Day 58 – August 3 – Montmagny, QC to Berthierville, QC

We have been nursing a slow leak in one of the truck tires and it seemed to be losing air quicker so before we left the hotel this morning John decided to change the tire. Thus we did not leave until 11:30. If you take Highway 40 and just drive the freeway it will take you about 2 1/2 hours to reach Berthierville from Montmagny. Since we avoid freeways if at all possible we meandered along the St. Lawrence coast road and arrived 6 hours later.

The ski hill on the far side of the river is the Mont Ste-Anne Ski area.

I had managed to find a few things to see along the route that we have not seen before, but it was mostly a bust. The first two were closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the third we could not find, and we somehow missed the turn to find the fourth.

We did find the remains of the Fort la Martiniére, which was just the concrete remains WWI and WWII St. Lawrence protection system.

We drive by so many lovely stone or brick manor-style houses and many of this type that are most often painted in lovely bright colours.

Lunch was enjoyed on a small municipal park bench in a town whose name I don’t know. The towns just seem to run one into another along this drive.

The river in front of the little park had a long stretch of marsh land and there were signs up about protecting it.

We saw a sign for a viewpoint but when we drove down the road we came to a boat jetty with a very popular restaurant.

We crossed the St Lawrence River at Trois Rivières and continued down the north coast. Not far from Berthierville we saw a sign for the Moulin Seigneurial de Point-du-lac; another old flour and sawmill.

There was only one thing inside the mill that I photographed. We had been told about the miller having to lift the millstones and ‘dress’ them (make sure the grooves were clean so there would be no wear spots), but the Old Balmoral Grist Mill did not have the hoist pieces. This mill did. Each of the millstones weighs a ton so they use the hoist to lift the top one off and swivel it to the side so each stone can be cleaned and checked.

The grounds around the mill had several hiking trails and the lake – although very muddy – was quite a scenic spot.

The old waterwheel flume looking down.

And looking up.

We decided to take the plunge and go to Montreal. We usually avoid big cities but we would both like to see Old Town Montreal and the road we have been driving goes right into the city so we will do the small villages and then stop lights at every block on the way to our hotel. We plan to park the car at the hotel, which is not far from the Old Town and walk everywhere. John has not quite figured out how to get out of Montreal and avoid their massive, busy freeways, but he is working on it. They do not bother him at all, but I hate multi-lane freeways with everyone going 100 kph and changing lanes here there and everywhere.

Day 57 – August 2 – Dalhousie, NB to Montmagny, QC

Between the long weekend, summertime in general, and people finally feeling comfortable to travel, finding accomodation the past week or so has been a challenge. John could find no rooms at all around the Gaspe so we had to scrap that plan and today we just drove across the bottom of the peninsula from Dalhousie to Rimouski and then headed west along the St. Lawrence to Montmagny again for the night. We left our hotel at 10 and arrived at 5:30 Atlantic Time, which was now 4:30 Eastern Time.

The drive was more scenic than we expected. We thought we would be going through forests until we got to the St. Lawrence River, but we spent a lot of time passing farms, Huge dairy farms and really large fields of silage corn or wheat.

There was a sign for a viewpoint off to the left so we made the turn, not expecting too much as we had trees on the right side of the road and farm land on the left. After going uphill about a half mile we arrived at the Val-Brilliant kiosk with an amazing view of the Lake Matapedia and the surrounding farmland.

It’s not your eyes, this photo is out of focus. The truck hit a bump just as I hit the shutter. The viewpoint is at the top of the hill.

At lunch time we pulled into Bic National Park which is a favourite kayaking and windsurfing area. They actually regulate the number of people on the river on any given day, so you need to make a reservation. We just had our PB&J sandwich in the parking lot, took a couple of photos and headed on our way again.

As we approached Rimouski on the St. Lawrence River we hit rain. And we drove through rain – and I mean RAIN – for the next three hours. At times we could barely see the vehicle in front of us.

The rain finally stopped when we were about 80 km from Montmagny and we had a nice drive through some small towns all the way to our hotel.

So, short blog today, which I expected since we had quite a lot of driving to do and not a lot of time for long stops; not that were were any heritage spots or museums to tour anyway. Tomorrow is a shorter day. We only have to go to Berthierville about 2 1/2 hours down the St. Lawrence. We have been on this section of road three times and have stopped at any places that are of interest, which may mean a very short blog tomorrow – or none at all.

