Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Headin' to.....Cape Breton, and a coal mining lesson

Wednesday, September 5
We really enjoyed our week on Prince Edward Island. Such a pretty island. All the same we were ready to move on so back across the Confederation Bridge we went. This time we had to pay. The total fee was $63. Not too bad for us tourists but the locals must cringe when they have to leave the Island regularly.

Toll Booth for the Confederation Bridge

Up and over the navigation portion. Higher for passing ships.

Lots of boats around the bridge. Must be good fishing.

Off the bridge and into New Brunswick

We headed down New Brunswick Hwy 16 until we came to the junction that took us into Nova Scotia on Hwy 104. We pulled in at the Tourism stop just inside Nova Scotia and got an armload of books, brochures and maps then headed out on a very good divided highway. We did have to pay a toll ($5.25) for a portion of it but we driven enough secondary highways lately and wanted to give the truck and trailer a break for the battering they've been taking.

Several miles later we cross into Nova Scotia.

Beautiful wide and smooth highways for a change.

Across some lovely countryside

Ocean views

The bridge across the Canso Causeway that separates Cape Breton Island from the mainland of Nova Scotia.

Nice rolling hills on our way to the campground.

The lake view from our campground at Bras d'or Lake. This is a saltwater 'lake' that is attached to the ocean through a couple of narrow channels. It has a lot of fresh water coming into it so the salt content is much lower than the open ocean.

Sunset on our first night on Cape Breton. Thanks for the welcome!

Thursday, September 6
This was a very windy and somewhat cooler day so we decided to look for activities out of the weather. We headed north and east toward Sydney Mines, Sydney and Glace Bay.....all were along the northeast shore of Cape Breton.

Beautiful scenery along the way

The open ocean in the distance.

Very nice bridge over an inlet that we crossed

Town clock in Sydney Mines

This historic building has served many purposes including a Post Office. Today it is the Police Station.

Police Station in Sydney Mines

Miners Museum in Glace Bay

I took in the underground tour. Our guides name was Wish Donovan. What a guy. He had a million stories. He worked in the coal mines for 35 years, as did his father.

The 16 degree slope into the mine. This mine was purpose-built for tourism in 1964. A real mine would have a 26 degree entrance, would not be well lit or have concrete walls. We started out at nearly six feet in height but in the smallest part of the mine we had a clearance of about four and a half feet. Our backs were sore from stooping over......never mind having to shovel coal for 12 hours per day.

A coal seam. 

Rats in a lunch pail. Rats played an important roll in the coal mines. The miners would sometimes feed them. If rats started out of the mine the miners soon followed as the rats could sense a problem long before the men.

Coal seam face. Of all the coal mines in the area (at one time there were over 50) only one remains in operation today.

Coal mines in the Glace Bay and Sydney areas. The pink shows the area of the mines. Notice in most cases they start on land and quickly head under the Atlantic Ocean where the best coal is. Of the ten known seams of coal they only mine the top five layers. Some seams are only a couple of feet thick and others are six feet or more. Some mines reached out to over 7 miles under the ocean and still lots of coal.

A reminder of the dangerous work in a coal mine.

Tools of the trade. In the early days the miner had to buy his tools, clothes, and blasting powder. They only got paid by the ton of coal they actually got to the surface.

Assortment of mining lanterns through the years. Open flame lamps were used in the early days in spite of dangerous and explosive methane gas common in coal mines.

Glace Bay harbour

The old Town Hall in Glace Bay that is now a museum. Upstairs they have a great display of Marconi artifacts. Marconi transmitted the first trans-Atlantic radio message from Glace Bay on December 15, 1902.

Some of the huge vacuum tubes in his transmitter.

Old Marconi radios

Morse code transmitter at the Museum.

The original site of the Marconi radio towers at Table Head outside of Glace Bay. (See below)

The old Marconi radio transmission site. All that is left are old foundations of buildings and radio towers.

Cliffs near the Marconi radio site

A huge church near Sydney.

A rather shaky shot of the Sydney Harbour. Cruise ships and the Newfoundland Ferry dock on the far shore.

The overlook to St Ann's. The strip of land in the centre actually has a ferry running from it to the shore Unfortunately the ferry breaks down a lot (as it was when we were there) so you have to drive around the inlet to get to the Cape Breton Highlands in the distance.

Lots more to see on Cape Breton Island.
......and that was Our View From Here!


  1. Lots of beautiful scenery there and the Cabot Trail is amazing.

  2. Too bad the weather was so cloudy for those "view" shots. Enjoy your adventures. lol

  3. That’s a part of the Island we didn’t get to so thanks for the tour. It’s amazing how poorly the miners were treated and how far under the Atlantic they mined.