Cape Breton Island


Published: 04/07/2010


Cape Breton Island is part of the province of Nova Scotia, although it is physically separated from Nova Scotia by the Strait of Canso. The island is located east-northeast of the mainland, with its northern and western coasts fronting on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and its western coast also forming the eastern limits of the Northumberland Strait. The eastern and southern coasts front the Atlantic Ocean; its eastern coast also forming the western limits of the Cabot Strait. The northern portion of Cape Breton Island is dominated by the Cape Breton Highlands, which are an extension of the Appalachian mountain chain. In 1936 the federal government established the Cape Breton Highlands National Park covering 949 square kilometers (about 366 square miles) across the northern third of the Highlands. The famous Cabot Trail scenic highway also encircles the coastal perimeter of the plateau.  John Cabot was said to have landed on Cape Breton in 1497.  Hence the Cabot Trail was named in his honour.


Cape Breton Island is also the location of one of the world's largest salt water lakes: Bras d'Or Lack (or in the French language, "Arm of Gold").


The Cape Breton’s residents can be grouped into five main cultures; Scottish, Mi'kmaq, Acadian, Irish, and English, with respective languages Gaelic, Mi'kmaq, French, and English. English is now the primary spoken language, though Mi'kmaq, Gaelic and French are still heard.


Cape Breton is well known for its traditional fiddle music, which was brought to North America by Scottish immigrants during the Highland Clearances. The traditional style has been well preserved in Cape Breton, and céilidhs have become a popular attraction for summer tourists.


There are many historical places to visit on Cape Breton Island including: Louisbourg (a Canadian National Historic Site and the location of a partial reconstruction of an 18th century French fortress), Baddeck (The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada) and of course as previously mentioned the Highlands National Park.


There are many year round activities on Cape Breton Island including camping, canoeing, hiking, biking, motorcycle touring, ice fishing, dog sledding and cross country skiing to name a few.


Next time you plan your trip to Nova Scotia, be sure to include beautiful and scenic Cape Breton Island!