Track 9: Meat Cove Side Trip

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Derrick MacLellan at the Meat Cove community centre, northern Cape Breton. Meat Cove lays claim to being the most isolated community in Nova Scotia

Adapted and abridged from the Cabot Trail Companion.

When you reach the Cape North and Dingwall area, you'll be at the most northerly point on the Cabot Trail, and you'll soon be starting the second CD for the southbound trip.

But we couldn't leave this corner of the island without recommending a side visit to the legendary Meat Cove — the most remote community in Nova Scotia.

Meat Cove isn't part of the official Cabot Trail, so when you get to the three-way turn at the village of Cape North, instead of following the Trail round to the right, take the road that forks left towards Bay St Lawrence.

Once you've taken the left-hand turn at Cape North, you're on the only road to the northern tip of the island, so you shouldn't go far wrong! The road skirts North Harbour, then Aspy Bay, and eventually veers left up a valley. Once you're over the crest, instead of driving all the way down into Bay St Lawrence, take the left turn to Capstick and Meat Cove. You'll want to pay special attention to the winding hillside road, especially since the blacktop runs out at Capstick, but there are several spots where you can safely pull over to watch whales spouting, or lobster fishermen tending traps in the waters below.

It's no understatement to say that Meat Cove is legendary: even Cape Bretoners find it veiled in mystery. Derrick MacLellan was born and bred in the tiny hamlet at the end of the road, and now runs its community centre. On the Cabot Trial Companion, he suggests several reasons for its hold on the public imagination. Many visitors are amazed to find folk living year-round in isolated Meat Cove, when they learn how harsh the winters can be ... but locals find life today comparatively easy, with regular postal, refuse and school-bus services — and since the late 1970s they have even been able to receive television! Derrick grew up in the Sixties, when Gaelic was still widely spoken, and things were a little different.

Canada's most precarious campground! You too can become part of the Meat Cove community — for a few nights — at its fabled campsite ... although perched at the top of some hair-raising cliffs, it's definitely not recommended for sleepwalkers!

When you come to Meat Cove, be sure to drop in at Derrick's community centre, which also features a café, historical displays, and a public Internet-access site, so believe it or not you can email your snaps to the folks back home from the most remote point in Nova Scotia.

Wild, beautiful and haunting, at the very edge of North America, Meat Cove is the ideal place to round off the first half of the Cabot Trail Companion.

Our tour continues on Disc Two with the story of John Cabot and Aspy Bay...


If you'd like more information on this section of the tour, the following links may be of interest. Because we have no control over external sites, if you find a dead link please let us know!

Accommodations & other businesses along the way

See also John Cabot & Aspy Bay (DISC TWO, Track 1)

* = Featured on the Cabot Trail Companion

Arts North (juried local crafts)
28571 Cabot Trail, Cape North Village. T: (902) 383-2732;

Big Intervale Campground Accommodation ($)
Big Intervale Cape North, Highlands National Park. TF: 1-888-773-8888; (902) 224-2306;

Country Haven B&B ($-$$)
49 Courtney Rd, Cape North. TF: 1-888-540-7575;

Cranberry Patch Arts
27442 Cabot Trail, Big Intervale Cape North. T: (902) 383-2337;

Four Mile Beach Inn Accommodation ($$)
Bay St Lawrence Rd, Cape North. TF: 1-888-503-5551;

Gillie Getaway Housekeeping Cottage ($$)
87 Courtney Road, Cape North. T: (902) 383-2748;

MacDonald’s Motel & Cabins Accommodation ($)
2 Bay St Lawrence Rd, Cape North. T: (902) 383-2054;

Meat Cove Campground, Kayak & Chowder Hut Accommodation ($)
2479 Meat Cove Rd, Meat Cove.
T: (902) 383-2379;

Meat Cove Lodge ($)
2305 Meat Cove Rd, Meat Cove. T: (902) 383-2672

*Meat Cove Welcome Centre, Tea Room & C@P Site
2296 Meat Cove Rd, Meat Cove. T: (902) 383-2281;

Nanny Helen’s Guest House Accommodation ($$)
29475 Cabot Trail, Cape North. T: (902) 383-2600 or 285-4510;

North Highlands Community Museum & C@P Site
29243 Cabot Trail, Cape North (by Meat Cove turnoff). T: (902) 383-2579;

North Highlands Nordic Ski Club
Cape North Community Centre, Cape North. T: (902) 383-2479 or 383-2293;

Oakwood Manor Accommodation ($$)
250 North Side Rd (off Bay St Lawrence Rd), Cape North. T: (902) 383-2317;

Ocean View Lodge Accommodation ($)
Meat Cove Rd, Meat Cove. T: (902) 383-2562;

If you would like your business to be added to this list, please contact us...