Cape Breton Stories and Tips

From Baddeck to Louisbourg and Home Again

Louisbourg "skyline" Photo, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Yet another sunny day! We had a continental breakfast and checked out. We stopped at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic site first, before heading to Louisbourg. This is a really interesting site and we spent an hour or two looking at all the exhibits and photos. He did a lot of research and came up with a lot of inventions, a lot more than we realized. (see separate review). It was well worth the entrance fee and the time. Apparently you can drive somewhere handy and at least see where his house is but we didn't realize that.

We left there, gassed up the gar, and then drove straight through to Louisbourg, mainly highway driving until just past Sydney where you turn off for Route 22. It's well marked so you can't miss it. Since it was not quite noon, we decided to drive straight to the Fortress rather than check in to the Bed and Breakfast.

I've written about the Fortress in another review "Visiting the 18th century" so some details are there. We had a great time, chatting to the interpretors, walking around and looking in the buildings. We went up to the fort, or Bastion, to watch a rifle drill and cannon firing, all done to the beat of the drummer. I was surprised to see a couple of women dressed as soldiers. I know in this day and age, everything is open to anyone but to be truly representative of the 18th century, you would have to have all male soldiers. Still, it doesn't matter. I have to say, though the soldiers were fine, they weren't a crack drill team like the summer students in the Halifax Citadel, the 78th Highlanders. Their marching lines were a bit straggly and they didn't snap the rifles around sharply like real soldiers would.

I know. Picky. I shouldn't be. The whole experience was wonderful, really. We talked to one woman at the Bastion who directed us upstairs to check out the Governor's quarters. Very posh! The jail cell was a bench with a mattress at one end. I expect several prisoners could be bedded on the long bench and there would be more then just the one thin mattress but there were also shackles on the bed platform too!

We also witnessed a public punishment where a citizen was purported to have stolen a bottle of wine. This was proclaimed and he, with his hands roped together and a wooden sign around his neck stating he was a thief (in French, "Voleur") and he was marched through the town to the post where he would be placed in an iron collar for several hours.

There is so much attention to detail here, with the costumes and items in the buildings. The actors know their history as well and enjoy playing the parts. One woman, who was weaving a basket, has worked there for 20 years. She grew up there and the Fortress was part of her history.

The main thing we did miss was an on site museum that we didn't realize was there. I wouldn't mind at all going back again and taking one of the free tours as well. There are picnic tables available too if you don't want to eat at one of the restaurants.

After four hours in the sun, we were ready to head to the Bed and Breakfast. This one, the Stacey House, is filled with antiques and floral prints and dark wood. Our room upstairs was mostly white and lace though, so it was brighter. Turned out to be not that great a choice because we found the bed quite uncomfortable. We ate our evening meal at Grubstake, a few blocks away. They don't serve any fried food there, everything is baked, broiled or poached. The food was quite nice, too, and the chowder i had was perfect!

They also have a playhouse that was built by a movie company and left for the town. They offer entertainment, plays and music all summer long but the folk music on offer tonight didn't really appeal to us.

After a restless night, we had a nice breakfast, at least. We're heading home today. Not quite as clear and sunny today but it's ok, for driving. we drove a scenic route, first along the Mira River and then along the lovely Bras D'Or lake, passing through Big Pond where we stopped at Rita MacNeil's famous tea room. Rita is a singer and while her music isn't my taste, she's quite well known in Canada and we thought we might as well stop there for our elevenses, tea and a scone. Lunch was at a pub in the town of St. Peter's. Food was good but the service was slow.

From there, the drive was mainly unremarkable, hitting the highway when we got off Cape Breton Island and straight through to Halifax, other than a stop for the loo at a petrol station near New Glasgow. We had a lovely road trip but we were definitely glad to get out of the car!!!

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