Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, 2002
An Elderhostel run by Mt. St. Vincent's University, Halifax
On June 15 I sailed on the Scotia Prince from Portland to Yarmouth, NS,
and met the elderhostelers June 16 in Halifax.
The highlight was the scenic ride to Louisbourg, Cape Breton along the Bras d'Or.
The main attraction at Louisbourg was the reconstructed 18th century French fort.

The Acadia in Halifax Harbour

  Maritime Museum, Halifax

A video at the Maritime Museum on the waterfront shows Halifax's role as port of rescue in North Atlantic disasters. Halifax Graveyards hold victims of the Titanic sinking and the Swiss Air crash.

Pier 21--Halifax's Immigration Hall

The Citadel Guard  

From 1928 to 1972 all Canadian immigrants came through Pier 21. Moving exhibits in the terminal recall the newcomers' plight and hopes.

The Citadel is an 18th century British Fort atop a hill overlooking Halifax Harbour. We would contrast it later with the French fort at Louisbourg, Cape Breton

  Cory Craft  
After our full day's tour in Halifax, we were entertained by folk singer Cory Craft, who introduced us to Cape Breton music. On Tuesday morning we left early for the once-weekly daylong scenic train ride from Halifax to Sydney, Cape Breton. The "Bras d'Or" train passes alongside the great Bras d'Or lake (or fiord), 50 miles long, 900 ft. deep, between pine-covered hills. No wonder that the Scottish immigrants thought it reminde them of Scotland.

On one side of the Canso Causeway is the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which has icebergs in the winter. On the other is the Atlantic, which is clear. A lock/canal connects the two.

Nova Scotia has three cultures: the French (Acadian) along the northwest--the "Evangeline Trail"; the Scottish/Celtic side in Cape Breton in the North; the English along the south. There are also many scenic drives, like the Bras d'Or that we took, or the Cabot Trail along the northeast coast of Cape Breton.

Aboard the Bras d'Or to Cape Breton

The Bras d'Or The Atlantic side of the Canso Causeway
  Cape Breton cliffs Colorful headlands were once bogs.
We spent two full days in Cape Breton, visiting the reconstructed French fort at Louisbourg, and the coal mines at Sydney, and attending a wonderful lecture at UCCB (University College Cape Breton). I wandered along the headlands at Glace Bay; deep under the sea are the coal mines, now closed.
The chief lure of Cape Breton is the French Fort at Louisbourg, reconstructed during the depression. Reenactors are always in 1755, the year the English finally destroyed the fort.

Louis XV's Bastion-- The Governor's Palace and Garrison

Looming over the village is a huge fortress-like building in the French chateau style, comprising the Governor's Palace and the Garrison for officers, as well as the Council Hall and the Chapel. The year is 1745, when the New Englanders first took Louisbourg.

Friar in Chapel at Governor's House

Governor's House

A Street in Louisbourg, 1745

Livestock lend a rural village look

Royal proclamation

The fort at Louisbourg was France's full settlement on "Ile Royale" (as Cape Breton was called). It was intended to secure the French's place in the triangular dried, salted cod trade. Louis XV named it in honor of Louis XIV, and spent a fortune on it. But during the French & Indian War , it passed back and forth between England and France, finally succombing in 1758.

Reenactors in Louisbourg

Restaurants, bakeries, kitchen gardens, livestock corrals, storehouses, residences for the personnel and their families, a school, a garrison with guardhouse and quarters, a chapel, council hall, a governor's mansion with every luxury--all the conveniences of 18th century life were available here.
I love the Cape Breton fiddlers, and I was glad that at the Louisbourg Playhouse there was a different group every evening.

The Bras d'Or Lake

We returned to Halifax by bus, stopping briefly at this spectacular scenic overlook before stopping in Beddeck to visit the museum devoted to Alexander G. Bell, who lived nearby and conducted his hydroplane experiments on the lake.
    The Bras d'Or lakes from Beddeck, the Alexander Graham Bell museum.
I stayed an extra day in Halifax--Saturday, and spent the time at the Saturday Brewery Fair, at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia where Maud Lewis's Cottage is housed. Along the waterfront I met Rowena and Jim Mahar, authors of the book Too Many to Mourn, about the explosion in Halifax Harbor in 1917, which killed 2000 people.
Saturday-- Fair day at the Brewery Lupin at the Fair

Maud Lewis's door.

Musicians at the Brewery Fair

Typical NS Light.

The Mahars, "Too Many to Mourn"

The Cat leaving Yarmouth for Bar Harbour

Back in Yarmouth, waiting to catch the Scotia Prince on Sunday morning, I watched the hydrofoil The Cat leave at 9 p.m. for Bar Harbour. There was a wonderful sunset for my last evening in Nova Scotia.


Sunset at Yarmouth



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