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Whale watching tours are a popular activity in (Credit: Handout, 2005)

Whale watching tours are a popular activity in the Francophone region of Cape Breton, which spans from the Margaree River to the village of Cheticamp.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

The otherworldly Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, was more or less cut off from the North American mainland until 1955, when a causeway opened. Early immigrants to Cape Breton from the Scottish Highlands left their mark on the fishing villages of the island's Atlantic side, where signs are in Gaelic and kilts abound, while settlers from France populated towns on the Gulf of St. Lawrence side, where French is spoken widely and Acadian food is served.

Whale watching tours are a popular activity in
(Credit: Handout, 2005)

Whale watching tours are a popular activity in the Francophone region of Cape Breton, which spans from the Margaree River to the village of Cheticamp.

Visitors hike the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton
(Credit: Handout)

Visitors hike the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, a wilderness plateau etched with deep river valleys that is home to moose, black bears and other wild animals.

From the highlands of Cape Breton Island, you
(Credit: AP)

From the highlands of Cape Breton Island, you can view the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (July 13, 2010)

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The open road along the eastern edge of
(Credit: AP)

The open road along the eastern edge of Cape Breton (July 13, 2010)

Although it's over an hour to the southern
(Credit: Handout, 2012)

Although it's over an hour to the southern portion of Cape Breton, a visit to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, formerly France's largest military outpost in the New World, is well worth it for a taste of the island's French heritage. The living museum offers guided tours, demonstrations and explanations of period weapons.

Celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2013, the Fortress
(Credit: Handout, 2012)

Celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2013, the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site has many special events planned.

Festivities to celebrate the Fortress of Louisbourg National
(Credit: Handout, 2012)

Festivities to celebrate the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site 300th anniversary include a cultural fair that will spill into the streets of Louisbourg, recreating the bustling, multicultural, harbor-side market that was a daily part of life there in the 18th century.

Across the harbor from the Fortress of Louisbourg,
(Credit: Handout, 2012)

Across the harbor from the Fortress of Louisbourg, the Lighthouse Trail runs along the coastline and offers options for hikers of all skill levels.

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The Celtic Colours International Fetival in Cape Breton
(Credit: Handout, 2010)

The Celtic Colours International Fetival in Cape Breton is an annual 9-day celebration of Celtic music and culture in early October featuring dozens of concerts held all over the island.

A horse is led up a path from
(Credit: Handout)

A horse is led up a path from the edge of Bras D'Or Lake, which is in the center of Cape Breton.

A couple hikes down the Skyline Trail in
(Credit: Handout, 2011)

A couple hikes down the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada.

A couple sits at Bras D'Or Yacht Club
(Credit: Handout, 2012)

A couple sits at Bras D'Or Yacht Club bar in Baddeck on Cape Breton after a ceilidh/ Kitchen parties or dances, called ceilidhs (pronounced KAY-lees) in Gaelic, are gatherings where local musicians play the traditional tunes to singing and dancing.

Musicians play at a ceilidh held at the
(Credit: Handout, 2012)

Musicians play at a ceilidh held at the Bras D'Or Yacht Club in Baddeck on Cape Breton.

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