Photo #1 shows the view of Port Hood and Henry Islands across Port Hood Harbour that one has from the kiosk on the Railway Trail in Port Hood Station. The Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19) lies at the end of the access road seen in the middle of the photo; across the road is the Port Hood Day Park, a picnic park with a lovely white sand beach, picnic tables, changing rooms, and a boardwalk. Some activity is present there even this late in the year, as indicated by the three vehicles in the parking lot, most likely folks out for a stroll along the beach and on the boardwalk. Few fall colours are showing here, but notice the dark red leaves on the tree at the left of the photo; the grasses and some of the brush at the right are also characteristic of the fall, but require extra attention to spot. The kiosk with its interpretive panels, the picnic tables, the parking area, and the Railway Trail itself are behind the camera in this view.
From the kiosk, the Railway Trail runs just a hair west of south, more or less parallel to the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19), which it crosses at MacDonald’s Ice Cream Barn, a welcome stop on warm summer days. About 300 m/yds south of this crossing, one arrives at an open field, from which one has good views of the harbour and the islands beyond. Photo #2, taken on the return hike when the weather had significantly brightened, shows a portion of the northeastern end of Port Hood Island, where several houses can be seen across Port Hood Harbour (notice the red channel marker right of centre in the photo). Settled in 1786 by Captain David Smith and his family, Protestant United Empire Loyalists from Massachusetts, the island was originally known as Smith Island and was connected on its northeastern end to Cape Breton Island at today’s Murphys Point by the Keg-weom-kek, a narrow sand bar that, according to an interpretive panel in the Port Hood Day Park, “was first breached in a storm, in 1819 and was 6 meters (20 feet) underwater by the end of the 19th century.” [punctuation and spelling as in the panel] That same panel says that the island was the site of four lobster canneries, long since gone. According to this Wikipedia article, “[i]n the 1950s Port Hood Island had approximately 28 families, mostly fishermen and small lot farmers, along with a one-room school which handled grades 1-8/9, after which students boarded in Port Hood and attended Port Hood Academy. The island church enjoyed the services of the Port Hood minister who also served Mabou.” This article continues: “Currently the island is mainly lived on during the summer months, with about half the residents having prior connections to the area. One of the previous permanent residents died in the summer of 2003, and there are now only two people living on Port Hood Island all year long.”
Photo #3, taken, like the two following photos, on the hike south when the weather was resolutely grey, but from the same field as in photo #2, shows the beach known as Parks Beach which lies across Port Hood Harbour towards the southeastern end of Port Hood Island. This is a popular swimming spot for those with boats; on the day of the Port Hood Boat Parade during Chestico Days in August, many of the boats in the parade congregate at this beach after the parade is over for an afternoon of swimming and partying. Above the north end of the beach, mostly hidden by trees, a dwelling (or perhaps two—the topographical map shows only one) is betrayed by its white paint in the original, but is very hard to see in this compressed version.
Photo #4 shows the southern end of Port Hood Island, labelled as Parks Point on the topographical map but as Portsmouth Point on the interpretive panel in the Port Hood Day Park. The land beyond Port Hood Island is the northern end of Henry Island, the northernmost point of which can be seen above and beyond Port Hood Island about a quarter of the way in from the right edge of the photo. I’m not sure what caused the waves splashing against the southern end of Port Hood Island, as I don’t recall seeing a passing boat in the harbour; perhaps the wind is responsible, as one can see small white caps in the water.
Photo #5 shows most of Henry Island across Port Hood Harbour; the northern end was seen in photo #4 and the southern end is to the far left and out of the scope of this photo, but the island does not continue much further south from what is shown here. According to this Wikipedia article, Henry Island has an area of 0.61 km² (150 acres), is 4 km (2½ mi) long by 1.6 km (1 mi) wide, and is mostly covered by forest; it is now privately owned by a family that resides there during the summer. At the top of the island near the centre, the superstructure of the octagonal Henry Island Lighthouse can be (barely) seen above the trees; each of its eight sides is painted in alternating red and white vertical stripes. Details on the history of this lighthouse, including photos and information about its light, can be found at the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society pages for the Henry Island Lighthouse; additional information, including photos, is also available on the Henry Island Lighthouse Preservation Society web page.