The Bras D’Or Lake Interpretive Centre, housed in a distinctive 1885 stone building that was originally a post office and later a public library, features exhibits about the history, geology, and wildlife of the Baddeck area. I learned that the Bras D’Or Lake is salty from two passages to the Atlantic. This 450 square miles of inland sea is considered one of the finest sailing and boating venues in the world.

Alexander Graham Bell built a home, Beinn Bhreagh, in Baddeck because the area reminded him of Scotland, his birthplace, and to avoid the heat of Washington, D.C. during the summer. The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada features a large collection of artifacts, photographs, and personal mementos commemorating the life and work of this humane inventor. The building’s architecture is based on the tetrahedron, the geometric form Bell used in designing passenger-carrying kites and an observation tower behind his house. Bell greatly advanced methods and practices of teaching the deaf. This work led indirectly to his invention of the telephone. He also had discoveries in medicine, aeronautics, marine engineering, genetics, and electrical science. As a mentor to younger colleagues, the collaboration resulted in successfully flying airplanes such as the Silver Dart.

Glenora Distillery

Glenora Distillery

The Glenora Distillery, between Mabou and Inverness, makes single malt whiskey in the Scottish tradition. They make about 50,000 liters during a four month period beginning in October. The barley comes from Scotland. Most of the oak barrels come from Jack Daniels in Kentucky. They only started in 1990. Sales are currently limited to ten-year-old whiskey. If you show up at 9 a.m. like I did, you might find yourself getting your very own tour.

Black Brook Cove

Black Brook Cove

The Cabot Trail is a spectacular drive that traverses the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada. There were spots where I needed to shift down to second to climb a hill. There were a few downhill curves that suggested going 12 mph. I relished breathing in the refreshing sea air with my first view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence near Margaree, “a great place to sea.” A short walk at French Mountain Bog, 1,350 feet above sea level on a highland plateau, introduced me to some of the interesting plants of the area as well as the ecological functions of a bog. Sphagnum mosses carpet the ground, readily absorbing the limited available nutrients, growing layer upon layer. Dead sphagnum builds up as blankets of peat. Mountainsides were patchwork quilts of light and dark green with spots of black spruce in the midst of birch and Easter larch. Black Brook Cove was delightful with a waterfall cascading into the Atlantic and the surf pounding against interesting rock formations.

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