As we wound down a series of switchbacks toward the Seal Island Bridge, my ears popping as we left the rolling green highlands behind and descended to Bras d’Or — a massive inland sea — Donny Hall told me that he was surprised at the worldwide attention his small island of Cape Breton was currently attracting.
An electrician by trade, Hall worked for years in a coal mine, once the dominant industry in this remote part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
But now, with the coal mines closed, tourism has taken over as the primary industry, and calls have been coming from all over the world from people who had never before heard of Cape Breton, inquiring about hotels and restaurants and things to see and do.
At the wheel of a minivan, with me in the passenger seat, Hall turned his mustachioed face to me and wagged his head with a wan smile of bemusement, telling me what he thought of this newfound fame.
“It all started as a joke,” he said, with just a hint of a maritime accent, a lilt that echoes the area’s Scottish past. “We never expected all of this.”
What happened? Donald Trump.
Or, more specifically, a website launched earlier this year titled “Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins.” [read more]