New Scotland

Sunday morning, we drove east from the campground, through Charlottetown to the Wood Islands ferry terminal, then took the 75-minute ferry across the Northumberland Strait to Nova Scotia. Landing at Caribou, we rounded a barrier island that was covered with seabirds.

Nova Scotia was originally discovered in 1497 by an Italian adventurer (turned English) with the Anglicized name of John Cabot, who actually thought he had landed in Asia. Cabot returned to England that year, praising the fishing grounds and temperate climate of the area (he is thought to have landed on Cape Breton Island in modern-day Nova Scotia). So excited was Cabot about his discovery, he launched a second voyage the following year, 1498, for Japan. Off he went, never to be heard from again.

While Cabot was wrong about where he landed, he was right about the fishing and climate. Apparently, however, not many Englishmen listened to him since it wasn’t until the 1700s that Cape Briton Island in Nova Scotia was actually settled, and, then, by French fishermen; not Englishmen.

So why, you might ask, was the area named “Nova Scotia,” latin for “New Scotland?”

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Scotland made claim to the region around 1620, which it promptly gave up, and that’s where the name came from. Wikipedia elaborates, explaining that the name first appeared in a land grant from King James I of England (a/k/a King James VI of Scotland) to Sir William Alexander in 1621.

Okay. But the place was discovered by an Italian-Englishman and settled by the French, not the Scots, right? Well, um, yeah. But there’s more to the story, and I’ll tell it to you in my next post.

Meanwhile, here in the present day, after landing at Caribou, we drove east and then north onto Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and set up camp at a Provincial park called Whycocomagh. We were just about the only people there for the next 3 nights. Here’s our campsite:

Whycocomagh is centrally located on Cape Breton Island, perfect for our excursions to the Fortress at Louisbourg and for a drive along the Cabot Trail.

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