One of the very first places I try to visit when I arrive in Cape Breton is the guard rails along the Colindale Road, which yields the fabulous panorama of Cape Mabou seen in photo #1. Following a concert in Dundas (Prince Edward Island) on Friday evening, I arrived in Cape Breton Saturday morning, a half hour late because the ferry had not arrived at sailing time, and, after getting my motel room in Port Hood, drove on to Chéticamp for the Doryman cèilidh and then, after dinner at le Gabriel, drove back for the dance at West Mabou Saturday night. That left me no time for photography on Saturday, but on Sunday morning, my first drive was out the Colindale Road, where I got the photos seen here. Although this view appears in previous photo essays, this five-star panorama never palls and is always worth revisiting. The weather this day was especially good, though not entirely cloudless, so it is my hope that these photos will complement those of past essays. In the subsequent photos on this page, taken with a longer focal length to show more detail, the view progressively pans from left to right across the panorama.
Photo #2 shows the western coast line to the north of the mouth of the Mabou River, featuring four headlands: from left to right, the rounded Finlay Point with its gypsum cliff at the right and the entrance to the harbour at Mabou Coal Mines, is furthest away; Coal Mine Point is just to the right of the harbour entrance; Beaton Point is near the centre of the photo; and Green Point is the closest of the points, marking the entrance to the Mabou River. The Cape Mabou Highlands dominate the entire scene; Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain) is furthest away, beyond Finlay Point; the prominences in the middle ground are unnamed; the (western) slope rising from Green Point, most of which is not visible in this view, is part of Mabou Harbour Mountain.
Clear evidence in the water indicates that this photo was taken before July: in the foreground, where they are easiest to pick out (though they can be seen in the original all along this coast) are floats marking lobster traps that have been set; their owners will remove them on “Landing Day” on the last day of June, when the lobster fishing season ends in these waters.
Photo #3 shows the houses at or near the end of the Green Point Road (an extension of Mabou Harbour Road) and more, though not yet all, of the bulk of Mabou Harbour Mountain. The floats seen in photo #2 are barely visible here in the waters off the mouth of the Mabou River, but there were plenty of them there. The uppermost house at the middle right is off Mountain Road, which well repays a drive to the summit of the unnamed mountain: fine views will greet you as you drive back down towards Mabou Harbour. You may also want to park by the road at the summit and walk a short distance down the other side of Mountain Road, where good, though narrow, views of the Mabou Coal Mines area will greet you (I don’t recommend driving down north of the summit in a low-slung vehicle, however, though a truck or high-slung SUV should be able to make it through without bottoming out).
Photo #4 shows much of Mabou Harbour Mountain and, at the far right, the tip of the breakwater which marks the entrance into the Mabou River. At the time of this photo, Green Point was still mostly green, though later in the summer if would become distinctly tan/brown/yellow from the drought, the first time since 2002 that it has worn those colours (see this photo for its 2002 appearance (the reddish hues in this photo are an artefact of the film camera used to shoot it and the subsequent processing of the film)).
Photo #5 shows the breakwater at the entrance into the Mabou River and the sand dunes behind the beautiful fine sand beach of the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park that run from the breakwater to the far right of the photo. In the 1800’s, the mouth of the Mabou River was towards the right of this photo; sand has since sealed that entrance off and requires the constant dredging of the current entrance. The houses of the community of Mabou Harbour line the banks above the north side of the Mabou River, a portion of which can be seen across the sand dunes at the right of the photo. The block of trees in the middle of the photo lie on the (eastern) descending slope of Mabou Harbour Mountain; Mountain Road, which is not visible in this photo, runs behind and below this slanting incline.