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Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia


Cape Breton Island, while part of the province of Nova Scotia, is very unique for its dramatic topography, long history, and artistic and musical contributions to Canadian culture. Sydney serves as a good hub for exploring the many delightful communities on the island. Across the Canso Strait, there is a similar region of the north shore of mainland Nova Scotia near Antigonish.

At Sydney's cruise ship port, a large fiddle statue attests to Cape Breton's musical heritage.

We happened to be in Sydney during "KitchenFest" an island-wide music festival with performances in multiple venues.

In Baddeck, on the shores of Bras D'Or, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum highlights the work of the inventor of the telephone who was also working on airplanes and hydrofoils from his home here.

In Iona, overlooking pretty Bras D'Or, the Highlands Village Museum outlines the history of Scottish settlers. A Gaelic College in nearby St. Ann's helps to maintain the language and the Celtic traditions.

At the Miners Museum in Glace Bay, visitors view a typical coal mining town and enter an underground mine guided by retired coal miners. Nearby is the National Heritage site recognizing the location of Marconi's trans-continental wireless transmission.

The Miners Museum had poignant displays about the difficult and dangerous lives of the coal miners, and a memorial to the many miners who lost their lives.

A highlight of Cape Breton is the Cabot Trail, a 300 km drive looping through Cape Breton Highlands National Park.


The Keltic Inn in Ingonish marks the eastern end of the Cabot Trail. It also serves as the trailhead for some of the many trails that explore the National Park.

Cheticamp, a traditional Acadian fishing village settled in 1785, marks the western end of the Cabot Trail and the trailhead of the Skyline Trail.

The Acadian Heritage Center explains the centuries old dialect, music, art and traditions of L'Acadiens.

A highlight of Acadian art is rug-hooking, as displayed in this ornate panel, part of a huge mural representing historic events in Canada.

The Fortress of Louisbourg is an authentic reconstruction of an important French garrison of the 18th Century which protected a thriving cod-fishing community.

The French came to Louisbourg in 1713, after ceding Acadia and Newfoundland to the British. In 1758 it also fell to the British.

At the historical sites, there are delightful "animators" who  take on the persona of the people of the times.

St. Ninian Cathedral, Antigonish (1864)

St. Peter's Church, Ingonish (1913)


St. Peter's Church, Cheticamp (1893)

There are hundreds of churches throughout the townships of Nova Scotia, ranging from humble ship-lap structures to more ornate stone structures.

Across the Canso Strait on mainland Nova Scotia, a stretch of the St. George coastline is called the "mini Cabot Trail."

In Arasaig, there is an active lobster and crab fishing harbour, a historic lighthouse and a provincial park protecting fossil beds.

The attractive city of Antigonish is home to St. Francis Xavier University.

Along Antigonish's Main Street a number of murals characterize the history of the area and its businesses. 

On Viola Desmond Street in New Glasgow, a series of murals highlight her life and activism for equal rights.

Victoria Park in Truro features many trails and a waterfall with a swimming hole.

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This site was last updated 02/13/23