I had a pretty disappointing time in Sydney, but the unfortunate weather carried over during my time in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, too. I was particularly excited to check out this mining town, as a dear friend of mine was born here and has talked about it since I’ve known him.
But as I drove east along highway 4, I knew the town wouldn’t be a pretty sight. The rain was coming down hard against my windshield and the skies were the dark grey that I know so well from Vancouver.
I made it to the town with no map and a hope that signs to the two museums I was heading for would guide me there. No such luck. The signs are there, certainly, but they’re misleading, directing me down many side streets that clearly did not point to a national historic site.
Eventually, through my supreme navigational skills (for those who know me, I could get lost trying to find the centre of a tuna can), I did end up at the Marconi National Historic Site of Canada (Timmerman Street, 902-295-2069). This after a frustrated stop in an empty parking lot where I prayed to the rain gods (I guess it worked- thanks!).
The tiny museum was manned by a staff member and two young students, who chatted with me about Table Head, the site of the first wireless message being sent across the Atlantic Ocean. Panels had the history of Guglielmo Marconi, photos of his four wooden towers and artefacts from the site.
With a map of Glace Bay (very useful) and specific directions from one of the students (now that I think about it, maybe they weren’t students, just young women…), I drove easily to the Cape Breton Miners’ Museum.
Again, as with the rest of this whirlwind trip (who said updating a guidebook was glamorous?!), I had a brief tour of what they do there. It’s pretty neat: former miners take groups down through the mines that they once worked all day in. These guys are good storytellers and are passionate about telling visitors what life was like down there.
All this mining talk revved up my appetite and I ducked and ran through the rain to the Miners’ Village Restaurant (902-849-1788). It’s housed within a village of replicated 1850s buildings that you can walk through as if stepping into coal mining life back then.
The restaurant was packed with both tourists and locals, as it had recently come under new management and was seeing much success. Inside there’s a warm brick fireplace, kerosene lamps and a cozy feel of a long ago cabin. The simple menu has lots of sandwiches, salads, pastas and burgers, most for under $10 (some sandwiches are $5.25).
What I Liked:
- Once I got acquainted with the town, I found it was easy to get around and the people very helpful.
- Houses in the residential areas are picturesque of a fishing village and each one has a unique charm.
- The Savoy Theatre (116 Commercial Street, 902-842-1577) downtown looks like any other theatre if you drive by, but inside is a 1920s Victorian building. It would definitely be a scenic place to see a show.
- The Cape Breton Miners Museum is a sure bet if you’re near Glace Bay. It’s a unique experience and kids must love going down into the dark and re-living another time.