|Whycocomagh and Area|
Central starting point for the Cape Breton Trails
Whycocomagh and area provides possibly the largest and most undiscovered potential of tourism in Cape Breton. There is no doubt that Whycocomagh is in the exact centre of Cape Breton and is therefor ideally placed for anyone wishing to tour this exciting tourist region.
The Village Whycocomagh
a) The Scotch Settlement
The original Scotch settlement Whycocomagh offers to tourists a wide variety of leisure pursuits.
Whycocomagh is not a Tourist-Village, but an absolute intact; live Cape Breton community. There are all the normal facilities of public life such as schools, shops, stores, post, bank, fire department, restaurants, motels, gas stations, hair dressers, enterprises, Provincial-Park, Campgrounds. Arena - during Winter hockey stadion, Lions Club. Specially well known are:
Whycocomagh Summer Festival and the guest tours of the Halifax based Neptune Theater. A holiday in Whycocomagh and area offers to you a real and unspoiled part of Cape Breton, and not a made Tourist facade. Also there are nice beaches, specially at Aberdeen, South Side of Whycocomagh Bay and Lake Ainslie. Nearly unlimited possibilities for fishermen. The fishing areas are: Skye River, which is flowing through the village into Bras d'Or inland sea; the numerous brooks and little rivers of the area; Lake Ainsle which is the largest freshwater lake of Nova Scotia; and of course Bras d'Or - Canada's only inland sea - and it's brackish water. You need only 40 minutes to reach either Cape Breton's Atlantic shore in the east or in the west. Salt Mountain is Whycocomagh's prime mountain with it's large network of hiking trails and lookoffs. During summer and fall there is the potential for four wheel driving and discovering of nature in unlimited possibilities. In wintertime there is, on the mountains and in the Highlands a nearly never ending network of snow mobile trails. There is also a large potential of ski trails. Really something special will be the view point from Campbell's Mountain Lookout, which offers magnificent view of the village, Whycocomagh Bay, Skye Valley and the entire region. At Valley Mills on the South Loup of Bras d'Or Scenic Drive is the home of one of the largest Bald Eagle Populations in Eastern Canada. An imposant route which offers all through the seasons beautiful scenery and nature as well as much water. Leaving Whycocomagh wharf there are boat tours and during the summer festival also canoe's etc. On each day there is a Ceilidh. Cape Breton Highlands is also a well known hunting area. A special attraction for residents and tourists is the Bingo each Wednesday in the Valley Mills Fire Hall. A special attraction for tourists is also the cable ferry on north route of Bras d'Or Scenic Drive from Aberdeen to Little Narrows. At present a ride costs as low as $ 1.75. Whycocomagh Bay and it's about endless shores to Aberdeen and Little Narrows will remain in your memories for a long time. From Aberdeen it is only a few kilometers to the Highland Village an outdoor museum of Scotch culture in that area of the past 100 to 150 years.
b) The Waycobah First Nation
The part of the village south of Skye River is the Indian Reserve Waycobah. It was formed 1833 on an accord between Government and the Micmac. The size of this Reserve contains 828,5 hectare and covers the area from Whycocomagh Bay via Skye River to Skye Mountain. The Reserve has ca. 700 Micmac inhabitants. Go and visit the Indian businesses as: gas stations, stores and shops, pizzeria, Indian hand crafts or buy fish direct from a Micmac fisherman. Whycobah has its own school, church and much more.
Don't forget to visit while you are in Whycocomagh, Cape Bretons pearl, Lake
From Whycocomagh's Center take Route 395; which is heading to the East side of the largest fresh water lake of Nova Scotia, Lake Ainslie. While on that route you may stop at Trout River Bridge for angling, or for the pleasure of an excellent view on the lake. Passing the campground you are arriving on a spectacular sandy beach with picnic facilities. Various public wharfs give ready access or boating. Do not miss a visit to the MacDonald House. This museum lets you relive the history of the early generations which settled around the lake. A real adventure for people interested in history.
For photographers, it is a paradise to drive around the whole lake. Passing MacDonald Museum you are heading for Scottsville, drive over the bridge of Margaree River and soon you arrive on north side of Lake Ainslie. A very beautiful view all over the largest part of the lake. Passing Kenloch church turn left hand site and follow the road leading along west side of the lake. Stop over on any these beautiful lake sides, to look to the opposite shoreline, dream about this beautiful lake it's nature and beauties. You may go to discover old roads and parks in the hinterland which will be a memorable adventure.
