Supplies were getting low back in March 1926, and winter was nowhere close to ending in the Highlands of Cape Breton, namely Meat Cove, at the Northern Tip of Cape Breton.
In Meat Cove, at the northern tip of the island, there were five families who lived in the tiny community of Meat Cove who barley survived the winter. They were literally scraping the bottom of their flour barrels just to feed their families. It was desperate times and there were no supplies anywhere to be found this side of Sydney, Nova Scotia.
In order to keep their families from starving and freezing to death, six men set out on foot across the drift ice on the 65-kilometre trek to MacIntosh’s store in Pleasant Bay. Four days later, the weary men returned, their homemade wooden sleds loaded with 80-kilogram barrels of flour and huge bags of oats that would tide the families through until spring.
Community Centre Transcript
Told in three typewritten pages posted on the wall inside the village’s community centre — a transcript of an interview conducted with a resident about 35 years ago — it’s this sort of history that keeps Derek MacLellan here. “I love my roots and I love my heritage,” says the community centre’s co-ordinator, who can trace his family’s presence in Meat Cove back to the 1850s. “It’s hard to let go. You want to hang on to your roots.”
Traveling along the eight-kilometre dirt road from Capstick to Meat Cove, it’s easy to imagine the relative hardships this community may have faced many years ago. Meat Cove is, literally, the end of the road. On the map of Nova Scotia, it’s surrounded by blank space — no solid squiggles indicating paved roads, no pin-point circles for towns, nothing but the rolling hills of one of the province’s great swaths of wilderness.
It’s that sense of remoteness that attracts about 8,000 visitors to Meat Cove each year, says MacLellan. “People enjoy the scenery. They enjoy the solitude of the area. You can get up here and feel like you’re on another planet. You wonder, ‘Gee, I didn’t realize that there was any place on the planet that was still like this.’”
Meat Cove is a visitor’s perfect paradise to get away from the problems of everyday life. People come here to get away from it all from all parts of the world, not just North America. Although the village is home to roughly 65 souls, most of whom make a living through the fisheries or tourism, it has plenty to offer visitors. A series of trails ranging from a short boardwalk stroll to full-day hikes gives visitors a chance to get out and enjoy the solitude that this corner of the province offers.
A 10-kilometre trail leads to Cape St. Lawrence, where a lighthouse used to stand. Another leads to the site of a former fishing village called Lowland Cove, while others wind up at an abandoned zinc mine or simply saunter along the majestic coast. On a clear day, it’s even possible to see Newfoundland from some of these vistas.
A Hikers and Campers Paradise
The area’s cliffs are as dangerous as they are beautiful so hikers and campers beware. There have been several over the years that have plunged onto the rocks and water below, so steer well clear of the cliff’s edge on your journey.
While on your stay in Meat Cove Campground, spend a few hours enjoying the beautiful beach below. Grab a bite to eat at the Chowder hut restaurant and chip wagon this is located down by the beach. Wet your whistle with home made brew that is available at the licensed Chowder Hut Restaurant just above the beach.
Sit back on your cabin deck and take in all the fishing boats, whales and kayakers who make their way out past the Arch.
Meat Cove Campground
If you are looking for a great place to camp in Cape Breton, then come to Meat Cove Campground roughly a two hour drive from Sydney or Port Hawksbury, Nova Scotia. The address is 2479 meat cove road, Capstick, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, b0c1e0.