Isle Madame, said to have been named for Madame de Maintenon (1635-1719), second wife of King Louis XIV of France, has borne this name since 1720; earlier names were Isle Sainte-Marie (in its Latin form of Insula Sanctæ Mariæ on a map of 1660) and Isle Notre-Dame (from a French map of 1701). The island is roughly 16 km long (from east to west) and 11 km wide (from north to south), with an area of about 45 km² (10 mi long and 7 mi wide, with an area of about 17 sq mi). Basque, French, and English fishermen visited the island from the beginning of the 16th century onwards; in time, the Basques established a year-round community there. French settlers, brought by Nicolas Denys, were in the area permanently by the middle of the 17th century and began to intermarry with the Basques. French settlement accelerated during the time the French were building Louisbourg, making Petit-de-Grat a major fishing and smuggling centre, rivalling Louisbourg itself in economic importance to the French colony. With the fall of Louisbourg, British, mainly Irish and Scots, streamed into Richmond County in the 18th century, with many Irish settling in Isle Madame, but Isle Madame retained its predominantly French character, which continues up to the present day. Arichat, Richmond County’s county seat, grew into an economic and cultural powerhouse in the middle part of that century, but entered a period of decline as the advent of steam and boats made of iron rendered the economic engines powering the local economy obsolete. Today, Isle Madame is one of Richmond County’s premier tourist destinations. The natural beauty of the island, with its beautiful marine setting in Chedabucto Bay amongst an archipelago of islands and marshes, can be readily explored at the photogenic Sentier Écologique/Eco-Trail at Cape Auguet, which draws many visitors to hike the salt marshes and coasts there.¹
Before the 20th century, ferries connected Isle Madame to Cape Breton Island. The first bridge opened in 1919, but a ferry remained in operation until the 1970’s, when a new bridge was built across Lennox Passage, the picturesque strait which separates Isle Madame from Cape Breton Island. The Lennox Passage Provincial Park near Martinique on Isle Madame on Highway 320 (5 km (3 mi) east of the junction of Routes 320 and 206) sits across from Grandique Ferry on Cape Breton Island where one of the former ferries operated.
Days gone by , Sampsons Cove at ca. 1930
Premium Seafood Gruppe offers fresh lobster at the Seafood Market
Isle Madame ATV Riders trails
Jerseyman Island with beautiful sunsets and mackerels guaranteed.
Beautiful trails along the shore….
Whales are looking for food in the Chedabucto Bay due to the deep waters.
Sea Kayak Tours around Isle Madame.
Hobie Adventure Island Trimarans. Learn how to sail in one day with our instructions.
Visit us on board of our swimming home.
In 10 minutes driving distance begins the beautiful Cap Auguet Eco Trail.
There are several loops available. Find blue mussels at spot 3…
In 15 minutes driving the Pondville Provincial Park.
Sand castle competition at Pondville Beach
La Picasso University and Cultural Center with library.
Lenoir Landing Forge Museum
Pebble and Fern Market Garden in 15 minutes walking distance offers fresh vegetables.
The Rockloaf Farm
The Martinique Provincial Park and beach.
Corner Bridge Store with Canada Poste and bakery in Petit de Grat next to St. Joseph in 3 Min distance or get more food at Coop Supermarket
It is all easy to find in Petit de Grat, even if sometimes written in French only…