The photos on this page were all taken the first day I arrived on Cape Breton, on my way from Moncton to Mabou. A recurring motif of this essay and one of the principal motivations for making the winter trip was to see with my own eyes the sea ice I could scarecly imagine. My first stop was just north of Creignish along the shoulders of the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19), where Cape George, seen in the centre of photo #1, hove into clear view across St Georges Bay. While there is clearly a band of open water here, from what cause I do not know, nearly all of St Georges Bay was covered with ice, as the ice maps had shown. I was amazed at its texture, gleaming brightly in the sun.
In photo #2, looking north along the coast from Creignish, an occasional break in the ice can be made out, but it looks like it’s frozen all the way out into the Northumberland Strait, again as the ice maps of the day showed. A bit right of centre, to the right of the small evergreen in the centre, you can see a portion of the Railway Trail leading to Michael’s Landing north of Judique. Henry Island is about a third of the way in from the right of the photo, completely surrounded by sea ice. Through the trees at the far right, one can see Long Point jutting into St Georges Bay. Though this photo does not show it as clearly as photo #1, the texturing was noticeable to the naked eye (and stands out much better in the original).
After having passed Michael’s Landing, I turned onto the Shore Road (a very different one from the Shore Road (Highway 219) which connects Dunvegan and Margaree Harbour) and stopped at another of my favourite views, where the road borders St Georges Bay at a 90° curve near McKays Point. There I took photo #3 looking south towards Creignish and the mainland. I was amazed at what I saw—huge blocks of ice like the one seen here piled one atop another. For much as they may look like normal waves, what you see here is frozen solid! The block in this photo I judged to be a metre/yard thick, though it is hard to tell here with nothing to scale it against. I could not imagine having to walk on this surface for any distance at all—it would be constant clambering up and down. Thus, the texturing I had seen on my way north was clearly explained for what it was—huge irregularities unlike anything I ever knew in the ice on the St Lawrence River.
With this page, gentle reader, we have reached the end of this winter circuit around Cape Breton Island. I know that those of you who inhabit cold climes where winters are nasty and severe are overjoyed to see the spring arrive and I fully understand: there was no one happier than I when the 2 m/yds of snow that had accumulated here in New Jersey since the Christmas Storm, added to and aggravated by two more equivalent dumps in January, finally disappeared in late February! Yet, I hope you will agree too that, for all its hardships to man, beast, and environment, winter has its own beauty, concealing a lot of flaws in a mantle of white and exposing features of the terrain not seen during the other seasons. Added to the great natural beauty of Cape Breton Island, it was fascinating for me to see and experience it, even if only for a few short days. I hope you have enjoyed the photos presented here along with my ruminations and recollections. Perhaps they will encourage some of you to experience Cape Breton’s white beauty another winter. I am certainly looking forward to another winter trip in the future!