Port Hood Community Spirit Award 2009

Check out Port Hood’s nomination for a 2009 Lieutenant Governor Community Spirit Award

Check out our video submission:

Nomination Video

The Nomination:

“Chi mi Seastago nan tùr, ‘S a’bheil bùthan is sràid;” – Alasdair an Rids’

Whether you’re strolling along sandy shores in summertime or walking the snow white trails in winter, you get a sense that you’re somewhere special when in Port Hood. We’re a community that is proud of our people, proud of our heritage, and we truly appreciate our place in the world. Port Hood likes to celebrate Port Hood.
“I see Port Hood of the spires, With its shops and its streets;” wrote Alasdair the Ridge MacDonald in one of his many Gaelic songs; this one lamenting his having to leave Cape Breton. He wrote this in recognizing that while most communities in the area were spread out, and unabashedly rural, Port Hood had a “town” feel to it more than the rest. Indeed, Port Hood today serves as a centre of economic and social activity not only for its own citizens, but for many in the surrounding region.
Port Hood has a feel to it that is totally unique. It’s a “community” in every true sense of the word. You can’t throw a brick in Port Hood without hitting a volunteer. We’ve come together in times of plenty, times of scarcity, sorrow and celebration. We got through the depression by forming co-ops and credit unions, rebuilt what was lost in the fire of 1942, and cheered hometown heroes like Bruce Beaton when he brought home the Grey Cup and Al MacInnis when he brought the Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal.

We dialed our telephones and cell phones and every kind of phone we could find every week, week after week, as Mitch MacDonald continued to rise through the ranks of emerging stars on Canadian Idol. Except for the very last show, when he finished runner-up, Mitch never was in the “bottom three”.

We believe Port Hood is the kind of place that can feel like home to anyone. We feel our spirit of cooperation and ability to rationalize the present with wisdom for the future positions us well for continued success and achievement. We very much wish to be a model community in Nova Scotia for our ability to bestow comfort, excitement and a sense of belonging to all who live, visit, or long to be… here.

Port Hood is located along Route 19 in Inverness County, on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. It is nestled between the communities of Judique and Mabou, a mere 30-minute drive from the Canso Causeway.

Approximately 1500 persons

Focused on the sea, Port Hood is a vibrant, youthful town which promotes a wealth of happiness and economic growth and development -Port Hood Area Development Society Vision Statement

Brief History:

Port Hood is the Shire Town, or County Seat, of Inverness County. The earliest people were the Mi’kmaq who settled here seasonally. In the 18th century, during the construction of the Fortress of Louisbourg, the French quarried stone here for its construction. Acadian fishermen dried their catches along the beach, recognizing the wealth of our fishery and the potential of our protected harbour. Loyalist refugees, fleeing their losses in the American Revolution, arrived and became our first permanent settlers. They were followed by waves of Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots who have put their definitive stamp on the culture of Port Hood to this day. This Celtic mix was complemented by a small number of Irish immigrants who have added their humour and enterprising spirit. Our early settlers and our more recent citizens, including numerous Dutch families after the Second World War, continue to contribute to our lively culture and heritage. We also value the sacrifices of those who fought for our country, honour our veterans and recognize the contributions to our community by war brides.

Festivals & Attractions:

Chestico Days

This annual summer festival is the highlight of the year for many residents and visitors alike, and serves as a homecoming for expatriates who book their yearly vacations to coincide with the week’s events. The festival is filled with fun for all ages, packed with events such as stepdancing and highland dancing competitions, concerts and ceilidhs, a parade, games, food and drink.
Chestico Days allows us to celebrate together as friends, families and as a community, preserves our heritage through the cultural events and competitions, and raises funds for the continued growth of the Museum, which is soon expanding into the official Inverness County Archives. Numerous volunteers from of the Chestico Museum and Historical Society, in partnership with the Al MacInnis Sports Centre work to organize the annual festival.
Chestico Days is a staple of the local economy by drawing so many people to the area, and it has benefited other community groups, such as the Port Hood RV Cooperative, which operates Sunset Sands RV Park (developed with money raised through a Community Economic Development Investment Fund – or CEDIF).

