Cape Breton Island is an island on the most eastern part of nova Scotia about 4,000 square miles in size. A large part of the island is made up of mountainous regions that are an extension of the Appalachian mountain range. They do not rival the Rockies in size, but they are far older than them.
The island was inhabited by Native peoples long before Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) arrived from Europe in 1497 to begin exploring the land. The Portuguese soon followed to take advantage of the rich fishing resource, then the rest of Europe followed. The French arrived and settled the land, then ceded the island to the British in 1763. The Irish arrived in waves, as did the Scots soon afterwards. In the 1800s industry was a big draw for a number of Europeans with the coal industry being the largest draw. Workers came from all over Europe. With the expulsion of the Higland Scots from Scotland around the same time, the Scots population of the island increased dramatically. Their Gaelic language is still spoken today; in fact it was my grandparents' mother tongue. They didn't learn English until they started school.
Alexander Graham Bell and Gugliermo Marconi, though not Nova Scotians, contributed to their fields greatly while in the province, specifically Cape Breton.
The ecosystems of the island vary greatly from craggy rocky shores to sand dunes; from old growth forests to rocky islands with nary a tree in sight. Bogs, marshes, salt marshes, a salt water inland sea, fresh water lakes, and world reknown Atlantic salmon spawning grounds are all found on the island. Moose, black bear and lynx are the larger animals found here, plus more deer than you can shake a stick at. Finback and other whales are frequent visitors to the ocean areas surrounding the island; bald eagles are a guaranteed sighting on Cape Breton; even caribou and walrus were once native to the province (and the island) though no longer.
This island was my parents' home until they married. I visited almost every year while growing up and even lived there for a short while after university. I don't get back there often enough for my liking, but did get there this weekend. It wasn't long enough to see all I wanted to see or do so I guess the Wookie and I have to return. It will take several blog posts to display the pics we took so bear with me for the next little while, but the island is too beautiful to cover in one post. And I'm proud of its natural history.
Of course, I had no hand in the island's natural history but I still think it's cool.
Click on the pics to get a better look.