Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton Island (French: île du Cap-Breton—formerly Île Royale; Scottish Gaelic: Ceap Breatainn or Eilean Cheap Breatainn; Mi'kmaq: Unamaꞌkik; or simply Cape Breton) is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America and part of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada.[4]

The 10,311 km2 (3,981 sq mi) island accounts for 18.7% of Nova Scotia's total area. Although the island is physically separated from the Nova Scotia peninsula by the Strait of Canso, the 1,385 m (4,544 ft) long rock-fill Canso Causeway connects it to mainland Nova Scotia. The island is east-northeast of the mainland with its northern and western coasts fronting on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence; its western coast also forms the eastern limits of the Northumberland Strait. The eastern and southern coasts front the Atlantic Ocean; its eastern coast also forms the western limits of the Cabot Strait. Its landmass slopes upward from south to north, culminating in the highlands of its northern cape. One of the world's larger salt water lakes, Bras d'Or ("Arm of Gold" in French), dominates the island's centre.

The island is divided into four of Nova Scotia's eighteen counties: Cape Breton, Inverness, Richmond, and Victoria. Their total population at the 2016 census numbered 132,010 "Cape Bretoners"; this is approximately 15% of the provincial population.[3] Cape Breton Island has experienced a decline in population of approximately 2.9% since the 2011 census. Approximately 75% of the island's population is in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) which includes all of Cape Breton County and is often referred to as Industrial Cape Breton, given the history of coal mining and steel manufacturing in this area, which was Nova Scotia's industrial heartland throughout the 20th century.

The island has five reserves of the Mi'kmaq Nation: Eskasoni, Membertou, Wagmatcook, Waycobah, and Potlotek/Chapel Island. Eskasoni is the largest in both population and land area.

Cape Breton
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Cape Breton is located in Nova Scotia
Cape Breton
Cape Breton
Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia, Canada)
LocationNova Scotia, Canada
Coordinates46°10′N 60°45′W / 46.167°N 60.750°W
Area10,311 km2 (3,981 sq mi)
Area rank77th
Highest elevation535 m (1,755 ft)
Highest pointWhite Hill
ProvinceNova Scotia
Largest settlementCape Breton Regional Municipality (pop. 97,398[1])
DemonymCape Bretoner[2]
Population132,010[3] (2016)
Pop. density12.7 /km2 (32.9 /sq mi)
Wfm cape breton island pseudocolour
NASA landsat photo of Cape Breton Island


Its name may derive from Capbreton near Bayonne, or more probably from Cape and the word Breton, the French demonym for Bretagne, the French historical region.[4] William Francis Ganong, however, refutes a French origin for the name and offers, instead, that the earliest form of the name appeared on Portuguese maps as "bertomes", and, he argues, "that word meant at the time the English and not the French Bretons, and referred to the region which John Cabot and his Bristol Englishmen discovered on the voyage of 1497...therefore our Cape Breton would mean 'Cape of the English[5]'"


Cape Breton Island's first residents were likely Archaic maritime natives, ancestors of the Mi'kmaq. These peoples and their progeny inhabited the island (known as Unama'ki) for several thousand years and continue to live there to this day. Their traditional lifestyle centred around hunting and fishing because of the unfavourable agricultural conditions of their maritime home. This ocean-centric lifestyle did, however, make them among the first indigenous peoples to discover European explorers and sailors fishing in the St Lawrence Estuary. John Cabot reportedly visited the island in 1497.[4] However, European histories and maps of the period are of too poor quality to be sure whether Cabot first visited Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island. This discovery is commemorated by Cape Breton's Cabot Trail, and by the Cabot's Landing Historic Site & Provincial Park, near the village of Dingwall.

The local Mi'kmaq peoples began trading with European fishermen when the fishermen began landing in their territories as early as the 1520s. In about 1521–22, the Portuguese under João Álvares Fagundes established a fishing colony on the island. As many as two hundred settlers lived in a village, the name of which is not known, located according to some historians at what is now Ingonish on the island's northeastern peninsula. These fishermen traded with the local population but did not maintain a permanent settlement. This Portuguese colony's fate is unknown, but it is mentioned as late as 1570.[6]

During the Anglo-French War of 1627 to 1629, under Charles I, the Kirkes took Quebec City; Sir James Stewart[4] of Killeith, Lord Ochiltree planted a colony on Unama'ki at Baleine, Nova Scotia; and Alexander's son, William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling, established the first incarnation of "New Scotland" at Port Royal. These claims, and larger European ideals of native conquest were the first time the island was incorporated as European territory, though it would be several decades later that treaties would actually be signed (no copies of these treaties exist).

These Scottish triumphs, which left Cape Sable as the only major French holding in North America, did not last.[7] Charles I's haste to make peace with France on the terms most beneficial to him meant the new North American gains would be bargained away in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1632),[8] which established which European power had claim over the territories, but did not in fact establish that Europeans had any claim to begin with.

The French quickly defeated the Scots at Baleine, and established the first European settlements on Île Royale: present day Englishtown (1629) and St. Peter's (1630). These settlements lasted only one generation, until Nicolas Denys left in 1659. The island did not have any European settlers for another fifty years before those communities along with Louisbourg were re-established in 1713, after which point European settlement was permanently established on the island.

