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Cape Breton Island
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Cape Breton Island, the namesake of the Cape Breton Island Destination, is a relatively large island located on the east coast of Canada, forming part of the province of Nova Scotia. It is a popular tourist destination known for its natural scenery, Celtic culture, and historic sites. The island is home to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives along the Cabot Trail.[1] Other attractions of Cape Breton Island include scenic drives, hiking trails, outdoor activities, and cultural experiences such as visiting the historic Fortress of Louisbourg and listening to traditional Celtic music.[3] The average weather in Sydney, Nova Scotia, a city in the destination, is cool and partly cloudy year-round, with temperatures rarely exceeding 83°F or dropping below 0°F. The warm season lasts from June to September, while the cold season lasts from December to March.[4] Sydney is a notable city in the destination, as it is one of the largest urban areas on Cape Breton Island, with an estimated population of 31,597, according to the latest Canadian Census. The population of Sydney accounts for roughly 30% of the entire population of Cape Breton Island.[7]

What Cape Breton Island is known for

Cape Breton Island is an island situated at the eastern edge of Nova Scotia, Canada, and it is the namesake of the Cape Breton Island Destination. With an area of 10,311 square kilometers, it is the 77th largest island in the world. The island’s population is approximately 132,010 people, with the majority residing in the urban areas of Sydney and Glace Bay. The island has a fair amount of natural scenery, including the Cabot Trail scenic drive, as well as cultural attractions, such as the Gaelic College and the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, making the region generally popular among visitors. Cape Breton Island is also home to several protected areas, including the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve, which help to preserve the island’s unique ecology and biodiversity.[1] Bras d’Or Lake is an inland sea in the center of Cape Breton Island. It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean through a narrow channel called the Great Bras d’Or. The lake is surrounded by hills and mountains, making boating, sailing, and other water activities accessible. The name, Bras d’Or, is derived from the French phrase “bras d’or,” which means “golden arms,” due to the way the sun reflects off the water. The lake is a popular spot for fishing, with several species of trout, salmon, and bass living in its waters. The area around the lake is also home to several small communities, including Baddeck.[6] Overall, the island has a history and culture that was influenced by Indigenous peoples as well as early settlers such as the French, British, and Scottish people.[1]

Cape Breton Island is home to numerous attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. The Cabot Trail is a scenic drive that takes visitors along the island’s rugged coastline and through the forests of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The island also has cultural heritage, with the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site offering a glimpse into the 18th-century French colonial period. Moreover, visitors can explore the Celtic culture of the island by attending the annual Celtic Colours International Festival, which celebrates Cape Breton’s Scottish and Gaelic roots through music, dance, and storytelling. Additionally, the island boasts beaches, hiking trails, and opportunities for whale watching and fishing.[3]

The aforementioned Cape Breton Highlands National Park is located in the northern part of Cape Breton Island and is one of the various scenic parks in Canada. The park’s 950 square kilometers are home to landscapes such as highlands, canyons, and ocean cliffs, as well as a variety of wildlife, including moose, black bears, and bald eagles. Visitors can take part in a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming in the park’s freshwater lakes. The park also comprises a 300-kilometer network of hiking trails, including the Skyline Trail, which provides views of the Atlantic Ocean.[2]

Sydney is a city in the Cape Breton Island Destination. It is regarded as the “urban heart of Cape Breton Island” and one of the largest in the province. The Mi'kmaq people originally settled Sydney before being claimed by France and later becoming a British colony. Today, it is a major industrial center with a diverse economy, including significant shipping and manufacturing industries. Sydney is home to various attractions, including the Cape Breton Centre for Heritage and Science, the Jost House Museum, and the St. Patrick’s Museum. The city is also a gateway to the famous Cabot Trail and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, both of which draw a number of visitors to the area.[7]


Cape Breton Island is located at the eastern end of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The island is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Canso, which is 1,385 meters wide at its narrowest point. Cape Breton Island covers an area of 10,311 square kilometers. The island is mostly rugged and hilly with a heavily forested interior, while deep indentations, bays, and coves mark its coastline. The island’s highest point is White Hill, which reaches an elevation of 532 meters. The landscape of Cape Breton Island is a relatively popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking.[1]

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including many mammals such as moose, black bears, coyotes, and red foxes. Visitors may also spot smaller mammals such as the snowshoe hare, beaver, and porcupine. The park is also a habitat for several bird species, including bald eagles, ospreys, and peregrine falcons. While exploring the park, visitors should remain cautious and keep a safe distance from any wildlife they encounter.[8]

Sydney, Nova Scotia, a city within the destination, experiences a humid continental climate. The average temperature in the area ranges throughout the year from 14 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Precipitation is common throughout the year, with November receiving the most rainfall on average. Winter months experience snowfall, particularly February, which has an average of 14.8 inches of snow. [4] 


Cape Breton Island’s history dates back to the Mi’kmaq people, who inhabited the island for thousands of years prior to European arrival. France claimed the island in the early 17th century and was part of the French colony of Acadia until 1713 when it became a British colony. It was a significant center for cod fishing, coal mining, and steel production in the 19th and 20th centuries. Cape Breton has also played a notable role in Canadian cultural history, particularly with its Scottish heritage, as many Scottish people immigrated to the island during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, Cape Breton Island remains a hub for tourism, particularly for those interested in the island’s history and natural geographic formation.[1]

Sydney, Nova Scotia, has a history that dates back to the 18th century when it was first settled by European immigrants. The city played a significant role in the coal mining industry during the 19th and 20th centuries, which attracted a large population of immigrants from around the world. Sydney was also an important location for shipbuilding and was a major port of entry for immigrants coming to Canada. The city played a relatively significant role in World War II as a hub for Allied naval activity, with the construction of the Sydney Harbour defenses and the Sydney Steel Plant.[7]

Regarding the destination’s namesake, Cape Breton Island has a population of approximately 132,000 people as of 2021, with a population density of 12 people per square kilometer. On the island, Sydney is the "largest commercial centre."[1] The island, specifically Sydney, since it is the island's "largest urban center," has a diverse cultural makeup, with a significant number of residents of Scottish and Irish descent, as well as Acadian and African Canadian communities.[7]