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Central Cape Breton

The Iona Peninsula is located in the centre of Cape Breton Island, almost completely surrounded by the magnificent Bras d'Or Lakes - Canada's Only Inland Sea. The Bras d'Or is a 1,165 km2 (450 sq. mi.) basin that is one of the finest sailing and boating venus in the world. They separate Cape Breton's Highlands and Lowlands. The Bras d'Or Coastline abounds with wildlife and is particularly noted as a breeding area of the magnificent bald eagle.

The Iona area is rich in Scottish heritage. It was first settled in the early 1800's by MacNeils from the Island of Barra in Scotland. Donald 'Og' MacNeil, spotted Iona during his service with the British Army. On a trip back to Barra, Donald 'Og' told his family and friends of the advantages of the Iona area; "Besides the fuel in the forests, water in the ground, and fish in the sea, you will find there more shelter from the North wind, better and earlier ripening harvests, and good fishing ground." Donald 'Og' came back to Canada to fight in Louisbourg in 1758 and Quebec City in 1759, where he died. His message was followed. In 1800 four MacNeils from Barra arrived at Iona. Several years later two of Donald 'Og's own sons also settled here. Today, the MacNeils and MacKenzies, the MacLeans and MacDonalds, and the Gillises and Campbells "All Call Iona Home."

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