To celebrate and share a living culture of the history and evolution of Nova Scotia Gaels, The Highland Village opened to all in 1962. Located on a picturesque 43-acre Iona hillside, overlooking Cape Breton Island’s world-renowned Bras d’Or Lake, the Village depicts Gaels from their early settlement in Eastern Canada. The only Museum of its kind in a living Gàidhealtachd or Gaelic speaking area, outside of Gaelic Scotland, the Museum brings to life and tells the story of the traditions and identity of Gaelic Nova Scotia.

The Vision | Living Gaelic Culture and Life

With a vision to be the leading Gaelic cultural and folklife centre recognized provincially, nationally and internationally, The Highland Village is an essential institution for continuing development and representation of a Gaelic community. The stories and traditions of generations of Gaels are conveyed through costumed animators.  In a recent evaluation of Nova Scotia museums, The Highland Village was rated the top museum in the province.

As you wander the grounds and smell the aromas of a meal cooking on an open hearth and feel an authentic connection to our past, a vital link is formed, and essential elements of the Gaelic culture and history are shared and preserved. Visitors to The Highland Village may experience a blacksmith working his forge, a demonstration of spinning, weaving, wool-dying, and other handcrafts, or farm hands working with traditional livestock, and much more.

The Highland Village - The Next Chapter

In 2015, the Board and staff embarked on a three-year Site Development Strategy. To guide decisions, consultants were engaged to develop detailed plans and costs for upgrades to the site and a business plan to map out the financial implications. After much consultation and due diligence, the Board has approved a forward-focused plan that includes:

An Taigh Fàilteachais | The Welcome House Cultural Centre

The creation of a new 7,700 square-foot Welcome and Cultural Resource Centre will be the first point of contact for visitors arriving at the Museum. This new year-round facility will feature visitor orientation space, a permanent exhibit area for telling the contemporary Gaelic Nova Scotia story, a multipurpose space for community and education programming, a library/archives, as well as reception and gift shop areas. Space will be dedicated to various education and community programming, management and administration, including a full-size commercial kitchen, allowing for public events and functions.

The new facility will feature “passive house” design and building process, which is considered to be one of the most rigorous voluntary energy-based standards in the design and construction industry today. This will be the first public building in Nova Scotia to use this standard.

An Taigh Gléidhidh | The Curatorial Centre

The existing 2,700 square-foot Highland Village visitor centre building will be renovated to become the Curatorial Centre for the museum and home to the Provincial Collection for Gaeic Nova Scotia. The centre will feature climate-controlled artifact storage as well as house the museum’s costume department.

Am Muileann Shinglidh | The Shingle Mill

On the Village site, a new 500 square-foot timber-framed working interpretive “shingle mill” will be constructed to house donated equipment. Mill workers would have made many of the shingles for homes that were constructed in the Gaelic communities at the time.

An Sabhal Beag | The Little Barn Hands-on Centre

An Sabhal Beag | The Little Barn will be converted into an programming space with hands-on opportunities for visitors to learn Gaelic crafts and traditions. People of all ages from children to seniors can have the opportunity to participate in a milling frolic or ceilidh.

Na Taighean-Beaga | Washroom Building

On top of the hill, a new washroom building is being constructed to better meet the needs of our growing number of cruise ship visitors and bus tour patrons as well as church functions.

Am Buth Obrach | Workshop

A new 1,500 sq ft workshop building is being constructed to support the museums maintenance and restoration program for period buildings, artifacts and equipment.

Enhancing Exhibits and Interpretation

New interactive and informative exhibits will be created to enhance the visitor experience and deepen the story told on-site, including the Gaelic Nova Scotia story from 1920 to present; the Mi’kmaq peoples and their relationship to the Gaels; and the Bras d’Or Lake and its new UNESCO status as a Biosphere Reserve.

Making It Happen

New Welcome/Cultural Centre

$  3,600,000

Government of Canada




$    300,000

Province of Nova Scotia



The Little Barn

$      70,000

Municipality of Victoria



Curatorial Centre

$     325,000




New Shingle Mill

$     100,000




Maintenance Workshop

$     325,000




Washroom Building

$     350,000




Landscaping & Site Prep

$     200,000




Total Project Cost

$ 5,270,000

Total Government Commitment



The Next Chapter Campaign                      $1,000,000

At a total project cost of $5.27 million, commitments have been secured from the Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund and all levels of government. Of this amount, the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society is looking to raise $1 million in private sector support to bring this vision to life.

Baile nan Gàidheal | Our Story Continues

For six decades, Baile nan Gàidheal | The Highland Village has worked hard to share and promote within its community, and to visitors, Nova Scotia's rich Gaelic language, culture and identity. Inspired by this cultural legacy of our Gaelic ancestors, the Museum developed a wide range of offerings designed to serve our constituent cultural community through the years.  The successful site redevelopment will allow the Museum to build on its successes and continue to significantly grow and expand its experiential programs and opportunities.

Able to immerse themselves in authentic highland life, visitors can explore the past while celebrating and advancing contemporary Gaelic Nova Scotia today. The enhanced facilities and hands-on opportunities that will be realized by the Next Chapter Campaign will deepen the visitor experience and continue to keep Nova Scotia’s Gaelic heritage, history and identify alive for future generations.

The best way to preserve cultural heritage is to share it with others. Lend your support to the Campaign for The Highland Village and help make history happen.

To successfully complete this project, we need financial assistance from you, our community.

Donations can be made by:
 cheque or money order to the Highland Village,
 credit card via (see Donate Now button at top right of page), 

Your donation to our campaign would make a great gift. We will acknowledge your donation with a special card.

All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged on our website (unless you request anonymity).

On behalf of everyone at the Highland Village, I thank you for your contribution. Your generosity will enable the Highland Village to grow and increase its impact on our community.


For more information on our project, please contact:

Rodney Chaisson, Director
Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village
4119 Highway 223, Iona, NS, B2C 1A3
(902) 725-2272


Charitable Tax Number: 107788408RR0001