Day 56 – August 1 – Moncton, NB to Dalhousie, NB

We were off at a slightly earlier than normal time this morning. When we checked into our hotel yesterday they told us they had a hot water problem and we may have only warm, or possibly cold water for showers. They gave us the option of cancelling – although I am pretty sure no one did that since there was nowhere else to stay in Moncton – or we could get a 30% discount on the room. We took the discount and stayed. With no morning showers we were down to breakfast and out of the hotel a good 3/4 of an hour early and on our way north.

We drove up to Miramachi on an inland road we had not traveled before instead of the coast road and before crossing the bridge into Miramachi we drove over to Middle Island.

Middle Island became a quarantine center for several shiploads of Irish immigrants that came to Canada in 1845-46 after a mysterious fungi destroyed the potato crop. Three million peasant Irish survived on boiled potatos for every meal of the day. Without the potato they had nothing to eat. Even after selling any possessions they may have had, including their horse teams, they began to starve. Over one million died and thousands turned to Canada for a fresh start and free land.

Sadly it is a two month journey across the ocean and many of the weakened people who were jammed into the ship’s bottom hold (the cheapest fare) in appalling conditions contracted typus and scarlet fever. As the death toll rose the captains asked permission to land any isloated place they could so the people could get treatment and be kept separate. Middle Island was one such place.

The cedar shrubs surrounding the Celtic cross memorial are in the shape of a shamrock and atop the pole is the Irish flag.

Middle Island is very small. We walked all the way around it and read all the placards. It is also a popular park and there were lots of people enjoying the water and the picnic spots.

I was able to capture a photo of the island as we crossed the Miramachi bridge.

We drove toward Bathurst on a main road, then turned off on a smaller road to go see Pabineau Falls. There were lots of directional road signs at the turn-off to the falls and it was a nice gravel road.

However, it very quickly became narrow and rutted and full of deep puddles. The directions said it was 11 km to the falls so we settled in for a bumpy ride. The road narrowed further and we had just decided it was really a quad trail when a dirt bike, a side-by-side and a quad appeared behind us. John pulled to the side at the first slightly wider place he could and asked the young man on the dirt bike if the road improved and if it lead to Pabineau Falls. He assured us it did and that we had navigated the worst of it and in about 2000′ it would wider again and take us right to the falls.

The road did widen out and we began to see houses and the river.

We arrived at Pabineau Falls and found a paved parking lot and paved road coming from the other direction.

All the rocks and white water created lots of different photo shot options.

As we drove away I said to John that I bet we could have driven to falls from the other direction on about 5 km of paved road. And sure enough in 5 km we were at the intersection of a main road. We both thought we should turn left to continue on our way to Dalhousie but after quite awhile we felt we must be on the wrong road because we should have joined a main highway. We checked our geocache map and discovered that we had driven over 20 km in the wrong direction.

Once we had that figured out we backtracked and got on the main road and then found the turn-off to Tetagouche Falls 8 km down another road – good paved road this time.

There is a nice fenced lookout over the falls but trees have taken root in the rocks and almost completely block the view of the falls. I managed to get a couple of photos of the people playing in the water pools at the base of the falls and one sort of okay one of the falls, but with no real identifyable surroundings.

Once we took our pictures it was back to the main road and a straight shot up to Dalhousie and our hotel for the night.

Day 55 – July 31 – Summerside, PEI to Moncton, NB

It was a somewhat lazy day. We left Summerside after breakfast and drove across the island to Bonshaw to visit the Car Life Museum. We were not very impressed by the outside of the building, nor by the piles of car manuals, LP records and other miscellaneous things stacked on open shelves inside the entrance, but we did not have anything better to do so decided, even if it was a bit tacky, that we would go see it anyway.

And they actually had some nice cars on display. It is a private family collection. I have only posted photos here of the cars and/or information that I found most interesting. The space was not really wide so it was hard to get some good shots, but we did enjoy the hour we spent there.

This car was just like one of the hotrods in the movie ‘Grease.’

