness the imagination of the young minds that use them. They take a holistic approach to making the outdoors fun for this and future generations.