Day Four – Peggy's Cove NS to Chéticamp NS (350 miles)

We started out by touring Peggy's Cove since we didn't have the opportunity.  According to legend, Peggys' Cove was named after the only survivor of a schooner that ran aground and sank in 1800; a woman named Margret. Local folk called her "Peggy" and her home came to be known as Peggy's Cove.  The original lighthouse there was built in 1868. The lighthouse is probably one of the most photographed spots in Canada, but early on Sunday morning we just about had the place to ourselves. 

Also in the area is the monument to the 229 who perished on
Swiss Air flight 111.  After taking our photographs we ran up north to downtown Halifax where we grabbed a bite of breakfast.  Halifax was founded by British General Edward Cornwallis in 1749. The British created Halifax to act as a naval and army base to protect them from the French who had established the town of Louisbourg on the northern island of Nova Scotia. Halifax acted as a British naval base until 1906 when the Canadian government took it over.  After breakfast we briefly toured the citadel (KMZ) that sits atop a hill in the middle of the city.  The present Citadel, completed in 1856, is the fourth in a series of forts since 1749 to occupy the hill overlooking the harbor. It is an excellent example of a 19th-century bastion fortification complete with defensive ditch, ramparts, musketry gallery, powder magazine and signal masts. Although never attacked, the fort was garrisoned by the British Army until 1906 and by Canadian Forces during the First and Second World Wars.  We got on Canada 7 after filling up in Dartmouth and headed up the eastern coast.  We stopped near Jeddore at Oyster Ponds Park (KMZ).  After running off about 100 miles we stopped at Ecum Secum if for no other reason than the name.  We continued up the coast catching glimpses of the ocean before we headed inland toward the town of Antigonish.  The town is home to Saint Francis Xavier University founded in 1853.  We gassed up and grabbed some lunch as we waited out some rain.  Back on our bikes we were quickly on Cape Breton Island, one of the highlights of our trip.  We purchased a good map and headed up the Cabot Trail (history).  The weather remained cool and we kept all of our riding gear on, but the rain had gone away.  It was sunny and probably in the high 60ºs.  We crossed over the Canso Causeway and were officially on the Cape.  We hit the Cabot Trail as we headed up the western coast on C19.  The scenery was beginning to get more interesting as we caught glimpses of St. Georges Bay and rode through the many small towns dotting the roadway.  At Port Hood we stopped briefly and contemplated going north on a small road to view the lighthouse on Port Hood Island but we were having too a good a time riding.  Once through Port Hood the road jets inland around Mabou Harbor.  In the early part of this century there were few harbors that could provide refuge for larger vessels in this region of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Shipping was the indispensable key to development of the coal mines, gypsum mines, lumbering, farming, and mercantile businesses, and it provided employment for a large number of people. Mabou had special potential because it was ideally situated at the mouth of the Mabou River.  Mabou Harbor is a passage 800 feet long and 175 feet wide, flowing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in a westerly direction. The north side of the passage consists of a high clay bank extending for a considerable distance beyond the Harbor. The south side consists of the end of a beach or spit which projects across from that side.  Once in the town of Mabou we took a small road due west to see the lighthouse.  The present lighthouse, with a height of 47' has been in continuous operation since July 15, 1884 and remains a necessary and functional part of Mabou Harbor. The present lighthouse was the "back tower" which was constructed as a wooden building, square in plan, painted white, with sloping sides surmounted with a square wooden lantern. It is the surviving twin of a second and shorter lighthouse (33') that stood at the entrance of the Harbor and was known as the "front tower." Both buildings were erected by E.C. Embree for $2,450. The front tower which was built on a pier was removed in 1893 "to a place of safety" because of the dilapidated condition of the pier. It was later replaced by a buoy beacon. At this time no photographs of this former lighthouse have been found, nor is its history well documented.  Additionally the current one was undergoing some renovation so we didn't stay long.  We continued back north up C19 and stopped in Inverness at a travel information house.  There we made reservations at a motel in Chéticamp.  At Dunvegan we took the less traveled C219 road hugging the coast.  This paid off well as we came upon Whale Cove where we got off the road onto a high cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  This was a beautiful place that had fantastic views, and we took many pictures.  We continued over Margaree Harbor and were in Chéticamp before we knew it.  Chéticamp is an Acadian fishing village and tourist center located beneath the Cape Breton Highlands on the gulf of St. Lawrence.  We found good accommodations there at Laurie's Motor Inn.  We had dinner there and enjoyed some adult beverages at the Acadian pub where some locals put on a Celtic dance routine.