This large photograph of the Confederation Bridge between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick was on the hood of the first car to be driven across the new bridge when it opened in 1997. I didn’t care about the car but I liked the photo that shows almost the entire bridge.

Prince Edward Island is very rural. There are no high hills and it has very rich soil. Wheat, barley, and lots of potato fields are on both sides of the road between every town. The population of the island is 167,680 as of the 2022 census. The city of Kelowna (within city limits only – it is much larger really) is 132,000. Vancouver Island is 5.5 times larger than PEI. It does still take several hours to go from one end to the other, so even though it is Canada’s smallest province, it is not tiny.

We drove a short distance from the car museum to Argyle Shores Provincial Park and had our lunch.

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny – but windy – Sunday afternoon and there were many people picnicing in the park and having a swim.

When we drove across Canada in 2014 we spent quite a bit of time in PEI and drove all over the island from one end to another and checked out all the sights. About the only things we had not seen were the Potato Museum and the Car Life Musuem which we saw yesterday and today.

We had made plans to have dinner with a friend in Moncton that we had not seen in over 40 years, but had been unable to find any accommodation anywhere around the city for last night. Our friend found an available room for Sunday and John found a hotel room in Summerside for Saturday so we came to PEI and changed our dinner in Moncton to tonight. So once we finished lunch we made our way back to the bridge and crossed over to New Brunswick again.

We arrived back in Moncton with enough time to tour the 1883 Thomas Williams house.

All but one of their 11 children survived to adulthood. Only three of the six girls ever married and all three of them eventually moved back to the family home, bringing their children with them.

The only noteworthy item I saw in the house was a lovely framed tapestry in the ladies’ parlour.

It did not take long to tour the house so we had time to find our hotel, get settled and sit for a bit before heading over to Sandra’s for dinner and a visit.

We have now officially switched to Plan B. There are no available hotels or B & Bs along the road around the Gaspe. We thought then that we would just drive north to Rimouski on the south side of the St. Lawrence in Quebec and take the ferry to the north side, then drive along that side of the river, skirt Montreal and head westward toward Ontairo, but there are no rooms available in the towns on the north shore either. So….we will spend tomorrow in Dalhousie in New Brunswick and then drive straight to Montmagny where John was able to find a room. We also have a reservation in Berthierville the next night but need to figure out where we go from there. It seems everyone wants to go travelling again, the same as I did. Who knew? We were in the Maritimes at this time of year in 2014 and had no problem finding rooms. Not so in 2022. But I certainly can’t blame anyone for wanting to go travelling.

Day 54 – July 30 – Tatamagouche, NS to Summerside, PEI

After two days of driving and scenery we made up for it by visiting three museums today. Two of them were close to the B & B we stayed in at Tatamagouche last night and the other was about 60 km down the road from our hotel in Summerside tonight.

First was the Balmoral Grist Mill. It was begun in 1874 and still grinds grain today.

Back in the mill’s heyday it would have been run with a huge waterwheel, today it is done with an electric motor. The three levels of the mill were full of hoppers, grinding wheels, conveyors, chutes, gears and belts.

The mill could grind all the grains; corn, wheat, oats, buckwheat, etc. We were shown all the stages of the process and after looking around all three floors, Caleb, the miller, poured a bag of grain into a hopper and started it up to make flour.

He would stick the board in the little slot at the base of the grinding wheel and let some of the flour fall on it, pull it our and check the consistency to see if it had been ground the way he wanted it.

The flour made at the mill is bagged in 5-lb bags and available for purchase. It was very intersting to see.

Not too far away was the Sutherland Steam Mill; begun in 1894 by Alexander Robert Sutherland. It was a lumber mill with a woodworking shop upstairs. Nine men worked in the sawmill. The local men would bring in their log loads and tell Mr. Sutherland what lengths and thickness of boards they wanted and he would cut all of each order in turn so the men always got back their own wood.

He had a portable mill first where the parking lot now is and it burned down, so when he build the new mill he had barrels installed on the roof with water pumped up to them and it would drip down over the roof and keep the wood moist so there would be no risk of a fire destroying the mill again.

The slat cutter. He installed it on a slant so that the big board would slide down again for a second cut to make the narrow slats like the one leaning on the machine in the center front. Slats like this are used in lobster traps, snow fences, holding insulation in place around the base of the house in winter, lathe and plaster walls,and many other things. They made bundles and bundles of them and were always in demand.

