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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Travel Destination: Bras D’Or Lakes, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

One of Canada most spectacular travel destinations is Cape Breton’s rolling heartland, where the highlands meet the lowlands, along the shores of the islands' beautiful inland sea - the Bras D’Or Lakes. The lakes have a scenic drive called the Bras D'Or Lakes Scenic Drive, that encircles the most of the main lakes, along shore line roads that offer ever-changing panoramic views of woodlands, a patchwork quilt of rolling green farmlands, villages and the beautifully stunning Bras D’or Lake, at each turn. The area has roads and trails that are ideal for walking, hiking, cycling and birdwatching. The region is a major nesting area for the American Bald Eagle, with hundreds of mating pairs, these impressive birds can often be seen soaring aloft or perched high up on the tree branches. Also found on these quiet walks are the white-tailed deer, osprey, herons, foxes and raccoons.

Experience the daily life of the early Scottish settlers at the living museum, Nova Scotia’s Highland Village museum, which re-creates a 200-year history of Scottish settlement on Cape Breton Island. Learn about quarrying for marble in the 1800's at the Marble Mountain Museum. Discover the Orangedale Railway Station Museum and take in the special means of travel, in the late 19th-century trains and train travel. On the south east corner of the Bras D’or Lakes, Nicholas Deny, French Merchant adventurer and owner of the fishing rights of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, had built a fort and a road across the isthmus in 1650, to enable the passage of boats into and out of the Lakes. But in 1668-69, there had been a fire the destroyed the trading post that had built up around the fort, financially ruining the Seigneur. A museum now exists at St Peter’s to commemorate an important piece of North American history.

Of course no trip around the Bras D’Or Lakes would be complete without stopping to see the museum of the late Alexander Graham Bell, on Baddeck Bay. Although this little town is not strictly on the scenic route around the lakes, it is settled on one of the beautiful lakes that can be found and the famous inventor must have also agreed, for it is here that he built his home, which he named, the Beinn Bhreagh, Gaelic for beautiful mountain. Parks Canada has built a National Historic Site around the inventor with the aid of the family, who generously donated many of their famous fathers' pre-inventions, which had not previously been made public.

Of the many attractions of Cape Breton, there is none so uplifting as the Gaelic music and story-telling culture. Cape Breton is rich in music and culture of the Scottish highlands. At the Father John Angus Rankin Cultural Center in Glendale, discover the story behind the resurgence of the traditional Scottish music in Cape Breton. Stop at acclaimed singer, songwriter and recording artist, Rita McNeil’s tea-room at Big Pond and enjoy the heart warming collection of awards, photographs and memorabilia from the famous singers distinguished career.

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