We arrived at Baddeck (b’DECK) Sunday at 1215 and despite having a reservation, the slip we were to use was not yet vacated, so the marina told us to pick up a mooring ball until then. We decided that we’d just stay on the mooring, it was a nice spot, and handy enough to get to the marina, so we dropped the dink over the side and made ourselves at home.

Baddeck is a sort of central location for cruising the Bras d’Or Lakes, also the largest town in central Cape Breton. We decided to stay a few days, and called Monday to reserve a rental car, then broke out the bikes to expand our range. We soon decided that our range really didn’t need an expansion by bike, a few of the hills confirmed that notion, and we stayed close enough to hit the spots we wanted to see.

The Alexander Graham Bell museum is interesting, and gave some insight into Bell that we probably didn’t learn in school, or forgot! He was dedicated to helping the deaf, the influence of being the son of a well-known speech “elocutionist” father and a deaf mother. He taught the deaf to speak using the system of “Visible Speech” invented by his father. The system is composed of symbols that show the position and movement of the throat, tongue, and lips as they produce the sounds of language, and it is a type of phonetic notation. Throughout his life, Bell’s mission was always consistent in helping the deaf to communicate, and he used the proceeds from his telephone and other inventions to pursue that mission. His wife, Mabel, was also deaf, and was his partner in many business ventures. The Bell summer home Beinn Bhreagh is situated across the river from Baddeck. Alexander and Mabel were active in the local community, and their home was always filled with family and guests. Bell also used the estate as a summer lab, developing many of his ideas on the lake and on the hills surrounding the house. It is still owned by the family, and Bell and his wife are buried on the grounds.

Later in the evening, we joined a group for a local Celtic Ceilidh (KAY-lee) for fiddle, piano and a bit of step dancing at the St. Michael’s Hall. It was an interesting exposure to the folk music that is part of Cape Breton. Just as the different areas of the Cape Breton Isle have unique characteristics, the music is also unique as well. The Baddeck area is of Scotch heritage, so the music has a distinctive Scotch signature, different from the Irish or even other Scotch folk music. Much of the Celtic folk music is similar in nature to some of the other North American folk tunes, in that many of the tunes are pentatonic, consisting of a five-note scale. No “fa” or “ti”… e.g. do-re-mi-sol-la-do. Pentatonic tunes are easy to remember and for some reason “stick”. Enough music theory!

Tuesday we picked up a rental car. Baddeck is the only town other than Sydney to have rental cars. After a quick grocery run on the way back to the marina, we decided to take the drive along the Cabot Trail, the route that transits the coast of the whole of Cape Breton Island. Built in the 20’s, the Trail was the first road to connect the fairly isolated communities on the island, a loop of about 300km. We did the Trail in a day, just enough to see the highlights.

We were struck by the contrasts of the different locales, the geography, people, language, culture, and history- so many differences in such a short distance! The scenery is truly magnificent! We did see several eagles in flight, coastlines that varied from cliffs to meadows, mountains, river valleys, fresh water lakes, salt water lakes, ancient silver maple forests, and we even got a glimpse of a moose. OK, his butt. Yes, it was a him. He was shy, and stayed in the trees. No whales. The gallery contains more pictures, click on the gallery link at left, above or any of the photos.

We arrived back before dark, which is almost 9PM as we’re on Atlantic Daylight time here, we’re an hour ahead of home.

We decided to leave Baddeck Wednesday morning and head back toward St. Peter’s. In hindsight, we should have stayed another day and kept the rental car but the weather was predicted to be rainy. It did start out that way with some showers, but by noon it was another sparkling clear day, and warm, to boot! We are supposed to have a stretch of several days of favorable weather, so we may take a day and head up the coast to Louisbourg to spend a day there. The cruise is not particularly long, but it is an ocean run, so weather will rule the decision. Favorable weather is in the forecast for that run. So we are on the ocean side of St. Peter’s canal Wednesday night, tied to the canal wall. It’s a delightful spot, quiet, calm, and free!

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