The Bras d'Or Scenic Drive, South Loup and the Region from Orangedale to Valley Mills and Marble Mountain
The Souths lope of Bras d'Or Scenic Drive is one of the most beautiful tourist route on Cape Breton. Numerous fjord like Coves of the Denys Basin and Bras d'Or inland sea, its various kinds of beaches and shorelines, nature pure, landmarks like the mouth of River Denys flowing into Bras d'Or Lakes at Valley Mills, the intact community of Orangedale and it's railway museum, North Mountain Rich and it's rich nature; lakes, waterfalls, forests, lookouts etc., the fantastic white marble beach of Marble Mountain; the large and various bird Each of the villages has still it's active community. Good neighborhood is law. Very popular for residents and tourists is a like each Wednesday when there is bingo in the Valley Mills Fire Hall, and various events at Smith Community Hall in Orangedale. The area is outstanding for water sports, swimming, hiking, bird and wildlife watching. If you may like to go off the beaton track there are unexpected attractions. Not only nice outlooks, but little dales, narrow glens or imposing waterfalls. You may go to visit one of the attractive museums or the promontories archipel with lighthouses. There are accommodations at Valley Mills and River Denys.
Swimming at the marble sand beach of Marble Mountain
From Valley Mills heading over Crowdies Bridge left hand site following Bras d'Or Scenic Drive (Marble Mountain Road) to Malagawatch. All along this beautiful country side at Denys Basins area string of islands. Passing a strong curve at Malagawatch, drive along an open part of Bras d'Or and it's in beautiful shining waters to Marble Mountain.
About 800 m passing village sign, on left hand side is a little
parking lot, which is at same time also a panoramic lookout.
Do not miss for a stopover ! In between Valley Mills and this lookout you may well able to watch parts of one of the largest bald eagle populations of Eastern Canada.
Passing the outlook, after another 300 m, go left by a large building (formerly hotel and store). A small road will lead you downhill to this beach, passing public wharf. Interested in history, do not miss the Marble Mountain Museum with library. It tells you the history of village and area, about the industrial quarry of marble and lime stones in the ending 18th and beginning 19th century. From Marble Mountain Harbor at this time granite and gravel monuments were shipped all along North Americas East Cost. The museum is located in the old school house, from where you may get an imposing view all over.
At this time the area now forest was rich agricultural farmland. Apples being exported to many people of Europe. During this time there was about 5000 jobs in Marble Mountain.
Today where there are now the rolling hills of North Mountain hills. There will be starting a wine growing region. A wine by the trade mark "Cote du Bras d'Or" is expected.
As soon as you reach the wharf there are parking lots on left hand side, showers, etc. You may picnic on the nice field in the shadow of apple trees or you try the water from a fresh mountain spring. The waters of the Bras d'Or are clear and the shine in southerly exposures.
The area leaves such a memorable impression that many return to Cape Breton every year.
The alternative (better) South Route of the Cabot Trail
You can now add to your Cabot Trail journey the magnificent South Route. In
Whycocomagh you turn right at Vi's Restaurant and from there into Route 395,
leading you along the Skye River and then along the east side of Lake Ainslie.
Indeed this is the route par excellence for any lover of nature's best. The
breathtaking views across Lake Ainslie with its picturesque shoreline, the Picnic
place with its sandy beach and much more invite you for a refreshing rest. Take
some unforgettable pictures or slides of the hills, the lake itself, the forests,
the old farmhouses, the churches. Untouched nature and hiking roads beckon you
to linger for a while in an area far from today's mass tourism. Unforgettable
sunsets seem to transport you back into times past, when the first settlers
worked hard, very hard to carve out a living for themselves and for generations
At Scottsville follow Route 395 into the valley of the Southwest Margaree River. Breathe in the ever changing scenery of riverside pastures. Renowned photographers and artist painters have been attracted here. Contrary to the official route leading from Nyanza over Hunter's Mountain into the Margarees, you will cherish many unforgettable views along this alternative route. As you arrive in Margaree Forks, turn left towards Margaree Harbor. There again you will be overwhelmed with unforgettable sights.
Did you know...?
... that one day, back in time, Glooscap, the Micmac Chief was watching his people from the hights of Salt Mountain. And what did he see? His rival, Beaver, was stirring up the Micmac. In an out brake of rage, Glooscap threw some rocks towards Beaver. But all landed in the Bras d'Or, where they then were turned into islands.
... that the first settlers arrived in the Whycocomagh area around 1810.
... that around 1891 the population of Whycocomagh surpassed the one of Sydney.
... that in the area of Whycocomagh Mountain copper was mined.
Whycocomagh's central geographic position, as gateway to :
- at the key point for the north and south loup of Cape Breton's most central trail,
the Bras d'Or Scenic Drive
- by the beginning and end of the Cabot Trail
- located at Trans Canada Highway 105, the connection way leading to the mainland and to Newfoundland.
- Only a few minutes to the Ceilidh Trail in the west
- A short distance to the Fleur de Lis Trail in the east
- within an hour drive from Marconi Trail and Fortress of Louisbourg
Text by Bruno Bischoff & Armin Käch