Nova Scotia·Photos

Meet the man mapping out Nova Scotia's abandoned roads

For most people, a 'no road maintenance' sign means they should turn around. But for Nova Scotian Steve Skafte, it's music to his ears.

Steve Skafte has identified more than 80 abandoned roads in 3 N.S. counties, plans to cover the whole province

Steve Skafte has self-published a book featuring images of abandoned roads in Digby, Annapolis and Kings counties. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Steve Skafte is creating a map of Nova Scotia you won't see anywhere else.

Forget notable attractions. Forget roads well travelled. Forget roads travelled whatsoever.

The photographer from Bridgetown in the Annapolis Valley has identified more than 80 abandoned roads in Digby, Annapolis and Kings counties.

Skafte, the creator of the Abandoned Roads of Nova Scotia Facebook page, self-published a book with images of the roads, This Creek Was Once a Street. He plans to document every abandoned road in Nova Scotia.

"For a while, I wasn't saying too much about a lot of the roads. And then I realized as I started seeing more and more that are grown over, they'll just be lost completely," said Skafte.

When he was a kid, his bedroom walls were covered in maps. He was fascinated with exploring Nova Scotia, so once he travelled all the roads he could track down in his community, his attention shifted to the roads that weren't clearly marked.

The province categorizes these roads as K-class, meaning the roadways are owned by the province but not maintained and rarely used by the public. Skafte thinks most of the roads, which range from a few hundred metres to about five kilometres in length, haven't been kept up for 50 to 60 years.

Before going out to explore, Skafte carefully studies property lines online to see where the abandoned roads may be. He then puts on a pair of hiking boots, grabs his camera and heads out.

Some roads are completely overgrown. Others provide a window into how much of an area has been clear cut.

"You'll end up thinking, 'I'm going through this quiet stretch of woods and it's just an entrance to a total wasteland,'" said Skafte.

He said he notices the effects on wildlife and the forest floor. Hiking abandoned roads "does put you in the middle of this reality."

But he keeps looking for these roads because it's part of the province's "ordinary history."

Skafte hopes fellow Nova Scotians can help preserve this small piece of the past by walking along the roads periodically to toss brush aside. But mostly, he hopes others enjoy hiking off the beaten path as much as he does.

"When I was growing up … everybody talked about going to the city, what was out there in the world," said Skafte.

"But they left here without really knowing what they missed."

With files from CBC's Information Morning


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?