Isle Madame, Cape Breton
Welcome to Isle Madame
Isle Madame is an island located at the southern-most tip of beautiful Cape Breton Island & is made up of several communities. Arichat, Petit de Grat, D’Escousse & West Arichat make up the four Catholic parishes on the Island. The only Anglican parish is located in Arichat.
Isle Madame is nestled by the sea and remains rich in a proud history and heritage which dates back over two centuries. The island is named in honor of Madame De Maintenon, the second wife of Louis XIV.
Isle Madame is about 7 miles wide and 10 miles long. Coastal roadways enclose 12 interior fresh-water lakes, and wind their way around picturesque coastlines with many secluded inlets and coves. Look-off’s, picnic areas, museums, beaches, wharves, and lighthouses, are among the many delights of Isle Madame. Dine on delicious fresh seafood, discover Acadian tradition, community festivals, stop at one of the many crafters’ studios and relish the warm hospitality of the people. With its rich cultural diversity and beautiful scenery, there are an unlimited number of activities available to island visitors.
Arichat, the shire town of Richmond County, is on the southern coast of Isle Madame. It is a picturesque coastal village and the most historical community on Isle Madame. Arichat Harbour is the 4th deepest harbor in the world. In the early 1800’s, it was one of the busiest ports in the world, as well as an educational and religious centre. The Catholic Church in Arichat is 30 years older than Canada itself! Notre Dame de l’Assomption is the oldest continuous Parish on Cape Breton Island; its first Chapel built in 1786. The present church has been declared a Provincial Heritage Site. St. Francis Xavier University was founded in Arichat in 1853, but later moved to Antigonish on mainland Nova Scotia.
West Arichat – Painting
West Arichat, originally called Acadiaville, was founded in 1863. It contributed to the seafaring history of the island through its ship-building, coastal trading, and local sea captains. Don’t miss the numerous fishing wharves and ancient fishing shacks along Bodet’s Point.
Janvrin Island provides a scenic coastal drive for visitors – picturesque and isolated. This island hosts an annual Community Festival each August with church suppers, parades, outdoor concerts, and much more. And one favorite spot is Babin Hill in Arichat. From here you can see Jerseyman Island, once sacked and inhabited by American privateer, John Paul Jones.
Beach and Lighthouse
D’Escousse, on the northern coast of Isle Madame, was settled in 1715 by fishermen and was once a prominent trading and shipbuilding port. Today, relics of the past can be seen at Martinique Provincial Park, where a lighthouse that guided many ships into the harbour still stands. At Martinique, this traditional lighthouse is featured at Lennox Passage Provincial Park. D’Escousse also boasts a 500-seat hall, with dancing every Saturday night. The community also has a credit union, restaurant, service station, and stores. St. Hyacinth Catholic Church is also located in D’Escousse, serving Catholics in the communities of Cap La Ronde, D’Escousse, Poirierville, Poulamon and Rocky Bay.
Descousse – Isle Madame
The community is home to the beautiful Lennox Passage Yacht Club and Marina, which harbors vessels from throughout the world. The marina hosts the annual Harbor Fest the first weekend in August. It is a celebration of boating, seafood, and local music. The hospitality of the Lennox Passage Yacht Club led Canadian Yachting to call D’Escousse the friendliest port in the Maritimes.”
A drive through Martinique, Poulamond and D’Escousse is breathtaking on a calm day! The water is like glass, reflecting the boats anchored in the harbor. If it’s a windy day, Rocky Bay is the place to be! Catch the waves hitting the rocks off the bay. If you are in the mood for a swim, head for Pondville Beach and its sandy shores.
Tide is Out – Time to Dig Clams
Petit de Grat, on the South side of Isle Madame, is the oldest fishing village in the area. Rugged and unchanged, the area is a photographer’s paradise of weather-beaten shacks, stacked lobster traps and nets, and boats anchored in small inlets. The community includes the picturesque seaside villages of Samson’s Cove, Boudreauville, Cape Auget and LittleAnse. The Catholic Parish of St. Joseph was established in 1910.
Rustic Fish House – Petit de Grat
La Picasse, the Acadian Culture Centre, is located in Petit de Grat and houses the Nova Scotian Acadian Federation, College L’Acadie, a theatre, retail outlets, and a library. French is still the principal language spoken here. Acadian traditions are celebrated annually at the “Festival Acadian de Petit de Grat” in August, with a lively and colorful program of activities for all ages. Many Acadian meals are available, arts and crafts displays, local talent at the many dances and an old-time Acadian evening.
(Courtesy N.S. Tourism and Internet)