Baddeck, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Baddeck: the Beginning and End of Cape Breton's Cabot Trail
Baddeck has been described as the beginning – and the end – of Cape Breton Island's world-famous Cabot Trail. Nestled along the shore of the Bras d’Or Lake 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, Cape Breton Island, 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.
Accommodations in Baddeck, Cape Breton Island
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 Lake.
Places to Eat in Baddeck, Cape Breton Island
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, Cape Breton Island
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, Cape Breton Island
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.
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. For lobster lovers and fishing enthusiasts, book a boat tour with Cape Breton Lobster Adventure Tours or Cod Fish Cowboys Fishing Charter.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, you’ll find Uisge Ban Falls Provincial Park equally as beautiful. Gaelic for “white water”, the 16 meter high falls are reached by a four kilometre hike through stands of old growth hardwood trees.
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 Ceilidhs takes place throughout July and August at St. Michael’s Parish Hall and is great opportunity for visitors to celebrate Cape Breton's Scottish culture while dancing the night away!
Celtic Attractions and Events
Baddeck is also a centre of Cape Breton's Celtic culture. In addition to being one of the sites of the Celtic Colours International Festival, an island-wide musical festival that showcases Cape Breton’s Celtic culture and music each fall, the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts is located just down the road in St. Ann’s. Dedicated to the study and preservation of the Gaelic language and culture, the college is the only institution of its kind in North America. Visitors can also delve into the history of Nova Scotia’s Scottish immigrants, including their journey, their experiences and their influence on Cape Breton.