In photo #1, the view is across Port Hood Harbour to Port Hood Island, only the northern portion of which is visible here. At the time, I didn’t really pay much attention to the “clouds” in the sky above the island, but if you look closely, you’ll see that they are actually banks of fog behind the island, some of which are spilling over the island’s upper elevations left of centre and into the island’s populated area right of centre. A profusion of wild flowers and plants is intermixed with the marram grass which populates the sand dunes behind the beach, where a beach-walker can be seen at the far left enjoying the lovely morning.
Photo #2 looks inland across Port Hood Harbour to Black Point at the far left. The fishing harbour at Murphys Pond is the whitish area just inland from Black Point. The white structure well left of centre is the hockey arena, officially the Al MacInnis Sports Centre; St Peter’s Church can be made out on the skyline to the right of the arena. The houses of the village sit on the banks above the harbour and the bridge over Little River¹ on the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19) is at the far right just beyond the end of the beach.
¹ The topographical map gives both Mill Creek and Little River as the names of this stream. I’m told that locally, it’s known as Little River. According to MacDougall’s History of Inverness County Nova Scotia, “When the late Honorable William MacKeen first came to Cape Breton he built a gristmill at Little River, Port Hood. This mill was one of the first, or the very first, of its kind in this county.” [p. 286] The name Mill Creek relates to that grist mill.↩
Photo #3 looks across the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19) at the kiosk and parking area for the Railway Trail, “rebranded” this past year as the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail and given a well-done web site. As a result of the hard work and contributions of many people, this trail, part of the Trans-Canada Trail, has been brought to a world-class state over nearly all of its length from Port Hastings to Inverness and added amenities such as this one at a number of different points along its length, with more being added each year. The extra height of the parking lot makes it a great place to survey the views from the shaded picnic table, while having a picnic lunch or just enjoying an ice cream cone on a hot day. The trail itself isn’t visible here, but is on the far side of the parking lot where it cuts through the trees that provide welcome shade to the hiker. The sign left of centre is along the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19).
“Who are they who travel deep ’neath
Ocean floors that cloak the glistening seams?
To leave behind each day a sunken shaft
Where sunlight never beams”
In memory of the miners
who lost their lives in
the Port Hood coal field
and is followed by a list of the seventeen miners who perished there from 1867 through 1938. As the quoted verse implies, the Port Hood mines extended below the water out into the harbour. A large mining establishment once stood where the parking area now is and extending out towards the shore; if this is a topic of interest to you, you should visit the Chestico Museum south of Port Hood in Harbourview (at 8095 Highway 19) for further information about this very interesting aspect of Port Hood’s history. Indeed, we owe today’s Railway Trail to the railroad whose primary purpose was to connect the coal mines in Inverness and Port Hood to Port Hastings, where the mined coal was transported via train and ship to its ultimate destination.
Photo #5 looks across the site of the former coal mine buildings and shafts at the sand dunes and bogs which have taken their place. In the fall, the bogs are especially popular with local inhabitants (and some visitors) who harvest the profusion of cranberries that grow there. During the spring and summer, this area is also a very busy habitat for numerous species of birds, who nest in its long grasses and brush.