THE HIGHLAND VILLAGE DAY
The overnight ferry was pretty cool and I slept OK, if not amazingly. Probably shouldn’t have had the tea with supper. We docked on schedule at 9:00 a.m. this morning and they were pretty prompt about getting us off the boat. I was happy that I had fuelled up before boarding the ferry because I was able to just keep riding and not have to follow the traffic in and out of North Sydney. So, I'm back in Nova Scotia for a day.
The day started out cool and a wee bit rainy, but very little. My last day in Cape Breton before leaving for Newfoundland had been pouring rain, so I was happy to have a second chance to see the Highland Village. I know the Louisbourg fort is supposed to be the big attraction around this area, but the village held more appeal for me and I had an absolutely delightful time. Perhaps I spent too much time in Newfoundland after all, because at the 3rd building in the village, I was asked if I was born Canadian, due to the Irish accent in my voice. Sigh. Just can’t help it – it creeps in when I’m not looking. I guess I will need some de-Irishification. Even though I didn’t get officially screeched in, Junior gave me a Newfoundland license plate, so that makes me an honourary Newfie. Plus, Heather gave me the cutest little knitted cat that she made, so Fury and I have a guardian cat to go along with the travel guardian charm that Tracey got me in Japan.
The village is easy to get to and represents the different eras and evolution of Scots settlement and culture in the area. In particular, these were Highlanders from Scotland. Their lifestyle being threatened in Scotland with higher rents on land and tenancies not being renewed, there was a level of society that found their livelihood threatened. The village moves through the ages, with stories about the change and loss of culture as the speaking of Gaelic was outlawed and society changed from a communal living and bartering system to a monetary one.
Basil was out at the sheep pen when I wandered in that direction. The sheep were Soay sheep (named for the island they come from). They are beautiful little animals. They are not sheared, but shed their wool and the kids would be sent out to collect the wool. Basil pulled some off the one ram in the bunch that is social and it comes off pretty easily. The wool is so soft and he said it was most often used for men’s long underwear.
When I first came through, I was surprised to find that Cape Breton was settled primarily by the Scots. I had always associated it with Irish – perhaps because the folks I know from Cape Breton were Irish ones. But it was mostly Scots that settled this area, with only small pockets of Irish. I also learned today that the Scots that came were primarily from the highlands in Scotland. These folk were the most disenfranchised of the Scots and most affected by the changes to Scottish society. Ironically, this worked in their favour as settlers to the new world. Industrialism had not yet touched the highlands, so the settlers, while faced with great hardship upon their arrival, still had the skills necessary to make a foothold in the new world. They still knew how to fell and chink wood for homes, card wool and flax for clothing, use grist mills for flour, etc. One of the things that has been a recurring theme in my travels across Canada is the impact of the Scots on discovering, settling and developing the country.
Having stayed an hour and a half longer than I had intended, I finally got back on Fury and we headed for Enfield. At the Canso Causeway, I pulled over briefly to check my route. This was another worthwhile stop, for I met Chuck, who was returning to his truck from a round of fishing. He hadn’t had much luck with the fish, but we had a grand time talking like we were old buddies and solved all the problems of the world. Basically, don’t watch TV and don’t be a turd. 😊
I arrived late in the day and checked into the Snowflake B&B, a lovely little spot in the trees that promises a restful sleep. The owners, Patti and Mark are friendly and well-organized, with well-appointed parking and facilities. I met Reg and Louise and their friend (I think Leslie was his name – didn’t properly introduce myself), who are from Winnipeg, of all places. There’s a reason that prairie folk fit in well in the maritimes – pretty much the same people in a different location!
I’m sure I have more stories and could have told these ones better, but I am tired and have to get to bed so I can get going in good time in the morning. Hope you enjoy the pics from the Highland Village because the experience was so worthwhile.
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Flower: Trailing Arbutus