A Bras d’Or
beyond the inland waters of the Bras d’Or
Lakes on an excursion to the Bird Islands.
The islands lie off the point of land between
the mouths of the Great Bras d’Or
Channel and St. Ann’s Bay. A number
of tour operators from the communities of
Big Bras d’Or and Englishtown offer
interpretive cruises to the barren, rocky
islands of Hertford and Ciboux, home to
the largest colony of Great Cormorants in
North America and major populations of Atlantic
Puffins, Razorbills, Black-legged Kittiwakes
and Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls.
Sea Kayaking to the Bird Islands: A great
way to see the birds, but open waters call
for expert kayaking skills. Less experienced
paddlers should check with local outfitters
for guided visits to the Islands.
From the panoramic look-out above the village
of Marble Mountain, on the southwest side
of the Bras d’Or Lakes, the town beach
looks like a strip of fine white sand. But
closer inspection reveals that it is actually
made from marble chips, mined from a nearby
quarry that once employed nearly a thousand
people. After a dip in the refreshing waters
of Clark Cove, visit the Marble Mountain
Museum and Library, housed in a former village
schoolhouse, to learn more about the town’s
marble quarrying history. North of the community,
an overlook provides a spectacular view
of the island-studded Bras d’Or Lakes.
A short hike along a gravel lane leads to
the abandoned marble quarry.
Find out what it’s
like to be a professional lobster fisher
on a morning or afternoon “catch-and-release”
lobster or fishing excursion on the Bras
d’Or Lakes. Tours from Baddeck, on
the St. Patrick’s Channel, also include
the chance to see Bald Eagles and seals,
and to view the home of inventor Alexander
Graham Bell from the water.
Visit the Orangedale Stationmaster’s
Quarters: Immortalized by the Rankin Family’s
song, “Orangedale Whistle,”
the restored 1886 Intercolonial Railway
Company station in the village of Orangedale,
on the west side of the Bras d’Or
Lakes, features railway memorabilia, a model
railway display and samples of rolling stock.
Visitors can tour the early 1900’s
upstairs living quarters of the stationmaster
and his family. Open daily from mid-June
legs, and double your viewing pleasure!
Look out over the Bras d’Or Lakes
and the Skye River Valley from the top of
Salt Mountain in Whycocomagh Provincial
Park, located at the western head of St.
Patrick’s Channel. The 2.4 kilometre
Salt Mountain Trail is also an ideal vantage
point for Bald Eagle watching.
At the MacAskill
House Museum, in the village of St. Peter’s
at the southwest end of the Bras d’Or
Lakes, visitors can view the works of one
of the world’s most famous marine
photographers. Known for his classic photographs
of the Nova Scotian Bluenose sailing ship
– one of which appears on the Canadian
10-cent coin – Wallace R. MacAskill
(1890 -1956) often risked his life to capture
his most memorable images. In addition to
many of MacAskill’s 6,000 photographs,
the Museum also houses a growing collection
of cameras, and a model of MacAskill’s
yacht, the Highlander.