Signs of the Times – A Trip to North Shore

This sign, erected next to St Ann's Bay on the Cabot Trail, declares that St. Ann's Bay and North Shore were awarded the Lieutenant Governer's Community Spirit Award, in 2011.

Last Friday I had to drive from my home in Baddeck to Wreck Cove for a meeting. I’m on the board of directors for the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, and myself and another board member are working on a project for the festival, voluntarily, in our own time. I agreed to drive to her home, and I also scheduled an interview with Sarah Beck of Wildfire Pottery (North Shore) for that afternoon. (That interview will be up sometime this month.) Gas is expensive these days, so if I can combine trips, I’m happy.

The Englishtown Ferry was not operating, so I had to drive around the St Ann’s Bay loop. (This is a local debate, I think – whether or not it saves time to drive around the loop or wait for the ferry.)

I stopped along the Cabot Trail at the Gaelic Singers’ Hall to take a few photos. I believe this hall used to be called the Alexander Smith Hall. I don’t know who Alexander Smith was, other than an area resident. What do you do to get a hall named after you? (I have a feeling some readers know.)

Can you see the Gaelic flag?

This is my "it's cold out and I'm taking my own picture by the side of the road, I'm such a dork!" face.

A few years ago they started putting up some road signs in English and Gaelic. Again, I don’t know much about this initiative. I also don’t know much about pronouncing the Gaelic names! I get a kick out of making up pronunciations for them, and saying them aloud, while driving along.

When I got down to Wreck Cove the view out to sea was of a big mass of pack ice.

Pack ice at sea.

After my meeting with the fellow board member, and a hot cup of Rooibos tea, I headed back towards Baddeck, stopping in North Shore at Wildfire Pottery and Books, which is the brainchild and business of Sarah Beck. In the winter, on Friday afternoons, she and some fellow community members who like words get together in a room above the store for a “salon”, where they read written pieces aloud and talk about them, while drinking delicious coffee and eating snacks. Before they all arrived, I got a chance to sit down with Sarah by a fireplace and have an interview. (You’ll get to read that in a week or two!) We shared a picnic lunch – bread, rice crackers, hummous and cherry tomatoes – and discovered we are both big fans of dill pickles. That’s one way to instantly become my best friend – sharing a jar of crunchy, garlicky dill pickles.

A cozy fire is lit within. I hear they also serve dill pickles!

And then, after taking part in the salon, I made my way homeward, over the bumpy roads. My thirteen-year-old vehicle appreciated the smooth patches where the road is being redone, but all in all the bumps made me go “what the heck!?!” As in, this is our prime tourist driving route, and the bumps are so bad I could be in Bosnia?


This week, watch the blog for: a round-up of interesting links and events that are shared on the Facebook group each week, as well as the Frugal Friday column, and a new column by Erin Phillips about libraries and community-building! Exciting times!

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5 Responses to Signs of the Times – A Trip to North Shore

  1. nona macdonald-dyke says:

    The N.S.Tourist Assoc. would have one heck of a writer by hiring you Leah! The road is full of frost heaves now….another reason for looking forward to Spring! I love reading what you write!

  2. Loreto says:

    Here’s Alexander Smith’s obituary; gives a few hints at why he had a Hall named for him!
    I don’t know why the name was changed…

  3. Sarah says:

    I had agreat time, thanks for visiting!

  4. bev brett says:

    The name was changed when the old hall committee left after being burnt out keeping the hall going, and a new committee came on to “save the hall” from being sold or abandoned. In order to access funding we had to become a non profit and the new committee felt that a focus for the hall was needed to be successful so we focussed on the unique gaelic background of the area- namely the North shore Gaelic singers- and reflective of the wonderful acoustics- we did indeed access tens of thousands of dollars and did many heritage and music projects and events. Alexander smith was okay with this change as we spoke to him about it. Alex had done tons of work – grants etc for the hall and his relatives/ hall committee members wanted to honor him for it.

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