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Highland Village Museum

The church at the Highland Village Museum.

The church at the Highland Village Museum.

There are few places better to experience Gaelic culture than at the Highland Village in Cape Breton, a living history museum in Iona on the Bras d’Or Lakes.

High on a hill overlooking the water, you can listen to the Gaelic language being spoken, tap your toes to traditional Cape Breton music and explore no less than 11 period buildings dating back as far as the late 1700s. They include the Black House – typical early immigrant home – a church, a general store and a one-room schoolhouse.

Kids will enjoy checking out the many farm animals, including rare Soay sheep, Highland cattle and horses and you can even bring your dog along for a walk on the 43 acres of land.

Sometimes on a nice day it’s nice to just sit on the grass and admire the view over the lakes.

There’s enough here to keep you busy for at least an hour and you’ll likely work up an appetite walking around the spread-out site. There’s no food at the museum, however, so bring snacks along or be prepared to head out for one of the nearby restaurants.

If you can, time your visit for the first Saturday in August, when the museum hosts a special day of fiddle music, songs and dancing.

You might also be able to take part in Living History Tours or Candlelight Tours but these aren’t  everyday events so phone ahead to find out about times.

Opening Hours: June 1 to October 18, 9:30am to 5:30pm.

Admission Fees: Adults $9, kids 6-17 years old $4, under 5 go free, family $22

Directions: On Highway 223, 1 km southwest of Iona. From Sydney the drive takes about 1 hour, going through either through Boisdale, Christmas Island and Grand Narrows or via Eskasoni. From Canso or Baddeck, it’s about a 50 minute drive.

Telephone: 1-866-442-3542

Website: Highland Village Museum