Annual Lobster Picnic

2009 will be the third year for this event, which has grown since its inception in ’07. The Picnic began as an effort by volunteers of the Port Hood Area Development Society to raise funds for a community website, The website serves as a link to the community for the entire world, listing stories of our history, local interests and upcoming events, showcasing community organizations and businesses, and offering the world the chance to communicate to us their questions and ideas. This midsummer festival supports local businesses through an effort of buying locally, such as tent rentals and boat tours. The Picnic relies on many volunteers and donations, from the talent at the 9-hour ceilidh to the lobster and crab fishers who generously provide the food. The resounding success of the first Lobster Picnic resulted in the creation of an annual event to raise funds for a community garden to be built in the village centre, known as the Post Office Corner. The gardens will reflect the community theme, By The Sea, and include a play area for children, as well as multiple benches, pathways and a gazebo specifically for the enjoyment of seniors. The Lobster Picnic is an event for families with plenty of fun activities for children. There’s always a bounty of food, music and dance and it offers a venue for local artisans to sell their goods. More than anything, it is yet another great example of how this community comes together, bringing whoever wishes to join with them, in celebration.

Christmas by the Sea

In 2007, the Port Hood Area Development Society organized the first annual Christmas by the Sea festival to give our community a chance to celebrate together during the holiday season. It includes the tree lighting at the site of the future Community Garden, family skate at the Al MacInnis Sports Centre, and a Santa Claus Parade ending with a children’s party at the local Fire Hall. The festival is primarily paid for by the development society and donations, and money is raised by selling sets of locally produced Christmas Cards. Volunteers decorate the trees, the arena for the family skate, and the fire hall for the party, as well as to build floats for the parade. The development society also had a series of large, lighted aluminum snowflakes designed and constructed locally to attach to the streetlights to coincide with the event, and are now a mainstay in the winter months (as opposed to lighthouses in the summer). The development society partners with the local volunteer Fire Department to host the children’s party.


Port Hood boasts five beautiful, sandy beaches, and the warmest waters in eastern Canada. These attractions in the community are an enormous source of pride for Port Hood. People come not only from surrounding communities, but from all over the world to experience the sand between their toes at Lawrence’s Beach, to walk alongside the dunes at the Boardwalk Beach and to witness the fishing boats clear the harbour at Murphy’s Pond.

Besides being just playgrounds for families, the beaches in many ways help to define what it means to be from Port Hood. There are so many people in this community who could not imagine living anywhere else simply for the beaches and the joy they add to their quality of life here. While many residents still have close ties to the land, and very few would dare not to respect the sea, the beaches exist in a realm between the earth and water; a vacation from hundreds of miles away, or an escape from just across the street.

Mitch MacDonald on Canadian Idol

More has to be said about Port Hood’s reaction to Mitch’s success on CTV’s Canadian Idol in 2008. When Insight Productions, a company that does filming for the show, called looking for permission to use the image of Port Hood’s sign on the show without telling us who it was that would be featured, we asked if it was going to be used in one of the episodes where they made fun of poor performances in the audition room. We were assured not, and that it was for a “high quality contestant” from Port Hood who had made it through the first round. Little did we know how far Mitch would go, and how captivated we would be each Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Nor did we imagine so many people taking the time to call in their votes, not once or twice but hundreds of times each week; children, youth, adults and seniors alike. Mitch reminded us once more what hard work and dedication can mean for us in this privileged corner of the world: that true talent doesn’t go unnoticed – dreams do come true. He reignited that sense of pride we feel when we remember our heroes of the past: Duncan Gillis, Canada’s very first Olympic flag bearer, Al MacInnis in hockey, Bruce Beaton in football. He also reminded us that while we may indeed have many impressive heroes of the past, we have many more to look forward to in the future.

