We spent the week at Plage St Pierre Beach RV. The park is located on Cheticamp Island at the beginning of the Cabot Trail. We were going to camp in Baddeck until our good friend, Gilles, was going to be in town visiting family. It was awesome having our own personal tour guide and getting more history of the area and of his growing up on Cape Breton.
We spent our first full day driving the entire Cabot Trail. The weather was off and on, but all in all it was a great day. The views on the trail were just spectacular and we even drove out to Meat Cove, the most northern tip of the island. It took us a full 9 hours to make the whole loop, but surely worth it!
We met Gilles for breakfast and we toured the Les Trois Pignons, a museum with the Acadian history and culture through its world famous hooked rugs and antiques. Gilles mom even has some work displayed when she did at 9 years old. The rugs are just amazing and the details are indescribable. Later in the afternoon we did a little golfing at the local golf club. Fun afternoon, but we found out about Canada’s black flies. They are nasty little buggers!
The following day we took off to see Inverness and went to Glenora Distillery for lunch. Fairly laid back day.
Then we had some beautiful weather on Saturday so the three of us took off for Skyline Trail. During part of the hike we came across a gate and fenced area. It is habitat fenced off to the moose to help it grow. We took the trail and came upon the boardwalks leading down the edge of the peak. It was absolutely breath-taking. You can see the hikers from the trail down below, but you cannot see the boardwalks used for the hike. The boardwalks took 4 years to build. We took the long loop back and that was where we saw Mama moose and her calf. They were only about 20 feet off the trail from us. Here are a couple photos of the trail and the view from the road. Yes those are people up there!
Gilles took us by his church, St Pierre and gave us a tour of the church. All the stones were brought over from the island by horse and hoisted by pulley. Just amazing. When we walked inside it reminded me of the churches in Italy. It was absolutely amazing. I thought I had taken a photo of the outside, but sadly I did not.
We were then treated to dinner at Gilles Mothers home. She made us homemade seafood chowder and lemon meringue pie. Oh it was delicious and even better was the company. We had Gilles mom, his two sisters and brother in law. We had a blast just sitting and talking. We have found new family in Cheticamp. Mom even gave me a copy of her cookbook and autographed it. I was going to go back to the museum to purchase one, so it was a very thoughtful gift. She and Gilles sister, Ginette, work on the radio station in town. They are celebrities to some of our fellow campers. What a great night!
Sunday we took another hike in the National Park to see the original homestead of Gilles grandfather and some other families. They located to the area here and when the National Park was built the government basically moved them out. We were able to find the remains of the foundation of the home.
The LeBlanc homestead
We then went to the Mi Careme Centre and learned about the Acadian festival. This is similar to Mardi Gras. The meaning, Mid-Lent, is held the Thursday that falls 23 days prior to Easter. The custom is to dress in costumes and masks and go home to home for music, dancing, food and fun and not be recognized. Many people come from all over and of course are not quickly recognized. But locals are sometimes quickly picked out by their voice, their eyes or their step dancing. There is a list of homes and you move home to home for hours on end. The homes that host lay cardboard down on the floors as most of the time is it mid winter. The masks on display were amazing. There was one paper mache mask that was a large moose head and had 10 smaller heads on the antlers. Looking at the masks, most make the eye openings very small and some are large and would be very warm if no one guessed who you were for a long time. You do finally reveal your face and sometimes the masked person is a relative or friend who has not been seen in years.
The fiddling music is a large part of Acadian history and very prominent in the area. We had dinner our last night with Gilles, his sister and brother in law and a young girl came in and was playing her fiddle. She was amazing! Very easy to start tapping your foot to!
We left Cape Breton in heavy rain and fog. We decided to drive part way to Prince Edward Island and stopped in Amherst at Loch Lommand RV. We were going to take the ferry, but they are down one ship and could not guarantee we could get the RV on board. So instead of sitting all day waiting we will just drive around. Not much time difference, just a little more time behind the wheel.