This was a three-side planer and molder that was used to make all kinds of trims and moldings like the many types shown in the photo below.

Upstains was the woodworking shop. If it could be made from wood it could be made here.

Gingerbread trim was very popular in the area and this shop made many variations of the intricate trim.

Mr. Sutherland was a genius at machinery innovation, recycling, and woodwork design, but he was not so good at collecting bills. This is the wagon his wife used to make the rounds and receive payments.

It took just over an hour to tour each of the mills so it was about 12;30 before we were officially on the road. As we drove through Pugwash an hour or so later, we saw the huge Windsor Salt mine.

Pugwash is the only salt mine, and currently, the only underground mine in Nova Scotia. Josh Allen accidentally discovered salt in 1953 when drilling for water at his lobster factory. The Canadian Salt Company Ltd. hoisted the first load in November, 1959. Shafts go down to one thousand feet to huge working corridors (30’ x 55’). The company employs approximately 210 people. The processing plant at the site produces industrial grades of salt. The refining process for this industrial salt is one of crushing, screening and sizing. The mine produces approximately 1,200,000 tonnes of salt per year. The mine’s lifespan is estimated in excess of 100 years, possibly longer with advanced technology. 

We crossed the border into New Brunswick and immediately headed east to go over the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island.

Opened on May 31, 1997, the 12.9-kilometre (8.0 mi) bridge is Canada’s longest bridge and the world’s longest bridge over ice-covered water.  Most of the curved bridge is 40 metres (131 ft) above water with a 60 m (197 ft) navigation span for ship traffic. The speed limit is 80 kmh and it takes just over 10 minutes to drive across. It cost $1.3 billion to build. It is a toll bridge but you pay the toll going westbound back to the mainland. As of January 2022 it is $50.25 per car or two-axle truck.

A photo of the rearview mirror gives you a bit of an idea of how long this bridge is.

We headed north once we crossed the bridge and drove for an hour and a quarter to the town of O’Leary where the Canadian Potato Museum is located.

This was hard to get a photo of that made sense. It is a potato slicer. Potatoes are not grown from seed, rather a plant develops from a sprout that grows out of an eye on the tuber. Any small piece of potato contaning an eye is capable of sprouting into a new plant. The machine above was an early potato cutter, which was a lot less time consuming than having to cut them all by hand.

There were three walls of historical information about potatoes and how they spread around the world. They were originally from in South America.

There are over 260 known virus, bacteria and fungi that affect potatoes, not to mention insects and pests. There was a wall of small coffins with potatoes inside showing several of the different effects of bugs and blights, etc.

We concluded our tour of the Potato Museum a few minutes before they closed at 5:30 and then drove 45 minutes back to Summerside and our hotel for the night. There is a huge motorcycle rally going on so there were closed roads and bikes everywhere.

John has been finding it quite difficult to find accommodation the last week or so. Everything is full or is $280-$350 per night. He saw an Air BnB listing for $124 per night to sleep in a tent that had two beds in it! We planned to drive around the Gaspe but we may have to nix that and head on a more direct route back to Quebec/Ontario. We shall see what pans out.

Day 53 – July 29 – Margaree, NS to Tatamagouche, NS

We had plans to see a few things on our drive today, but they did not pan out. We woke up late (yay sleep!) so it was almost 11 by the time we left Margaree and it took quite awhile to make our way the rest of the way down Cape Breton to the mainland.

We only made a couple of stops at marshes to find a few geocaches and walk about for a break. So today’s blog will be similar to yesterday’s; photos and a few comments.

A closeup up photo of the rocks in the water. I thought they were very cool looking.

Hillcrest Hall Inn

Port Hood Provincial Park. This is a manmade marsh. The sandstone in this area was high quality, dense yet easy to shape, and therefore was quarried and shipped to the Fortress of Louisburg to be used for the window and door asings of the original fortress. That left the sandstone land bridge between Cape Breton and the mainland weakened, and mother nature did her thing.

Another nice boardwalk through marsh at Celtic Shores.

The water was so beautifully still.

We arrived back at the Canso Causeway to the mainland and got a good view of the huge quarry operation on the hillside. If you look very closely and follow the dark stripe of earth to the top you can make out the conveyor that is dropping the sand/gravel to the bottom to be loaded onto the ship.

