Monthly Archives: June 2016

Alexander Graham-Bell Museum, Baddeck

Baddeck on Cape Breton’s Inland Sea

 

Baddeck Village, on the shore of the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton, is rich with land and sea activities for all ages.

Pick up a picnic lunch at the High Wheeler Café and stroll along the wharf and boardwalk.  There’s a great selection of restaurants in Baddeck where you can enjoy a lobster dinner, local cuisine and be sure to sample the Scottish Oatcakes.   Sip on a Big Spruce beer, a local craft beer produced in Nyanza just 12 km from Baddeck.

Shop for local arts and crafts in the boutiques and gift shops and visit artist studios Michael Keith a painter, Baddeck Yarns, and the Water’s Edge Gallery of Fine Arts and Crafts.

Explore the historic buildings including St. Mark’s Masonic Lodge, Telegraph House, St. Peter’s and St. John’s Anglican Church, Victoria County Court House and the many stately homes along the tree lined streets.

The Bras d’Or Lake is a large Inland sea connected to the North Atlantic by several natural channels and the St. Peters Lock Canal at the southern tip of the lake. It stretches 100 x 50Km in the centre of Cape Breton Island with a tidal mix of salt and fresh water.  It is a boater’s paradise and a rich environment for wildlife and fishing.  The Bras d’Or Lake is now designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is an area in the world which is deemed to demonstrate a “balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere”.  Visit the special exhibit at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.

In 1885 Alexander and Mable Bell fell in love with Baddeck and made it their summer home.  Alexander flew his Silver Dart airplane here above the frozen lake, the first flight in the British Empire.  Explore his many scientific inventions at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  “Discover” activities for children and “White glove tours” of the exhibits, kite flying and experiments are some of the hands on activities at the museum.

Enjoy a sail on the Amoeba schooner and look for bald headed eagles and their nests, view the Bell’s house Beinn Bhreagh, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, the rolling hills and shoreline of the Bras d’Or Lake with its coves and islands and the Spectacle Island bird sanctuary, home of a large cormorant colony.  (June 1 – Oct 15)

In the summer months head over on the ferry to Kidston Island and enjoy the beach, stroll around the island and visit the light house.

For the sports fishing enthusiast there are rainbow trout (steelhead), speckled trout, brown trout, smelt, gaspereaux, cod, flounder, mackerel, herring, lobster, and rock crab. Licenses and guides are available from the NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Go hiking to Uisge Bàn Falls, 14.5 Km from Baddeck the trail follows cliff tops along the North River through hardwood forests to a lovely waterfall in a granite gorge.

North River Kayak tours are available for experienced and novice kayakers and have salt-water tours.

Or take in a round of golf at the 18 hole Bell Bay Golf Club with dramatic views.  Enjoy lunch at Alexander’s Dining Room, open to all.

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Baddeck is 57 min (87.4 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy from the Canso Causeway.

This article originally appeared in The Casket, July 25, 2016

Exploring Guysborough on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore

 

The Road Less Travelled

Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore may seem a bit remote, but in reality, it’s just a couple of hours from Halifax, Antigonish or Cape Breton. And it’s worth the drive—the highway along the shore offers spectacular views as it meanders along past bays, coves, inlets, tidal marshes, pristine beaches and rugged coastline. Coastal islands dot the nearby waters, and all of it offers hikers, nature lovers, paddlers, history buffs and photographers much to enjoy.

Arriving in Guysborough, NS, a town that was settled in 1629, feels like stepping into the past; many of the lovely multi-coloured wooden houses date from the 1800s.

The town’s famed Rare Bird Pub and Eatery is in the bright pink building that itself dates from 1866, when it was a general store. Its recently-restored woodwork and original tin plate ceilings, in addition to the onsite brewery and deck overlooking the marina, make it a great spot to unwind.

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Photos by Denise Davies

You’ll find the Skipping Stone Café and Store right above the marina, in the historic Jost Building on the Guysborough waterfront. The café sells freshly roasted organic, fair trade coffee from Full Steam Coffee Co. The café’s courtyard overlooks the harbour and you can rent sea kayaks, canoes and bicycles for exploring the land and the sea.

DesBarres Manor Inn is an elegant and comfortable Victorian inn built as a home in 1837 for Justice W.F. DesBarres. The outdoor gazebo deck has a spectacular view of the valley and is a popular wedding venue. Upstairs, the bedrooms are spacious, luxurious and welcoming. An antique writing desk in the master bedroom offers a view of the back lawn and the valley below (with the modern convenience of a Wi-Fi connection) is a writer’s delight.

Dinner at DesBarres is a memorable experience. For dinner we enjoyed a five-course meal which had a creative flair; each beautifully presented dish offers unique flavour combinations and local ingredients. My meal featured his light Poutine appetizer; Seared Scallops; Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Truffles, Foie Gras and Walnuts; succulent Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Mushrooms; and was topped off with bite-sized Banana Bread Pudding with three kinds of homemade ice cream.

For a short hike, the grassy Shoreline Trail starts at the end of Guysborough’s Main Street and winds along Chedabucto Bay. Trail signs describe the history dating back to the 1600s when the area was buzzing with ship building and a large, vibrant port. For a longer hike, the Trans Canada Trail runs through Guysborough.

On the edge of town, the Osprey Shores Golf Resort offers brilliant greens and gorgeous water views. Comfortable accommodations, a swimming pool and a bonfire area make it an ideal family holiday setting.

Keep in mind that, because the Eastern Shore is off the beaten path, some of the back roads in this region are not in pristine condition; caution is recommended if you’re driving an RV. But that’s in keeping with the flavour of the region, anyway. It’s best enjoyed if you slow down and enjoy the scenery.

How to get there

MAP

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Guysborough Nova Scotia Map directions

Guysborough Nova Scotia Map directions

From Antigonish or Cape Breton, take exit 37 off Highway 104 at Monastery; travel south from Highway 4 onto Highway 16, through Boylston to Guysborough.

From Halifax, travel east and follow Marine Drive. Watch for signs indicating the status of the Country Harbour Ferry connecting Port Bickerton with Isaac’s Harbour North across Country Harbour.  If it is open, take Highway 211 just past Sherbrooke; if it is not operating, continue on Highway 7, turn right at Melrose Country Harbour Road and again onto Guysborough Country Harbour Road at Cross Roads Country Harbour; follow the signs to Guysborough.

Map Guysborough with points of interest

Map Guysborough with points of interest

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