You’re here because you’re wondering what it’s like living in Wolfville. I can tell you that this charming town is the crown jewel of the Annapolis Valley. Surrounded by farmland, some of the highest tides in the world, and the picturesque North and South mountains, Wolfville has a bustling Main Street and is home to Acadia University.
Wolfville has been one of the fastest-growing communities in Nova Scotia, growing by 20% between 2016 and 2021. The town welcomed an additional 800 residents during that time, pushing its total population above 5,050. During the school year, the population swells with nearly 4,000 students. While Wolfville is a popular retirement destination there’s a very different feel to the town than the other popular Valley retirement town, Annapolis Royal (check out my YouTube Channel to watch a video about what it’s like living in Annapolis Royal). The proximity to Halifax (just an hour’s drive away) and the influx of students during the school year and tourists in the summer months means Wolfville is more youthful and livelier than Annapolis year-round.
Wolfville is a short hop, skip, and jump from a number of excellent wineries, which draw in tourists from around the world and offer locals more diverse experiences for food and wine than is typical in small rural NS towns. The Wolfville Farmers’ Market is beloved by locals and a destination for visitors, as is the Acadia Christmas Craft Expo each fall.
Wolfville has all the services year-round residents could want. Hair salons, dentists, optometrists, an animal hospital, massage therapists, grocery stores, clothing boutiques, specialty food stores, and more. Wolfville and nearby Port Williams and the local wineries offer an excellent selection of great food. Church Brewing Company is my personal favourite stop for a delicious craft beer and stellar meal.
The Wolfville Memorial Library has regular and special event programming, and is just a five-minute walk from Wolfville Waterfront Park. The park offers stunning views of the Acadian dykes, Minas Basin, and the red cliffs of Cape Blomidon, and many choose to hike or bike from here on the 12km of local trails, connected to the Harvest Moon Trailway.
Built on the former train track, the 110-kilometre Harvest Moon Trailway traverses the Annapolis Valley, connecting the Grand Pré to Annapolis Royal. Free concerts are hosted from the Waterfront Park gazebo in the summer months.
Kid-friendly active play structures can be found in Rotary Park, Evangeline Park, Quiet Park, and in the Wolfville schoolyard. A Splash Pad located in Willow Park includes active cannons and dunk bucket.
Nearby Centennial Park contains a gazebo and picnic tables. Reservoir Park offers a chance to cool off in the reservoir and enjoy an unsupervised beach. A vault toilet, picnic tables, and a change area are available.
The trails connect to the Millennium Trail and the Mountain Bike Trails, and the skills park is a great place to practice your technical abilities.
The Acadia Athletics Complex features a pool, arena, gymnasium, indoor and outdoor walking tracks, squash and racquetball courts, fitness classes, and a weight room.
The Deep Roots Music Festival takes place each September and Devour: The Food Film Fest follows in October. Volunteering for either of these events can help you meet new friends. Acadia Varsity games are a big draw in the warmer weather. And of course, there are all the usual weekly bingo nights at the local halls and community centres, cold or hot fundraising suppers, live music nights, walking, gardening, or knitting groups, and more.
Are you worried you won’t make friends and build a community? Maritimers are notoriously welcoming and being active in the community is one of the best ways to meet new people. Groups like Lions and Rotary are always looking for volunteers, as is the volunteer Fire Service. The Wolfville Newcomers Club holds monthly meetings to socialize and learn and has many small groups based on common interests in food, outdoor activities, books, games, and crafts.
The town was officially designated as a Cittaslow community in April 2016. To be designated, a community must fulfill over 50 criteria addressing environmental protection and healthy lifestyles, support for local products, agriculture and artisans, community engagement, social justice, celebration of and respect for local culture, heritage and traditions, and the thoughtful development and use of technology for sustainability and community well-being. It’s also Canada’s first Fair Trade Town, as designated by TransFair Canada, an organization that certifies fair trade products. Fair trade towns must achieve six goals: city council must pass a resolution in favour of fair trade and agree to use such products for its own needs; the products are made available in shops and cafes; support is demonstrated by local workplaces, faith groups, and schools; interest is demonstrated by the media and the general public; a steering committee is created; and other ethical and sustainable consumption initiatives are promoted.
Are you convinced that Wolfville is right for you yet? Let’s talk about some of the necessities – housing, health care, schools, employment, and public transit.
Like many rural towns, Wolfville’s housing encompasses a wide range of styles and price points. Because of the student and retiree population, Wolfville has fewer lower-priced homes than many other neighbouring towns and has more homes with secondary suites.
In town, homes are connected to municipal water and sewer, and the property tax rate is significantly higher than in the surrounding rural area, where you’ll be responsible for maintaining or upgrading a well and septic system. Roads will be plowed reliably in town, but if you purchase land on a private road, you and the other road residents will be responsible for arranging and paying for your own road maintenance, and snow clearing.
Wolfville does not have a hospital, and residents head to nearby Kentville’s Valley Regional Hospital for urgent needs. Eastern Kings Memorial Health Centre in Wolfville is your go-to spot for less urgent medical needs. Unfortunately, more than 10% of Nova Scotians are without a doctor, and it’s important to keep this in mind if you’re considering moving to a rural area.
Wolfville School services students from kindergarten to grade 8. High school students attend Horton High School, which is a relatively large high school for rural NS. Wolfville is home to a private day and boarding school for students with learning difficulties, Landmark East.
There are always employers hiring in Wolfville. Nearby Coldbrook is home to several industrial and manufacturing facilities, and the Michelin plant in Waterville is always hiring. You may be able to find a job in town at the hospital, at one of the schools, or the university, at one of the retail stores or restaurants, or at another small business.
If you don’t drive, there is public transit in Annapolis and Kings County on major routes. The Kings Transit bus connects Wolfville up and down the Valley.
That’s it for our tour of Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Be sure to reach out if you have any questions.