Hooray! You’re visiting the Cabot Trail and planning a day or two to explore Chéticamp and its stunning surroundings … but, you check the weather and discover a rather unexpected facet of Cape Breton: its whimsical weather!
Fear not: 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 10 am to 6 pm.
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 all summer, Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
3) Saint Peter’s church in Cheticamp
Exploring Acadian culture and history calls for 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 Cheticamp! 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 (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.
Did you know? The stones from the original Butterau church are now part of Saint Peter’s.
If you find the door open, feel free to wander inside to see the church’s impressive interior and glass-stained windows. Let yourself be awed 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 whimsical Interpretive Mi-Carême Centre in Grand Étang
Locally beloved Naive-Art artist-in-residence Diane Bourgeois is looking forward to sharing her art tips with you!
Treat yourself to an exciting Mask-painting experience: explore Acadian tradition and folklore in a fabulously engaging way with this fun creativity-brimming cultural experience (suitable for all ages).
Let hundreds of artsy masks throughout the mask gallery/boutique ignite your creativity, and decorate your very 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 an authentic souvenir from the Cabot Trail!
The Mi-Carême Centre's cultural experiences include a guided museum visit: embark on a joyful, enchanting voyage through the history of the topsy-turvy local Acadian Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent) tradition: uncover its origins, how it has evolved and stood the test of time, why it's so important to the local communities as well as the wonderful (and intriguing!) artifacts that this tradition has inspired!
Book your cultural experience on our events page.
The Centre is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 am until 5 pm.
Bonus: our events can be in English or in French, or both!
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 Gulf of Saint Lawrence… and discover what a starfish feels like - amazing times guaranteed!
For more information: follow the GAMS Facebook Page
Open every day (except Mondays) from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.
6) La Bella Mona Lisa Art Gallery in Saint-Joseph-du-Moine
Last, but definitely not least: we highly recommend a stop at the fun and delightfully unique 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 spirit!
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 most days from 9.30 am until 5.30 pm - we highly recommend calling ahead to make sure the gallery is open.
Feel like an outdoor adventure?
The Cabot Trail’s wilderness in the drizzly rain or fog can actually offer some stunning scenery views, particularly from the higher look-off points in the Cape Breton highlands. It’s also a great way to beat the crowds!
Get your rain gear, and some good hiking shoes and explore - you’ll be thrilled that you did!
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