Development Plan

Help Us Grow! Support our Site Development Project!

60 years ago, driven by pride in the Gaelic culture and identity handed down from our ancestors and a desire to celebrate and share that rich cultural legacy, the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society was incorporated as a non-profit society. The goal was to build and grow Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village as a living history museum and Gaelic folklife centre that illustrates and promotes the stories, traditions and identity of Gaelic Nova Scotia.

Over the next six decades, through the vision and pure tenacity of our founders, and our community, the Highland Village took root and evolved on the picturesque 43 acre hillside overlooking Cape Breton Island’s world renowned Bras d’Or Lake. Today, Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village is a provincial museum that is a community economic driver for Central Cape Breton, one of Cape Breton Island’s premiere cultural heritage attractions, and a cultural centre internationally recognized for interpretation and outreach of our Nova Scotia Gaelic heritage and identity. The Village is the only centre of its kind in a living Gàidhealtachd (Gaelic speaking area) outside of Gaelic Scotland.

In 2019, almost 26,000 visitors visited our site or took part in one of our programs. This is the fifth consecutive year of increased visitation to the Highland Village. This growth is the result of our engaging interpretation and experiential programming and a renewed interest in the Gaelic Nova Scotia story. This year, the Village has a $1.2 million operating budget, most of which is spent here on Cape Breton Island, and supports forty-six year-round and seasonal jobs in our community.

Planning for the Future

With the continued growth in visitation, including significant increases in cruise ship visitation, there is growing pressure to expand and update the facilities on our site. The current visitor centre and other support buildings were built in the 1970s, and the last significant addition to the site was the Malagawatch Church in 2003.

To meet our current and future demands, both in terms of visitation and visitor experience, the Village’s Board of Trustees has embarked on a $3.6 million site development strategy which will result in the construction of a new welcome and cultural resource centre including interactive exhibits, as well as visitor service and interpretive enhancements on the period site. The result will be a greatly enhanced visitor experience and an increased capacity for Highland Village programming and operations.

All three levels of government have signed on as funding partners: $1.2 million from the Province of Nova Scotia, $1.47 million from the Government of Canada, and $100,000 from the Municipality of Victoria County. The Nova Scotia Highland Village Society is responsible for the remaining $830,000. The Society currently has $350,000 in the bank taking us 87% towards our $3.6 million goal. To complete the project, we need to raise the remaining $480,000.

To help us meet our fundraising goal, a capital campaign cabinet led by Denis Ryan, with Linden MacIntyre, Dr. Sean Riley, Dr. Ron Stewart, and George Unsworth has been established. They are working to access funding from private sector sources.

Help Us Reach our Fundraising Goal!

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