This photo essay, the final instalment of a three-part series, continues the presentation of Cape Breton Island’s east coast which I began in the first part and continued in the second part. The focal point of this third instalment deals with the non-urban central and northern parts of Cape Breton County which lie on the Atlantic Ocean, i.e., from Louisbourg north. I have already briefly described the geography, history, and economy of Cape Breton County in the introduction to the second instalment of this essay, so I will refer you to it and omit repeating that information here.
It was the proximate fishing resources of the Grand Banks which first drew to Cape Breton Island the Europeans who discovered and colonized this area. Although tourism today has replaced fishing as the major economic driver in Louisbourg, it too, like the rest of the communities along this coast, remains an active fishing village, with fish and seafood wholesalers and active fish processing plants located in the village. Unfortunately, the severely depleted fish stocks and the current sorry state of the world economy are seriously impacting this traditional activity all along this coast (and throughout the Maritimes).
Coal mining also has a long history in this area. The first commercial coal mine in North America began production at Port Morien in 1720 to supply coal to Fortress Louisbourg and soon began earning cash by exporting it to the American colonies in New England. From these early beginnings, coal became the economic driver of the area’s economy before being closed down in the late 20th century. A good summary of the history of the coal mines along the northern coast of Cape Breton County can be found here under the heading “Industrial Activity”. As I discovered when I hiked the cliffs at Schooner Pond, some activity even continues today, as an Australian consortium is now exploring the feasibility of reöpening the Donkin colliery.
The two previous instalments of this essay were based on photos I took during a trip to the area in June, 2008; this instalment uses photos taken on the same trip, but adds photos taken in October, 2008, when I got to visit areas west of Louisbourg that were closed during my June trip and did some additional exploring in the area. This instalment therefore begins with Kennington Cove on Gabarus Bay and works its way north from there, skipping the Mira River area, with which much of the second instalment was concerned. Louisbourg and its Fortress are also not covered here; they will be dealt with on their own in a future photo essay.
Victor Maurice Faubert
2009 February 5
The most significant change since this essay was written is the completion of the Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail, which was then still under construction. It is now a fine trail I cannot recommend highly enough, with marvellous views of the coast north of Louisbourg Lighthouse. An improved trail, which I hiked in 2011, now runs from its end on Western Gun Landing Cove Head all the way to the Eastern Point of Lorraine Head a short distance away from Big Lorraine. I have incorporated knowledge acquired on that hike last year into the original text of this essay, which was vague about the names of several places I had not then seen up close; the names for the headlands and bays I am using here come from the Natural Resources Canada topographical map for Louisbourg, 11 G/13, dated 2000, though some sources use other names for these features.
Other than that, very little has needed changing or updating. This area, like all of the east coast, well repays a visit; its beauty and character is unlike anything else on Cape Breton Island.
Victor Maurice Faubert
2012 May 7
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Note 1: If you are unfamiliar with the place names mentioned in this essay, a list of map resources is given here. Of these, the best computer-readable map of Cape Breton Island that I currently know about is the Cape Breton Travel Map, produced by Destination Cape Breton and, thanks to their express written permission, available as a PDF file here; I strongly urge you to download it. This map scales nicely, allowing you to zoom in on an area of interest, has a very helpful place name index, and provides a level of detail, both of back roads and streams, that is quite good.
Note 2: See the description here for the notation I use for GPS (Global Positioning System) coördinates. I did not have a GPS device when I took the photos in this essay; the coördinates found here are those written down on later trips or computed from Google Maps; when no coördinate is given, I have been unable to reconstruct where I was exactly when the photo was taken.
Feedback on the photos and the accompanying commentary, including corrections, is always welcome; send it to the address in the footer below. All of the essays in this series are archived here.
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