Letters from nominating organizations:

Chestico Museum & Historical Society:

“Mindful of the past, living in the present, moving forward into the future”

The Chestico Museum and Historical Society was established in 1978 and has been operating a community museum and archives in Port Hood since 1986. While preserving the heritage and history of the local area has always been our main goal, we have been active participants in many other community events and activities. Port Hood is proud of its history as a farming, fishing and mining village on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. Historic artifacts, photographs, archival and genealogical records tell the story of Port Hood from its earliest days.
The Chestico Museum and Historical Society has always believed in being involved with other organizations within the community in order to promote Port Hood as a great place to live and a friendly and helpful tourist destination.
Organizations within the community with which we have worked include: the Port Hood and District Recreation Committee as a co-sponsor of “Chestico Days”, the Port Hood Area Development Society, Celtic Colours, we have collaborated with the local Legion (Branch 132 –Inverness) to do several veterans exhibits and power point presentations, and we have done activities with our local schools—-Bayview Education Centre and Dalbrae Academy.
We have contributed historical research for interpretive panels at our local Port Hood Day Park and quite recently for panels on our section of the Trans-Canada Trail. We have won awards for heritage floats in the Chestico Days parade, and this past year, with the collaboration of the Port Hood and District Recreation Committee, helped with the nomination and induction of Port Hood native, NHL star, Al MacInnis to the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in October. We have recently put together another nomination for Bruce Beaton from our community who was a prominent CFL member of the Edmonton Eskimos. We have also worked on a “Community Memories” project for the Virtual Museum of Canada where we have profiled a number of our World War I veterans and this will be online for all to see.
We believe that the Chestico Museum and Historical Society has contributed a great deal over the years to the community of Port Hood. Over the years, we have supported traditional dance and music, playing host to many young local performers when they were just starting out such as Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac. Through our summer ceilidhs, we continue to promote this vibrant aspect of our culture by inviting many new young musicians to perform for the community. We have helped raise the profile of our local culture, crafts and genealogy by holding workshops, literary evenings, and honouring special Port Hood people who have contributed to our heritage such as John Allan Cameron and recently, Canadian Idol runner up—Mitch MacDonald. We hope to be able to continue these activities when we achieve our goal of building a new heritage centre and archives.

-John Gillies
Chestico Museum & Historical Society

Al MacInnis Sports Centre:

I am happy to nominate the Community of Port Hood for a Community Spirit Award on behalf of the Al MacInnis Sports Centre, in partnership with the Port Hood Area Development Society. The Sports Centre, including Arena, Fitness Centre and Performance Venue, is an integral part of our community, and the community in turn is an integral part of our organization. It was the community that came together a number of years ago to raise funds for the refurbishment of the old Port Hood Arena, including the assistance of one of our proudest exports, the namesake of the new organization, Al MacInnis. The Al MacInnis Sports Centre has been, and continues to be, a gathering place for young and old, whether for a couple dozen parents on an early Saturday morning in February for their children’s hockey practice or the hundreds and hundreds who reunite every summer for the annual Chestico Days festival. Aside from Chestico Days, an event sponsored by the local historical society and Chestico Museum, the Centre is host to the Port Hood Area Development Society’s Annual Lobster Picnic. Last summer the Centre was ecstatic to welcome thousands of supporters and fans to cheer on our own Mitch MacDonald while he continued his run to become CTV’s Canadian Idol (in which he finished runner-up) at a homecoming concert for the show. We are grateful to the Community of Port Hood for its continued support for our organization and we anticipate many years to come serving our area as a place for being healthy and active, having fun, and allowing children the opportunity to believe that their own dreams of hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads may some day come true.

Yours truly,

Michael Trenholm

Port Hood Resource Centre:

PHONE 902-787-2568

On behalf of the Port Hood Resource Centre and Library please accept this letter of support for nominating our community of Port Hood for the 2009 Lieutenant Governor Community Spirit Award.

The Port Hood Resource Centre and Library (CAP) was formed in 1995. The Centre was created for the purpose of enhancing education, technology, social, and employment opportunities for residents in the Port Hood, Mabou, and Judique area. The Port Hood Resource Centre was incorporated with non-profit status and is a registered charity.

The Community Access Program (CAP) is a Government of Canada initiative, administered by Industry Canada, which aims to provide Canadians with affordable public access to the Internet and the skills they need to use it effectively. With the combined efforts of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, community groups, libraries, schools, volunteer groups and the business community, CAP helps Canadians, take advantage of emerging opportunities in the new global knowledge-based economy.
The Port Hood Resource Centre plays a crucial role in bridging the digital divide; contributing to the foundation for electronic access to government services; encouraging on-line learning and literacy; fostering the development of community based infrastructure; and, promoting Canadian e-commerce.
A Service Canada initiative pilot project began at the Port Hood Resource Centre in 2000, currently known as the Service Canada Community Partner Office. The project was led by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and is a government-wide-network providing rural Canadians three different ways of receiving federal government information such as one-stop access to information with services in-person, over the Internet, and by the 1-800 O Canada phone number.

