Halifax, Nova Scotia - 2 Days
Baddeck, Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia) - 2 days
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island - 2 days
St. John New Brunswick - 2 days
Western Shore (near Lunenburg), Nova Scotia - 2 days
Our first stop was a visit to the Millbrook Cultural & Heritage Centre to learn about the Mi’kmaq heritage and see artifacts including intricate quill and bead work, a cedar totem pole and birch bark canoes. Two tribal members were building a conoe and we were able to watch the slow, meticulous work. We were treated to a "smudge", a smoke made of sweetgrass, cedar and other ingredients which we "washed" over our eyes, ears, mouth and heart to cleanse them for the day.
We crossed the Canso Causeway to stunning Cape Breton Island. As we drove we skirted the Bras d'Or Lakes, Canada’s only inland sea.
Next, stop - St. Ann's Gaelic College, the only Gaelic college outside Scotland. It has a small student body but a dedicated staff which are working to preserve the culture and language. There are 3 Gaelic languages - Scottish, Irish and Manx (Isle of Mann). If you add those three to Welsh, Cornish and Breton you have the family of Celtic languages. They are related, but each is distinct.
We learned how the Great Kilt was made during a brief kilt-making demonstration. And learned a few handy Gaelic phrases before joining in the fun of a “milling frolic”…during which we practiced a Gaelic song while sitting around a table and beating a large loop of woolen cloth in rhythm. (B)
We returned to our lodging where Collette had arranged a private ceilidh (ˈkālē), a social event at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling. Actually, it wasn't an entire ceilidh, but it was a wonderful guitar player and singer who sang local tunes then lead us in singing some traditional folk songs we all know.
Off to sleep after a full day!