Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 44 > Page 71 - A Canoe Trip in Cape Breton, 1885

Page 71 - A Canoe Trip in Cape Breton, 1885

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/1/1 (868 reads)
 

and the Nettie must be quite invisible from the shore, now two miles distant. Taking the Captain's mark--the white house at Mope Head--for a guide, I decide to paddle across the bay known as Big Pond, from point to point. If any stout-hearted naviga? tor, accustomed to walking the bridge of a thou? sand ton ship; if any hardy fisherman, used to holding the tiller of a strongly-built, half- decked whaler, entertains any doubt as to the sea? going qualities of a Rob Roy canoe, I would that he had seen the Nettie as she rode like a cork o- ver the big waves tossed up by wind against tide off the mouth of Sydney Harbour. About 7.30 I sighted the steamer Marion rounding Cranberry Head, and turned the prow of the Nettie more seaward, in order that Captain Burchell might be able to report me at Baddeck. Three whistles is the greeting from the Marion to her tiny sister. Cheered by the Captain's careful lookout, I re? solved to land for breakfast. It is a pity that earlier navigators of the Canoe Club have not sought the Cape Breton waters, if on? ly to accustom the hardy dwellers of that coast to the sight of a Rob Roy. Making for a cottage that gleams white and inviting from the distant shore, I perceive, when nearing, some two women, and a swarm of children in a state of great excitement a- waiting me. They surround the Nettie and praise her build and small dimensions, and regard me with impressions Of Cap/ 'r'otu BRIAN TENNYSON such open-mouthed wonderment that I begin to think myself worthy of veneration, till the older woman (the other is a genuine "nut-brown mayde," with soft eyes, red lips, and perfect teeth), murmurs: "Well, well; I thought it was the good man's boat drifting ashore with him clinging to it; ye must be daft to be going about in that." And then this hospitable woman bade she of the soft brown eyes and suggestive lips boil some water and prepare breakfast for the crew of the Nettie. How the eyebrows of dwellers in distant cities will be elevated when I tell them that the tourist in Cape Breton who forsakes the beaten path of travel, who tramps, through the small settlements, or skirts the coast in a canoe, will find little use for money as an equivalent for the necessaries of life. I have tasted tea guiltless of sugar, but sweetened with true Scottish kindness; I have made a hearty meal of everything that the pantry of a Cape Breton cottage could produce, and have slept soundly in beds clean and wholesome. I have been fairly smothered with kindness and hospitality all the way from Sydney to Barra, of which charming nook I carry recollections strong enough to make me sigh for next summer. And yet, I found the cur? rency of the country almost worthless as a means of showing gratitude, and discovered that a few words of kindly courtesy are, in Cape Breton, bet? ter than specie payment. I have heard people say unkind things of the Scotch, I have abused them for being clannish, and I have joined in the laughter created by some story of their prover? bial thriftiness. But during the cruise of the Nettie I did NOW ON SALE IN LOCAL RETAIL OUTLETS $1495 To order send cheque or money order to: University College of Cape Breton Press P.O. Box 5300, Sydney, N.S. B1P6L2 539-5300, ext. 148 Writers. . . 1634 Julien Perrault 1672 Nicolas Denys 1760 Thomas Pichon 1768 Samuel Holland 1780 Walter Prenties 1785 William Booth 1788 /illia Dyot 1789 Anonym. 1812 Joseph-Octave Plessi; 1818 A.W. DesBarres 1829 T.C. Haliburton 1832 .John MacGregor 1843 John Inglis 1853 B.W.A. Sleigh 1860 Nicholas Dennys 1863 R.J. Uniacke 1867 John Bourinot 1874 Charles Dudley Warn 1884 S.G.W. Benjamin 1885 John Knight 1886 C.H. Farnham 1894 Frank Bolles 1897 Lady Aberdeen 1908 Harry Smith 1913 Phosa Kinley 1935 Morris Longstreth 1941 Frederick Edwards 1942 Dorothy Duncan This book presents a definitive collection of impressions of Cape Breton, ranging from the seventeenth century to the twentieth. These descriptive accounts constitute a fascinating historical document, revealing not only how Cape Breton and its peoples impressed visitors but also how its communities evolved over the years. With an introduction by Dr. Brian Tennyson, illustrations, notes, index and a select bibliography. penance--and am now vainly groping along the branches of the family tree to discover some sprig of Scottish an? cestry. Once more afloat, and paddling carefully in a short choppy sea for the mouth of the Lit? tle Bras d'Or. In the swirl of the strong tide I ship a sea which even the rubber-apron hatch cannot altogether resist, and my provisions are sadly damaged. Five minutes sponging frees the Nettie from water, and in another half hour the sun is over the foreyard, and I find myself facing the heavy sea that washes through the split rocks of Point Aconi. For fifteen minutes there is a spice of danger in the Net? tie's voyage, sufficient to keep the crew watchful of eve? ry wave, and, with shortened paddle, she rides the water and runs through a gulch, which, in mid-winter, must in? deed be a terrible lee shore for a storm tossed ship. Safe under the grim cliffs that rise some seventy feet perpen? dicularly from the sea, I hear a faint shout above me, and, looking up, discover a face stretched out over the cliff. The owner points to a shel? tered cove a short distance from my anchorage. Paddling thither, I find the brother of
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