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Welcome! Ciad Mile Failte! Bienvenue!

Hopefully this site will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I've become fascinated with the extreme friendliness of the people and the richness of their heritage and culture. The island is northeast of mainland Nova Scotia, and the two are connected across the Strait of Canso solely by the Canso Causeway. Because the entire island is quite large-it's 3,970 square miles-I will focus on the western coastline. Some of the most talented musicians come from this area and the scenery along the Ceilidh and Cabot Trails is breathtaking. The island's Atlantic coastline is over 650 miles of rugged cliffs and winding roads.(6) The above picture was taken from a hiking trail in the Mabou Mines area. The view is of the coast and the Bay of St. Lawrence.

CULTURE The unique culture of Cape Breton is a blend of the many diverse groups like Scottish, Irish, French-speaking Acadians and the native Mi'kmaq Indians who originally settled the island.(7) Along the western coast, towns like Mabou and Inverness have a largely Scottish background. In Mabou, a center for Gaelic culture, the language of the Gaels is in no danger of dying out. Cheticamp, also on the western coast, is an Acadian community where the people speak French in an Acadian dialect.(8)

A Gaelic sign along a hiking trail near Mabou Mines.

LAND AND WATER Cape Breton has a bounty of natural resources. Many communities rely on fishery as their main source of income.(10) Seafood is extremely important part of the culture and economy on the island. The "Atlantic lobster" harvested from the Gulf of St. Lawrence is world-famous for its sweet flavor.(9) Lowland areas like the Margaree Valley on the western coast have very successful livestock raising and dairy industries.(10) The steel manufacturing industry is still booming farther inland in a larger city, Sydney.(10) In the late 1800's and early 1900's coal mining was a huge industry on the island.(11) Taking up nearly a sixth of the island is a large saltwater lake, Bras d'Or Lake.(12)

lobster boat
Lobster boat off the coast of Mabou, Cape Breton Island.

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© Amy Clendenin 2002
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Site last updated: November 2002