by Clarence Barrett

Small and easy to carry in a backpack, this book is ‘a park lover’s companion.’ Legendary outdoors person and park warden Barrett’s narrative starts with different ways to discover the park; on foot, skis, canoe, kayak, bicycle or car.

He provides a short history of the park with notes on Mi’Kmaq people, early European settlers, transportation routes, and the building of the Cabot Trail and the park itself.

Every trail (up to the book’s publication in 2002) is practically and thoughtfully described. Sketches of ancient continents and geological formations foster an understanding and enthusiasm for land formation in the reader. No stone is left unturned when you’re with Clarence Barrett. You’ll learn how to see a spring peeper, where to find a starfish, what a red-tailed hawk sounds like and what poison ivy looks like. In a relaxed manner Barrett talks about scaling cliffs, sleeping in sub-zero weather in an ice house and going into the woods to find bears in the same way someone else would describe a round of golf.

In addition to wonderful color photographs the book contains the author’s own illustrations of animal tracks plus an appendix of whale silhouettes. Old black and white photos of the building of the Cabot Trail highway, that defines the outer boundaries of the park, gives one a sense of history steeped in this area of northern Cape Breton.

Due to the nature of National Parks in Canada some trails get closed, others shortened and some added over time, but this book will continue to inspire many newcomers to the park, gives regular and occasional visitors to the area more places and things to explore, and pays tribute to a wonderful area of natural beauty, bounded by sea, mountains, rivers, valley and trails, that only people who explore truly realize.

– review by Paul MacDougall –

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