The Prettiest Place You’ve Never Heard Of

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Alexander Graham Bell once said, I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all.”

I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical of this quote upon first reading it. I mean, the Rockies, the Alps, the Scottish Highlands… those are all pretty impressive and beautiful things. Could a sparsely-populated island in the Canadian Maritimes really compare?

Well, the truth is that it kind of can.

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

When my family found out we were stopping in Sydney, Nova Scotia, on our last shore day of a family cruise, we were a bit perplexed. Everything I was reading said there wasn't much to see/do in Sydney apart from a giant fiddle and some historic houses. How would we fill 8 hours?

The trick, we discovered, is to get out of Sydney and explore the rest of Cape Breton Island. Because, as Bell asserted, the beauty of this place will surprise you.

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

A DIY Cape Breton shore excursion

When we got to Sydney, we rented a car and immediately took to the famous Cabot Trail, a scenic route that skirts the coastline of Cape Breton Island and takes you through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We didn't have time to drive the whole trail since we had a ship to catch, but we did drive a few hours into the Cape Breton wilderness.

At our halfway point, we stopped in a sleepy little fishing village that I have now dubbed The Prettiest Place You've Never Heard Of.

This is Margaree Harbour.

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Wikipedia page for this town consists of one sentence; the town itself consists of a small collection of houses and cottages; and the only living things we saw at the harbor were sea birds.

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

On such a warm, sun-kissed day, Margaree Harbour absolutely took my breath away.

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

I now understand completely what Alexander Graham Bell meant.

It just goes to show you that sometimes it's the unexpected places that end up sneaking up on you to steal your heart.

And Cape Breton Island? Most definitely a place I need to return to!

What do you think? Can Cape Breton compete with those other scenic places?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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118 Comments on “The Prettiest Place You’ve Never Heard Of

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  1. The view of the boat harbour is the view from The Laurence House, where I gave summered fot the last eleven years.

    I use the link to this article to entice my guests, but it rarely takes much convincing.

    The recent publicity of Cape Breton as an escape from a Trump presidency in the US has brought the island much attention.

    As for me, I know whereI will move already, and it is to that beautiful village.

    Mon pre – my field
    Madre – mother earth
    Isle Magre 1685 on map by Fr. Emmanuel Jumeau
    Margarento 1784 map by Antonio Zappta Baya Idiat for Margaree Harbour
    Margarie 1802 to 1884 some forgot to dot the “i”
    Margaree 1884 to 2016
    but will be forever MARGAREE.

    My story and I am sticking to it.

    Simon E. AuCoin, from Terre Noire

    I was born and raised in Belle Cote,we lived on a farm ,i will always remember walking to the beach ,we lived 2 or 3 miles from it ,skating on the margaree river near the margareeHarbour bridge,,married and live in Inverness about 45 minutes from Belle Cote ,and yes i cherish where we live ,small communities ,friendly people in every community always there to lend a helping hand when needed, beautiful sunsets, beautiful scenery every where you go.

    The Cabot Trail is just one beautiful spot in Cape Breton. The south side of the island holds as much beauty Fleur de Lis Trail is a sight to behold. The scenic village of River Bourgeois is a must see. A boaters paradise just outside the small town of Saint peters. You can enjoy exploring the islands, and a quick Jonte into Saint peters through the canal will bring you to the beautiful Bras d’or Lakes. I have lived and I’m still in all of the beauty that surrounds me. I never take it for granted every time I take a drive along the scenic coastline it’s like I’m seeing it all again for the first time.

    By the way. I grew up in the ”Historic North End” of Sydney and played in some of those houses that are now Museums. Before the summer of 2012, it had been about 50 years since I had been back for any longer than a week or two. I still find it a most beautiful Island. Now I live on Vancouver Island and my heart is torn between the two. Both so rich and uniquely beautiful.

    I was born in Cape Breton a little big town called Glace Bay , No matter what street you walk or drive you can see the ocean and you get that feeling like there is just no place I would rather be . I once heard a Visiting friend refer to it as the Most beautiful and dangerous place I have ever loved . Referring to the coastline around Glace Bay areas . I have to agree it is so very beautiful and at the same time in the blink of an eye can become the most ominous and dangerous place you would care to be .

    Shhhhhh…..we’re trying to keep this place a secret! That rock outcrop at the end of the cape is called the monster. Even Google streetview blurred out its face. One of its hands is underwater on the beachside.

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