St Peters, I should explain, is at the entrance to the Bras D’Or Lakes, a remarkable geological formation that is an essential part of Cape Breton’s character. The island of Cape Breton was almost split into two by the formation of two bodies of water – going back to the days of the great glaciers, which form a large part of the area of this island. (Although a causeway was built over half a century ago, to join Cape Breton to the ‘mainland’ of Nova Scotia, it is, by Nature’s purpose, an island.) These two lakes are themselves almost separated by a ‘Narrows’ at Barra, that was long ago exploited by building two bridges – one for road and one for rail. They are still brackish, although almost fresh, and so have a unique ecosystem. The major appeal of the Bras D’Or for most people – particularly Nova Scotians and particularly sailors – is that being inland, they rarely encounter the prevailing summer fogs that bedevil the rest of the province.
We sailed into the River Bourgeois on a grey day. Considering that Bob and Kathy have now made it their home and that for a long time, it has been the summer retreat of the renowned writer Farley Mowat, it is perhaps a rather inappropriately-named spot – in the sense that most of us use the word ‘bourgeois’.