Our drive from the causeway to our bed and breakfast took another couple of hours and we drove through dairy farms and alfalfa fields and woodlands. Before we leave in the morning we are going to visit at least one, perhaps both, of the mills we planned to see today, but were too late arriving. One is a grist mill and the other is a steam mill.

Day 52 – July 28 – Baddeck, NS to Margaree, NS

The internet at our hotel in Margaree was almost non-existent. It was not an issue just at the hotel either, but one suffered by the entire town. Cape Breton Island is large, somewhat remote, populated by many small villages. So far no internet provider has considered it worth their cost to upgrade 20 year old wireless systems. It took forever, but I got my photos uploaded. and even wrote my blog, but the system could not publish it. I discovered this morning that, even though it said it was being saved as I wrote, it was not, so there was nothing there. Hence I have to do it all again today.

Thankfully yesterday was a 100% driving and scenery day so I do not need to remember much.

Cape Breton Island is connected to the Nova Scotia mainland by the Canso Causeway. The island is 10,311 km². 20% of the island, or 950 sq km², comprises the Cape Breton Highland National Park, which was established in 1936. The 298 km Cabot Trail encircles the island and takes about 5 hours to drive due to the two lane road with no passing lanes, many, many curves and lots and lots of going up and down VERY steep hills, not to mention all the ‘must see’ viewpoints.

It is best to travel the Trail counter-clockwise because all the lookouts are on the right. You will constantly be having to cross traffic if you go the other way. And there is lots of traffic in the summer time. The Cabot Trail is world famous as a spectacularly scenic drive. Going up the east side is not so pretty as it is mostly trees with a couple of viewpoints and occasional breaks to see water. But once you get to the top and start down the west side it is breathtaking, with places to stop one right after another.

This post will be pretty much all photos with the occasional comment thrown in. There were no names on the viewpoints so no identifiers.

I love the different colours of blue in the water here.

Cape Breton is covered in forest. As you drive you go through deciduous forest (which would be gorgeous in the fall) to coniferous and back to deciduous within very short distances due to the rapid change in elevation going up and down the steep hills.

Cape Breton was settled by Scots and when you see rocky hillsides like this you can understand why it reminded them of the homeland they left behind. The place names and road names and other identifying signs are in English and Gaelic.

I did mention the road was winding and up and down.

As soon as you return to the lowlands you travel through fishing villages.

We spent the night at Margaree which is just over halfway down the western side of Cape Breton.

We had a nice view from our hotel.

Today we completed the loop and returned to the mainland. We are spending our last night in Nova Scotia at Tatamagouche before heading into New Brunswick tomorrow.

Day 51 – July 27 – West Bay, NS to Baddeck, NS

We woke to a glorious sunny morning.

We left West Bay (which is right at the bottom of the main part of the lake – as per map below),and drove up the highway toward Sydney (which is where you can see the small forked section to the right of the long thin arm) along the easterly road that follows the main body of Bras d’Or Lake.

Not far from our hotel we made our first stop at St. Peter’s Canal. We were lucky to see a sailboat come from the lake and go through the lock into the Atlantic and a Coast Guard cutter come from the Atlantic into the Lake. The local people do not call it Bras d’Or Lake, they call it the Big Pond, or just the Pond.

Because Bras d’Or Lake is really an inland sea all the various types of fish and saltwater lifeforms live in the lake. The lake is only 97% of normal salt density because there are a few freshwater streams that feed into it around its long shoreline. There are 9 lobster permits trapping in the lake. The tide is only about a foot and it takes so long to go in and come out that there is virtually only one tide per day.

It is common for folks to stand on the top of the lock gates and fish. They just get off when the canal operator needs to open them for a boat.

I think it was a couple of the crew’s first time through a lock. They stood on the bow filming the whole way through.

The lock operator opens and closes the two sets of gates and also drives an ATV along the canal shore to come to the lake end and close and open the swing bridge on the highway. You can’t see him but he is standing on the opening arm having just secured the stop bar on the road.

While we were waiting at the other end for the sailboat to go out we noticed a jellyfish swimming near the gate. It was so close to the surface I was able to get some very clear photos of it.

