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In my mind the Englishtown ferry is the gateway to the north, to the highlands of Cape Bretonthe division between the softer and harder sides of Nova Scotia. Coming from or going to Sydney or Baddeck you have the choice of the ferry, or a bit more winding road around the edge of St. Anns Bay; the Sydney route favours the ferry, but you need to factor in queuing at busy times.
We were on our way to Ingonish, but had time to spare. We’d stopped at Baddeck for lunch. It’s a plenty touristy town, but it’s also the home of the Alexander Graham Bell museum. We had visited it in 1980, and it was just as good or better this time as we took a very quick look around. A fascinating place showing the life and creations of a fascinating character. A must-visit, to see the Silver Date which made the first controlled powered flight in Canada in 1909, and countless other experimental devices developed by Bell and his associates.
Instead of then heading straight north we wanted to check out the entrance to Bras d'Or Lake, having spent the whole day driving along its inland shores. The Great Bras d'Or channel connects the lake to the open sea and since 1961 has been crossed by the Seal Island Bridge. The approach from the west is itself a magnificent drive over Kelly’s Mountain, even in the thick, low cloud that had just rolled in from the sea to spoil our day. And the bridge, high over the channel, remains a wonder. Well worth the detour. After crossing the bridge, we turned around and headed straight back the way we'd come. What should have been great views down onto St. Anns Bay were blotted out by cloud, but the signs said the ferry was open and running so we headed straight to Englishtown.
Settlements at Englishtown date back to the 16th century, and predate Louisbourg, although there is nothing of that magnificence to show there now. The ferry itself is a mere 150 across the strait to the tip of a long sand and shingle bar across the mouth of St. Anns Bay, that almost, but not quite connects. In fact there are frequent suggestions to put a bridge over that small gap and complete what nature left uncompleted. But St. Anns Bay is a large inlet, and the tides cause currents which we could see as we crossed in the ferry.

Ferry info
Operating year-round
24 Hour Service - On Demand
150 across, taking less than 5 minutes
The boat
Nova Scotia Department of Public Works
When I used the ferry
September 2021

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