This week’s place of the weeks is The Highland Village Museum in Iona. I am very interested in Celtic culture and the Gaelic language so it was such a treat to go visit this living museum. Like Louisbourgthe Highland Village takes you back in time to when the Scots first arrived in Cape Breton. By visiting several period house, the schoolhouse, church and general store you get a feel for what it was like for these brave families that travelled across the ocean to a new land. There are reenactments and guides in full period attire that are available to answer any questions you might have. The kids watched the blacksmith make a nail over his coal fire and then got to keep it as a souvenir. The also got to taste taste some snaps at another home. They even had their first experience in school! I was thrilled to hear Gaelic spoken and see several different families sitting together learning to speak this great language.
We were even happier with our visit to The Highland Village than to The Fortress of Louisbourg. Louisbourg was massive, we just couldn’t see it all with the children but The Highland Village was easy to see in 3 hours (with lots of time for the kids to ask questions). It didn’t feel rushed at all. We also felt that the workers at The Highland Village were better equipped to answer our questions and stayed true to the period better (however, in all fairness we went to Louisbourg when it was first opening for the season and I think that there were quite a few new people working there and not everything was set up yet). Of course, because it was Celtic/Gaelic I particularly loved it. Morgaine has also decided that “Gaelic is the most beautiful language”. It was also nice to walk through time (from Scotland, to the New Land right until the 1900s) at the Highlands Museum as opposed to focus on one year of French history in Louisbourg. It really helped the children see the changes that took place over the years.
Definitely worth visiting if you plan a trip to Cape Breton, especially if you have youngins that might find Louisbourg a little too overwhelming. I am sure that we will visit both many times over the next few years.