Hooray! You’re visiting the Cabot Trail and planning a day or two to explore Chéticamp and stunning surroundings … but, you check the weather and discover a rather unexpected facet of Cape Breton: its whimsical weather!
Fear not, we’ve got you covered! Here is a list of things to do in the area that will have you almost hoping for a rainy day during your trip!
1) The Whale Interpretive Centre in Pleasant Bay
This is a great spot to visit on a rainy day! This small museum is just brimming with fascinating information about local marine wildlife including dolphins, porpoises and whales. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in understanding the local marine flora and fauna, particularly whale and dolphin enthusiasts! It’s also an extremely worthwhile place to visit in preparation for a whale-watching tour in the area: you’ll get the absolute best experience out of your sightings this way!
For more information: https://whale-interpretive-centre.business.site also check their Facebook page for updates and events!
Open every day except Wednesdays from 10am to 6pm.
2) Les Trois Pignons Centre in Chéticamp
Take a wonderful walk through time, and see what local life looked like at the start of the 19th Century in Chéticamp - it’s pretty fun to compare our lives nowadays to that of 200 ago, thanks to all sorts of antiques including Marguerite Gallant’s collection of curiosities exposed in the Trois Pignons’s Museum! Gallant was a prominent and beloved local figure who famously collected all sorts of beautiful and sometimes odd artifacts during her lifetime.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth LeFort’s fascinating rug-hooking talent is truly astonishing, the precision of her work displayed at the Centre will leave you in awe, which is also why the collection at the Trois Pignons Centre is internationally renowned! For more information: https://www.lestroispignons.com/en/
Open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
3) Saint Peter’s church in Chéticamp
Exploring Acadian culture and history should include a stop to admire the imposing massive French-Canadian neo-classical architecture of Saint Peter’s church. Its high rooftop and silver spire can even be seen from as far away as Terre-Noire, which is 15km away from Chéticamp! It’s also one of the very few (sand)stone-built churches in Nova-Scotia. The construction started in 1800 and was only completed in 1893! With the help of many volunteers and donors contributing whatever they could to help build it, this church was commandeered by Père Fiset, to replace the previous local Acadian church in the Butterau area (which is closer to the foot of the Cape Breton highlands): with the development of Chéticamp’s fishing harbour, a church closer to the population’s activity centre made more sense. Wow fact: the stones from this original church are now part of Saint Peter’s. Lastly, if you find the door is open, feel free to wander inside to see the church’s impressive interior and magnificent glass-stained windows. You won’t be able to help feeling stunned by David Ouellet’s work, a famous architect at the time from Québec - which also explains why the church has some architectural similarities to these that you can find in Québec!
For more information: https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=8821
4) The Interpretive Mi-Carême Centre in Grand-Étang
An exciting Mask-painting or OceanFront Creations workshop at the whimsically fun Mi-Carême Centre in Grand-Étang: get ready for giggles and creativity with these fabulous workshops! Suitable for all ages and and all talents - even talents believed to be long lost: they’ll reveal themselves in the blink of an eye thanks to our wonderful and locally beloved Naive-Art artist in residence Diane Bourgeois! Feel inspired by the hundreds of artsy masks throughout the mask gallery / boutique, and create your own mask for running the next Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent) celebration!
Meanwhile during our OceanFront Creations, repurpose all sorts of local beach-gleaned items and turn them into fabulous art pieces that you’ll love bringing back home as a souvenir from the Cabot Trail!
The Mi-Carême Centre is a true bucket-list visit along the Cabot Trail, including a guided visit of our Centre’s whimsical museum: embark on a joyful, enchanting voyage through all sorts of fun and artsy history about the Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent) tradition!
Marvellous memory-making moments can be pre-scheduled on our event’s page here: https://www.micareme.com/our-events
Open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am until 4pm. Bonus: our events can be in English or in French, or both!
Good to know: On Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, the Mi-Careme Centre hosts its “Salt Water, Lobster and Tunes” cultural event evenings at 6pm, the Centre remains open for the event’s guests to explore and make purchases in the artisanal boutique!
Find out more about our "Salt water, Lobster and Tunes" on our event page: https://www.micareme.com/event-details/salt-water-lobster-and-tunes-2022-07-07-18-30 as well as in our blog article https://www.micareme.com/post/5-reasons-for-savouring-acadian-lobster-dinners-in-grand-étang-this-summer-2022
5) The Gulf Aquarium and Marine Station (GAMS) in Grand-Étang
Just across the road from the Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre is the Gulf Aquarium and Marine Station (GAMS) of Grand-Étang! This is a fun place for all ages to explore and learn all about local marine life, with many, many things to explore, discover and experience, thanks to captivating interactive exhibitions and displays and a knowledgeable team of local wildlife and science experts to guide you along the way!
Let yourself be amazed by the wonders of the Gold of Saint Lawrence… and find out what a starfish feels like - amazing times guaranteed! For more information: follow the GAMS Facebook Page
Open every day except Mondays 10.30 am to 4.30pm.
6) La Bella Mona Lisa Art Gallery in Saint-Joseph-du-Moine
Last, but definitely not least: we highly recommend a stop at the cute and delightfully original La Bella Mona Lisa Art Gallery in Saint-Joseph-du-Moine, which has lots of local art to admire, explore and purchase!
As you may have guessed, the gallery is named after Da Vinci's famous art piece, and rightfully so, as it is filled with imaginative creations, some even made by the owner, Michel Williatte-Battet!
A beautiful Cabot trail gem to visit in the area with an artsy upbeat note - your happy and inspired eyes will thank you for taking the time to visit!
For more information: visit TripAdvisor's site information about La Bella Mona Lisa's Art Gallery https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g499215-d3397420-Reviews-Gallery_La_Bella_Mona_Lisa-Cheticamp_Cape_Breton_Island_Nova_Scotia.html
Open every day from 9.30am until 5.30 pm.
Feel like an outdoors adventure? The Cabot Trail’s wilderness in the drizzly rain or fog can actually offer some wonderfully beautiful scenery and stunning views of the clouds from higher look off points in the Cape Breton highlands. It’s also a great way to beat the crowds!
Get your rain gear prepped, some good hiking shoes and explore - you’ll be so happy you did!