Once we got to Sydney we drove a short distance toward North Sydney and then turned west on highway 223 that would take us down the side of St. Andrew’s Arm and around the bottom and up the other side to Baddeck. This is the two thinner pieces of the lake near the purple Cape Breton Highlands on the above map.

Right at the bottom of the two thin arms is the community of Iona. The Island of Cape Breton was settled in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by thousands of Gaels from Scotland. Significant socioeconomic changes were disrupting the centuries-old pastoral lifestyle of the Highland Scots so they looked towards Nova Scotia (which means New Scotland) for a new home. They brought their work ethic, their close ties to kin, their language and songs and stories. Sometimes entire villages set off together. And the various parts of the Scottish Highlands settled together on various parts of Cape Breton. Many people in this area spead Gaelic. All of the people in the houses of the Highland Village were fluent in the language.

The Highland Village was different than other heritage villages we have been to. The different buildings are from different time frames of the Scottish journey and settlement in their new country and the people in them enact the changing times.

The first house was not a Cape Breton house; it was, however a Black House of the type the Barra Scots would have lived in in Scotland.

They cleverly had three large flat rocks extend out from the wall to enable them to get to the roof for sodding or repairing.

The inside of a Black House is very dark and usually very smokey because they burn peat and the fire is never allowed to go out. They generally have fires burning in the houses, but with the unseasonably warm temperatures they were asked to not light them to reduce the risk of fires. I am sure none of the people objected.

The village was atop a steep hill and the view was gorgeous. It was possible to see all four counties of Cape Breton from up here.

The log house was the first permanent structure to be built. Most men cobbled together a stick shack for the family to live in while they cleared land and got logs to build a proper house. This log house was well sealed but they would have been chinked with moss and mud back in the day.

At the Centre Chimney house a group had gathered round the table to pre-shrink linen cloth. It would have been washed in urine, or sometimes just water, and then a group of people grasp it and thump it on the table and pass it along so it goes round and round as they sing songs. The thumping keeps the tempo of the songs and dries the cloth and the commarderie helps to make light work of a long tedious chore.

There is a carding mill is at the Village. The original mill run by an Irishman named Frank Cash in Irish Cove. He bought the machinery 2nd-hand from a fellow in Loch Lomond, Cape Breton in 1883 and it has been in running order ever since. Frank’s son Tom took over the carding business in 1921 and ran it until 1946. By this time, fewer families were spinning wool and there was little demand for the rolls, so it was only used for custom work. Tom’s son Charlie who worked at the mill with his father wanted it to be preserved for future generations and donated it to the Highland Village Museum where visitors are given demonstrations of the process. It is the only fully functioning carding machine from that era that they know of.

Right across from Cash’s Carding Mill was the shingle mill. This machine is made of wood and is 160 years old and also still going strong. John, having worked in a sawmill for 35 years was very interested to see how the tapering of the shingles was donel

It was almost 4:30 when we left the village and completed our circuit around the St. Andrew’s Arm of Bras d’Or Lake; stopping for the night just west of the town of Baddeck. Tomorrow we drive the Cape Breton Highlands. We did this in 2014 but it is a lovely drive and well worth repeating.

We have had a lot of short ferry rides as we have been driving Nova Scotia backroads and today was no exception.

Day 50 – July 26 – Sherbrooke, NS to West Bay, NS

A storm gave a huge clap of thunder in the middle of the night and we woke to find the power was out. And, we learned, it was out for almost all of the eastern shore from Sherbrooke to Canso. This meant we were on the road at 8:30 with no breakfast and – more importantly – no coffee! We had some fruit in our cooler that had to suffice to get us going.

We also woke to fog, which we have learned is almost a daily occurance along this coast. It did not lift until we had nearly reached Canso.

We rode the 10-minute Country Harbour cable ferry across the inlet between Port Bickerton and Isacc’s Harbour North and contined down the ‘old coast road’ which would have netted gorgeous views of the ocean but for the fog. Today we did not even get occassional short sunny breaks.

We arrived in Canso at 11:30 and we had driven through many, many little hamlets and collections of houses – one right after another – but during the entire 85 km distance from Sherbrooke I only saw one small market and not a single gas station. Where all the folks shopped and worked I have no idea. We drove a short distance off our main route to go to Canso to see the 1885 Heritage House Museum. It turned out to be more a museum in a heritage house so the rooms held collections of old things and models. It did not take us long to walk through the rooms.

