Nova Scotia

Complaints start after Little Narrows ferry taken out of service early

The cable ferry at Little Narrows, N.S., is out of service early after its replacement was delayed by sea and weather conditions, provincial Public Works Department says.

Nova Scotia Public Works says replacement ferry was delayed en route to Little Narrows due to sea, weather

The Little Narrows cable ferry is temporarily out of service after its replacement vessel was delayed by sea and weather conditions, Nova Scotia's Public Works Department says. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

The Little Narrows ferry in central Cape Breton is out of service and some local drivers say it's a major inconvenience.

Nova Scotia Public Works is sending a new cable ferry to replace the old one, but it has been delayed by weather and sea conditions.

Victoria County Coun. Paul MacNeil said he has received a few complaints, because he was told the old ferry would not be taken out until the new one arrived.

"There's a lot of concerns, like especially the extra mileage going to Baddeck for medical appointments and shopping and especially with the price of gas now. I would say it would add probably about 20 to 30 minutes onto a drive from Little Narrows to Baddeck," he said.

MacNeil said he has been assured that emergency services will not be significantly affected, but he would have liked better communication from the province before the old ferry was taken out.

When the Englishtown ferry on the Cabot Trail is out, flashing yellow lights on the highway alert travellers.

Painted signs not helpful: councillor

When the Little Narrows ferry is out, the words "not operating" appear on painted highway signs.

That's not helpful, MacNeil said.

"The signage for the ferry not working isn't great in this area, so people basically go to the ferry before they find out that it's not working," he said.

The old ferry, called the Caolas Silis, was taken out of service around May 10.

MacNeil said he was told the new one, named the Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, is still being delivered and will take a few weeks to become service-ready.

The Little Narrows ferry has occasionally been out of service for a day or so, and even up to a week, but the current outage will far exceed that, MacNeil said.

"It hasn't been out this long since I've been a councillor and that's probably about 14 years," he said.

In an email, the provincial Public Works Department said the old ferry was taken out to prepare for the arrival of the new one.

"Due to weather and sea conditions, the arrival of the new ferry has been delayed by about a week," the department said.

"We're now looking at the latter part of this week for its arrival. When the new ferry arrives at Little Narrows, we will set up the new ferry on the cable, train crew and then put it through sea trials. We anticipate the new Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy ferry will be in service in early June."


Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at


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