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Summer Sounds of Music

August 9, 2019

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” Bob Marley

With warming temperatures, sunny skies and a fresh breeze we sailed from Lunenburg and into the Bras d’Or Lakes of Cape Breton with a 2 night stop in St. Peters and 2 nights in Canso, the home of the Stan Roger’s music festival.

What an entrance to the Bras d’Or Lakes. Only one lock at St Peter’s canal and in 10 minutes we popped into the Bras d’Or Lakes – painless and a relief. Out of the constant easterly Atlantic swell and into the flat calm waters of the Lake.

St. Peter’s Locks

We were now in Cape Breton. First stop St. Peter’s Lions Club Marina! Two nights with cool gray weather but warm greetings from staff at the marina and a rousing music session around the lounge in the evening. Our first introduction to the fiddle soaked land of northern Nova Scotia. Just a casual get together on a Wednesday night with one fiddler, one singer, five guitars and one squeezebox player.

Time was running out. We were trying to get to Baddeck to rendevous with a few members of Connie’s family so the push was on to move over to the northwestern part of the Bras d’Or Lakes.

Baddeck – a town of perhaps 3,000 in the summer and probably a few hundred in the winter! Baddeck, from the water, is tucked in behind Kidstone Island. It has a government wharf, albeit small, and a small marina, Baddeck Marina.

Kidstone Island Lighthouse

The town’s major economic driver is tourism and the large number of Americans who come to sumer homes in the area.

Baddeck was home to Alexander Graham Bell and there is a Bell Museum. Bell’s home can be seen on a hill in the distance and talking to one of his relatives the home is still furnished and even has paperwork spread out on desks as it was when he died. The home was once open to the public but no longer as the family has been known to say there were too many artifacts taken so keeping it open as a museum was not in the cards

Settling into Baddeck life has been easy despite having no public transportation and no rental cars. There’s much to see in the surrounding area but much we can’t see due to restrictive transportation. There are no cars to rent and little public transportation.

That hasn’t stopped us though. Being in the heart of Cape Breton music country we have taken advantage of attending caleidhs, theatres and other musical events.

The best so far has been a visit to The Barn in Margaree, 30km from Baddeck to see Ashley MacIsaac and friends.

How to get there – Hitchhike…

Connie hitching a ride outside her favourite Cape Breton restaurant

Yes, even 70 (or close to) year old people can hitchhike. We got lots of great stares, fast cars roaring by, slow downs for looking but no pick up and, inevitably, a pick up that got us down the road.

On the way we had three rides. Met some locals who we now see at the Baddeck market on Wednesdays, some out of town strangers who drove us further than they were going as we ‘sang for our rides” i.e. we told stories as we really can’t sing. We even had a chance to stop at the Dancing Goat for lunch before getting to our destination.

Our destination was Normaway Inn. The Normaway Inn is 3 km up a country road in the Margaree Valley. It’s also the location of The Barn, a magnet for performing musicians. It’s literally a barn but for many years has been used for performers of all ages and types to put on small concerts. The Barn can seat about 100 + many more standing.

Ashley MacIsaac played a couple of sets – just himself and a piano player. Great reels, jigs and Irish songs. Energetic, excellent fiddler and a great raconteur. Ashley started playing at the Barn when he was 12 so he knows the people and the area and he was never short of anecdotes.

After playing the sets it was time to dance. The chairs were pushed aside, the floor cleared, a caller identified and the barn dance was on! What a hoot – not to say square dancing is my thing but we certainly had fun.

Calling it quits we spent the night at NormAway Inn. Highly recommended. Lovely hospitality, decent food and a lovely setting. A hearty breakfast saw us on our way. Not having much luck with hitchhiking the back country roads we walked 3 km to the main road and were soon picked up by a couple from Sydney who dropped us back at Baddeck Marina.

A great 2 day excursion off the boat.

Normaway Inn – main lodge

The Barn

Driveway to Normaway Inn

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Sierd permalink
    August 9, 2019 16:18

    the Normaway! We stayed there in 2011! What a gem of a spot. And yes, music in the Barn. But we got there in our rented Mustang 5.0L convertible. What a hoot. Great to hear the Normaway is still operating…

  2. August 9, 2019 17:25

    Love this and remembering the days of hitchhiking Cape Breton to see relatives before taking the ferry to NFLD to stay in the Newfie Bullet turned into a hostel. So glad you’re having fun.

  3. August 9, 2019 20:21

    Baddeck at last…………….all over but the drinking!

  4. Patrick Georget permalink
    August 10, 2019 03:55

    Hei!!!!! You are at the same livel of France!!! Strait on my friend!!!!. 090….easy…hihihi….. Kisses….Patrick..

    Télécharger Outlook pour Android


  5. John Edward Middleton permalink
    August 10, 2019 11:22

    Hi Tony and Connie, enjoying vicariously your ongoing adventures. Sara and I went to the Nova Scotia/Nfld a few years back and absolutely loved the place. The people,the scenery and the music are fantastic. We toured Alexander Graham Bell’s house before they closed it (didn’t take any unauthorized souvenirs). Don’t forget to try the screech, the cod cheeks and the balony (couldn’t believe how often it was on the menu). Keep on crusin’ and have fun!

  6. Bill McDowell permalink
    August 10, 2019 14:21

    Hola mi amigos great to hear of your continued exploring adventures up the Canadian coastal waters and enjoying the Celtic culture too .By the wayFarleyl mower the Canadian author wrote a book in those waters whare you are crusing ,book name The Boat that didn’t Float published in the 70’s a great read full of humour and a book I am sure you will enjoy .Happy and safe travels may Aleous be with you taking you to new ports of call and savouring the atmosphere . Salude Bill .

  7. August 10, 2019 22:27

    Hi you 2,
    We have also been to A.G.Bell’s home when it was a museum.
    I have some pictures to prove it.
    So GLAD you have connected up with SueS.
    She will be a great resource for you and a kindred spirit too.
    Annie B.

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