Track 7: Whalewatching & Pleasant Bay

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Whale in the Gulf of St Lawrence, just off Cape Breton. Photograph kindly supplied by Tonya Wimmer of Dalhousie University

Adapted and abridged from the Cabot Trail Companion.

Track 7 begins with the recordings of humpback, minke and pilot whales — just three of the 16 or so of whale, porpoise and dolphin that can be seen off the Cape Breton coast each summer. You can hear more whale sounds at the modern interpretive centre and community Internet access site that overlooks the harbour at Pleasant Bay.

George Fraser, its manager, introduces us to the multimedia displays. The most striking exhibit in the centre is the life-size model of Hook, a pilot whale, which was beautifully made by a Cape Breton boat-builder.

George's whale centre has proved a major boost to the whalewatching industry along the Cabot Trail, and today there are lots of trips to choose from. One of the longest established are the Fiddlin' Whale Tours, run by Captain Stan MacKinnon — well-known because he makes even the harbourside a musical place to be! We interview Stan, who tells us how he first discovered that pilot whales respond positively to the sound of his fiddle, and how his passengers respond to the sight of live whales right in front of them!

Stan MacKinnon skippers a converted fishing boat, but a variety of whalewatching vessels operate from Chéticamp in the west to Ingonish on the east coast: you can choose a cruise on a stately schooner, or a fast ride on a rigid-hull inflatable.

Enjoy the drive into Pleasant Bay, and its spectacular lookoffs. In season, you could also visit Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist monastery whose monks are famous for a unique tradition: each Canada Day, July 1st, they come to town dressed in their orange robes and challenge the locals to a friendly game of baseball — a great photo opportunity, which even got a mention on the TV show Jeopardy!


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!

Whale Interpretive Centre page,com_mtree/task,viewlink/lin...

Accommodations & other businesses along the way

* = Featured on the Cabot Trail Companion

NB: For more whalewatching tours around the Cabot Trail, please see: Chéticamp, Bay St Lawrence and Ingonish.

Captain Mark’s Whale & Seal Cruise
Pleasant Bay Hbr. TF: 1-888-754-5112;

Cardinal Points Gift Shop
23324 Cabot Trail, Pleasant Bay. T: (902) 224-2364;

Cliff Waters Cottage & Guest Cabin Accommodation ($$$)
1773 Red River Rd, Pleasant Bay. T: (902) 224-1130 or 461-2233;

*Fiddlin’ Whale Tours
Pleasant Bay Hbr, Pleasant Bay. TF: 1-866-688-2424;

Gampo Abbey
Red River Rd, Pleasant Bay. T: (902) 224-2752;

Highland Breeze B&B Accommodation ($$)
42 Harbour Rd, Pleasant Bay. TF: 1-877-224-2974;

MacIntosh Brook Campground Accommodation ($)
E of Pleasant Bay, Highlands National Park. TF: 1-888-773-8888; (902) 224-2306;

Midtrail Resort & RV Park Accommodation ($$-$$$)
23475 Cabot Trail, Pleasant Bay. TF: 1-800-215-0411;

Mountain View Motel & Cottages Accommodation ($-$$)
23085 Cabot Trail, Pleasant Bay. TF: 1-888-835-7577;

Rising Tide Expeditions
Guided kayak trips from Pleasant Bay. T: 1-877-884-2884;

Timmons Folk Art
Harbour Rd, Pleasant Bay. T: (902) 224-3575

Wesley’s Whale Watch
Pleasant Bay Harbour. TF: 1-866-999-4253;

*Whale Interpretive Centre & C@P Site
104 Harbour Rd, Pleasant Bay. T: (902) 224-1411;

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