Where in the world is Canso?
Canso is at the very eastern tip of Guysborough County, in Nova Scotia. It is not on Cape Breton Island, and is not close to the Canso Causeway, despite all indications to the contrary.
There is a historical reason for this association. Since at least the 17th century, when it was controlled by the French, the span of water at the closest point between Nova Scotia (Acadie) and Cape Breton (Ile Royale) has been called the Strait of Canso (le détroit de Canseau). In 1955, the provincial government officially opened the Canso Causeway between Auld’s Cove and Port Hastings, adding to the confusion
However, the village of Canso is about a 1.5 hour drive from the Canso Causeway. This is important information!
There are a couple ways to get to Canso. All involve travelling on Highway 104 and exiting onto Route 4/16, however.
From Halifax, take Highway 102 Outbound towards Truro. After roughly an hour’s drive, at Exit 15, turn on to Highway 104 (Trans-Canada Highway) Eastbound towards Cape Breton. The 104 will take you through New Glasgow and Antigonish. At Exit 37 (to Monastery/Guysborough/Canso), turn off the Trans-Canada and take a left onto Route 4. After about a kilometre, passing a Petro-Canada gas station and the East Antigonish Education Centre, turn right onto Route 16. If you see make it to Havre Boucher or Linwood, you’ve gone to far on Route 4. After turning onto Route 16, drive through Lincolnville, Boylston, Guysborough, Halfway Cove, Queensport, Half Island Cove, Fox Island, and Hazel Hill. This will lead you to Canso, at the end of Route 16.
From Southwest Nova Scotia:
At the end of Highway 103, take Exit 1a (Airport/Truro/Windsor) onto Highway 102 and follow the directions from Halifax above.
From Halifax-Stanfield International Airport (YHZ):
Leave the airport and follow signs to Truro. The airport is on Highway 102 (Exit 6), so the directions from Halifax will bring you to Canso from the airport.
From the NB Border:
At the border with New Brunswick, NB Highway 2 becomes Highway 104. Drive through the Cobequid Pass toll section ($4 for passenger vehicles, + for larger) and continue on the 104 until Exit 37, as above.
From the Wood Island-Caribou Ferry (PEI):
Once off the ferry, drive on Highway 106 until the Pictou Roundabout. In the roundabout, take Exit 3e towards Truro/New Glasgow/Cape Breton. Drive the length of Highway 106 and take Exit 1e towards New Glasgow/Cape Breton, merging onto the 104. Continue on the 104 until Exit 37, as above.
From Cape Breton Island:
Take the Canso Causeway from Port Hastings to Auld’s Cove. Continue on Highway 104 until Exit 37. Follow instructions from Exit 37 on, as above.