Île Royale

Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830)
French Naval Ensign (pure white) flown over the Colony of Île Royale

Known as "Île Royale" ("Royal Island") to the French, the island also saw active settlement by France. After the French ceded their claims to Newfoundland and the Acadian mainland to the British by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the French relocated the population of Plaisance, Newfoundland, to Île Royale and the French garrison was established in the central eastern part at Sainte Anne. As the harbour at Sainte Anne experienced icing problems, it was decided to build a much larger fortification at Louisbourg to improve defences at the entrance to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and to defend France's fishing fleet on the Grand Banks.[9] The French also built the Louisbourg Lighthouse in 1734, the first lighthouse in Canada and one of the first in North America. In addition to Cape Breton Island, the French colony of Île Royale also included Île Saint-Jean, today called Prince Edward Island, and Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

French and Indian War

Louisbourg itself was one of the most important commercial and military centres in New France. Louisbourg was captured by New Englanders[4] with British naval assistance in 1745[10] and by British forces in 1758. The French population of Île Royale was deported to France after each siege. While French settlers returned to their homes in Île Royale after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in 1748,[10] the fortress was demolished after the second siege. Île Royale remained formally part of New France until it was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. It was then merged with the adjacent, British colony of Nova Scotia (present day peninsular Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). Acadians who had been expelled from Nova Scotia and Île Royale were permitted to settle in Cape Breton beginning in 1764,[10] and established communities in north-western Cape Breton, near Cheticamp, and southern Cape Breton, on and near Isle Madame.

Some of the first British-sanctioned settlers on the island following the Seven Years' War were Irish, although upon settlement they merged with local French communities to form a culture rich in music and tradition. From 1763 to 1784, the island was administratively part of the colony of Nova Scotia[4] and was governed from Halifax.

The first permanently settled Scottish community on Cape Breton Island was Judique, settled in 1775 by Michael Mor MacDonald. He spent his first winter using his upside-down boat for shelter, which is reflected in the architecture of the village's Community Centre. He composed a song about the area called "O 's àlainn an t-àite", or "O, Fair is the Place."

American Revolution

The Departure of S.W. Prentice and Five Others from their Shipwrecked Companions, 1781 (inset)
Samuel Waller Prentice, 84th Regiment, 4 January 1780, shipwrecked off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia by Robert Pollard (1784)[11][12][13]

During the American Revolution, on 1 November 1776, John Paul Jones – the father of the American Navy – set sail in command of Alfred to free hundreds of American prisoners working in the area's coal mines. Although winter conditions prevented the freeing of the prisoners, the mission did result in the capture of Mellish, a vessel carrying a vital supply of winter clothing intended for John Burgoyne's troops in Canada.

Major Timothy Hierlihy and his regiment on board HMS Hope worked in and protected from privateer attacks on the coal mines at Sydney Cape Breton.[14] Sydney Cape Breton provided a vital supply of coal for Halifax throughout the war. The British began developing the mining site at Sydney Mines in 1777. On 14 May 1778, Major Hierlihy arrived at Cape Breton. While there, Hierlihy reported that he "beat off many piratical attacks, killed some and took other prisoners."[15][16]

A few years into the war there was also a naval engagement between French ships and a British convoy off Sydney, Nova Scotia, near Spanish River (1781), Cape Breton.[17] French ships (fighting with the Americans) were re-coaling and defeated a British convoy. Six French sailors were killed and 17 British, with many more wounded.

Colony of Cape Breton

Red Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800)
Flag of the Colony of Cape Breton 1784–1801.
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Flag of the Colony of Cape Breton 1801–1820.

In 1784, Britain split the colony of Nova Scotia into three separate colonies: New Brunswick, Cape Breton Island, and present-day peninsular Nova Scotia, in addition to the adjacent colonies of St. John's Island (renamed Prince Edward Island in 1798) and Newfoundland. The colony of Cape Breton Island had its capital at Sydney on its namesake harbour fronting on Spanish Bay and the Cabot Strait. Its first Lieutenant-Governor was Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres (1784–1787) and his successor was William Macarmick (1787).

A number of United Empire Loyalists emigrated to the Canadian colonies, including Cape Breton. David Mathews, the former Mayor of New York City during the American Revolution, emigrated with his family to Cape Breton in 1783. He succeeded Macarmick as head of the colony and served from 1795 to 1798.[18]

From 1799 to 1807, the military commandant was John Despard,[19] brother of Edward.[20]

An order forbidding the granting of land in Cape Breton, issued in 1763, was removed in 1784. The mineral rights to the island were given over to the Duke of York by an order-in-council. The British government had intended that the Crown take over the operation of the mines when Cape Breton was made a colony, but this was never done, probably because of the rehabilitation cost of the mines. The mines were in a neglected state, caused by careless operations dating back at least to the time of the final fall of Louisbourg in 1758.

Large-scale shipbuilding began in the 1790s, beginning with schooners for local trade moving in the 1820s to larger brigs and brigantines, mostly built for British shipowners. Shipbuilding peaked in the 1850s, marked in 1851 by the full-rigged ship Lord Clarendon, the largest wooden ship ever built in Cape Breton.

Merger with Nova Scotia

In 1820, the colony of Cape Breton Island was merged for the second time with Nova Scotia. This development is one of the factors which led to large-scale industrial development in the Sydney Coal Field of eastern Cape Breton County. By the late 19th century, as a result of the faster shipping, expanding fishery and industrialization of the island, exchanges of people between the island of Newfoundland and Cape Breton increased, beginning a cultural exchange that continues to this day.

