If you're driving from the TransCanada, you'll pass through Middle River, into Inverness County. You'll notice a gorgeous chain of lakes on your right called 'Lake O'Law'. Close-by are the mountains known as the 'Three Sisters' which become flaming masses of colour in autumn. The road twists and turns around the lakes before you arrive at the Lakes Resort, which offers family eating and seafood, and lots of other good things, like Go-karts and Bumper boats for the kids, canoe rentals and kayaks, accommodation and camping for the family. There's also a 'Lifestyles' hiking trail nearby and a beautiful provincial park, where you can stretch your legs.

You'll find Northeast Margaree on the Cabot Trail, soon after you leave the Lake O'Law area, or on your way to Baddeck from Margaree Forks. This settlement is located on a long straight stretch of road, with St. Patrick's church and the community hall, and a number of picturesque homesteads. You should make a point to see the Salmon Museum, a jewel of a museum if there ever was one. At the Margaree Valley/Cabot Trail junction, check out Two Macs, which is a cute gift shop with lovely painted mats made by the owner, along with other Maritime items. There's also The Dancing Goat, a bistro across the road, which offers coffee, cappuccino, fresh-baked pies, breads, sweets, and fresh-made sandwiches. Don't miss the Four Winds Gallery, run by Josef McKinnon- he's a folk artist who lives and carves by the roadside on the Cabot Trail; he'd be happy to chat as you check out his work–look for a yellow log cabin on the north side of the road.

northeast margaree
A beautiful, pastoral valley if there every was one, in any season. Located just northeast of the Cabot Trail, take the exit for East Big Intervale Rd., or alternatively, exit at Egypt Rd., which will eventually join East Big Intervale Rd. The Margaree river runs throughout the valley, although it is often out of sight. There are lots of things to do here, from visiting the historic Fish Hatchery (Nova Scotia’s oldest) to visiting an internationally known pottery gallery called Cape Breton Clay. There is plenty of accommodation available and a fine restaurant at The Normaway Inn. When you enter the Normaway’s grounds, you will feel like you’ve entered another, better era. From June to October, there’s also a concert and dance at The Barn, on the grounds of The Normaway, where you can see star fiddlers and newcomers alike. Oh, and enjoy a real general store at MacPherson’s, beside the Baptist Church, which has been in the family for generations; you’ll find groceries, meat and chainsaws, if you’re in the mood. Poke around the valley on both sides of the river.

margaree valley
Pronounced “'inter-vull'” this really means “a space between two mountains;” but as you travel toward the headwaters of the Margaree River, the mountains wrap around you ever closer; they are quite awesome. Pass through Margaree Valley and follow the signs toward the Margaree Fish Hatchery; instead of turning left toward the hatchery, continue straight on the gravel road for the next fifteen minutes. There are pretty farms here and a good restaurant with accommodation at the Big Intervale Fishing Lodge; they have excellent meals for everyone who calls, served with great hospitality. You’ll feel like you are in a world apart in Big Intervale. There are also excellent quilts and hooked rugs available at KingRoss Quilts & Fibre Art, where Anne Morrell Robinson lives on a picturesque farm; her work has been shown internationally, and she’d be happy to show you her studio and work if you call ahead...



Just west of Margaree Valley, turn off East Big Intervale Rd at the first left if you're coming from the Trail. You'll pass Cranton Bridge, which traverses the Margaree River and which offers a popular summer swimming hole for locals. There is variety of accommodations nearby. There's gas, mechanics and take-out food at Ingraham's Garage, and you can take the road to Phillip's Mountain, where you'll find the Lookoff, which offers great views out over the Valley and the Northeast. You can find it if you continue on the road past the church, which eventually turns into a gravel road ascending the mountain. After minute or so, you'll see a small pull-off on the left, across from a red-roofed log cabin and barn on the hill.

margaree centre
The Forks refers to the meeting of the different branches of the Margaree River, one which starts in Big Intervale, the other at Lake Ainslie. It is also the meeting of the Cabot Trail and route #19 which would take you to Southwest Margaree or Inverness via Dunvegan. It's a way station with some of the services you might need; groceries/spirits/cash machine at the Co-op, a funky antiques shop, a public library and CAP site/internet access, the Visitor Information Centre, a post ofice.. For visitors who want to try their luck, there's trout fishing at Old Miller's Trout Farm; there's also an Visitor Information Centre and a lovely little park where you can relax close to the river. There's accommodation at the Riverview Lodge.

