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Gallery Ramblings


Terrance Fortune, Isle Madame & Celtic Colours  (November 20, 2012)  

Terrance, Veronika & AshleyOur very good friend Sara traveled to Cape Breton to meet friends, attend Celtic Colours, and visit local artists. While on Isle Madame she dropped in on Terrance Fortune in Arichat for a chat and interview.

Terrance grew up on Isle Madame.  His father was Irish and his mother French and both parents worked at a local fish plant. From his bedroom window, Terrance could see his grandparent's farm across the water on Petit-de-Grat Island. Terrance would often take the one hour walk across the bridge to help out on the farm feeding pigs and chickens and fishing on his grandfather's boat.  In the winter, he fished for smelts through the ice and hunted for wild game. His grandfather taught him wood skills and handed down tools for him to use. 

(Photo - Terrance with his mother Veronica and daughter Ashley)

Terrance married his wife, Karen, in 1983 and later they built their Arichat house by themselves. They have a daughter, Ashley, and a son, Isaac.

Terrance has been a carpenter by trade and was doing well until the government-mandated cod fish moratorium (1992) left a lot of unemployed fishermen who turned to carpentry for a livelihood.  Terrance turned to building commercial fiberglass boats for Samson Enterprises.

From 1999 until 2003, the Fortunes owned and operated a 4-star hotel and restaurant in D'Escousse which they named Flat Calm Country Inn after the calm kayaking waters on their shore. The inn was originally built in 1830. As Terrance is a certified sea kayak instructor and guide, they offered sea kayak tours and sales at the Inn. The restaurant seated 50 and the pub seated 75 and offered live music.

Today, Terrance is mainly a stay-at-home dad, carving and caring for his elderly mother. His wife, Karen, is a home care professional.

About his carving Terrance says "I am stunned that what I do can give others pleasure.  When I work on my piece I leave all the distractions buzzing in my head and totally enter into the moment - it is a meditative state" .

The catch of his life - Karen
A fisherman lives here with the
catch of his life. (we think that
Terrance refers to his wife, Karen)
Chat Line
"Chat Line"
A Terrance Carving of
6 birds on a hay rake
Choosing the right piece of wood
Choosing just the right piece
for the next carving.

About Isle Madame

Isle Madame was originally settled by the French but after the 1758 fall of Louisbourg the island reverted to British control and four thousand inhabitants were deported. However, a group of ten Acadian families fled to this island where their descendants still live today. Later, other Acadians arrived from Massachusetts. Today, the population of Isle Madame is about four thousand. Isle Madame is connected by a bridge to neighbouring Petit-de-Grat Island and by a causeway to Janvrin Island in Chedabucto Bay.

In 1776, during the American revolution, the American privateer John Paul Jones (father of the American Navy), commanding the Continental Sloop Providence, pillaged Petit-de-Grat and Arichat and then returned to Boston with the loot.

Cannon Look-off
Cannon Look-Off
These 18th century
Arichat weapons
were used to fight
off the British
a Privateer's ship
The "Providence"
Commanded by
John Paul Jones
A Painting
by Alice Borsik
Cape Auguet lighthouse
Cape Auguet on Cape Auguet Bay
in the southwest corner of
Isle Madame

About Celtic Colours

Celtic Colours is a nine-day festival of international music and culture held every October in Cape Breton. There are many concerts held all over the island. This year’s concert in Isle Madame was held at the D’Escousse Civic Improvement Hall and featured the Alan Kelly Gang, the Makem & Spain Brothers, and Buddy Macdonald & John Ferguson. Unfortunately, John Ferguson passed away just before the concert.

Celtic Colours was started in 1997 and over the years has become an important Canadian musical event and a highlight of Nova Scotia’s tourism season. (W Miller)

The Alan Kelly Gang
The Alan Kelly Gang
the late John Ferguson
the late John Ferguson

The Samson 28' Cape Islander, a
commercial fishing boat which
Terrance  used to help build

Flat Calm Inn
Google Earth view of what was once
the Flat Calm Inn run by the Fortunes
and is now a private residence

Dude the rooster

A Terrance Fortune Carving

Fishwing, the heron

"Fishwing the Heron"
A Terrance Fortune Carving

Tanker sinks on Cerberus Rock

Located about 5 miles off Isle Madame in Chedabucto Bay is Cerberus Rock, the site of numerous shipwrecks. In 1970 the Liberian tanker Arrow went aground and sank with its cargo of over 100,000 barrels of fuel.