`S Bòidheach a Chìthear Lake Bhra d’Or | Lovely to be Seen, the Lake Bras d’Or

Am fear a gléidheas long gheibh e là `ga seòladh. |

He who will keep a boat will get a day for sailing it.  

SCAN286-20150717145514                                     Map of Cape Breton Island, drawn by Hugh MacDonald in 1845.

Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village over looks the beautiful Bras d’Or Lake. This large inlet sea in the heart of Cape Breton connects the communities surrounding the Lake. 

For many of our Gaelic ancestors who arrived here from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, settled the Bras d’Or Lake because of it’s familiarity to home. The Lake also provided the Gaels as they settled with a valuable source of food and a means of transportation from one community to another.


Boat built in Alba by Willie and Duncan Kennedy circa 1975

During the time of peak immigration from the late 1700’s to the mid 1850’s, the most common method of travel was by boat. The roads and railways throughout Cape Breton were not developed like they are today. Travel was long, difficult, and time consuming for the people who needed to travel great distances to the next town.

Later, from the 1800’s to the mid 1920’s, shipbuilding and shipping coal and steel were industries of the time that boomed during the later years of settlement in Cape Breton. After communities were built up, goods were shipped to the community from the boats travelling along the shores of the Bras d’Or. Many small villages like our own Iona, became thriving towns with wharfs, general stores, and post offices to supply the people.

Train crossing the train bridge and the ferry docks at Iona. 8 x 10 black & white.

For many years, even into recent memory, a ferryboat transported the people of Iona across the Barra Strait. Today when you arrive you’ll see it has been replaced by bridge.


The last car ferry ran between Iona and Grand Narrows on October 23rd,1993. 

While today the Bras d’Or Lake is not bustling with commercial vessels transporting people and goods around, it is more common to see recreational boating and sailing.


Boats rounding Derby Point as they enter the Barra Strait.

In 2011 The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve received the designation of being one of 16 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Canada. Visit the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association website  http://blbra.ca for information, news, and upcoming events.


Na Lochan Bhrad d’Or | The Bras d’Or Lakes


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s