Joe’s Scarecrow Village isn’t your average roadside attraction. It’s creepy actually, if you don’t know the history. And even if you stop at Joe’s - and you will probably find it hard to resist the siren call of that unforgettable ring of stuffed characters as you make your way along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island - you may still find the whole thing a bit unsettling.
In the 1980s, Joe Delaney tried to plant a garden in Cap le Moine, Cape Breton, just down the road from Chéticamp in Nova Scotia. As the story goes, Joe planted his garden and hoped for the best, but crows pillaged his vegetables time and time again. Joe’s neighbors didn’t believe he could grow anything in the rocky, salty soil of his seaside backyard, or fight the scavenging crows, so they joked he should grow scarecrows instead.
Inspired by his interest in traditional Mi-Careme, the francophone mid-Lent celebration where revelers eat, drink, dance, and dress in grotesque, elaborate costumes, Joe placed two gaudy scarecrows in his garden. He was surprised the next day when some travelers stopped to admire his creations. The rest - including 50 or more new scarecrows made by Joe and his son - is legend. See Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, members of KISS, and many more madcaps each with their own funny story at Joe’s Scarecrow Village.
Today, Joe’s Scarecrow Village is a Cape Breton landmark. A couple of years back, vandals destroyed all but one scarecrow in Joe’s village. The local newspaper wrote a story from the last scarecrow’s point of view. Since then, the Village has been rebuilt, thanks to local and global donations. Stop and find Joe’s family carrying on the tradition. They’ve set up a trailer that sells trinkets and tells the story of Joe’s scarecrows, which is easy to spot off the main Cabot Trail road. Eerie, ephemeral fiddle music haunts the whole place. Donate a couple bucks to dress another scarecrow, or leave a suggestion for a new character you’d like to see in the village.
Know Before You Go
South of Chéticamp on the Cabot Trail, near St-Joseph-du-Moine and Cap le Moine.
- Virtual Tourist: Things to Do in Cape Breton Island: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/Canada/Province_of_Nova_Scotia/Cape_Breton_Island-910561/Things_To_Do-Cape_Breton_Island-BR-1.html
- BellaOnline: Joe's Scarecrow's and the Street Performers: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art41125.asp