The 1920s were some of the most violent times in Cape Breton. They were marked by several severe labour disputes. The famous murder of William Davis by strike breakers, and the seizing of the New Waterford power plant by striking miners led to a major union sentiment that persists to this day in some circles. William Davis Miners' Memorial Day is celebrated in coal mining towns to commemorate the deaths of miners at the hands of the coal companies.

20th century

The turn of the 20th century saw Cape Breton Island at the forefront of scientific achievement with the now-famous activities launched by inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Guglielmo Marconi.

Following his successful invention of the telephone and being relatively wealthy, Bell acquired land near Baddeck in 1885, largely due to surroundings reminiscent of his early years in Scotland. He established a summer estate complete with research laboratories, working with deaf people—including Helen Keller—and continued to invent. Baddeck would be the site of his experiments with hydrofoil technologies as well as the Aerial Experiment Association, financed by his wife, which saw the first powered flight in Canada when the AEA Silver Dart took off from the ice-covered waters of Bras d'Or Lake. Bell also built the forerunner to the iron lung and experimented with breeding sheep.

Marconi's contributions to Cape Breton Island were also quite significant, as he used the island's geography to his advantage in transmitting the first North American trans-Atlantic radio message from a station constructed at Table Head in Glace Bay to a receiving station at Poldhu in Cornwall, England. Marconi's pioneering work in Cape Breton marked the beginning of modern radio technology. Marconi's station at Marconi Towers, on the outskirts of Glace Bay, became the chief communication centre for the Royal Canadian Navy in World War I through to the early years of World War II.

Promotions for tourism beginning in the 1950s recognized the importance of the Scottish culture to the province, and the provincial government started encouraging the use of Gaelic once again. The establishment of funding for the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts and formal Gaelic language courses in public schools are intended to address the near-loss of this culture to English assimilation.

In the 1960s, the Fortress of Louisbourg was partially reconstructed by Parks Canada. Since 2009, this National Historic Site of Canada has attracted an average of 90 000 visitors per year.[21]

Gaelic speakers

Gaelic speakers in Cape Breton, as elsewhere in Nova Scotia, furnished a large proportion of the local population from the eighteenth century on. They brought with them a common culture of poetry, traditional songs and tales, music and dance, and used this to develop distinctive local traditions.[22]

Most Gaelic settlement in Nova Scotia happened between 1770 and 1840, with probably over 50,000 Gaelic speakers emigrating from the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Such emigration was facilitated by changes in Gaelic society and the economy, with sharp increases in rents, confiscation of land and disruption of local customs and rights. Gaelic settlement in Cape Breton began in earnest in the early nineteenth century.[23]

The Gaelic language became dominant from Colchester County in the west of Nova Scotia into Cape Breton County in the east. It was reinforced in Cape Breton in the first half of the 19th century with an influx of Highland Scots numbering approximately 50,000 as a result of the Highland Clearances.[24][25]

Gaelic speakers, however, tended to be poor; they were largely illiterate and had little access to education. This situation still obtained in the early twentieth century. In 1921 Gaelic was approved as an optional subject in the curriculum of Nova Scotia, but few teachers could be found and children were discouraged from using the language in schools. By 1931 the number of Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia had fallen to approximately 25,000, mostly in discrete pockets. In Cape Breton it was still a majority language, but the proportion was falling. Children were no longer being raised with Gaelic.[26]

From 1939 on attempts were made to strengthen its position in the public school system in Nova Scotia, but funding, official commitment and the availability of teachers continued to be a problem. By the 1950s the number of speakers was less than 7,000. The advent of multiculturalism in Canada in the 1960s meant that new educational opportunities became available, with a gradual strengthening of the language at secondary and tertiary level. At present several schools in Cape Breton offer Gaelic Studies and Gaelic language programs, and the language is taught at University College of Cape Breton.[27]

The 2016 Canadian Census shows that there are only 40 reported speakers of Gaelic as a mother tongue in Cape Breton.[28] On the other hand, there are families and individuals who have recommenced intergenerational transmission. They include fluent speakers from Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland and speakers who became fluent in Nova Scotia and who in some cases studied in Scotland. Other revitalization activities include adult education, community cultural events and publishing.[29]



Sydney, Nova Scotia
The Sydney waterfront, focal point of the largest population centre on Cape Breton Island.

The island measures 10,311 square kilometres (3,981 sq mi) in area, making it the 77th largest island in the world and Canada's 18th largest island. Cape Breton Island is composed mainly of rocky shores, rolling farmland, glacial valleys, barren headlands, mountains, woods and plateaus. Geological evidence suggests at least part of the island was joined with present-day Scotland and Norway, now separated by millions of years of plate tectonics.

Cape Breton Island's northern portion is dominated by the Cape Breton Highlands, commonly shortened to simply the "Highlands", which are an extension of the Appalachian mountain chain. The Highlands comprise the northern portions of Inverness and Victoria counties. In 1936, the federal government established the Cape Breton Highlands National Park covering 949 km2 (366 sq mi) across the northern third of the Highlands. The Cabot Trail scenic highway also encircles the plateau's coastal perimeter.

