Thursday Tidbits

Posted on July 18, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Mary Ann Falls


In recent years, I have taken an annual pilgrimage around the Cabot Trail, one of my favourite places on the planet. Occasionally, I’ll do a solo trip but the last few years, I have had company. Three summers ago, I took two friends from India who were attending a summer program at the Coady. Last year, I took my granddaughter and this year my traveling companions were my granddaughter and a friend of hers from Montreal. Seeing the Cabot Trail through the eyes of 11 year olds in an education.

We got an early start. You can’t do justice to the Cabot Trail in one day but if that’s all the time at your disposal, you can do a lot. Neither the girls nor I were much interested in visiting local artisans or going whale watching, not on a day when the temperature was supposed to be in the high 20s. Our quest was simple: find water and go swimming.

The drive from Antigonish to Auld’s Cove is quite scenic as St. George’s Bay funnels into the Canso Causeway. The Causeway is purportedly the deepest causeway in the world. The drive from Port Hastings to Iron Mines is non-descript. Passing by the small airport outside of Port Hastings, I wondered if governments would pony up $18 million dollars to build another small airport near the world renowned golf courses in Inverness.

The Bras D’or Lakes seldom disappoint but because of our early morning getaway, I couldn’t get a coffee and treats at the Herring Choker deli and bakery in Nyanza. The Englishtown ferry wasn’t in operation so we had to skirt St.Ann’s Bay via the Gaelic College. This is not the route I normally take but it has several beautiful vistas.

We were getting quite peckish after nearly two hours in the car. No trip around the trail would be complete without a stop at the Clucking Hen in North Shore. While we waited for our breakfast, I chatted with Diana. She’s been there for years and she always has a smile on her face. The ethos of this wonderful establishment can be seen on staff T-shirts: “No Fowl Moods”. I also had a chance to speak briefly with the owner, Melody. I told her that I was “hatching” a plan to walk around the Cabot Trail later this summer.

Swim #1 took place at Ingonish Beach. I couldn’t get over how the beach had changed in one year. It looked like the Parks people had brought in heavy equipment and covered the entire sandbar with tons of mid -sized, round rocks. Not so according to the lifeguard on duty who said that this was the work of none other than Mother Nature earlier in the spring.

Swim #2 was at Mary Ann Falls, a short jaunt from Ingonish. You have to be paying attention to the signage. For some unknown reason, there is a huge sign for Warren Lake as you’re heading north from Ingonish but Mary Ann Falls, which is the same exit, is nowhere to be seen on this sign. If you’re traveling from Neil’s Harbour in a southerly direction, Mary Ann Falls is on the sign. Go figure. Maybe someone from up that way can explain this discrepancy. The girls agreed that this was the highpoint of their day as they jumped off the rocks into the deep, chilly pool below the falls.

Their bathing suits didn’t have time to dry before we stopped at Black Brook for swim #3 .After a picnic lunch, they spent a short time playing in the waves. The promised hot day never quite materialized and they once again found the water quite chilly.

Just a footnote for anyone heading around the Trail. There is still a lot of road construction.

With time on our side, we took a short detour off the trail and went through the village of Neil’s Harbour. This is a beautiful drive and takes you through Smelt Brook, White Point, rejoining the highway near South Harbour. The scenery is spectacular and a hidden gem that most people miss and probably don’t know about.

With thoughts of walking the Cabot Trail, I paid particular attention to the stretch of road from Cape North to Cheticamp. There are some serious climbs and equally challenging descents. If you’re a walker or hiker, you know that walking down a mountain is much harder on your legs than the ascent. We stopped at the ice cream place just south of Pleasant Bay. I learned from the staff that there’s actually a hostel in Pleasant Bay which I’ll check out as part of my planning for my walk.

My granddaughter has a great memory and insisted that we stop for supper at Le Gabriel in Cheticamp. I always have a chat with Brenda Lee who runs the floor operations at this busy restaurant from her wheelchair. I told her about my plans to walk the Trail. She gave me a look that suggested that I was bonkers. She said she didn’t want to hear a report about an old guy getting eaten by a bear. I took exception to her calling me old! The meal was excellent. The girls were too full for dessert but with a cooler in the car, were able to get take out desserts.

Swim #4 was in the rapidly growing town of Inverness. Two world class golf courses have transformed this once sleepy and dying town into an economic juggernaut as evidenced by the helicopter pad near Cabot Links and many new eating establishments and lodging options. Inverness Beach in the evening is sublime. The (slightly) warmer waters of the Northumberland Strait were welcomed by the girls as they frolicked in the waves for the better part of an hour. The father of a young family was sitting in his wheelchair with warm sun bathing his face while his wife and children walked the beach.

A magnificent sunset greeted me as I crested the Havre Boucher hill. My two charges were fast asleep in the back seat. All felt well with the world.

Have a great weekend.


Keltic Lodge


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One Response to Thursday Tidbits

  1. Bill says:

    We were pulling out of Le Gabriel as you were pulling in…I honked, you avoided eye contact…. the fish was fantastic.

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