Cape Breton Island – the heart of the north

Facts and Figures

Cape Breton Island, Mi’kmaq Unama’ki, northeastern portion of Nova Scotia, Canada.
It is separated from the remainder of the province and the Canadian mainland by
the 2-mile- (3-km-) wide Strait of Canso (southwest) and is further bounded by
the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Cabot Strait (north), the Atlantic Ocean (east and south),
and Northumberland Strait (west). The island is 110 miles (175 km) long and up
to 75 miles (120 km), wide, at its broadest point and comprises an area of 10,311 km².
Administratively, it is composed of the counties of Cape Breton, Inverness, Richmond, and Victoria.
The island’s largest conurbation is the Cape Breton Regional Municipality,
on the East Coast (created 1995), an amalgamation of several former municipalities,
including Sydney and Glace Bay.

Cape Breton Island is primarily forested and has a highly indented coastline.
The island rises to 1,745 feet (532 metres) above sea level at the Cape Breton Highlands.
The island’s centre comprises the 360-square-mile (932-square-km) tidal saltwater Bras d’Or Lake,
a popular recreational area. Island, New Caledonia.

Islands and Archipelagos

For centuries before the arrival of Europeans, the island was inhabited by people
of the Mi’kmaq First Nation, who call the island Unama’ki.
Called Île Royale when it was a French colony, it later took on the name
of its eastern cape—believed to be the first land visited by John Cabot
on his 1497–98 voyage and afterward, by named by Basque fishermen
from Cap Breton (near Bayonne, France). The island was captured in 1758 by the British,
to whom formal cession was made in 1763 in the Treaty of Paris.
It joined Nova Scotia, the British crown colony.
It was rejoined in Nova Scotia in 1820.

Economic activities include coal mining, lumbering, fishing, and summer tourism.
The land island has been linked to the mainland by a causeway across the Strait of Canso,
making the Cape Breton Regional Municipality the eastern land terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway
and the Canadian National Railway. Area 3,981 square miles (10,311 square km).

By Jeff Wallenfeldt.