The Port Hood Resource Center and Library are proud to serve this community and for the past 13 years we have become a vital service providing a place for local residents, tourists, and visitor’s access and assistance to a magnitude of professional services.


Diana Hawley

Port Hood Cooperative Ltd:

The Port Hood Cooperative Ltd is pleased to partner with the Port Hood Area Development Society in nominating our community for a 2009 Lieutenant Governor Community Spirit Award.
Our organization has been a centerpiece of the community since its incorporation in 1938. Today, we continue to operate in the spirit of the cooperative model, which serves to empower the people of our community, much as it did in the years after our inception, when cooperatives and credit unions paved the way toward a new future. For depression-era citizens, under the leadership of legendary personages such as Moses Coady and Jimmy Tompkins, communities across eastern Canada lifted themselves out of poverty and into respectable standards of living. We are proud to be a part of that legacy, which continues today, worldwide, through the efforts of such organizations as the Coady International Institute.
The Port Hood Co-op is not just a grocery and hardware store along Main Street. It’s a meeting place for neighbours and friends. It’s a space for community organizations, such as sports teams or church groups, to sell raffle tickets. It’s a repository for donations to the local food bank. It’s a marketplace for locally produced goods. And it’s an opportunity, always, for any person to contribute to their community and to their own well being, just by being a member. We always do our best to buy locally when possible and we offer donations and contributions to community groups for special events. Our employees are members of our community as well, and all of us, together, take pride in serving the community in such a valuable manner, and we are very proud to nominate Port Hood for one of this year’s Community Spirit Awards.


David MacDonald

Port Hood Area Development Society:

The Port Hood Area Development Society, formed in 1979, has been an important part of the community and continues to be a leader for the continued positive development of Port Hood. The organization’s focus is to identify strengths in the community and to build upon them. This asset-based approach has led to innumerable projects over the years by a group of dedicated volunteers that have benefited the community.
As one of sixteen development associations in the county, the Port Hood Area Development Society acts as an umbrella organization focused on the community as a whole. Items on the agenda for the group range from capital projects such as Streetscapes, which includes streetlights, parks and sidewalks, to Community Spirit, which include fun family events, such as the Christmas by the Sea festival and the Lobster Picnic.
The Development Society manages a local Provincial Daypark in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, leases a plot of land with historical significance for use by the local Trans Canada Trail organization, manages a beach canteen and washroom facility at one of our other popular beaches, and operates the local community cable channel offering free notices for community meetings, and discounted advertising for non-profit organizations.
The Port Hood Area Development Society has a number of exciting projects on the go for 2009, including the continuation of the Streetscapes plan, the development of the Community Garden, and working towards expanding the capacity of the community cable television station in order to offer more local programming.
The Society runs a weekly 50/50 draw at the Co-op to raise funds to maintain the daypark and through the community cable television station operates a weekly TV Bingo with which it has been able to employ an office manager. It has also employed numerous summer student positions over the years with assistance from the Provincial and Federal governments.
The Society continues to sponsor and partner with a wide range of community groups, from the local Port Hood Triathlon Committee to the Chestico Museum & Historical Society. The Society supports local hockey teams, special events, and considers all requests from the community, whether for monetary, technical or clerical assistance.
This year the Port Hood Area Development Society celebrates 25 years of community development work (for which it was honoured by the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce) and looks forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary in the years to come. The Society feels by then we will have many more accomplishments to be proud of, many more people to admire, and much, much more to celebrate.


Dwayne MacEachern
Port Hood Area Development Society

- – - – - – - – *“Whereas the Port Hood Area Development Society works hard to continuously make improvements and instill pride in the community’s heritage and achievements;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the members of the Port Hood Area Development Society for its work and successes…”*

Hon. Rodney MacDonald Inverness MLA & Premier of Nova Scotia Thursday, November 13, 2008 Resolution No. 5226 Nova Scotia House of Assembly

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Please consider this your invitation to visit our community. You are always welcome!