margaree forks
Where the great Margaree River meets the sea, there is a picturesque working harbour. And located near the south end of the Harbour bridge, the village of Margaree Harbour is one of the area's small gems. At one time a bustling commercial port before the Causeway existed, it's now a sleepy village with a mixture of locals and summer residents who come from all over of North America to savour its pastoral charm. The village is a nice example of Maritime architectural homogeneity, with its quaint cluster of shingled and clapboard houses, huddled in the perfect spot: enjoy its busy yet peaceful harbour, its two stoic lighthouses, a fabulous beach and dunes, and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in the distance. The nerve centre is Laurence's Store, a classic general store and post office run by the irrepressible Fletcher Laurence. Take the time to buy a refreshment, send a postcard and enjoy some of the local life passing you by. It's also a great spot to catch a sunset over the ocean and the rock formation known as the 'Margaree Monster.' You'll find the village by turning off the Trail at the junction for Route 219 (the Shore Rd.), then heading toward the United church. Back on the Cabot Trail, there's also accommodation and fine dining at the Duck Cove Inn, with fine views overlooking the harbour; local residents like to congregate there for the Duck's Sunday brunch buffet.

margaree harbour
There is no doubt that Whale Cove offers some of the most spectacular vistas anywhere in Nova Scotia. Whether you're driving north or south on the Ceilidh Trail (Route 219), make the time to stop and explore. There's an excellent beach visible from the road, with parking on the grass above, and accommodation at Whale Cove Summer Village, which offers unparalleled views of the beach, ocean and sunsets. And what a picnic spot! Just above the beach is a huge bluff which offers stunning views in all directions. You can access it on a path from the beach or by a small gravel road just to the south of the cottages. Look for a small sign indicating the United Church Cemetery. A great place to wander, ogle and feel the ocean breeze.

whale cove
Not a village, but perhaps a state of mind, engendered by a first-class beach and cove. There's safe swimming and lots of shallow water. There's also a nice hike across to the point, where you'll find an old shed and winch, which pulled fishing boats out of the water; lobster and fishing boats plied their trade here years ago. The beach itself is located about 5 kilometres south of Whale Cove. Bald eagles perch on the point. The road to the beach is exactly one kilometre beyond the sign for Chimney Corner Coastal Cottages on Route 219. Follow the road to the ocean where there is parking in a grassy lot by the beach.

chimney corner
You'll find 'The Southwest' on your way from Margaree Forks on Route 19. Folks in Southwest Margaree are known for their love of music and dancing. Each Friday night from late June to Labour Day, there's fiddle music and dancing at St. Joseph's Hall, right beside the church. If you're staying in the area, these dances or 'ceilidhs,' shouldn't be missed; they are known all over the island. Traditionally, the southwest was known for the Gaspereau fishing on the Margaree River in springtime. The gaspereau make their way in from the ocean, up the Margaree to spawn in Lake Ainslie; on the riverbanks, huge box-like cages were lowered into the water on a pivot, then raised full of fish. These fish are pickled in salt and exported to the Caribbean, where they continue to be a favourite. You can still see men fishing this way on the river in parts of the southwest.

southwest margaree
Translated, this area would be 'beautiful side' and it is well named. Belle Cote is found on the north side of the Margaree River and Margaree Harbour, where the river meets the ocean. There's a busy wharf here, where lobster, crab, scallop and tuna fishers come home and sort their catch for market. The best time to see this activity is midday from spring to fall. On the other side of the long breakwater which protects the harbour, there's Belle Cote beach, a long expanse of sand and pebbles which is an excellent walking beach. There's also fresh seafood for sit-down dining or take-out at the Island Sunset Resort. There's also The Hungry Skipper, a family restaurant nearby on the Cabot Trail. If you're here at the right time of year, you can enjoy 'Belle Cote Days,' a local celebration with food, music and dance. If you drive the road on the north side of the river toward East Margaree, there are some spectacular views out over the Margaree River.

belle cote
As you head for the Harbour on the Cabot Trail, you'll notice a village on the other side of the river. If you cross a couple of bridges spanning the Margaree, There's a large stone church, a credit union, a post office and a convenience store. If you've got the time, the Larchwood Mill offers tours of its facility, where butcher-block cutting boards and flooring are fabricated. If you continue on this side of the river toward Margaree Forks, you'll experience some of the nicest vistas in the area. The river floods the whole area each spring, and leaves fertile ground for the hayfields scattered along its banks.

east margaree


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