Baddeck is colloquially known as the beginning and end to Cape Breton’s famed Cabot Trail, the stunningly scenic roadway that loops through the northern part of the island.
This is indeed true, and the roadtrip of doing Cabot Trail is definitely not to be missed during your visit to Cape Breton Island.
But I’d like to argue that the Baddeck’s natural beauty, historical significance and small-town charm make it more than worthy of a visit all on its own. Baddeck (pronounced Ba-DECK), after all, is about 78 kms from Sydney—an easy trip to make in a day.
Here are some of my favourite places in this lakeside village:
Alexander Graham Bell’s connection to Baddeck is long and deep. Each summer, he fled Washington, D.C.’s unbearable heat and hustle with his family each to his Baddeck estate overlooking Bras D’or Lake. His hillside retreat is owned and occupied by his descendents and closed to the public, but fear not—visitors to Baddeck can visit the local museum (and national historic site) in his honour.
Sure, you’ll view extensive exhibits about Bell’s invention of the telephone, but there’s so much more to this brilliant man to discover, including his many lesser-known contraptions (Fun fact: he invented the metal detector). You’ll also learn about his unwavering commitment to educating the deaf. To boot, an impressive section with tons of hands-on activities is a great for kids.
The gallery’s setting on the shores of the Bras D’or Lake is beautiful, to be sure. But look inside—there are even more beauties to be hold. The small gallery, owned by Anne and Jeff Ertel, features original creations from more than 100 Maritime artists and craftspeople, including popular Cape Breton watercolourist Kenny Boone. Dating back to 1895, the historic building also houses a six-room inn and a café.
A lunch or dinner on the Lynnwood Inn’s sprawling patio will certainly please the eyes, thanks to the gorgeous lake views. But the many fresh and homemade dishes are no slouch either. The menu offers selections of pasta, chicken and beef, but, fittingly, fish and seafood dominate. The fish chowder—homemade from start to finish—is brimming with scallops, haddock, halibut and salmon for $7.95. Fresh from the nearby Bras D’or Lake, the campfire trout ($16.95) is popular, while the pan-fried haddock is a tasty treat for $13.95.
When you pull up to the no-frills building, you might think you’ve mistakenly stopped at a church hall or legion. But keep going. Your appetite will thank you. Baddeck Lobster Suppers features nightly suppers of lobster, planked salmon, baked salmon and ham from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
At first glance, the $29.95 price tag for lobster may seem too steep to justify. But factor in the unlimited (yes, unlimited) seafood chowder, mussels, homemade rolls, salad and non-alcoholic beverages that you’ll get with your fresh Atlantic lobster in the shell and your growling belly will silence any whining from your wallet.
You’ll be sure of Bell Fraser’s talent the moment you walk into her shop. The Cape Breton native’s pottery pieces, including bowls, vases, plates and décor, are stunning in their simplicity and lightheartedness. Each of her creations features some kind of a iconic Maritime image, with clay trout, lobster, crab and— my personal favourite— mussels worked into the design for a truly unique look. Whismy and elegance have never paired so nicely.
Nova Scotia’s Best Wine Regions (and Where to Sip)
Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is a bountiful area with around 15 wineries, including Luckett Vineyards and Domaine de Grand Pré. To the north, Malagash is home to Jost Vineyards, the longest-operating winery in Nova Scotia, and Fox Harb'r Resort, which boasts a new on-site vineyard.