Bear River is a small village situated at the head of the tidewaters of the Bear River. The river itself is the border between the Annapolis and Digby counties and thus, splits the village so that half the village is in one county and the other half in the other.
There are two primary bridges which span the Bear River. The longest bridge is the Bear River Bridge located on Highway 101 at the mouth of the river (which drains into the Annapolis Basin), approximately 6 km from the village. The second bridge is located in downtown Bear River and connects the two halves of the village together. The river is a very interesting one with large tides. It goes from being mud at low in the community of Bear River to being full with water at high tide. Around this area it contains about 26 feet between tides.
Bear River is noted for its picturesque old buildings on stilts along the riverside. The scenery has made it popular with photographers and a tourism destination. Bear River is affectionately known as “the Switzerland of Nova Scotia” because of the steep hills which surround the village.
The village has a thriving artistic community, the largest per capita in Nova Scotia.There are many artist studios, shops and galleries in the downtown and immediate area. Crafts produced include clothing, woodwork, pottery, quilts, fibre items, and an assortment of painted media.
The Bear River Historical Society operates the Bear River Heritage Museum which is open through the summer and early fall with displays of historical photos, archival materials and artifacts of the rich history of the area. The Digby County Exhibition is held in Bear River every year.