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Canso Islands National Historic Site


For adventure, take a short boat ride to the island.
Discover relics from the oldest fishing port on mainland North America; view the remains of an 18th century stone fortress bombed to oblivion during the struggle to control North America. Wander windblown Atlantic shores rich in heritage and let the stories of Canso Island National Historic Site rouse your imagination.

Discover the wartime history and prosperous trade of 18th century Atlantic pioneers

An engaging visitor centre sets the stage for discovery. An Atlantic island harbours secrets 300 years old. And the remains of a stone fortress stand stoic against time. Canso Islands brings history to life.

Get to know a few of the island's colourful characters 

Begin your discovery at Canso Islands' visitor centre, viewing full-scale dioramas of 18th century life and an enlightening short film. Hop aboard a boat bound for Grassy Island and hike a self-guided trail that leads through an area once renowned for military importance and productive fisheries. Bustling during the 1700s, Grassy Island now holds the authentic remains of wealthy merchants’ homes, fishmonger stations where processing tables are still on-hand and juxtaposes a location where the comfortable house of a garrison commander once sat above the waterlogged barracks of enlisted men. On site, artefacts like a musket, powder magazine, earthenware, clay tobacco pipes, a hearth used to brew beer and the glassware it was consumed in and so much more will guide you through the 1700s. Finally, visit at the bombarded ruins of Fort William Augustus, casualty of the battles between British and French troops as they vied for control of the continent.

The site consists of two separate sections: a visitor centre on the Canso waterfront and an interpretive trail on Grassy Island, 15 minutes away by boat.  Allow half an hour to view the video and see the exhibits in the visitor centre.  Allow an hour to take the boat trip and visit the island.