Posted on October 25, 2015 in Detours

Nestled high up on a hill in Iona, Cape Breton, the Highland Village is a look back at what it was like for Scottish settlers to arrive in a place that probably looked eerily like the place they had called home.

In any case, even without the living history aspect of Highland Village, it is just a beautiful piece of land where the green hills meet the blue Bras D’Or lake and the endless sky. The Village represents four different time periods in Cape Breton history, spanning from 1770 to 1920.

On top of a hill, with the Bras D’Or lake and the endless blue sky behind you.

Typically, on visits to attractions like Highland Village, my husband wants to hear all about the history. I, on the other hand, enjoy hearing about the history and how about people lived and survived, but I’m especially interested in crafts. (And, we both enjoy any animals that may be at the exhibit — bonus!) Highland Village did not disappoint on any of these three points. Case in point: a gorgeous spinning wheel.

In two weeks visiting the Canadian maritimes, I saw more spinning wheels than I’ve seen in my entire life. Not that I’m complaining!

Next we found a carding presentation, where we saw how wool would be carded by hand. There were two women at this location, and we had a nice long conversation about life in Cape Breton years ago, and life today as well. Everywhere we went, we found that just as Bostonians love to make the trek to Nova Scotia, many Nova Scotians have been to Boston. We truly are sister cities in many ways. We also ran into two fellow Massachusetts residents, who live on the Cape and spend weeks in an RV in Nova Scotia.

Carding wool in preparation for spinning into yarn.

At a few places in Cape Breton, I saw small hooked rugs for sale. At Highland Village, this exhibit in the general store shows a rug in progress. I can honestly say I’ve never given much thought to handmade rugs until this visit. It looks to be a great way to use up all the wool scraps in my stash.

After seeing many examples of hooked rugs, I’ve become obsessed with learning this craft. This is set up at the general store at Highland Village.

Ah, hello woolly friend!

Eight-month old pig at Highland Village.

After visiting with some of the well-kept animals at Highland Village, we were soon on our way to the carding mill, which you can see off to the left in the next photo.

On our way to the carding mill at Highland Village.

On the day we visited, there wasn’t anyone at the wool carding mill, so we didn’t learn more about how this worked until we visited Wile Carding Museum later in the week.

Also, we didn’t realize it at the time, but a friend of mine who is a designer/fellow typography geek asked to see a close-up of the text under the center wheel. When I enlarged it, we realized the mill was actually made in Worcester, Massachusetts!

Wool carding mill at Highland Village.

And, finally — I know I’ve been concentrating on wools and knitting, but in the 1920’s era house, there were also some bright, colorful patchwork quilts, such as this one stretched on a rack and awaiting hand-quilting.

Traditional block quilt, 1920’s – 1930’s era.

Definitely check out Highland Village if you are in Cape Breton — it would definitely be fun for fellow crafters, history buffs and it’s also appropriate for families. Just keep in mind that it’s a bit of a hike from the visitor’s center to the village, but I believe there’s parking further up the hill, which may help.

Cape Breton Highland Village Museum review.

Church at Highland Village Museum.

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