I've been trying to get to Cape Breton for years and never seem to manage to make plans that work out so this year, I was determined. Graham was visiting for two weeks in September so we went ahead and booked. It would have been better to go in October when the fall colours were blazing but I had work committments so we made do with a beautiful sunny weekend instead.
Our trip to Cape Breton included an overnight stop in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island to visit my cousin. We left on a Thursday in grey, overcast weather. We decided to take the ferry to PEI since Georgetown is on the east end of the island and not that far from Caribou where the ferry lands. First, though, a stop in the pretty town of Pictou. We were early for the 1 p.m. boat so we drove into the town centre to have a look around and a coffee. Pictou is known as the landing spot for the Hector, a sailing ship that brough a boat load of Scottish highlander immigrants in 1773. More and more Scots arrived as the Highlands were cleared out by the British after the Rising and thus, Nova Scotia's strong Scottish (and also Irish, many of whom arrived during the famines in Ireland in the 1800s) heritage was born. (There are more names that start with Mac and Mc in the telephone books here than the name Smith!)
On the Pictou waterfront is a replica of the Hector and you can go on board but only if you pay $7 at the museum there, the Hector Heritage Quay Interpretive centre which isn't large but there are several other buildings and things to see such as a working blacksmith shop. We didn't actually go through the museum because of time constraints and just took pictures of the ship from the boardwalks along the waterfront but it would be quite interesting and worth a look. We did have a look into the gift shop where they had a lot of nice things. I bought myself a silver ring with a Celtic design and it looks like a miniature locket, that is, a little compartment that opens up. Too small for a photo but apparently it's modeled on rings that could hold a poison pellet! Hmmmm....
The weather was getting a bit misty and we decided we might be ready for that hot drink now. Across the road from the Quay is a lovely little cafe and art studio called Carvers. Keith Matheson, the owner, has a studio in the back where he produces wonderful wood carvings and they even hold classes! The cafe has light lunches available and yummy desserts and the pub has a hearty menu.
From there, we headed to the ferry, only we seemed to have got out of the town on the wrong road and took the back road all the way to the ferry. Luckily, we weren't late for the boat! You can travel to PEI on the ferry or by the bridge in New Brunswick for free but they make you pay on the way out and let's face it, it's an island, they've got a captive audience!
On the PEI side, we took the East Coastal Route, the scenic drive around the shore. We made a couple of stops along the way, one to Cape Bear where there's a lighthouse. It wasn't open but we took pics and had our lunch sitting in the car. It was a bit too wet to sit at the picnic table there. Cape Bear lighthouse was the first one in Canada to receive a distress signal from the Titanic!
Our other stop was Panmuir Island, accessed by a narrow causway. It's on the mouth of Georgetown bay and the lighthouse there is the oldest wooden one on the Island. We could see a few horses grazing in a field in front of it as we drove up. Makes for a nice photo! You can pay a small fee to go up in the lighthouse but we didn't. We did have a little chat with the woman working in the lighthouse which is a tiny gift shop and we walked around taking photos of the views, the lighthouse and the horses. By now, the weather gods were with us and it was clearing up.
Another 20 minutes or so and we arrived in Georgetown, just before 5 o'clock. Gayle was still in her shop Shoreline Designs a few doors down the road from their house so we walked down to see her there and investigate the shop. This is the first summer it's been open. There's lots of lovely hand made crafts for sale, some of which are made by Gayle's husband, Peter (jewelry, sandstone carvings). They have also opened up a restaurant with a partner, called Clam Diggers. That's down at the other end of their street, overlooking the water. We had our dinner there later on and it was really *really* good! ! Peter doesn't do most of the cooking but he does do some of it when he has the time. He's not only busy crafting his silver jewelry and carving his sandstone, he's also the mayor of Georgetown!
The sun has set and we're heading for bed after an impromptu Japanese karaoke session (Um, probably best not to ask!). Our visit this time is short but we'll come back again and spend more time on the Island and with Gayle and Peter.