Walk through history at Castle Frederick Farm

Ashley Thompson
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Hants County family opens trails to visitors on Sundays

By Ashley Thompson


The Bremner family is inviting the public to tour the walking trails at their historic homestead as part of the 250th anniversary of Castle Frederick Farm.

Open Trail Sundays will kick off yearlong celebrations of the Upper Falmouth farm’s heritage. Every Sunday, until March 31, the family’s Acadian Woodland Trail at the end of Castle Frederick Road will be open to people looking to explore the outdoors on foot or by snowshoe from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Erin Bremner owns Castle Frederick Farms Inc. along with her three sisters and parents. She says the trail, featuring the former site of a long-gone Acadian chapel and a retired Holy Well once used for baptisms, tells the tale of a farm with an interesting past.

In November 2010, the Bremners entered into a land stewardship agreement with the Archaeological Land Trust of Nova Scotia (ALTNS), promising to protect six sites on the privately-owned property that are believed to be of archaeological significance.

According to the land trust’s website, Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres built a manor house and observatory on the Castle Frederick farmland in 1763 while working on a series of coastal maps that would later become well-known as Atlantic Neptune.

Information gathered during archaeological investigations conducted at the Castle Frederick property in the last 25 years suggests the remains of the DesBarres manor, and evidence of Acadian settlement in the area before and after the deportation in 1755, lies within the land protected by the stewardship agreement.

Bremner, an eighth generation Castle Frederick farmer, is a direct descendent of DesBarres, who came to the area as a surveyor for the military and later served as the governor of Cape Breton and P.E.I. 

Open Trail Sundays will kick off yearlong celebrations of the Upper Falmouth farm’s heritage.

Bremner says her family has been commended for preserving important pieces of their community’s history by protecting their land from invasive developments.

Acadian Woodland Trail users can admire the undisturbed site that archaeologists plan to explore further in the future, peer into the nearby Holy Well that now functions as the main water supply for Bremner’s parents’ home and imagine what life was like for settlers living in Castle Frederick 250 years ago.

“It’s just fun to share it with everybody,” she says.

“We’re pretty fortunate. There’s almost 2,000 acres here, so it’s like having your own park in your backyard.”

Bremner, an environmental technician, says she would like to eventually host regular guided tours of the Castle Frederick property, which is home to beef, sheep and forestry operations and a wetland site restored by Ducks Unlimited in 2010.

“It’s something I would love to do because we’ve always been really keen on bringing people to the farm.”

But for now, she’ll settle with making 2013 a year to remember at Castle Frederick Farm.

For up-to-date information on activities planned for the 250th anniversary of the farm, visit Castle Frederick Farm’s Facebook page.


Organizations: Castle Frederick Farms, Archaeological Land Trust of Nova Scotia, Ducks Unlimited

Geographic location: Hants County, Upper Falmouth, Castle Frederick Road Cape Breton

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Recent comments

  • Bonita Smith
    January 02, 2014 - 15:49

    Hi; I see you are offering sleigh rides! What type of horses? I saw the pic. they look a bit small for percherons!! Draft horses pull wagons! Do you have 2 horses to pull a wagon of 18 people? Seems a stretch? Thanks.

    • Terry
      January 19, 2014 - 20:44

      They seem pretty strong to me, and beautiful to boot. They can haul 18 people, plus the sleigh, pretty strong.

  • Bill
    December 22, 2013 - 08:09

    It is nice to know that the farm is in good hands. I am a descendent of JFW Desbarres and am looking for more information on Castle Frederick and Mary Cannon. I am putting together a website on Desbarres which is http://arcadiaworks.org/desbarres/index.htmlAny comments are most welcome. Bill