July 30 - August 1, 2019: Baddeck, Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia, Canada
From Canso, we took 3 days and traveled with the truck (we left the trailer in Canso, NS) to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This is at the most Northern tip of Nova Scotia with beautiful scenery and ocean, great people, and history!
The pics below are driving on the Trans Canada Highway and crossing the causeway from lower Nova Scotia to Cape Breton Island. It was about 127 miles to get to the crossing and then we began our adventure on the island.
In the map below you can see that the Cabet Trail is a 185 miles road that loops around the Northern part of the island. Since we wanted to drive the entire trail, we started the loop on the West side so we could end up in Baddeck (center of the island) for a few days.
What a breathtaking drive! We traveled through rolling forested farming hills, to quaint fishing villages beside the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean, to dense forests.
There were a ton of Moose signs like the one below. And at the end of every driveway/house they had some form of lockable structure for holding their garbage. A lot of them were decorated with cool paint colors, shells, driftwood, buoys, anchors, house numbers, etc. Not sure if the structures were to keep the animals out of the garbage or just a way to decorate the entrance to your property. Or...both : )
Along the Cabet Trail, we stopped and hiked The Skyline Trail. This was a 4.7 miles loop that started out going through fern and pine forests, then opened up into a moorish like ridgeline trail that led towards to water edge. Between these areas, we passed through two gated sections called "Moose Exclosure" where they are trying to rehabituate the area. The moose that graze in this area are destroying the habitat, so...
What a great hike!
Since we left the trailer in Canso, Nova Scotia, we needed a hotel for our trip to Cape Breton. We chose to stay in the town of Baddeck because it was centrally located, highly recommended by many acquaintances, had a Scottish culture, great history, and we could walk everywhere depending upon where we stayed. We stayed at the Telegraph House Hotel. The hotel was built in 1861 and Alexander Graham Bell stayed here in Room #1. It was awesome because the hotel was in the heart of Baddeck.
One of the afternoons, we just wandered around town playing the tourist and eating lobster ; )
One of our highlights in Baddeck was visiting the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. We did not realize this until we arrived in town, but Alexander lived in Baddeck and this is where most of his work happened: hydrofoils (H1-H6) and the first Canada flight occurred. After visiting the museum, WOW, Alexander was an entrepreneur with many great discoveries and inventions!
The experimentation with flight begins!
Another highlight in Baddeck was attending a Ceilidh (pronounced "K-lee") at St. Michael's Parrish Hall. A Ceilidh is also called a "Kitchen Party" The concept is back in the day, sitting around the kitchen eating tea and oat cakes people would play music and dance. Various neighbors, friends, and relatives would come/go and join in playing music. For the Ceilidh we attended the musicians were Joe McMaster (violin) and Adam Young (piano). Wow...both are incredibly talented! There was an intermission where we had tea and oat cakes (like a thin oatmeal cookie). The tea and oat cakes reminded me of m Grandma Moon and having this "snack" with her as a kid. This was such a great experience and so much fun! I wanted to attend a Ceilidh every night : )
We left Baddeck after 2 awesome days and headed to Fortress Louisbourg National Historic Site for the day. This French fortress was built in 1713 and after changing hands between the French and British multiple times, it was destroyed by the British in 1768. In 1961 the excavation and reconstruction began. The immediate goal was to provide work for unemployed coal miners. To date, 1/4 of the Fortress has been reconstructed by using hand built replicas of tools, hardware, furnishings, etc. Each building (33 total) is built to the exact specifications of the original (they were able to find and reconstruct the architectural plans). It is absolutely amazing!
When you visit the fortress, every person is in character for that time period. Whether it be the Governor, Baker, or Soldier. When you speak with the person they are telling you about their daily life in 1713, how the tend to the garden, forge the metals, bake the breads, pick up the dead, etc. You literally step back in time.
Do you know the difference between a Fort vs. Fortress? Fort is a fortified defensive structure stationed with troops. Fortress is a fortified place, town, castle, etc.
First we spent time in the Visitor Center reading about the Fortress, their lifestyle, and seeing original artifacts recovered from the excavation (see the cannon below). We then took a bus ride out to the Fortress.
We are standing at one of the outer Garrisons which helped protect the Fortress.
Speaking with the guard at the gate and waiting for them to let us know. They needed to know if we were french or British : )
This is where the enlisted bunked. However, in current day, you can rent these tents and spend the night in the fort.
This is the garrison we are walking. Notice the cannons?
Notice the guy walking beside Craig? His job was to pick up the dead from inside the Fortress walls take them outside the walls and bury them.
This is where the officers bunked
We were able to watch a Military Pageantry. The soldiers marched with drums, flute and then fired their muskets and the cannon. It was pretty cool!
This was the Governor's apartments. His dining room and office/sleeping room.
Craig is talking to the Metalsmith (Forge).
This is the Bakery. They make their breads daily and you can choose from 3 kinds. Soldiers Bread (wheat), middle class (white), upper class (white). We bought a loaf of Soldiers and Upper to compare. They were both hard and good!
The gal is showing how the rotisserie works. This is the actual one from Fortress and was very rare back then.
You could pay to be "a prisoner for a day" and then be paraded through town and ridiculed by the public. Here the Governor is reading the crime and we get to decide what the punishment is. It was pretty cool.
Fortress Louisbourg was a very cool experience and a must for anyone that is visiting the area!
From here we traveled back to Stephen and Laura's place in Canso, Nova Scotia. We then headed out the next morning for Prince Edward Island (PEI).
We absolutely loved Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia. The topography is incredible with amazing coastlines, pricing was inexpensive, very low humidity, EVERYONE is so friendly, nice, and helpful. The temperatures were perfect! This is definitely one place that we WILL come back to and spend more time!