The unopened Louisbourg-Gabarus road has been an ongoing source of anguish for those along Cape Breton's southeast coast. Closed in the mid-1960s after being open for centuries, it was always hoped that it would be reopened one day.
A 2008 study indicated that it would "generate considerable economic impact" along the Fleur-de-Lis Trail. As part of the study, a survey of approximately 1,700 tourists was conducted, with about 60 per cent indicating they would travel the Fleur-de-Lis Trail if it was completed between Gabarus and Louisbourg.
That would mean more people travelling through Richmond County, through Gabarus and Louisbourg, and along the Marconi Trail into Glace Bay. The number would be upwards of 200 thousand people if weight is given to the 60 percent figure.
When the study was carried out visitation to the fortress stood at 95 thousand. In 2014 it was at 66 thousand. In 2000 it was 137 thousand. So between 2000 and 2014 there was over a 50 percent drop in numbers. A number of businesses have also shut their doors since 2008. If the road is reopened an influx of people would help these shuttered doors reopen. And again generating revenue.
As decision makers you have an important decision to make. You each have some or complete power to make this happen. Let it be on your watch that the green light was given to reopen a road that should never have been closed and right a 50 year old wrong.
The Gull Cove Trail restoration
was begun as a tangible commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the village of Gabarus.
Follow Highway 327 into Gabarus to the sea wall. Turn right onto Gull Cove Road. Follow this road to the Lakeview Cemetery, where the trail begins.
This 10.5 kilometre out and back trail was once a public road connecting Gabarus to the former village of Gull Cove. The trail was in extremely poor condition when the project began in 2016. The trail was cleared over time by many volunteers working closely with the Department of the Environment. In 1998 the Gabarus Wilderness Area was created including all the land around Gull Cove to Winging Point.
The trail is relatively flat for the first few kilometres as you emerge from the woods at the far end of Harris’ Beach. The road then rises, hugging the coast and winding through wind-swept woods, over cobble beaches and coastal barrens.
The trail continues past the abandoned village of Gull Cove, where stone fences and foundations of the old homesteads are visible, rising to a spectacular bluff at Cape Gabarus. Along the way, there are panoramic ocean views including the Fortress of Louisbourg, Green Island and Guyon Island.
Michael Haynes in his 2011 book Hiking Trails of Cape Breton states, "This is probably my favourite coastal hike in Nova Scotia."