Sydney, Cape Breton waterfront buildings
Downtown Sydney is home to City Hall (right) as well as apartment complexes and hotels

Cape Breton Island's hydrological features include the Bras d'Or Lake system, a salt-water fjord at the heart of the island, and freshwater features including Lake Ainslie, the Margaree River system, and the Mira River. Innumerable smaller rivers and streams drain into the Bras d'Or Lake estuary and on to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic coasts.

Cape Breton Island is joined to the mainland by the Canso Causeway, which was completed in 1955, enabling direct road and rail traffic to and from the island, but requiring marine traffic to pass through the Canso Canal at the eastern end of the causeway.

Cape Breton Island is divided into four counties: Cape Breton, Inverness, Richmond, and Victoria.

The climate is one of mild, often pleasantly warm summers and cold winters, although the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream moderates the extreme winter cold found on the mainland, especially on the east side that faces the Atlantic. Precipitation is abundant year round, with annual totals up to 60 inches on the eastern side facing the Atlantic storms. Considerable snowfall occurs in winter, especially in the highlands.



Glace Bay Shul, August 2012
The former Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue, in Glace Bay. In 1902, the synagogue was Nova Scotia's first purpose built synagogue. It permanently closed in July 2010. To the left is the also closed Talmud Torah community centre. This was the location of the Hebrew school and functions like Bar Mitzvah and wedding dinners.

The island's residents can be grouped into five main cultures: Scottish, Mi'kmaq, Acadian, Irish, English, with respective languages Scottish Gaelic, Mi'kmaq, French, and English. English is now the primary language, including a locally distinctive Cape Breton accent, while Mi'kmaq, Scottish Gaelic and Acadian French are still spoken in some communities.

Later migrations of Black Loyalists, Italians, and Eastern Europeans mostly settled in the island's eastern part around the industrial Cape Breton region. Cape Breton Island's population has been in decline two decades with an increasing exodus in recent years due to economic conditions.

According to the Census of Canada, the population of Cape Breton [Economic region] in 2016 / 2011 / 2006 / 1996 was 132,010 / 135,974 / 142,298 / 158,260.

Religious groups

Statistics Canada in 2001 reported a "religion" total of 145,525 for Cape Breton, including 5,245 with "no religious affiliation."[30][31] Major categories included:


Cape Breton Flag - Popular
Cape Breton Island's most recognizable and commonly used flag.
Cape Breton Island flag 1997
Cape Breton Island's "Eagle" flag (1994).[32]
Cape Breton Island flag 1990s
Cape Breton Island's second cultural flag, the "Tartan" flag (early 1990s)
Cape Breton Island Flag 1940s
Cape Breton Island's first cultural flag, the blue-and-yellow flag dates to the 1940s

Much of the recent economic history of Cape Breton Island can be tied to the coal industry.

The island has two major coal deposits:

  • the Sydney Coal Field in the southeastern part of the island along the Atlantic Ocean drove the Industrial Cape Breton economy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries—until after World War II, its industries were the largest private employers in Canada.
  • the Inverness Coal Field in the western part of the island along the Gulf of St. Lawrence is significantly smaller but hosted several mines.

Sydney has traditionally been the main port, with facilities in a large, sheltered, natural harbour. It is the island's largest commercial centre and home to the Cape Breton Post daily newspaper, as well as one television station, CJCB-TV (CTV),[Note 1] and several radio stations. The Marine Atlantic terminal at North Sydney is the terminal for large ferries traveling to Channel-Port aux Basques and seasonally to Argentia, both on the island of Newfoundland.

Point Edward on the west side of Sydney Harbour is the location of Sydport, a former navy base (HMCS Protector) now converted to commercial use. The Canadian Coast Guard College is nearby at Westmount. Petroleum, bulk coal, and cruise ship facilities are also in Sydney Harbour.

Glace Bay, the second largest urban community in population, was the island's main coal mining centre until its last mine closed in the 1980s. Glace Bay was the hub of the Sydney & Louisburg Railway and a major fishing port. At one time, Glace Bay was known as the largest town in Nova Scotia, based on population.

Port Hawkesbury has risen to prominence since the completion of the Canso Causeway and Canso Canal created an artificial deep-water port, allowing extensive petrochemical, pulp and paper, and gypsum handling facilities to be established. The Strait of Canso is completely navigable to Seawaymax vessels, and Port Hawkesbury is open to the deepest-draught vessels on the world's oceans. Large marine vessels may also enter Bras d'Or Lake through the Great Bras d'Or channel, and small craft can use the Little Bras d'Or channel or St. Peters Canal. While commercial shipping no longer uses the St. Peters Canal, it remains an important waterway for recreational vessels.

The industrial Cape Breton area faced several challenges with the closure of the Cape Breton Development Corporation's (DEVCO) coal mines and the Sydney Steel Corporation's (SYSCO) steel mill. In recent years, the Island's residents have tried to diversify the area economy by investing in tourism developments, call centres, and small businesses, as well as manufacturing ventures in fields such as auto parts, pharmaceuticals, and window glazings.

While the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is in transition from an industrial to a service-based economy, the rest of Cape Breton Island outside the industrial area surrounding Sydney-Glace Bay has been more stable, with a mixture of fishing, forestry, small-scale agriculture, and tourism.

