North Sydney is located on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. North Sydney and Sydney are larger, more modern cities than the rest of Cape Breton with ample shopping, industry and traffic.
We had originally planned on staying in North Sydney for a few days, but after researching things to do we changed the schedule to almost a week. So glad we did.
The highlights were the Fortress of Louisbourg, the Louisbourg Lighthouse, Bird Island Boat tour, Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Baddeck, and the Miners Museum in Glace Bay.
We stayed at the very popular Arm of Gold Campground
. It sits on a hill overlooking Bras d'Or lake, Nova Scotia's largest lake. A very convenient location if you are planning to catch the ferry to Newfoundland.
The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site is an opportunity to experience life as it was 300 years ago in one of the busiest seaports in North America. The seaport was built by the French in 1713. It suffered two battles with the British before being demolished in the 1760's. The reproduction efforts of the buildings, costumes and citizens is remarkable. Plan the spend at least 1/2 a day to enjoy everything there is to see and experience. The best of it's kind that we have ever visited.
We made a short stop at the Louisbourg Lighthouse
. The first lighthouse was built in 1730 to assist the fort for the comings and going of ships. Today the lighthouse is a great look out point and the head of a coastal hiking trail.
The Bird Island Boat Tour
was fantastic. The tour is very close to the Arm of Gold Campground in Little Bras. The following is a list of birds we encountered: Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Great Black-Backed Full, Herring Gull, Black-Legged Kittiwake, Great Cormorant, Double-Crested Cormorant, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Heron, Common Murre, Canadian Goose, Banks Swallow. And, we were fortunate to see Harp Seals lazing around the rocks and shorline. We took lots of pictures, but this kind of boat tour is not the best for individual photos of birds without expensive big cameras. Nevertheless, we managed a few decent shots. The number of birds was astounding! My favorite bird is the Puffin.
A visit to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site
was a surprise. I thought he was ours. Besides the telephone, Bell was also a pioneer in transportation.
After getting a patent on the telephone at 29, Bell spent most of his remaining life at his home, Beinn Bhreagh in Baddeck, NS. Out of his laboratory came the first controlled powered flight in Canada with the Silver Dart. His creation of the hydrofoil broke the marine speed record. He played a considerable roll in education for the deaf. He had many more accomplishments. Well worth taking the time to visit the museum.
Baddeck is a charming small town to walk. We enjoyed a nice lunch at Two Buoys Bistro. Once a home, the cafe is located in the living room/dining room with the kitchen open to visiting guests. There is a rather extensive gift shop in front. The current cafe or bistro does not have a website. I think it has recently changed hands. In any event, the food was good, pricey and the dining experience was a lot of fun.
The Miners Museum
in Glace Bay was quite an education about a hard way to make a living. Retired mine workers do the tour. We donned hard hats and capes, and a 4 foot stick was given to a few of the tourists. As we entered the shaft, I noticed how the passage was angled downward. We were walking a real mine that extended out into the bay under hundreds of feet of water. The sticks were for those folks that were taller, because the ceiling height got down to about 42 inches. That is an uncomfortable height to maintain. Great tour!
This visit to North Sydney definitely kept us busy. Tomorrow we catch a ferry to Newfoundland. This is a BIG ferry. Rain is predicted. Sure hope the crossing won't be too rough.