The icy re­treat of win­ter in Cape Bre­ton

Cape Breton Post - - Northside / Cape Breton - Cindy MacRae

Trav­el­ling around this last month, I couldn’t help but no­tice the un­usual amount of sea ice that found its way un­der­neath the Seal Is­land Bridge and into the Bras d’Or Lake as far as Bad­deck In­let.

Dr. Bruce Hatcher, Chair in Marine Ecosys­tem Re­search at CBU, as well as di­rec­tor of the Bras d’Or In­sti­tute and an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of bi­ol­ogy says three days of gale force winds pushed the sea ice into the Great Bras d’Or Chan­nel, and the lack of lake ice gave it a clear path all the way to Bad­deck In­let. He agrees that this was an “un­usual” event, which has only taken place a cou­ple of times be­fore in the last 30 years. How­ever, he notes that the un­usual is be­com­ing more usual with cli­mate change. He also says this is some­thing to watch in the fu­ture be­cause sea ice, be­ing larger and tougher than lake ice, has the po­ten­tial to do more dam­age to wharves and shore­lines.

Ken Oakes is also with CBU. He is in­dus­trial chair in en­vi­ron­men­tal re­me­di­a­tion and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of bi­ol­ogy with the School of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, Ver­schuren Cen­tre for Sus­tain­abil­ity in Energy and the En­vi­ron­ment. He says the sea ice is stay­ing around longer, on av­er­age, and weather sys­tems are more vari­able than they once were. That means dis­rup­tions in wind pat­terns and storms of greater fre­quency and in­ten­sity.

Nyanza Bay’s ice fish­ing fix­ture

April in Cape Bre­ton is less about wel­com­ing spring and more about giv­ing a dis­grun­tled old man win­ter his walk­ing pa­pers. For me, it is a chance to watch the ice leave Nyanza Bay. The bay is pretty well the first place to freeze ev­ery win­ter and the last to lose the ice in the spring. That means for about three months of the year it is ba­si­cally an ex­ten­sion of my back­yard, and an ice fish­ing hot spot for peo­ple from all over the is­land.

If Nyanza Bay is an ice fish­ing mecca, then Ronnie MacLel­lan is per­haps its most faith­ful pil­grim. He bides his time be­tween the area across from MacGre­gor’s Pond, a stone’s throw from The Red Barn, and a spot fur­ther west, half­way closer to Wag­mat­cook. A life­long lover of the sport (ex­cept for the eight years he spent in On­tario) he says it’s a great pas­time: “I just love it. I don’t even care if I get any­thing.” His only dis­ap­point­ment is the amount of garbage some peo­ple leave be­hind on the ice. “I don’t want to see garbage in The Bras d’Or Lake,” he says, af­ter clean­ing up the main spot five times this win­ter (DNR cleaned it up twice as well). Although the fish­ing rou­tine is usu­ally the same, MacLel­lan says you never know who might show up. One day in March, a car­load of stu­dents from Hol­land stopped and asked him to ex­plain what he was do­ing. They were go­ing to school on the main­land and had just driven

down for the day to see some of the prov­ince. “They had never seen a smelt be­fore,” he says. “They re­ally en­joyed them­selves.”

Vimy Ridge: mis­sion ac­com­plished for lo­cal his­to­rian

Lo­cal au­thor and his­to­rian

Jim MacDon­ald of Bad­deck re­ports a suc­cess­ful and en­joy­able trip to France for the 100th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge. He pre­sented a poster to the lo­cal mayor, which tells the story of Capt. Per­ci­val Wil­liam An­der­son of Big Bad­deck, the man who led the charge up Hill 145. The poster will be en­cap­su­lated in plas­tic and mounted in the vil­lage square, which has been re­named in hon­our of the 85th Bat­tal­ion, Nova Sco­tia High­landers.


Big chunks of sea ice lit­ter the shore­line along the Bras d’Or Lake in Bad­deck In­let on a sunny but cold mid-April day.


Pierre Senechal, left, Mayor of Givenchy-en-Goelle, ac­cepts a poster from Jim MacDon­ald of Bad­deck at a cer­e­mony in the French vil­lage on April 8. The poster out­lines the role played by Capt. Per­ci­val Wil­liam An­der­son of Big Bad­deck in the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge.


Ronnie MacLel­lan of St. Patrick’s Chan­nel hauls in a late-sea­son smelt, just a few me­tres from open wa­ter on Nyanza Bay, in mid-April.

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