Tourism in particular has grown throughout the post-Second World War era, especially the growth in vehicle-based touring, which was furthered by the creation of the Cabot Trail scenic drive. The scenery of the island is rivalled in northeastern North America by only Newfoundland; and Cape Breton Island tourism marketing places a heavy emphasis on its Scottish Gaelic heritage through events such as the Celtic Colours Festival, held each October, as well as promotions through the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts.

Whale-watching is a popular attraction for tourists. Whale-watching cruises are operated by vendors from Baddeck to Cheticamp. The most popular species of whale found in Cape Breton's waters is the Pilot whale.

The island's primary east-west road is Highway 105, the Trans-Canada Highway, although Trunk 4 is also heavily used. Highway 125 is an important arterial route around Sydney Harbour in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The Cabot Trail, circling the Cape Breton Highlands, and Trunk 19, along the island's western coast, are important secondary roads. The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway maintains railway connections between the port of Sydney to the Canadian National Railway in Truro

The Cabot Trail is a scenic road circuit around and over the Cape Breton Highlands with spectacular coastal vistas; over 400,000 visitors drive the Cabot Trail each summer and fall. Coupled with the Fortress of Louisbourg, it has driven the growth of the tourism industry on the island in recent decades. The Condé Nast travel guide has rated Cape Breton Island as one of the world's best island destinations.

Traditional music

Cape Breton is well known for its traditional fiddle music, which was brought to North America by Scottish immigrants during the Highland Clearances. The traditional style has been well preserved in Cape Breton, and céilidhs have become a popular attraction for tourists. Inverness County in particular has a heavy concentration of musical activity, with regular performances in communities such as Mabou and Judique. Judique is recognized as 'Baile nam Fonn', (literally: Village of Tunes) or the 'Home of Celtic Music', featuring the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre. Performers who have received significant recognition outside of Cape Breton include Bruce Guthro, Buddy MacMaster, Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, The Rankin Family, Aselin Debison, Gordie Sampson, Lee Cremo, and the Barra MacNeils. The Margaree's of Cape Breton also serve as a large contributor of fiddle music celebrated throughout the island. This traditional fiddle music of Cape Breton is studied by musicians around the world, where its global recognition continues to rise.

The Men of the Deeps are a male choral group of current and former miners from the industrial Cape Breton area.

Film and television

Notable people

Cape Breton artists who have been recognized with major national or international awards include actor Harold Russell of North Sydney, who won an Academy Award in 1946 for his portrayal of Homer Parrish in The Best Years of Our Lives, and Lynn Coady and Linden MacIntyre of Inverness County, who are both past winners of the Giller Prize for Canadian literature. The Rankin Family and Rita MacNeil have recorded multiple albums certified as Double Platinum by Music Canada.[34]

People from Cape Breton have also achieved a number of firsts in Canadian politics and governance. These include Mayann Francis of Whitney Pier, the first Black Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Isaac Phills of Sydney, Nova Scotia, the first person of African descent to be awarded the Order of Canada,[35] and Elizabeth May of Margaree Harbour, the first member of the Green Party of Canada elected to the House of Commons of Canada.

Cape Breton Island is also home to YouTube weather sensation Frankie MacDonald. Frankie MacDonald on his YouTube channel "dogsandwolves" has over 100,000 subscribers. He accurately predicted an above Magnitude 7 earthquake in New Zealand in November 2016.

American artists like sculptor Richard Serra, composer Philip Glass and abstract painter John Beardman spent part of the year on Cape Breton Island.

Steve Arbuckle is a Canadian born actor born in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He started his career as a theatre actor at the Boardmore Playhouse and Savoy Theatre, along with other independent theatre companies, then made his first move into film in 2003 with the lead role in the short film Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, later becoming a TV show on Space as well as an animated film. Since then, he has and continues to appear on many feature films and television series, including:Blue Bloods, Saving Hope, Murdoch Mysteries, Falling Water (TV series), and many more.

Director Ashley McKenzie's 2016 film Werewolf is set on the island and features local actors; McKenzie grew up on the island.[36]

Bruce Guthro; Lead singer and guitarist of the former Scottish Celtic band Runrig, which disbanded in 2018 after 46 years. Guthro resides in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia.

Dylan Guthro; musician. Son of Bruce Guthro.

Photo gallery


Cabot's Landing, Victoria County, commemorating the "first land seen" by explorer John Cabot in 1497

Cape breton island 1
Cape breton island 3

A bulk carrier in the Strait of Canso docked at the Martin Marietta Materials quarry at Cape Porcupine.

NS SmeltBrook tango7174

Smelt Brook on the northern shore.


Entering Cape Breton Island from Canso Causeway.


Seal Island Bridge in Victoria County, the 3rd longest in Nova Scotia.

Sydney Harbour aerial view

Sydney Harbour with Point Edward, Westmount, and downtown Sydney visible.

