Connections, Disconnections

Cape Breton: The Island That Almost Isn’t an Island

The Strait of Canso lies between mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. In 1954 over 10 million tonnes of rock were used to build a causeway connecting the island to the mainland. This snaking rock wall is 65 metres deep in places, making it the deepest causeway in the world. There is a canal that allows ship traffic to pass through. If this remaining thread of water wasn’t here, Cape Breton would really, no longer be a true island.

I am struck by the simultaneous connection, and disconnection, of such engineering. On one hand, a community has been bridged. On the other, a community shut out. A safe harbour has been built. But also, an impasse. We are nothing, if not a contradictory species.

These images really, have little to do with what I have written about here, except that they make me think of how we impact our environment. Of how I impact our environment. They make me think of what gets left behind. What could be left behind. They make me want to tread a little lighter on this intriguing planet.






The above 3 images are of a decaying Pilot Whale, washed up onto a Cape Breton beach.


This large engine, is reportedly from an old steamship wreck, I was unable to find any other information about it.

It is doing it’s best to blend into the environment…


Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

*If you are interested in reading more about the environmental effects of blocking the Strait of Canso, there is some interesting reading here, here and here.

All images Ā© Karen McRae

50 thoughts on “Connections, Disconnections

  1. Some of the object left there or end-up there could be looks very ugly though,
    strangely you captured them pretty beautiful —– it must be a contradiction šŸ˜‰

  2. The contrast between the decaying Whale and the wreckage of the engine stuck me as quite profound, the whale will disintegrate back into the earth, where as the earth seeks to cover over the engine a statement perhaps on what we as humans leave behind in our wake. \thankyou wonderful pics

  3. Hi Karen, I loved the pictures more after having a look at the links you left and having a more knowledge about the causeway. Its effects remind me somewhat of the 3 gorges dam on the Yangtze River in China…the environmental problems were enourmous there and it’s sad to see how the changes to the tidal waves and depth of the river bed had an impact on the environment here too.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen a documentary about the 3 Gorges Dam, the displacement of people and the environment is astounding!
      I’m happy you checked out the links, I find it interesting too.

  4. Thought-provoking as always Karen. Your words and images hit a deep spot again. “Treading lightly” is something we all should adhere to.

  5. The camouflage if you will, of the engine, in the process of being reclaimed, so very striking. Also, the teeth in the decaying whale-instantly relatable, chilling and beautiful.

  6. A beautiful post… A bit sad ā€” an homage to flowing, and not working against Nature. But like you said: Inspiration for all to tread lighter on this lovely (and only) planet of ours.

  7. fascinated by the whale’s teeth and the teeth on that machinery and the mottled, green surfaces of everything. Everything looks organic and partially digested. Like the ocean is a stomach. Beautiful work, Karen.

  8. interesting what gets washed up on the beach. I was struck by the whales teeth too, these may be the only reminder of the whale’s existence in a few weeks. Sad!

  9. Beautiful blues in these..the whale is particularly is fascinating..I can feel the impulse to tread with care..

  10. Karen,
    What an interesting post. Thank you for posting the links. It gave me a better understanding of the Straight of Canso. It was very interesting to find out how it was built (humans can be ingenious), however, the juxtaposition of its necessity, but at the same time its affects on the environment, fishermen, etc., gave to quite an interesting read. A lot of food for thought there.
    Also enjoyed the mottled colors of the engines and whale. Poor whale : ( the first picture was just beautiful.

  11. Amazing!!! Loved each bit of it!
    Your photography and sight through your camera-lens is breath-taking šŸ™‚
    Happy Writing & Photography šŸ™‚
    -Naima.

  12. A nerdy grammar note: thank you for not using “disconnect” as a noun. šŸ™‚ Otherwise, your whole Cape Breton series is beautiful. šŸ™‚

  13. Breathtaking images, Karen. I’ve been away for awhile (still posting, but unable to make my usual visits). I am just completely taken aback by the quiet beauty and stillness of these images. As always, your photographs invite me to slow down. I’ve scrolled through them several times now, pausing, thinking, examining, wondering, hoping…

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