Cape Breton Island
Aug 1, 2008
|A Nova Scotia Jewel - Friday, August 1
We wanted to see a little of Canso, so before leaving this morning we took a long walk along the waterfront, looking at the boats and reading the interpretive signs along the way. Canso is the easternmost point on the Nova Scotia mainland, and it’s a very old town. It was one of the first European settlements on this part of the Atlantic. Looking at its quiet harbor today it’s hard to imagine there was a time when as many as 200 schooners and other vessels were moored here and the docks bustled with activity. That was before they wiped out the cod fishery.
Canso was fought over by the British and the French, not to mention the native people who lived here first. At one time the French attacked the town and burned the British fortifications. Later during the American Revolution, John Paul Jones attacked the fishing fleet here and captured a number of boats from the British. Today Canso belongs to the Canadians, and the waters are still fished for crab and lobster, and farther out for tuna, salmon and ground fish.
We finally got under way about noon, and set our compass north east for Cape Breton Island. The road from Cape Canso to Cape Breton Island takes you around the very large Chedabucto Bay, and it is a fairly long drive. This is Friday of a three day holiday weekend for Canadians, and we expected to see some traffic, but again the traffic was conspicuous by it’s absence. There were times we would not see another car in either direction for miles.
This changed dramatically when we got to the crossing though. Here you meet traffic from the more heavily traveled Northumberland Shore, and now we began to see a lot of camping trailers heading north. We stopped for gas at the last stop on the mainland, then headed for the crossing, which is named the Canso Causeway, and which crosses the Canso Canal by means of a drawbridge. When we got to the causeway the drawbridge was drawn, and no one was moving in either direction.
We finally got across and stopped at the Visitor Center immediately across the bridge. A lot of other people were stopped there too, so we decided we’d better call some of the campgrounds and try and nail down a reservation. We got one on the first try, a campground in Chedicamp which is on the famous Cabot Trail. They said they’d squeeze us into their overflow area, and we gladly took it.
The campground was a two and a half hour drive north, and the drive was absolutely beautiful. Here the road follows the western coast of the island, which is on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The sky was overcast most of the way, but the clouds were beautiful too, and were sometimes spectacular. We arrived at the campground, Plage St-Pierre, (Saint Peter’s Beach) after 6:00 and parked in the overflow area which has a great view of the water.
On our way up the island one part of the road is called the Ceilidh Trail. This is a Celtic area, and the bilingual road signs were written in English and Gaelic. But Chedicamp is Acadian, so we’re back to English and French, with the emphasis on French. Many of the campers are speaking French, and the campground owners and staff speak French more than English.
The sky delivered a few raindrops as we were setting up, but the rest of the evening was clear and the sun came out before it set. The view from our windows is great and despite a crowded and somewhat noisy campground we are comfortable and happy.