This poster was hanging in the entry hall and I am amazed at the number of shipwrecks that have occured around Sable Island. I knew it was a very flat, low island and a shipping hazard, but had no idea it was responsible for this many wrecks.

Upstairs in one of the bedrooms this picture was propped on a chair. I had the same one hanging on my bedroom wall as a child. I may still have it in a box in my attic. We also had one with three puppies on it.

We had stopped at a pub on the way into town and had some lunch, but they did not serve coffee. The guide at the house museum told us there was a little shop beside the next door post office where we could get some so we went there before leaving town and continuing our drive around Chedabucto Bay.

The last of the fog burned off as we were leaving Canso and the rest of our drive around the bay and across the causeway to Cape Breton Island was lovely.

Half Island
Queensport Light

There was a pull-out along the road that had several plaques so we went in to see what they were about. Apparently, according to the Prince Henry Society of North America, Columbus did not ‘discover’ America. Prince Henry Sinclair did – and a hundred years earlier.

This huge cliff is at the causeway across the Strait of Canso, called the Canso Gut. which separates Cape Breton Island from the Nova Scotia mainland. The Strait is about 27 km (17 miles) long and 3 km (2 miles) wide with depths of more than 60 meters (200′). The 7,000 foot causeway was completed in 1955 and carries rail and Trans-Canada Highway traffic.

The rock used to create the causeway was blasted from quarries at Cape Porcupine on the mainland near Canso. The average charge usually dislodged 125,000 tons. The largest blast set off used a total of 3200 cases of dynamite! In total 10,092,069 tons of rock were required to close the Strait of Canso.

This is the deepest causeway in the world and it created a deep-water, year-round ice-free harbour. Chedabucto Bay became completely ice-free and is a deep-water port that allowed for the industrialization of the Strait of Canso. There is a huge pulp mill and a refinery and a couple of other large plants along the shore. Large supertankers can dock in the Strait without worrying about navigating around ice or being held up for days.

We are spending the night at the Dundee Golf and Country Club near West Bay at the bottom of Bras d’Or Lake and tomorrow we will drive around the large lake before going around Cape Breton the next day.

We crossed a small bridge on the way to our accommodation and since there was no traffic John stopped in the middle so we could get photos of both directions.

Day 49 – July 25 – Darthmouth, NS to Sherbrooke, NS

We woke in Dartmouth this morning to thick fog and it stuck around all day with the occassional short period of sunshine. We were driving east on the coast road and would have had some really nice ocean views but for the fog. Still, it can have a beauty of its own.

We drove down a few side roads to get the above photos and we had lunch at a park in Tangier, the site of the beginning of the Nova Scotia gold rush in 1861. The park has an arch to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria’s son Alfred that same year.

In case you have not noticed yet there is a similarity in the places we visit: history or nature museums, heritage houses and villages, historic sites, gardens, and scenic places. Today was another heritage village visit.

We arrived in Sherbooke at 3:30 and the Sherbrooke Village closed at 5 so we skedaddled right over to it in the hope we would have time to visit the 25 buildings on the site. The really unique thing about the Sherbrooke Village is that it really is the village. The forestry and gold rush boom years produced businesses and homes and the community realized in the late 1960s that this early part of town had been kept in good repair and most of the furnishings and items of the shops were still in the buildings. They literally closed the end of the street and created the heritage village. All of the buildings are where they were built, except the post office which was moved across the street and all of the contents are original to each one. Even the various bottles and boxes of things in the drug store are original. Some of the less commonly used items have never been opened. Two of the daughters of the doctor came from Ontario when they were setting up the village and told the curator where their father used to keep his various pieces of equipment and how his surgery was set up. They were only very young children when they lived in Sherbrooke, but they remembered where things used to be. This village also had costumed staff in most of the buildings that would tell you about the owners and point out things of interest. We were on a bit of time crunch so we were unable to chat as much as we would have liked. Still, we only missed two houses that we were told were offices and not very exciting.

The following history is from the Sherbrooke Village website:

“The French were the first European visitors to Sherbrooke, as early as 1655.

