Monthly Archives: October 2017
French built largest fort in North America at Louisbourg NS
The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest reconstructed fortification in North America.
While still three days away from boarding the ferry to Newfoundland/Labrador, we drove southeast to Louisbourg to see the historic old Louisbourg French Fort and lighthouse.
Other than driving through Sydney, there were a couple small communities we bypassed along the way and the countryside was mostly flat and empty. Late afternoon traffic was minimal as we drove through the little unincorporated town of Louisbourg, population about 1,000 to the fort visitor center.
The Louisbourg Lighthouse is on the site where Canada’s first lighthouse was constructed. This one is the fourth in a series to occupy the same site.
Like most of Nova Scotia, the French founded the Fortress of Louisbourg in 1773 on a spit of land across the harbor which would later be the fishing settlement of Louisbourg. The French probably chose this site because the harbor remains ice free during winter. In fact, the harbor was used to bring bodies ashore in April, 1912 from the Titanic which sank 400 miles east of Halifax, NS.
At the time of its construction in 1740 the fortress was the largest European fortification in North America. It was captured by the British in 1758 and the fort, which took 28 years to complete, was destroyed.
Today’s fort was studied for five decades and upon completion is now only one-quarter the size of the original construction but is still a huge, very authentic representation of the original. It is the largest reconstructed fort in North America.
Operated by Parks Canada, the fort offers tours, demonstrations and explanations of weapons,as well as, puppet shows and a museum.
French soldiers in full uniform march through the streets and conduct cannon firings while period costume town residents are doing the daily routines such as baking bread at a stone bakery, cooking over open fires, knitting socks etc., recreating life in an 18th century military town.
NEXT: Hiking the mountains of Cape Breton Island
Back in Nova Scotia after 37 years; lobster for lunch
At 60 feet, the world’s largest fiddle is located at the Port of Sydney, Nova Scotia, celebrates the Celtic culture of Nova Scotia.
It’s not a real lighthouse but a small version on the grounds of Arm of Gold Campground, North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
It was 37-years ago when we last visited Nova Scotia. We were driving an automobile and ended up here, quite by accident, after visiting Maine and decided at the spur of the moment to extend the trip a few more days to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
We were blown away with the beauty of the coastline, the cold water shellfish and Cape Briton Island’s highlands area and promised to return. Nova Scotia was just becoming a tourist destination for adventurous travels in the late 70’s. There were small mom and pop motels, cozy little tourist cabin, family owned restaurants and attendants that filled our car with fuel at service stations. As I recall, only Halifax and maybe a couple large cities, boasted Holiday Inns type motels and shopping malls. In fact, Nova Scotia in the late 70’s reminded me of the states in the 50’s and 60’s. Unfortunately, we were in a big hurry back then and didn’t have the spare time to really absorb the province.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is a 106-year-old Parish church a few blocks from the Arm of Gold Campground.
Our transportation this time is a two-year old 32-foot Winnebago Aspect motorhome. We are retired, seasoned RV veterans with 47 states visited behind us and seeing Nova Scotia at a very leisure pace. Next up is Newfoundland which is why we are in North Sydney, Nova Scotia at Arm of Gold Campground and only about two miles from the ferry terminal where we will soon board an oceangoing boat to Newfoundland/Labrador. Our goal is to spend a month exploring Newfoundland and getting our fill of cold water lobster, scallops, clams, mussels and cod fish.
While waiting for the ferry we will drive the tow car and tour the northeastern portion of Nova Scotia which includes Cape Briton Island.
Enjoying fresh lobster at the campground in North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Downtown Sydney from the second floor of the Cruise Pavilion building.
In the meantime, we found a fish market in North Sydney selling fresh off the boat lobsters. They cooked a couple live 1 1/2 pound “bugs” which made for a nice meal on a picnic table outside the RV at Arms of Gold campground.
NEXT: Getting up high in the Highlands.
Hairpin mountain curves and Bell’s Museum in Nova Scotia
Other than checking occasionally in the dashboard backup camera, I never see the tow car following faithfully behind our Winnebago Aspect motorhome. It happened coming down from the mountains on Highway 105 just a few miles from North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The grounds at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck, overlooks Bras d’or Lake.
