September 12 & 13, 2012
Located on Cape Breton Island the CABOT TRAIL is a scenic roadway. The route is 298 km (185 miles) in length and makes a loop around the northern tip of the island, passing along and through the scenic Cape Breton Highlands.
It is named after the explorer John Cabot who landed in Atlantic Canada in 1497.
The Northern section passed through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The western and eastern sections follow the rugged coastline, providing spectacular views of the ocean. The southwestern section passed through the Margaree River Valley before passing along Bras D'Or Lake.
The town of Baddeck is the gateway to the Cabot Trail. The western entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park is near Cheticamp, an Acadian fishing village famous for its hooked rugs and fiddle music.
I must say, Hans and I thoroughly enjoyed our Drive along the Cabot Trail. So many beautiful sights to see and so many small towns to explore.
Wednesday September 12, 2012
When we arrived on Cape Breton Island, the first thing we did was to visit the CAPE BRETON WELCOME CENTRE. I was able to get lots of information and brochures about what to see and do while visiting. The Centre was very nice, with a Fireplace which was decorated in seasonal fall colors. There was also a display of local arts and crafts from the area.
Wednesday September 12, 2012
The picturesque village of BADDECK is situated on the northern shores of Bras D'Dor Lake in the heart of Cape Breton Island. Tourism here grew following the construction of the Cabot Trail in 1932, with Baddeck being situated at the start and end of the loop.
Baddeck is home to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, which houses a museum featuring the work of the former resident.
Baddeck Yacht Club is the focal point for cruising on Bras D'or Lake.
Baddeck is one of several Cape Breton communities that host the Celtic Colours Festival each fall. The Music Festival features hundred of Celtic musicians from Cape Breton.
Cheticamp is a French/Acadian settlement from the 18th century. There have been several churches built in the area over the years. The current parish church of St. Pierre at the end of the 19th century. It is a stone church built of stones dragged across the ice from Cheticamp Island. The spire rises 55 metres (180 feet) and can be seen for miles around. There is a 100 year old original Casavant organ inside. The interior was redecorated for it's 100th birthday and it is all white with the light through the stained glass windows leaving a golden glow in the interior.
Designed under the direction of renowned golf course designer, Stanley Thompson, in 1939 it is discribed as a“mountains and ocean” course.
This is an18-hole, par 72 course set within one of Canada’s most beautiful natural settings- the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada.
June 10 - October 9
Daily Round: $85.44 + tax
Daily Round Junior: $42.72 + tax
Twilight: $51.45 + tax
If you're in shape a possibility is to bike the Trail . It's a steep incline though...so be prepared . There are lots of biking clubs in Nova Scotia that get together to do that sort of thing.
Cape Breton Island's spectacular scenery is one reason that it is, by far, the most popular bicycle touring region in Atlantic Canada
A visit to the Fortress of Louisbourg requires at least a day. The Fortress is a reconstructed 18th century French fortified town. The residents of the town bring it to life. We visit Louisbourg every summer and experience something new every time and I always buy fresh baked bread from the bakery.
Fishing is a huge part of our heritage. If you want a unique experience, visit one of our many fishing villages. You go down to what we call a wharf (not a dock or pier) and wait for the fisherman to come in. Depending on the side of the island, the season can be anywhere from April to August. If you want to try lobster, the best way to do it is buy it from the fisherman right on the dock. Supermarket lobster is disgusting and not the real thing. Some fisherman will even cook it for you (like my dad). If you ask nicely they may even be willing to take you out on their boat. Cape Breton is full of people trying to charge you for boat rides and things like that. If you want a genuine experience, head for the wharfs. You may even be able to catch what you eat. Make sure you get a crash course in how to eat lobster or else you'll never get inside.
There are several lighthouses along here that you can visit. Most are rather small but very "cute". We stopped here and took a photo even though it was quite cold, gray and drizzling rain. There were a large number of Great Black-backed Gulls perches on the rocks here. These gulls are rather common up here but in Georgia, where I'm from, they are quite unusual winter birds. Neils Point lighthouse is a popular subject of paintings by local artists.
All through Cape Breton there are scenic areas of farm houses, barns, colorful fishing villages, and old weathered buildings for you to stop and photograph. The main problem is that some of the roads are very narrow and it is at times hard to stop where you want to take a photo.
Along the northeastern side of the Cabot Trail there are many artisans who have shops you can visit. This area is usually called the North Shore. We visited the Glass Artisans Studio and Gallery which featured blown and stained glass. Their wine glasses are gorgeous as are the glass balls of swirled colors. In hanging stained glass you can find hummingbirds, flowers and Great blue Herons. There are glass stemmed flowers to put into blown glass vases. They also have beautiful glass jewelry. Another artisan we visited was the Leather Works. They have all things leather--belts, bags, jackets etc. This shop provided the handcrafted Louisbourgh fire buckets for the film Master and Commander with Russell Crow. The shop has these as well as artillery cartridge buckets and others reproduced from artifacts of the 18th cen. There are also many painters along here with beautiful paintings of the local area and hooked rug makers. And that is just a sampling. There is a special artisan map available showing all of these places along the Cabot Trail.
