Photo #1 is a wide-angled view showing Port Hood’s Old Government Wharf and a portion of Wharf Beach in the foreground. Port Hood Island lies across the harbour in the background. The wharf continues to be used by fishing vessels, though most of them now berth at the Murphys Pond marina. The wharf is in a state of some disrepair, with the right hand portion at the end blocked off by cement barriers, but the fine views in every direction from the wharf make it well worth a walk out to its end. During the village’s annual Chestico Days Summer Festival at the end of July (July 27 to August 2 in 2015), it is a very popular spot from which to observe the picturesque Boat Parade, a long line of boats, decorated with flags and balloons, and their passengers out enjoying the ride, which passes directly in front of the wharf; some of the boats even have live musicians and square dancers celebrating the region’s musical heritage.
Photo #2 looks to the north from the parking area at Wharf Beach and the causeway. Wharf Beach is one of Port Hood’s six beaches; it is a popular volleyball site and attracts water skiers, kayakers, and those who enjoy water tubing. The Breakwater, the name given to the remains of a causeway linking the village of Port Hood to Port Hood Island, was built by the Department of Highways in the 1950’s; a storm washed large parts of it away three days after it was opened and it has never been rebuilt. According to an interpretive panel in the Port Hood Day Park, the Keg-weom-kek sandbar, a land bridge that connected Murphys Point, seen right of centre in the middle ground of this photo, to the northern end of Port Hood Island, “was first breached during a storm in 1819 and was 6 meters [sic] (20 feet) underwater by the end of the 19th century.” Before it disappeared, Port Hood Harbour was a much more sheltered anchorage.
Photo #3 is a telephoto view of the northern end of Wharf Beach and of Murphys Point, with the Murphys Pond Marina at the far right of the photo. The buildings store supplies and equipment used by the fishermen who anchor their boats in the marina. The gravel road left of centre climbs up to the look-off on Murphys Point, another fine vantage point from which to survey the beautiful area; photos taken from there will appear on a later page of this essay.
Photo #4 looks south along the coast from the parking area above the Old Government Wharf. Although there is some sand here, this is a much rockier area. Though it is hard to make out in this wide-angled view, the bridge over Little River lies behind the point in the middle ground to the left of a patch of the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19) that is easier to make out left of centre. This view gives some idea of the long beach on the north side of the Port Hood Day Park, which stretches across the right two thirds of this photo and still doesn’t reach all the way to Shipping Point! The grey in the far background at the far right are the mountains on mainland Nova Scotia between the Strait of Canso and Antigonish; the nearer hills behind the beach have already been seen closer up from the Port Hood Day Park’s western beach.
Photo #5, a telephoto view, brings the area left of centre in photo #4 into sharper focus; both the bridge and the Cèilidh Trail are now much easier to make out. The small red roof above the bridge is that of the kiosk along the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail (the Railway Trail), seen earlier from the Day Park. At the far right of the photo, the building housing the changing rooms can be made out; the parking lot is to the left of that building and the boardwalk begins to its right. On a day as fine as this one, it is extremely unusual that no vehicles are seen in that parking lot, as it is normally a hive of activity. Admittedly, this is still mid-June and a bit early for tourists, but the locals enjoy the park every bit as much as those from away.
Photo #6 is a telephoto view of the area just to the right of that seen in photo #5 (there is no overlap), showing most of the eastern portion of Boardwalk Beach. If you look to the left of centre, you will see a grassy field on the cliffs with a shadowy house nestled at the edge of the woods there; this is the same house that was seen in photo #3 on the previous page. That house is a fine marker for the southwestern edge of the beach on the far side of the dunes, pointing to its location to the left at the foot of the cliffs where a clump of trees can be seen. Two people can be made out on Boardwalk Beach at the centre right of the photo; to their left, the profile of MacNeil Point can be made out. Domhnull Ruadhs Head is at the far right and Seonalds Point lies between the two; the entrance to Little Judique Harbour lies between MacNeil Point and Seonalds Point, close by the latter.
Photo #7, which overlaps with photo #6 (the house at the far left is an easy marker to find in photo #6), completes the view of Boardwalk Beach from the Old Government Wharf, with Shipping Point at the far right of the photo. St Georges Bay lies on the far side of the dunes and the mountains on the mainland on the far side of St Georges Bay can be seen better here than in any of the previous photos. The white in the water on the far side of Shipping Point is the wake of a boat which is heading south.
Photo #8 is a telephoto view across Port Hood Harbour of Smiths Cove and the breakwater protecting it, with the main settlement on Port Hood Island arrayed behind. The island’s church, now known as the Jubilee United Church, is right of centre; “valued for its Gothic Revival style and for its association with Methodism on Port Hood Island”, it is now on the Register of Canada’s Historic Places. Port Hood Island was originally settled in 1786 by New England Loyalists led by Captain David Smith fleeing the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. In time, the community prospered and grew in number; it housed a booming lobster cannery and also had a one-room school for the pre-high school grades; high school students went to the Port Hood Academy and boarded in the village. In the 1950s, Port Hood Island still had about thirty families living there year round, but today, the island is inhabited mainly during the summer months and the homes seen here are now summer homes kept up mostly by folks with a connection to the area.
Photo #9 continues the view of the Port Hood Island community to the north (there is a small amount of overlap with photo #8—the building at the far left is a good reference point). Right of centre one can see a portion of The Breakwater where it landed on Port Hood Island. Two buoys mark the current channel through the harbour across this area.
Photo #10, which overlaps somewhat with photo #9, shows the northern end of Port Hood Island, as seen from the Old Government Wharf. Notice the house perched at the top of the island at the right. The prominence in the centre of the photo in the background is Green Hill, which sits across a trough that leads to optical illusions when seen from the waters to the south, making it appear as if Port Hood Island were actually two separate islands. The lighting in this photo makes the right half of the coast look to me like an alligator’s head with its mouth open showing its teeth spaced regularly.