Three siblings, all travelling different routes with different timelines and different accommodations. All with one shared destination. That was myself, my brother and my sister in September, 2017. My brother and his wife took the slow, leisurely journey via motorhome. My sister and her husband stayed in motels as they dropped down into the U.S. before making it to the Maritimes. Us, we went the express route with less time to spare, alternating camping with some pretty fine hotels.
The shared destination? Canso, Nova Scotia. Well, the ultimate destination was the Cole Harbour Radar Station near Port Felix, Nova Scotia. This is a trail to the remaining foundations of a World War II radar base. Our father served there for a time during that war.
Our accommodations for the two nights we were all together was the Seabreeze Campground and Cottages at Fox Island. This is close to Canso and close to the road that takes you along the Atlantic Coast to the radar station. We experienced all Seabreeze had to offer with us staying in our tent, my brother in his motorhome and my sister in one of the campground’s four cottages.
Seabreeze Campground and Cottages Oceanfront Image Gallery
We arrived in the evening, just before sunset, on the first night. The following day was spent touring the area and the radar base. During that day, the skies got gloomier and the rain set in. Leaving after the second night, we dealt with pretty much a hurricane on our drive to Halifax. So, my photos of the campground were limited, unfortunately. I did manage some long exposure shots of the waterfront on the second night, in between bouts of rain and mist.
The bottom right image in the gallery was taken on the first night. The bottom middle was also from the first night, looking across at a barren island located just off shore. It seems like a great place to explore by kayak in the warmer months – when whales can be spotted from the campground.
Seabreeze Campground and cottages is located at Fox Island on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. This is basically the furthest spot in the southeast of the province before going across the bridge to Cape Breton Island. In fact, you can see the lights of Cape Breton at night from the campground.
The campground is on an 18 acre plot of land, facing Chedabucto Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. There are 48 overnight campsites, along with 23 seasonal sites. Also, there are four fully equipped cottages, along with a 33′ luxury RV for rent.
We went with a site along the inside edge with electricity and water, mostly because these sites are cut into the forest and are protected from the wind but also because we didn’t trust the kids in the oceanfront sites. The oceanfront sites offer an incredible view and easy access to the water but do not come with electricity or water. We were able to spend some time in one of the cottages. They are cozy but are clean and come with all you need for a self-sufficient stay.
We were there off-season and during the week so there were very few other guests. There is whale watching right off shore from May until July so I’m sure it gets a lot busier during the summer months.
You can get here by leaving the main Trans-Canada Highway (hwy 104) just before the causeway to Cape Breton Island. Follow highway 16 south (with a bend to the east) through Guysborough and Queensport and look for the signs. If you get to Canso, you’ve gone too far.
Hazel Hill Cable Station
After doing some reading on the area, the Hazel Hill Cable Station was something I really wanted to see and photograph. That was, if it was still standing. News on this historic building was sketchy and the last I read was that it was slated for demolition some time ago.
The Hazel Hill Cable Station was built in 1884 and served as a relay station for telegraph messages between Europe and North America via Trans-Atlantic cables. First word of the Titanic’s sinking and the 1929 Stock Market Crash were first relayed through this very building. It closed in 1962 but had been bought by community group that wished to restore it.
Well, what happened while we were there was a bit heartbreaking for me but very heartbreaking for long time residents. While we were visiting the Cole Harbour Radar Station, the wrecking ball was taking down the Hazel Hill Cable Station. When we went to visit Canso in the afternoon, there was a pile of rubble by the side of the road. If we’d gone to check it out the night we arrived, we would have seen the historic building still standing.
According to a CBC news report, an engineer was brought in to inspect the structure before it was condemned. Word is, the engineer wouldn’t even enter the building and deemed it unsafe. However, when talking to locals, this may not have been the case and the structure certainly could have saved. Whatever the story, the reality is that a very important piece of, not only Canada’s, but North America’s history was lost in the first week of September, 2017.
Cole Harbour Radar Station
There will be more detailed article on the Cole Harbour Radar Station to follow. Here’s just a little bit of information on a site that everyone should visit on a trip to Nova Scotia.
Radar Station #5 was built a few years into the Second World War. The station was abandoned in 1945, immediately after the war’s end. It can be found by taking highway 316, between Fox Island and Canso, west along the rugged coast to around Port Felix. There will be a parking lot on the right hand side of the road with a monument at the centre of it.
From the parking lot, it is a two kilometre walk to the ruins of the base. By September, 2017, the site had become a bit overgrown and it was difficult to spot where the barracks had been. However, up the trail a bit, the foundations for the actual radar are quite a sight. The area is surrounded by the Canso Barrens. This means it’s quite rocky with few trees and a smattering of small ponds intermixed. It has a rugged beauty that I believe was enhanced by the light fog when we visited.
My family’s connection to this site is through my father. During WWII, he served here, as well as at a similar site in Labrador.
Old Radar Station – Article from Derek Hendsbee’s blog ‘Get Out In Guysborough
Hazel Hill Cable Station – Great read from Trans-Atlantic Cable Communications website
Campground Official Website – The website of Seabreeze Campground and Cottage
Last Port Motel – Restaurants are at a premium in the area. The Last Port Motel is an excellent spot between Canso and the campground to stop for a meal.
Other places from this road trip: