“One thing a Cape Bretoner hates to be asked,” Jon Stackpool says, “is how quickly can you get around the Cabot Trail.”
One way to do it is to listen to the variety of voices on The Cabot Trail Companion (“Canada’s No. 1 tour”), a two CD driving guide created by Stackpool.
Stackpool, who was born in Liverpool, England, worked as a travel writer and editor specializing in France. He moved to Cape Breton when his wife Martha Jones, a fish biologist, got a post at Cape Breton University studying the marine ecology of the Tar Ponds.
Arriving in Cape Breton, he toured the Cabot Trail in one rushed day but thought there was more he wanted to learn about the trail and maybe other visitors to the island would like that information, too.
Stackpool spent two years recording interviews with a wide range of Cape Bretoners living along the Trail talking about their passions: from the little known history of the Mi’kmaq people along the Trail, to the Margaree Salmon Museum, to the history of lobster fishing in Neil’s Harbour, to the beauty of the hiking trails of Ingonish.
“I’d visit someone like Derrick MacLellan in Meat Cove about what it was like to live there in the days before phones and TV and say it would only take an hour,” Stackpool says, “but it would end up taking all day.”
He financed the project himself, working at different jobs including a stint as a dishwasher at the Bonnie Prince Beverage Room. He also edited the material on his own computer, suffering the occasional crash, and is distributing the guide.
It is available in many local gift shops (although he is looking for more vendors to carry the guide), in Halifax at the HMV store and Historic Properties, and online at HYPERLINK “http://www.cabotguides.com” www.cabotguides.com.
Stackpool is proud the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority included the guide in a welcome package to people, like himself, who have moved to Cape Breton to live and work. “It’s a great endorsement,” he says.
Stackpool says there is sufficient diversity of voices to please both native Cape Bretoners and non-islanders like his mom, a Rolling Stones fan, whom he says “was grabbed by rug hooking in Cheticamp.”
But as fiddler Jennifer Roland says introducing the guide, Cape Bretoners love to chat. This guide will help visitors get out of the car and meet people.