See also


  1. ^ CBIT-TV (CBC) existed from 1972 until 31 July 2012, when the CBC closed its over-the-air analog transmitters in small markets. It produced a local news broadcast until 1991, when local news shows were consolidated to Halifax. The CBC Nova Scotia television signal, which originates from Halifax, is now available only by cable or satellite providers.[33]



  1. ^ Table from Statistics Canada – CBRM (Census Profile, 2011 Census)
  2. ^ Table of demonyms in Canada Archived 30 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Table from Statistics Canada (Census Profile, 2011 Census)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cape Breton" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ Ganong, William Francis (1964). Crucial Maps in the Early Cartography and Place-nomenclature of the Atlantic Coast of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 37.
  6. ^ de Souza, Francisco; Tratado das Ilhas Novas, 1570
  7. ^ Roger Sarty and Doug Knight. Saint John Fortifications: 1630–1956. New Brunswick Military Heritage Series. 2003. p. 18.
  8. ^ Nichols, 2010. p. xix
  9. ^ Canadian Military Heritage; vol.1, Chapter 6: Soldiers of the Atlantic Seaboard, p103. Government of Canada, 2004-04-26
  10. ^ a b c "The Acadians – Timeline". The Acadians. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2004. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  11. ^ Samuel Weller Prenties. Narrative of a shipwreck on the island of Cape Breton, in a voyage from Quebec 1780
  12. ^ Naval Chronicle. Vol. 11, p. 447
  13. ^ Naval Chronicle, Vol. 14, p. 28
  14. ^ C. J. MacGillivray. Timothy Hierlihy and his Times: The story of the Founder of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Historical Society., p.40
  15. ^ C. J. MacGillivray. Timothy Hierlihy and his Times: The story of the Founder of Antigonish, N.S. Nova Scotia Historical Society., p.42
  16. ^ Maj.-Gen. Eyre Massey to General Sir Henry Clinton. 13 June 1778
  17. ^ Thomas B. Akins. (1895) History of Halifax. Dartmouth: Brook House Press.p. 82
  18. ^ Morgan, R. J. (1979). "Mathews, David". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. IV (1771–1800) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  19. ^ Morgan, R. J. (1987). "Despard, John". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. VI (1821–1835) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  20. ^ Despard, John; The Companion to British History, Routledge
  21. ^ Krause, Eric R. (30 July 2014). "Fortress of Louisbourg Visitation Numbers". Krause House Info-Research Solutions. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  22. ^ Kennedy, Michael (2001). "Gaelic Report" (PDF). Nova Scotia Museum. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  23. ^ Kennedy, Michael (2001). "Gaelic Report" (PDF). Nova Scotia Museum. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Great Scots: The past comes to life at Highland Village Museum". The Chronicle Herald. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  25. ^ "History of Cape Breton Island". The Cabot Trail's Wilderness Resort on Cape Breton Island. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  26. ^ Kennedy, Michael (2001). "Gaelic Report" (PDF). Nova Scotia Museum. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  27. ^ Kennedy, Michael (2001). "Gaelic Report" (PDF). Nova Scotia Museum. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  28. ^
  29. ^ McEwan, Emily (2017). "Contrasting Gaelic Identities". Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  30. ^ Table from Statistics Canada – Cape Breton & Richmond Counties (Nova Scotia Statistics Agency)
  31. ^ Table from Statistics Canada – Victoria & Inverness Counties (Nova Scotia Statistics Agency)
  32. ^ Woman wants Cape Breton flag designed by her daughter recognized – Football. Cape Breton Post (23 November 2009). Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  33. ^ "Revocation of licences for the rebroadcasting stations CBIT Sydney and CBKST Saskatoon and licence amendment to remove analog transmitters for 23 English- and French-language television stations". Decisions, Notices and Orders. Ottawa: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. 17 July 2012. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012.
  34. ^ "Gold/Platinum" (Searchable database). Music Canada. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  35. ^ "The North Bay Nugget – July 7, 1967". Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  36. ^ "Cape Breton film gets 'overwhelming' reaction at Berlin film festival". CBC News. Retrieved 6 March 2017.


Books and journals

News media

  • CP Special (20 November 1967). "March through Sydney: 20,000 protest DOSCO closing". The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto. p. 5.
  • Grimes, William (7 August 2009). "Donald Marshall Jr., Symbol of Bias, Dies at 55". The New York Times. New York. p. A20. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  • Lebel, Ronald (18 October 1967). "Premier calls for government aid to keep Dosco going four months". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. pp. 1, 2.
  • Loring, Rex (30 June 1958). "The marvellous microwave network". Scan. Toronto: CBC News Digital Archives. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  • MacDonald, Randy (20 June 2011). "Holy Angels graduation "bittersweet" as Sydney school sets to close". CTV Atlantic News. Halifax. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  • Milton, Steve (9 May 1996). "New name needed for AHL import: Something from the animal kingdom is very much in vogue now". The Hamilton Spectator. Hamilton, Ontario. p. C1.
  • Special to the Star (23 November 1967). "Nova Scotia will buy Dosco plant, operate it until at least April '69". Toronto Daily Star. p. 1.
  • Spectator Staff (5 October 1996). "7,006 fill the Dog House: A large walkup crowd was entertained to Fight Night In Steeltown as the Hamilton Bulldogs officially took to the ice last night". The Hamilton Spectator. Hamilton, Ontario. p. C1.
  • Star Staff (23 November 1967). "Nova Scotia will buy Dosco plant, operate it until at least April '69". Toronto Daily Star (2 Star ed.). Toronto. p. 1.

Other online sources

External links

Coordinates: 46°10′N 60°45′W / 46.167°N 60.750°W

Baddeck River

The Baddeck River is a minor river on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. It empties into the Bras d'Or Lake several kilometres west of the village of Baddeck.

