Cape Breton Information

Cape Breton Scenic Travelways & Regions

Cape Breton Island has been divided into 6 ‘official’ tourist regions by Nova Scotia tourism.

Ceilidh Trail
Fleur-de-Lis Trail
Bras d’Or Lakes Scenic Drive
Cabot Trail
Marconi Trail
Metro Cape Breton

Cape Breton History & Culture

The Island has a long and storied past, even before Europeans discovered it the native Mi’kmaq were its first residents. John Cabot, who likely was the first European to come ashore, claimed the Island for England in 1497. The French, Scottish and Irish peoples settled in different areas of the Island, while the ‘ownership’ changed hands frequently between the French and British. The French constructed a Fortress at Louisbourg to help protect their interests. Even though it was twice captured by the British it remained part of the French colonies until it was ceded to the British under the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

The 1800’s saw an influx of Highland Scots as a result of the Highland Clearances in Scotland where landlords forced their tenants off the land. As the French and Irish were also settling the area, this led to a unique blend of culture which you feel today through its music and language such as Gaelic which a few older ones still speak.

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In 1885 Alexander Graham Bell purchased land near Baddeck, at the time a small village. He started building an estate not only to live with his wife Mabel but for research and experimentation in laboratories he built. They called the land Beinn Bhreagh (Gaelic for ‘beautiful mountain’), and from here he experimented with hydrofoil technology and also launched the AEA Sliver Dart from the iced-over Bras d’Or Lakes, which was the British Empire’s first powered flight.

The 1900’s were a time of industrial expansion with coal and steel at the forefront, albeit with much turmoil as labour disputes broke out and unions were established. Today in some mining towns William Davis Miner’s Memorial Day is celebrated to remember the coal miners who died at the hands of coal companies. Due to the immense numbers of cod and lobster off the coast of Cape Breton, fishing became a large part of the economy and culture. Later, overfishing led to the collapse of this industry, although to this day fishing is still a viable business. Modern Cape Breton has a wide mix of tourism, fishing, agriculture and forestry.

Climate of Cape Breton

Cape Breton’s climate is mild thanks to the moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather you will experience depends on the time of day and if you are close to the lakes or the ocean. So while you might be warm driving through the valleys in Margaree at noon, when you reach Cheticamp on the coast in the evening you might need to throw on a sweater. For general reference:

* Spring from 1 °C (34 °F) to 17 °C (63 °F)
* Summer from 14 °C (57 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F)
* Fall about 5 °C (41 °F) to 20 °C (68 °F)
* Winter about −11 °C (12.2 °F) to 5 °C (41 °F)