There is a lot more to Alexander Graham Bell than the telephone. At this museum you can learn all about him and the other things that he invented. It is a very interesting place. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He continued his father's trade and taught elocution on the NE coast of Scotland but 2 brothers died of TB so his father moved the family to Canada. Alex. worked at the Boston School for the deaf where he met and married one of the students, Mabel. He and his wife visited Baddeck in 1885 while on vacation, enjoyed the area so much that they spent much of the last 37 years of their lives here, built a house and opened a lab to experiment with his inventions. The success of the telephone gave him the money to do this. In 1909 there was the first airplane flight in Canada in the Silver Dart which he designed. He also experimented with a hydrofoil which is on display here. Up on the cliff above the museum is the house where they lived. He and Mabel are buried here. It's not upen to the public but there is a nice view of it from the museum. There's also a nice view of Baddeck Bay and it's small lighthouse from the museum.
The Gaelic College was founded in 1938 by Rev. MacKinzie as a school devoted to the study and preservation of the Gaelic language and Celtic arts and culture of immigrants from the Highlands of Scotland. Some of the courses offered are in Gaelic language and song, bagpipe playing and step dance. On campus there is a Great Hall of the Clans which can be visited May through Sept. We were disappointed that it wasn't open in Oct. We had heard that the season up here went through Oct. The gift shop in the front was open so we browsed in there. But if you are interested in learning to play the bagpipes, this is your place.
Fortress Louisbourg was built by the French in 1713 and changed hands between the French and British several times in the middle of the 18th century, finally falling to the British. About a quarter of the original town within the fortress walls has been excavated and recreated, beginning in the 1960s, to reflect life as it was in the 1740s.
The National Historic Park today is very interesting, with guides and staff dressed in period costume and recreating daily life in the fortress and town. There are many buildings to explore. There is a bakery and cafes and there are some shops as well. We spent four hours here and I would still love to go back and see it again! There are free tours and there are always things going on, from craft demonstrations, to people playing musical instruments from the period, to military exhibitions and drills. The costumed staff know everything about the daily life their character would live in the 18th century and are well versed in the history of the fortress.
Most of the buildings are furnished with authentic or authentically reproduced furniture and props such as dishes, household items, artwork. In the architect's house there is a drafting room filled with old maps and plans. There is graffiti on the walls of the jail cell in the Bastion as if left by former inmates.
The main and best time to visit would be June through August but late May and early to mid September is still good as well. The fortress is closed through the winter. They occasionally offer special groups a candle light tour. There was a cruise ship docked in the harbour the day we were there and apparently there would be one of those special tours for the passengers later on.
fees for an adult are $17.60 with discounts for groups, children, seniors and family rates. It sounds a bit high but it's definitely worth it. You pay at the visitor center and ride a bus for 5 minutes to the entrance of the fortress. Busses run frequently all day. Many of the buildings are accessible for wheelchairs but some areas are not. You can get a special permit to drive a car to the fortress for people with mobility issues. Entrance fees in May and in October are less than half price. The site is closed in winter with limited services in May and October. Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in summer, 9 to 5 in shoulder season.
See the travelogue for more photos
Bell came to Baddeck in 1885 and liked it so much that he established a summer home there. He had already secured his future with the invention of the telephone and here in Cape Breton, he spent much time working on various experiments including the new science of flight. He actually created a flying machine called the Silver Dart in 1908 in Baddeck, the first controlled flight in the British Empire. He also experiemented with hydrofoil craft. The estate is called Beinn Bhreagh Hall and is still owned by his descendants. The actual museum, a National Historic Site is not on the estate where he lived but does overlook it.
We dropped in to the museum in the morning before it was too busy. We were really surprised to find out just how extensive Bell's experiments and research went. we really enjoyed the flight section, explaining about the hyrdofoil, hydroplanes and his efforts at flight with the Silver Dart. There are also loads of photos including a very touching one of he and his wife walking on a beach and there's also one of he and his wife with Helen Keller. I had no idea that he was instrumental in her education, thinking that only her first teacher, Anne Sullivan, was the main one in her life. Bell was involved in many many experiements, inventions and education into hearing loss and communication.
Another interesting item he worked on was called a photophone which is a telephone that works on light rays. The first cordless phone!
There's an entrance fee but it's not very high and it's all wheelchair accessible, by ramp or lifts. There are two areas with films and there's a gift shop and a coffee shop on the grounds as well. Lots of free parking.