Day 61: Hyclass Campground to St. Peters Battery Provincial Park

Today you will cycle to St. Peters on the shores of Cape Breton’s Bras d’Or Lake.

Cape Breton Island is separated from Nova Scotia by the Strait of Canso but artificially connected by the Canso Causeway. A causeway is a land bridge that spans across water. Although often cheaper to build than a bridge they can cause significant environmental damage because they impede or stop the flow of water. The Canso causeway was opened to public in 1955. It spans 1 385 metres over water with a maximum depth of 65 metres.

Cape Breton’s original residents were likely Maritime Archaic Indians, ancestors of the Mi’kmaq Indians that inhabited the island. In 1497, John Cabot became the first explorer of European descent to visit the area. Shipbuilding began in the 1790s and peaked in 1851, when the largest wooden ship ever built on the island, Lord Clarendon, was completed. During this time, many Highland Scots settled in the area. Their culture is still present, especially in rural communities.

Cape Breton Island has been home to many significant scientific discoveries. These include the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, as well as the first trans-Atlantic radio message from Table Head in Glace Bay to a receiving station near Cornwall, England. Bras d’Or Lake was the sight of the first successful flight in Canada when the Silver Dart took off from Bras d’Or’s frozen water on February 2nd, 1909.

Bras d’Or Lake is a salt water lake located in the middle of Cape Breton Island. The lake measures approximately 100 kilometres in length and 50 kilometres in width and has a relatively unpopulated shoreline. Watch the horizon for one of the many bald eagles that call this area home. Bras d’Or translates to “arm of gold,” in French. Bras d’Or Lake is beautiful; you will remember it for the rest of your life.

After crossing the Canso Causeway you will enter Port Hawkesbury. Port Hawkesbury is a significant shipping hub, handling the second largest tonnage in Canada annually. Port Hawkesbury received a significant economic boost from the building of the Canso Causeway. Not only did it mean that goods no longer needed to be ferried across the strait, but it also gave the city a year round ice-free port. Groceries are available in town.

Your destination for the evening is Battery Provincial Park in St. Peters, population 2 634. St. Peters is an attractive town where everyone knows each other and waves to visitors. Groceries are available here.

St. Peters is famous for the St. Peters Canal on the north side of town. The canal was completed in 1869, connecting Brad d’Or Lake with St. Peters Bay in the Atlantic Ocean. It was used heavily for commercial shipping in the late 1800s and early 1900s, playing a significant role in the expansion of Cape Breton Island. The canal was designated a National Historic Site in 1925, and is now operated by Parks Canada. This canal is unique because in most canals, the flow of water is unidirectional meaning the high side of the canal is always the same. With St. Peters Canal, sometimes Bras d’Or Lake is higher than the Ocean and other times the Atlantic is higher than Lake Brad d’Or. This necessitates a double gate system.

Battery Provincial Park, overlooking St. Peters Bay, features a lighthouse that serves as a landmark for the entrance to St. Peters Canal. St. Peters is the birth place of world famous marine photographer Wallace R. MacAskill. Visit his home to view some of his works. MacAskill’s famous Bluenose photo is still reproduced on the Canadian dime.

Kilometre Log
0.0Leave Hyclass Ocean Campground heading north on HWY 4 / Sunrise Trail.
6.8Turn right off of Sunrise Trail / HWY 4 onto Pellerien Road to access HWY 104.
6.9Turn left onto HWY 104 E.
15.0Enter Auld Cove, restaurants are available here.
15.2Exit Auld Cove staying left on HWY 104 / Sunrise Trail.
16.7HWY 104 / Sunrise Trail turns left and crosses Canso Straight on Canso Causeway.
18.7Intersection of HWY 19 & 105 & HWY 4. Stay right on HWY 4.
23.2Enter Port Hawkesbury on Reeves Street.
24.6Turn left off of Reeves Street / HWY 4 onto HWY 4 / Fleur-de-Lis Trail. Remain on this road until just before St. Peters.
56.4Cross HWY 104.
66.4HWY 4 merges with HWY 104. Turn right here.
69.3Enter St. Peters on Grenville Street / HWY 4.
70.3Cross over St. Peters Canal.
70.4Turn right into Battery Provincial Park.
70.8Battery Provincial Park.

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