Monday, March 3, 2014

His and Her Travel Review: Highland Village, Nova Scotia, Canada

View of the surrounding area from the Highland Village.
When we go on a cruise, Amanda and I like to take advantage of shore excursions at most ports we visit. When we were planning which shore excursions we wanted to take on our 2011 Canadian cruise we discovered some ports were easy (like Charlottetown and Boston) and others were more difficult. Sydney, Nova Scotia fell into the difficult category as we didn't know a lot about the area and there wasn't a lot of choices. The main options were a walking tour through town (boring!), visiting an old coal mine (seen plenty of coal mines), or going to the Alexander Graham Bell museum (again not something that interests either of us). We considered just wandering around town until Amanda found a tour that read "Take a picture-perfect drive through the heart of the Bras d'Or Lakes region of Cape Breton, then step back in time with a visit to the Highland Village, the only living history museum for Gaelic language and heritage in North America." (taken from Princess Cruises website). It sounded a lot better than anything else on offer so we went ahead and booked it and hoped it lived up to what the brochure said.

A reproduction of how the first Scottish settlers to Nova Scotia lived.
 After getting off the ship we hopped onto the bus for the hour long ride to the village. We did a little bit of research but really didn't know a whole lot about the village and I was hoping it would not be a waste of time and money. The drive was pretty scenic as we got close to the village but I was glad to get off the bus as the road had quite a few potholes and was pretty bumpy.

An example of a log cabin that would have been built.
Once we got to the village we were given our admission tickets and were given about 90 minutes to tour the village. It was set up that you started at one end where they showed how the first settlers to this area would have lived in little stone huts, then log cabins, and finally a 1800's village complete with farming, a church, a schoolhouse, general store and work shops. Many of the buildings had characters who wore period costumes and were able to answers questions about the village. I was impressed by the layout of the village and the detail that had gone into each of the buildings. Another thing that I really liked about the village is that even though there were plenty of people at the museum it was rarely crowded inside of the building. In some ways it was similar to other historical places I had been, but it had enough unique aspects to provide its own flavour. I really enjoyed the village and thought it was well worth the trip. Anyone visiting this area should definitely put this village on their travel itinerary. 

Here Piggy Piggy Piggy!
I am such a history nerd that when I saw the description of the Highland Village I really wanted to visit. The idea of seeing how people lived when they settled here in the early 1800s and how those settlements evolved throughout the 1800s sounded like something right up my alley. It did not disappoint! They had farm animals just like the settlers would have. The characters were insightful, but not too dry (they had great senses of humor).  The views were spectacular and I had so much fun walking in and out of the buildings seeing how new technologies changed each structure. The highlights for me were the one room schoolhouse and all the animals. If you ever travel to Sydney, Nova Scotia, I would highly recommend a trip to the Highland Village.

We could go on and write for quite a while about the village but the pictures do a much better job. Here are some of our favourite photos from the village.

 One of the highland cattle at the village.
One of the characters in period costume that was there to answer questions.

Amanda found a new friend!

This is one of our favourite photos from the trip!

There were several different animals at the village including these goats.

A treadmill which was connected to a butter churn. A dog or sheep was placed on the treadmill to provide the power for the butter churn.

One of the houses with the lakes and mountains in the background.

Another house.

 The local school house.

A big kid on the see saw. If only he had someone else to join him!

Amanda would have been a great teacher at the local schoolhouse.

 Sean would not be a great student. He tried reading a book upside down.

Inside the general store.

 A Blacksmith at work.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells!

We had a lot of fun at the Highland Village. Have you been to a place similar to this?

Happy Traveling,


  1. This is really cool! Great pics!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  2. Oh wow, what a cool trip! I am a history nerd, too, so something like this would be right up my alley. When my hubs and I were in Ireland I made him go to all the replicas of the potato famine huts, etc. and I loved every second of it! :-)

  3. I have a cousin who lives in Halifax & I hope to visit him someday - your pictures are amazing! I'm your newest GFC follower from the "Let's Be Friends" blog hop.
    PS – I would also like to invite you to a networking blog hop that lasts 1 month long: “The Chain Linky CLIMB” on my blog– Thank you! Chain Linky CLIMB

  4. I am also a history nerd, so this definitely looks like something I would enjoy! I've always wondered if the shore stops on cruises are actually substantial, but this looks like a great trip! Thanks for linking up. :)


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