We had been driving along highways 104 and 105 from Truro, NS, surprised to see dozens of motorhomes heading in the opposite direction and was even more surprised a few miles down the road when we passed a huge race track that was emptying fans from a weekend of professional auto racing.
After driving across the Canso Causeway and entering Cape Briton Island, Highway 105 took us along the shores of Bras d’or Lake, a huge inland fresh water sea, with depths of almost 1,000 feet. The lake stretches for 62-miles before emptying into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean.
The mountain views around the lake are impressive, so much so that they attracted inventor Alexander Graham Bell who built a home on the lake’s east side and where he conducted many of his experiments.
Alexander Graham Bell’s Silver Dart was the first powered airplane flight in Canada in 1909 and hangs from the rafters at his museum in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
“I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all,” Bell said.”
He said it reminded him of his home in Scotland.
There is a museum in Baddeck that houses much of Bell’s work.
Nearing North Sydney, we were descending the east slope of Kelly’s Mountain and were cautioned to slow down ahead because of a couple sharp bends in the highway. There were two 180-degree hairpin curves, where we slowed to about 15 or 20 miles per hour. I happened to look in the side mirror of the RV and was surprised to see the tow car. That has never happened before that I recall.
Highway 105 was named for Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell in 2010.
Cooking salmon over a wood fire at a restaurant in Nova Scotia.Highway 105 was named for Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell Highway in 2010.
NEXT: Following the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia
RVing through the northeast headed to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland
A couple of bathers cool off in the Glen Ellis River below the falls near Shelburne, NH. The falls are 65 feet high and are only a short walk off Highway 16. The river begins on the east slopes of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast U. S.
Getting to Newfoundland from our home base in northeast Florida will be across mostly familiar and sometimes boring territory until we reach the northeast. The 2,000 miles to North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where we will board a ferry to reach the island of Newfoundland/Labrador, will average about 300-miles of daily driving in our two-year-old, 32’ Winnebago Aspect. We are not in a hurry.
From Highway 9 at Hog Mountain overlook. The road from Bennington to Brattleboro was mountainous with some 8-10% grades and several runaway truck ramps. The weather was cool at this 2,410′ elevation.
We drove north on Interstate 95 up the east coast, camped in Florence, S. C. (where we arrived just in time for a late afternoon raucous thunderstorm), followed by a few days in historic old Williamsburg, VA. Richmond was bypassed and drove Interstate 64 west to Interstate 81 north where we settled in behind continuous long lines of semi-trucks, also heading north.
From Bennington, VT, we drove through the White Mountains on a very good two-lane road that featured several runaway truck ramps on Highway 9 to Shelburne, NH. Mount Washington, a popular national park where we have previously visited, is only a few miles from Shelburne-Gorham area which accounts for the difficulty we had getting campground reservations.
Just east of Gorham, we drove on U. S. 2, a coast-to-coast highway called the Great Northern. It stretches from Bar Harbor, ME to Seattle, WA. Although a two-lane road, U. S. 2 is a good highway with paved, wide shoulders. It rained several inches overnight but skies the following morning were mostly clear with moisture laden puffy clouds still hanging around the mountains.
Greenwood Lodge, a ski resort near Bennington VT, was not crowded when we visited in late July.
We drove through Bangor, ME then took Highway 9 north, cleared customs at Calais, ME and entered Canada late afternoon, arriving at a city campground in downtown St. Johns, New Brunswick for a one-night stay. We have previously camped here and enjoyed the campground and surrounding park grounds.
Jackson is only about 20 miles from Gorham, NH where we found this waterfall.
The 200-mile drive from St. Johns to Truro, Nova Scotia the following day was on Canada 104, a four-lane, limited access highway. After overnighting at a KOA in Truro, we drove 184-miles to the northeast corner of Nova Scotia at North Sydney, where we will stay four nights before boarding the ferry to Newfoundland. The major highways here are in excellent condition.
Since we have traveled through Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on previous trips, we did not spend any time touring the two Maritime Provinces.
Covered bridge in Jackson, NH, built in 1876 and still open to traffic.
NEXT: Exploring northern Nova Scotia