By 1815 the settlement which developed at the head of navigation became known as Sherbrooke, in honour of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. For years the community prospered, supported by farming, fishing and the timber trade. Busy mills produced deal, planks, laths, spars, ships’ knees and shingles for the British and West Indian markets.

Then in 1861, the cry of “Gold!” was heard and the town became a live and energetic mining camp. Nineteen mining companies had flocked to participate in the discovery by 1869 and Sherbrooke boomed. The boom lasted approximately 20 years, a time which could be described as Sherbrooke’s Golden Age.

Mining was reactivated in the early part of the 20th but never reached the same success. Lumbering continued as a major industry. Until the Restoration Project was established, the chief visitors to this area were sportsmen fishing for salmon in the pools of the St. Mary’s River.

The Sherbrooke Village Restoration area was established in 1969 to conserve a part of Sherbrooke as it was during the last half of the 1800s.”

The blacksmith shop had several Penny Farthing bicycles. They were called Penny Farthings because the different sizes of the wheels were about the same ratio as a British penny coin and a farthing coin.

The blacksmith was not in his shop so I was unable to ask him about the horse on his work table. Do not know if it is being repaired or being made. It is cute though.

The former hotel is now the restaurant for the village.

My favourite colour in my favourite shade.

The lady at the print shop was printing small paper bags for the blacksmith shop.

Type cases. The capital letters are kept on top – Upper case, and the small letters are kept in the drawers – Lower case.

This was the “I learned something new today house.” It is a jail house. Literally – and that is where the name comes from. It is not a prison or a jail. It is a jail in the house of the jailor. The room on the left is the sitting room and at back of it, the kitchen for the jailor’s family. The rooms front and back on the right are jail cells. Note the dark window. That is due to the bars. Immediately inside the door is a stairwell to the upper bedrooms and a hallway past the two jail cells. Adults that used to live in the house when they were children said they were forbidden to go down the hall. They went into the sitting room to the kitchen, and then out back, or up the stairs to the bedrooms. Also on the upper level was a room with no handle on the door, just a key hole, and bars on the window. I asked the ‘jailor’s wife’ why that was. She said the prostitutes who had caused trouble or were drunk – Sherbrooke was a Temperance town – would be kept there until released so none of the men could have access to them.

The tailor shop.

Established in the 1860s, Cumminger Brothers’ General Store was owned and operated by John Cumminger and his brother Samuel. John was also a ship builder and master mariner and had shares in lumbering and gold mining. In addition to the store, the brothers had a shipbuilding business situated between the store and the present-day boat building shop. Their company constructed the largest ship to come up the St. Mary’s River, weighing over 680 tonnes.

The St. Mary’s River is a tidal river like the St. John River in New Brunswick. When the brothers completed a boat they just launched it into the river.

The Cumminger Brother’s General Store. Note the way the counters on either side of the store curve inward at the ends; like a ship’s hull.

The brooms in the barrel are whittled and the ‘brush’ tied off. They are all one piece and are used to clean ship’s decks. The hanging ones are twig brooms used in livestock barns.

Also due to the proximity of the river, supplies coming to the store could just be offloaded right out back. Ships came up and down regularly but the mail ship only arrived once per month.

We had not seen this item before. There were two of them. We asked the lady and she said they were jacks for the stagecoach so it could be lifted if a wheel had to be changed.

A dog-powered treadmill to churn butter.

This safe is in the General Store office. They have never found the key for it so it has never been opened. And since it is an historical artifact they will not have a locksmith drill it open. The curiousity would kill me. I think I would look into a way to open it without damaging it. Can’t believe it would not be possible.

The doctor’s office was through the door at the back right and this was his surgery. Both these rooms are part of his house.

This is one of the earliest coal stoves that had a thermostat for the oven.

However, there were no temperatures. It read: Slow, Fast, Quick.

Some ingenious person made a boiled egg lifter; it looks like out of bed springs. I need one of these.

The Greenwood Cottage. Home of Mr. John Cumminger after his businesses became successful. He was a rags to riches local boy. One of 12 children of a poor settler family.

Tomorrow we continue on the coast road to Canso where there is an 1885 heritage house to see and then on to West Bay, just a bit east of Port Hawskbury, where we will spend the night.