Port Hawkesbury is a town of 3,200 people (2016) on the southwestern end of Cape Breton Island, on the north shore of the Strait of Canso. Port Hastings is an unincorporated community about 7 km up Highway 104 from Port Hawkesbury.
Port Hawkesbury was founded as Ship Harbour (after the harbour upon which it is located) and is largely a service centre for western Cape Breton Island with many of its residents working in large industries in an industrial park in the adjacent community of Point Tupper. The community is named after Admiral Sir Edward Hawke.
Port Hastings is at the east end of the Canso Causeway, the link connecting Cape Breton Island with the mainland. It used to be known as Plaster Cove.
- Port Hastings Provincial Visitor Information Centre, 96 Highway 4, Port Hastings. Daily 9AM-5PM.
Port Hawkesbury built ships for the timber export trade in the early and mid 19th-century. Schooners and fishing boats were also built for the inshore and banks fishery. The port further developed in the 19th century when railway connections arrived. The construction of the Canso Causeway increased the shelter capacity of the deepwater port leading to further growth in shipping of bulk commodities and the establishment of several heavy industries such as the pulp mill.
The Inverness and Richmond Railway was built from coal mines in Inverness to a loading dock at Point Tupper in 1901. With the opening of the Canso Causeway in 1955, Port Hastings became a railway junction after the Truro-Sydney mainline of Canadian National Railways (CNR) was diverted from the railcar ferry terminals at Mulgrave and Point Tupper. The CNR line to Inverness was abandoned in the 1980s, although the Truro-Sydney mainline continues to operate as the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway.
Precipitation is high, with the fall and winter being the wettest time of year and summer being the driest. Winters are cold, snowy and stormy with frequent snowstorms. Summer is the most pleasant time of year, with significantly less precipitation and warm temperatures.
Port Hastings is on the Trans-Canada Highway at the east of the Canso Causeway. The Trans-Canada Highway transitions from following Highway 104 on the mainland to Highway 105 on Cape Breton Island.
The Port Hastings Rotary traffic circle is an important interchange between Highway 104, Highway 105, Trunk 19 and Trunk 4 several hundred metres east of the Canso Canal Bridge. There are several motels and gas stations and a tourist information centre at the traffic circle.
- Point Tupper Heritage Museum, 165 Henry Paint St,, ☏ .
- Port Hastings Historical Society Museum and Archives, 24 Highway 19, Port Hastings, ☏ . M-F 10AM-4PM, Sa Su noon-4PM. It documents local history, including that of the Canso Causeway.
- 1 Balache Point Lighthouse. An active lighthouse located next to the Canso Canal, near Port Hastings.
- Fleur-de-Lis Tea Room and Dining Room, 14-634 Reeves St, Port Hawkesbury, ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-7PM, Su 10AM-2PM. Seafood, pasta, Acadian specialties, hot sandwiches and dinners. Mains $8-17.
- Cape Breton Country Kitchen, 388 Highway 4, Port Hawkesbury, ☏ . Daily 6:30AM-9PM. $6 breakfast special.
- Cpt. Paulie's Sports Bar & Grill, 634 Reeves St, Port Hawkesbury, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-9PM.
- Mariner Dining Room, 298 D - 31 Rd, Auld's Cove, ☏ . Summer: daily 8AM-9PM. Seafood, pasta, and steak with a beautiful, panoramic view of the Strait of Canso. Lunch specials $12-16, dinner mains $14-35.
- Papa's Pub & Eatery, 789 Reeves St, Port Hawkesbury, ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM. Pub with pizza and pub food.
- Harbourview B&B and Motel, 209 Granville St, Port Hawkesbury. Continental breakfast included. Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable. From $100.
- Hearthstone Inn Port Hawkesbury, 388 Highway 4, Port Hawkesbury, ☏ , toll-free: . 26 rooms with microwaves and fridges. Free Wi-Fi an on-site restaurant. From $125.
- Maritime Inn Port Hawkesbury, 717 Reeves St, Port Hawkesbury, toll-free: . Restaurant on site, pool, fitness centre, bar/lounge, pets allowed, business centre. From $175.
- Cove Motel, Highway 104 Auld's Cove, Canso Causeway, Port Hastings, ☏ . Rooms and pet-friendly cabins. From $100.
|Routes through Port Hawkesbury|
|Antigonish ← Port Hastings ←||W E||→ Merges with|
|Antigonish ← Port Hastings ←||W E||→ Sydney → Glace Bay|
|Routes through Port Hastings|
|Antigonish ← Canso Causeway ←||W E||→ Port Hawkesbury → Merges with|
|END ←||W E||→ Baddeck → North Sydney|
|Antigonish ← Jct E ← Canso Causeway ←||W E||→ Port Hawkesbury → Sydney|