The Baddeck River flows south from the Cape Breton Highlands. It offers excellent trout fishing and bird watching. The Uisge Ban Falls are a popular feature of the river.

Cabot Strait

Cabot Strait (; French: détroit de Cabot, French: [kabo]) is a strait in eastern Canada approximately 110 kilometres wide between Cape Ray, Newfoundland and Cape North, Cape Breton Island. It is the widest of the three outlets for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence into the Atlantic Ocean, the others being the Strait of Belle Isle and Strait of Canso. It is named for the Genoese explorer Giovanni Caboto.The strait's bathymetry is varied, with the Laurentian Channel creating a deep trench through its centre, and comparatively shallow coastal waters closer to Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. These bathymetric conditions have been known by mariners to cause rogue waves. The steep slope of the Laurentian Channel was the site of a disastrous submarine landslide at the southeastern end of the strait, triggered by the 1929 Grand Banks earthquake and leading to a tsunami that devastated communities along Newfoundland's south coast and parts of Cape Breton Island.A strategically important waterway throughout Canadian and Newfoundland history, the strait is also an important international shipping route, being the primary waterway linking the Atlantic with inland ports on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

The strait is crossed daily by the Marine Atlantic ferry service linking Channel-Port aux Basques, and North Sydney. Ferries have been operating across the strait since 1898 and a submarine telegraph cable was laid in 1856 as part of the transatlantic telegraph cable project.An infamous location in the strait for shipwrecks during the age of sail, St. Paul's Island, came to be referred to as the "Graveyard of the Gulf" (of St. Lawrence).

In October 1942, German U-boat U-69 torpedoed and sank the unlit Newfoundland ferry SS Caribou, killing 137 people. Then on 25 November 1944 HMCS Shawinigan was torpedoed and sunk with all hands on board (91 crew) by U-1228.

Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail is a highway and scenic roadway in northern Victoria County and Inverness County on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The route measures 298 km (185 mi) in length and completes a loop around the northern tip of the island, passing along and through the Cape Breton Highlands. It is named after the explorer John Cabot who landed in Atlantic Canada in 1497, although most historians agree his landfall likely took place in Newfoundland and not Cape Breton Island. (Premier Angus L. MacDonald attempted to re-brand Nova Scotia for tourism purposes as primarily Scottish and, as part of this effort, created both the names Cape Breton Highlands and Cabot Trail.) Construction of the initial route was completed in 1932.

Its northern section of the Cabot Trail passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The western and eastern sections follow the rugged coastline, with views of the ocean. The southwestern section passes through the Margaree River valley before passing along Bras d'Or Lake.

This trail is the only trunk secondary highway in Nova Scotia which does not have a signed route designation. Road signs along the route instead have a unique mountain logo.The road is internally referred to by the Department of Transportation and Public Works as Trunk 30. The Trunk 30 road named the "Cabot Trail" loops from Exit 7 on Nova Scotia Highway 105 at Buckwheat Corner to Exit 11 on Highway 105 at South Haven. The scenic travelway known as the "Cabot Trail" includes all of Trunk 30, as well as the portion of Highway 105 between exits 7 and 11.

The entire route is open year-round.

Cape Breton County

Cape Breton County is one of eighteen counties in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is located on Cape Breton Island.

From 1879 to 1995, the area of the county excluded from towns and cities was incorporated as the Municipality of the County of Cape Breton to provide local government services. Since 1995 the only municipality in the county has been a single-tier municipality called Cape Breton Regional Municipality. For statistical purposes, the First Nations reserves of Eskasoni 3 and Membertou 28B are included in the county, but are separate entities.

Cape Breton accent

The Cape Breton accent is a group of variants of Canadian English spoken on Cape Breton Island, a large island on the north-eastern coast of the province of Nova Scotia in Canada, comprising about one-fifth of the province's area and about one-seventh of the population. Most of the inhabitants of European ancestry descend from people long resident on the island, and the community has had time to develop a local dialect. Many on the Island are descended from Highland Scottish settlers fleeing the Highland Clearances. But there has long been a French-Acadian element on the island, as well as Irish.The accents can be divided into three categories: the Western or Scottish Gaelic accent (Inverness, Judique, Mabou, the Margarees), the Industrial accent (Sydney, Glace Bay) and the Acadian French (communities surrounding Cheticamp, L'Ardoise and Isle Madame). There are also influences of the Irish Gaelic accent that can be heard in numerous communities throughout the Island.

Celtic Colours

Celtic Colours International Festival is a Celtic music festival held annually in October in communities all over Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. First held in 1997, the festival has featured hundreds of musicians from all over the Celtic world and attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Cape Breton Island. For nine days in October, Cape Breton Island is home to a unique celebration of music and culture as the Celtic Colours International Festival presents dozens of concerts all over the island, an extensive line-up of workshops, a visual art series of exhibitions, and a nightly Festival Club. Over the years, artists have traveled from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Brittany, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Cuba and Sweden as well as from across the United States and Canada.

Celtic music in Canada

Celtic music is primarily associated with the folk traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Wales, as well as the popular styles derived from folk culture. In addition, a number of other areas of the world are known for the use of Celtic musical styles and techniques, including Newfoundland, and much of the folk music of Canada's Maritimes, especially on Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island.

