Whitehead Harbour Paddle Route

From the village of Guysborough travel east on Route 16 toward Whitehead. Turn right onto Route 316 at the junction and continue to Marshalls Cove in Whitehead. Watch for a road marked Foxberry by the Sea Bed & Breakfast. Follow this road beyond the bed and breakfast to a small grassy road on the right that leads you to the water. This will serve as both the launch and exit site.

Special Features:

Whitehead Harbour has exceptionally deep waters and is sufficiently large to harbour many ships. Founded in 1655 by the French, and named Tête Blanche it was known to the English as Whitehead or Whitehaven. During the 1860’s, fishermen shortened their trips between Whitehead and Port Felix by hauling their boats over the narrow beach to the opposite cove, thus intimately referred to as The Haul Over. One of the earliest co-op fishing industries in Nova Scotia was developed in Whitehead in 1928 when four fishermen decided to combat hard times and low prices by combining forces and selling directly to the Boston market. With an abundance of islands, coves, passageways and a jagged coastline, Whitehead Harbour was a smuggler’s paradise. Referred to as Martingot by pirates from the mid 1600’s to the late 1700’s, Whitehead Harbour was later used during Nova Scotia’s prohibition period of the 1920’s, by rum-runners who found seclusion and profit amidst the enshrouding fog.

Length: 16 km return
Time: 7.5 hours
Type: Tidal, saltwater, ocean
Facilities: None
Nearby: Canso
Rating: Experienced
Map Click here for print ready map


Begin your paddle across Whitehead Harbour and along the northern shore of Harbour Island, exploring its jagged coastline and sheltered coves. Entering the basin, you will find a cove Visit Guysboroug: Whitehead Harbourabundant with waterfowl. Close to the waterline is an old cellar, a remnant from the early settlers in the area. Continue paddling the shoreline of Yankee Cove and around Yankee Island, passing along the Canso Coastal Barrens Wilderness Area, a Nova Scotia protected wilderness site. Venturing toward the open ocean, you will arrive at Three Top Island, beyond which, you will gain a good view of Whitehead Island. Using caution as you cross the exposed and often rough Atlantic waters, you will next enter a sheltered cove at Dogfish Point on the northwest tip of the island. At the southern tip of the island is the Whitehead lighthouse that may be accessed by the water or by foot over the island. Throughout this route, there are several other small islands that may be explored. As you return to the mainland, maintain caution amongst the many hidden reefs and shoals.

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