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Baddeck, Nova Scotia

Baddeck: the Beginning and End of the Cabot Trail

Baddeck has been described as the beginning – and the end – of the world-famous Cabot Trail. Nestled on the shore of the Bras d’Or Lakes in Cape Breton, the town is a favourite stop for sailors and those looking for tranquil beauty in the heart of the island.

History of Baddeck, Nova Scotia

Baddeck has a long history of being an inviting place to rest and admire the surrounding hills and water. The area was a seasonal home to Mi’kmaq settlements and is believed to get its name from the Mi’kmaq word “Abadak”, which means “place with an island near” (referring to the nearby Kidston Island). It wasn’t until the 17th century that Europeans settled in the area, starting with Jesuit missionaries in 1629, United Empire Loyalists in 1790 and, later, immigrants from Scotland.

The most famous of Baddeck’s Scottish residents was Alexander Graham Bell, who built two homes on his estate he called “Beinn Bhreagh”, Scottish Gaelic for “Beautiful Mountain”. In addition to being credited as the inventor of the telephone, Bell worked on many other world achievements while in Baddeck, including a hydrofoil that set a long-lasting speed record for watercraft and the first manned flight of an airplane in the British Commonwealth.

Baddeck, Nova Scotia Accommodations

There are a wide range of accommodations in Baddeck, from quaint bed and breakfasts to full-sized inns and motels. You’ll even find campgrounds that offer great views of the surrounding hills and Bras d’Or Lakes.

Places to Eat in Baddeck

Baddeck offers a number of restaurants and places to enjoy the local seafood and authentic Cape Breton cuisine, including lobster suppers, cafes and dining rooms.

Must See Attractions in Baddeck

The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is definitely a ‘must see’ destination in Baddeck. The museum and 25 acre park is home to the world’s largest collection of Bell’s inventions and artifacts, including replicas of the first telephone and a full-scale model of the HD-4 hydrofoil watercraft.

Things to do in Baddeck

Bell Bay Golf Club

Despite the town’s small size, there is a wide range of things to see and do in Baddeck. If you’re a golfer, you’ll fall in love with Bell Bay Golf Club, which features challenging holes and breathtaking views of the Bras d’Or Lakes.

Bras d’Or Lakes

In fact, if you truly want to enjoy the lakes and their beauty, Amoeba Sailing Tours will take you back to the Age of Sail on a 67 foot schooner, plying the waters of the Bras d’Or Lakes and giving passengers the opportunity to fully appreciate the lakes and their surroundings.

Uisge Ban Falls

If you prefer to stay on dry land, you’ll find Uisge Ban Falls equally beautiful. Gaelic for “white water”, the 16 meter high falls are reached by a four kilometre hike through stands of old growth hardwood trees.

Celtic Attractions and Events

Baddeck is also a centre of Celtic culture. In addition to being one of the sites of the Celtic Colours International Festival, an island-wide event showcasing Cape Breton’s Celtic Culture and music each fall, the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts is just down the road in St. Ann’s. The college is the only institution of its kind in North America, dedicated to the study and preservation of the Gaelic language and culture. Visitors can also delve into the history of Nova Scotia’s Scottish immigrants, including their journey, their experiences and their influence on Cape Breton.

The Baddeck Gathering Ceilidh

One of those influences can be found in the many ceilidhs – a traditional Gaelic gathering with music and dancing – that are open to everyone. The Baddeck Gathering Ceilidh takes place throughout July and August at St. Michael’s Parish Hall and is great opportunity for visitors to celebrate Scottish culture while dancing the night away!