Eastern Junior A Hockey League

The Eastern Junior A Hockey League (EJHL, EJAHL) was a Junior "A" ice hockey league from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Eastern Junior A Hockey League was in competition for the Manitoba Centennial Cup, the National Junior A Championship from 1975 until 1978.

Geography of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is a province located in Eastern Canada fronting the Atlantic Ocean. One of the Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia's geography is complex, despite its relatively small size in comparison to other Canadian provinces.

George Robert Ainslie

George Robert Ainslie (1776–1839) was a Scottish general of the British Army, Lt. Gov. of Cape Breton, and noted for his coin collecting pursuits.

Isle Madame (Nova Scotia)

Isle Madame is a Canadian island located off the southeastern corner of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

The island was settled by France as part of its colony of Île-Royale (present-day Cape Breton Island). It is presumed to have been named for Madame de Maintenon, the second wife of France's King Louis XIV. After the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, 4,000 inhabitants were deported. However, a group of ten Acadian families from Port-Toulouse fled to this Isle Madame where their descendants still live today. Following the Seven Years' War, Île-Royale and its constituent territories such as Isle Madame, reverted to British control. Some Acadian families also made their way from Massachusetts to Isle Madame in 1766.Measuring 16 km long and 11 km wide, giving approximately 45 km2, Isle Madame is jurisdictionally part of Richmond County and is separated from Cape Breton Island by a narrow strait named Lennox Passage.

Initially, the strait was crossed by ferries. The first swing bridge crossing Lennox Passage to connect with Isle Madame was constructed beginning in 1916, and opened in 1919. The Grandique Ferry service also crossed the passage between Martinique and Louisdale. In 1970, following the grounding and subsequent breakup of the Liberian tanker Arrow in Chedabucto Bay spilling her cargo of heavy bunker C oil, the Government of Nova Scotia built a causeway between Burnt Point and Burnt Island to prevent the spilled oil from further damaging the fishing area of the Passage. Following the oil spill cleanup in the early 1970s, the old bridge was demolished and the ferry service was terminated after a new combined causeway and single-leaf bascule bridge (the Burnt Island Bridge) was built across Lennox Passage.

Isle Madame is also connected by bridge to neighbouring Petit-de-Grat Island, and by causeway and bridge to Janvrin Island. Since 1994, the island has been served by a community television station, CIMC-TV, also known as Telile.

John Despard

John Despard (1745–1829) was an Irish-born soldier who served in the British Army and as a colonial administrator. He was born in Dublin and served in the Seven Years' War and the American War of Independence. Despard rose to the rank of General. From 1799 to 1807 he was in command of Cape Breton Island. He was the brother of Edward Despard, also a soldier, who was executed in 1803 for his part in the Despard Plot.

John Murray (colonial administrator)

John Murray (c. 1739 – 4 May 1824) was an Irish-born British Army officer and colonial administrator in British North America and South America. Murray joined the British Army in 1760 and rose to the rank of Brigadier General in 1796. He was also an administrator of Cape Breton from 1799 to 1801.

Murray is notable in that during his short period as administrator, he made important improvements of roads and coal mining operations among other things.

He died in Paris in 1824.

His son, Lieutenant General John Murray, was Governor of Demerara from 1813 to 1814 and then for Demerara-Essequibo from 1814 to 1824.

Marconi Trail

The Marconi Trail is a scenic roadway in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

Located in eastern Cape Breton Island, the route is entirely within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and runs from Louisbourg to Glace Bay along the island's eastern coast.

The Glace Bay terminus is at the Marconi National Historic Site, which marks the location of the first radio transmission from North America to Europe, made by Guglielmo Marconi in 1902.

The Marconi Trail measures approximately 70 km in length along Route 255.

Nova Scotia Route 205

Route 205 is a collector road in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It is located in Victoria County on Cape Breton Island and runs between Baddeck and MacAulays Hill connecting at both ends with Highway 105. It was originally known as Trunk 5 until 1970.

Nova Scotia Route 247

Route 247 is a collector road in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It is located on Cape Breton Island in Richmond County and connects St. Peters at Trunk 4 with Lower L'Ardoise.

Nova Scotia Route 252

Route 252 is a collector road in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It is located on Cape Breton Island in Inverness County and connects Mabou at Trunk 19 with Whycocomagh at Highway 105.

Nova Scotia Trunk 19

Trunk 19 is part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia's system of trunk highways. The road runs from Port Hastings (at the east end of the Canso Causeway) to a junction with the Cabot Trail at Margaree Forks on Cape Breton Island, a distance of 106 kilometres. Most of the route is known as the Ceilidh Trail.

From Port Hastings (near the town of Port Hawkesbury), Trunk 19 follows the western coastline of Cape Breton Island through Judique to the village of Port Hood, where it turns inland to the northeast through Mabou. From Mabou, the route continues back towards the coast at Inverness, then returns inland. At Southwest Margaree, Trunk 19 follows the Margaree River to the end of the road.

William Macarmick

William Macarmick (baptised 15 September 1742 – 20 August 1815) was Lieutenant-Governor of Cape Breton and a MP.

Historical counties
Economic regions
Regional municipalities
County municipalities
District municipalities
Former colonies and territories in Canada
English and
Continental Celtic
Insular Celtic
Celtic-speaking areas
Immersive education

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.