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  • Writer's pictureHiker Sorrel

Frozen In Ice

Neil’s Harbour, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

When I first moved to Canada in the August of 2017, locals would consistently insist that I should have come in the summer, worried that I would leave the country with a bad impression of the weather. But little did they know that the Canadian winter was exactly what had driven me to apply to St. Francis Xavier University (St.FX) in the first place.

The promise of three-metre high snow, storms that forced the schools to shut, frozen lakes and ample winter sports did not fail to disappoint. By mid-November the Nova Scotian winter had hit, providing no end of excitement to all the international students, like myself, who had hardly experienced such harsh and extreme weather.

Despite not being the most traditionally sought-after tourist destination for its landscape in Canada, Nova Scotia had a rugged, small-town community culture that was hard not to love. Between exploring the only major city in the province, Halifax, the Anne of Green Gables-homeland of Prince Edward Island, or the numerous coastal towns it was difficult to decide where to visit. But Cape Breton Island, home of the Cabot Trail and a National Park, had to be the ticket.

On the day that this photo was taken, two close friends (from St.FX) and I were exploring Cape Breton Island in late February. For miles around us there was just snow, ice, and gloom. But at about 5 O’clock in the afternoon we rocked up to this minute fishing village in the Northern part of the Island to a pretty much deserted Neil’s Harbour. The distinctive and recognisable Chowder House was unsurprisingly closed, and we appeared to be the only people walking along the seafront.

The first thing that came into sight was this fishing boat: trapped in the ice, moored in a dock, cut off from the North Atlantic Ocean. Something about this abandoned boat struck me. The almost unreality of the object before me – a boat that couldn’t sail but still ‘float’ on the water.

Despite the frozen dock, along the water’s edge and into the bay, the swell of the Atlantic continued to hit the shoreline. But after a more careful look out to sea I saw something that truly amazed me – a bank of sea ice jutting out of the water, maybe a mile out, stretching across the horizon.

My excitement was one of childish wonder. The spectacle was hardly worth a glance to residents of the polar regions. But for me it was the epitome of what I had been searching for when I moved to Canada – extreme weather that contradicted and confounded human activity.


🌏Where can I find: Neil's Harbour 🌏


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