Cape Breton: En Route to the Cabot Trail

January 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

Soon after our pit stop on mainland Nova Scotia, we were off to our next famed maritime island, Cape Breton Island. Most well-known for the scenic Cabot Trail, Cape Breton is also home to rich cultural traditions—Scottish heritage as well as Acadian villages. They also have lobsters. We’ll get to that later.

From the Causeway
I took this from the car window as Jules drove across the Canso Causeway. The Strait of Canso separates Cape Breton Island from the rest of Nova Scotia, and the causeway opened in 1955 to connect the two directly. Before then, cars and goods were transported across the strait on a ferry. Fun fact: a toll was charged to cross the Canso until the 90s, but once the cost of construction was paid for, they took away the toll booths. Thanks, Nova Scotia!

Cape Breton
Another car-window shot, this time from the interior of Cape Breton! This is probably an arm of Bras d’Or Lake, which nearly severs Cape Breton Island in two. The lake is actually a saltwater extension of the Atlantic Ocean which opens at New Campbellton to the northeast. It’s huge and maze-y and it’s gorgeous.

Gulf of St. Lawrence
After driving inland all day, we finally hit the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Margaree Harbour and stopped just north of there for some scenic photos. If there’s one thing I can count on my friends for, it’s that they’re always up for a good scenic photo stop!

Region Acadienne
Although Cape Breton is better known for its Scottish culture (and the Scots do dominate the area), quite a few Acadian towns still dot the countryside, particularly along the Gulf coast. The Acadians were originally farmers from France who settled in the Maritimes, first Nova Scotia and were then pushed into New Brunswick. Since they were peaceful folks, they were manipulated, tossed around, and eventually deported by the British and French crowns, who were fighting over the colonies. Entire towns were destroyed, families were torn apart…it was a bad time, and isn’t something that many (or any) Americans learn about, but I’ve been interested in the history since visiting the region. Many Acadians were forcibly moved to Louisiana and became known there as the Cajuns, but some were taken back to France. Quite a few of those Acadians ended up returning to the Canadian colonies, and Acadian culture still survives primarily in New Brunswick, but PEI and NS also have Acadian regions.

Joe's Scarecrows
Just before Chéticamp, we stumbled across Joe’s Scarecrows, a roadside attraction in St-Joseph-du-Moine. I don’t even know. But apparently it’s a 25-year tradition. There’s a blog written about it here. (Thanks to Jules for finding it!)

I have to give a shout-out to the friendly folks in the Nova Scotia tourism offices. During my whole trip across Canada, I think Nova Scotia’s hospitality in their visitor centres was tops of the country! I mentioned in my last blog how helpful they were when we stopped after we got off the ferry, but the ladies in Margaree were even better. The office was small, and we mainly stopped for the washrooms, but I also decided to ask if they could recommend a good place for lunch. And did they have a recommendation for us: a restaurant in Chéticamp was running a 2-for-1 lobster dinner special! Christina agreed to split the deal with me, and I found a lobbie I could afford to eat after all.

Lobbie dinner!
Yep, I was pretty happy about it!

Up next: driving the Cabot Trail!


Entry filed under: Cape Breton Island, Chéticamp, Nova Scotia, Photos.

Farewell, Pretty Island The Cabot Trail

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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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