The Red Shoe on Cape Breton Island

We were driving East along Highway 104 to Aulds Cove where there is a causeway across to Cape Breton Island. Once across we drove up the West side on Highway 19 to Mabou.

Day 14, April 20th was a sort of crazy day. A bit pointless but it was fun. It all started out in Mexico with our friend Shay telling us that we had to go to see the Red Shoe Pub on Cape Breton Island when we were in New Brunswick. The Red Shoe is in Mabou but I didn’t really know where that was. Actually, I was not too sure where Cape Breton was.

The pub is apparently owned by the Rankin Sisters of Rankin Family fame and Shay said it was a wonderful place and not to be missed.

So we got up in the morning in Shediac and set out for Mabou. We followed Highway 104 East to Aulds Cove and Port Hastings and across the causeway to Cape Breton Island. Then we followed up Highway 19 looking for Mabou.

The day was overcast and was raining off and on but not enough to spoil our fun. 

This is beautiful country. The land is gently rolling, very rural and heavily forested. The forests are not tall and dense like home but smaller and in keeping with the gentle country. And there seem to be very few people. This part of Canada is not heavily populated. It is ideal for small town rural living. I found it very appealing.

Signs are always a great photo opportunity. They tell you where you are on the trip and in the photo album later when the pictures all become a blur. The one on the left was just across the causeway and on the way up the hill on Cape Breton Island. The one above, obviously, was on the outskirts of Mabou.

The drive up Highway 19 was delightful. The towns marked on the map were small, just a few buildings mostly, and along the highway the houses were simple and all were on large parcels of land, interspersed with fields and patches of forest. I can imagine living here would be a warm welcoming experience you only get in small town rural Canada.

Mabou was much the same: very small and delightful. I was quickly convinced that I wanted to return and spend some time here. This is the kind of place one would rent a cottage for the summer and settle in for a few months, read a book or two, hike the trails, take lots of pictures, and just have a rich wonderful summer.

Finding the Red Shoe was not difficult. It was right on the highway through town. But it was closed! There was a sign on the front door that said “Closed for the Season”. We were so disappointed, but, it made sense. There was not a soul around. It was quiet, peaceful, and an open pub would probably have been empty.

Well, there was nothing to do but …. come back another day! And that I am sure we will do. In the meantime, I have to go home and listen to all the Rankin Family music. 

We had driven a long way and there was no way we were going to drive all the way back to Shediac. So we retraced our tracks as far as Antigonish, side tracking along Highway 4 here and there.

It had been a great day, even if we were unable to have a bite to eat at the Red Shoe.


This is typical scenery for this part of the country: rolling hills, fields, forests, and few people. We found the highways to be excellent, maybe a bit bumpy in places, but generally good enough. The driving was easy because there were so few cars on the roads. This day was overcast but, for the time of the year, our skys were generally blue and the air, although cool, was pleasant.

We rolled into the Maritime Inn in Antigonish for the night. This is a nice little motel with good clean rooms.  We went for a walk, had a bite to eat and went to bed early. In the morning we will be off to Prince Edward Island.

Susan was concerned about the Confederation Bridge and not sure she wanted to cross it. But the waitress that served us that night told her that she used the bridge all the time and that it was not scary at all. That calmed Susan down considerably so we will probably be crossing that bridge in the morning.

And that was our day. It sounds like it was disappointing, but, no it wasn’t. We got to explore a bit of Northern Nova Scotia and have a taste of Cape Breton Island. It was enough to convince us to return here again. But next time, in the summer.