I continued on from the Catalone River Bridge to Albert Bridge, where I had lunch, and then followed the Brickyard Road along the Mira River to Mira Gut on Mira Bay. There, I turned right onto Mira Bay Drive and headed towards Main-à-Dieu, taking a close look at Catalone Lake from the bridge over the Catalone River at Catalone Gut. I thought about hiking the trail out to Moques Head at Main-à-Dieu, which I have never done, but the weather wasn’t conducive to photography there and the area where I believed the trail head to be had changed significantly, so I drove on back towards Louisbourg, taking a side trip down to Baleine along the way.
Baleine is a beautiful and wild spot, the closest I have come to Cape Breton, the cape which has given its name to the entire island. It is also a historic spot, for it was the site of the first Scottish colony on Cape Breton Island. Lord Ochiltree arrived there 1629 July 1 with sixty Scottish settlers and built Fort Rosemar, a stockade, on a point with water on two sides. Ochiltree’s primary objective was to erect a military post to assert the claims of Charles I; his party carried a goodly supply of guns, ammunition, and heavy artillery. One of their first acts was to attack and capture a sixty-ton Portuguese barque that they found at anchor near the site of their settlement. The ship was dismantled and stripped of its cannon, which were then used as additional artillery to guard Fort Rosemar. Ochiltree then proceeded to capture French fishing vessels off the shores of Cape Breton, demanding a tribute of one-tenth of their catch. Charles and André Daniel, master seamen from Dieppe, had been engaged in the fishery off Cape Breton; the Company of New France, organized with the purpose of settling the area as a French colony, placed the two swashbuckling brothers in charge of the company’s flotilla. Blown off course, Charles Daniel sailed on alone to Cape Breton, where he learnt of the tribute the French fishermen had been forced to pay Lord Ochiltree. With fifty-three men and numerous friendly natives, Daniel captured two shallops manned by fishermen from Fort Rosemar. In September, he then attacked the fort, which soon raised a white flag after a multi-point attack using grenades, fire pots, and other fire works. The Scottish party was then disarmed, forced to demolish Fort Rosemar, imprisoned and transported to St Anns Harbour where they were forced to help build Fort-St-Anne, and then finally shipped back to France in dire conditions, during which voyage many perished, and where Ochiltree was thrown in jail for a month.¹
Photo #1 looks to the northwest along the northern arc of the well-protected harbour; Baleine today is a small lobster fishing harbour with the pier seen in the photo. No hardwoods are present here; the forest is all evergreen. Fall colours, however, are seen in the kelp along the shore and in the grasses which now are mostly browns and tans.
Photo #2 looks in the other direction along the eastern and southern arc of the harbour, which ends in Baleine Head, on the far side of which a trail leads along the Atlantic coast out to Cape Breton. The water is showing some reflection from sun rays making it through the clouds. The harbour here is quite calm, but there was still surf up along the coast outside the harbour.
¹ This summary merges the information in this Wikipedia article and pages 22-24 of Robert J. Morgan’s Rise Again! The Story of Cape Breton Island Book One; some of the original wording from both sources has been retained without being placed in quotation marks.↩
Photo #3 looks back across the road to the north to an inlet from Baleine Harbour that flows under the road; the area behind the inlet is marshy and very wet. As a monument beside the road (at the far left outside the scope of this photo) commemorates, the adventurer, writer, and aviatrix Beryl Markham crash-landed her plane in a peat bog at Baleine 1936 September 5 after an engine failure caused by the icing of the plane’s fuel tank vents; her only injury was a gash on her forehead when the plane skidded into a boulder and went nose up. She was the first woman to cross the Atlantic from east to west in a solo flight (more difficult than a west-to-east flight because it is against the prevailing winds), which lasted 21 hours and 25 minutes in constant fog, rain, and sleet, and was the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop from east to west. I am not certain of the location of the crash landing, but both the positioning of the monument and the terrain strongly suggest that it was in the bog inland of the inlet seen here.²
Photo #4 looks beyond Baleine Harbour to a drumlin, an elongated hill with a distinct profile seen all along the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton; as best as I can determine from Google Earth, this one lies about 3 km (1.8 mi) away at Little Lorraine. A drumlin is “formed by glacial ice acting on underlying unconsolidated till or ground moraine”, in the words of the linked Wikipedia article. The land seen in the foreground across the harbour is part of Tweedles Point, which closes off part of Baleine Harbour; on its other side is Broad Cove Head, hidden here by the vegetation on Tweedles Point, and Broad Cove, an inlet of the Atlantic.
² This article supplied information not available in the Wikipedia article linked to above.↩
Photo #5 looks out to the end of Baleine Harbour at Broad Cove Head, where a massive wave has just crashed into the rocks, sending spray into the air three times the height of the rock in the centre of the photo and extending down along the coast (it’s a bit difficult to see, as the spray and the clouds do not differ much in colour). (As noted previously, I’m a sucker for crashing waves.) Although the seas were far calmer than earlier this morning at Louisbourg Lighthouse Point, they still could produce a mighty splash!