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Ontario couple opening northern Cape Breton campground in May

Stéphane Poitras and girlfriend Shanshan Liu pose with Poitras’ daughter Chloé, left, and Liu’s daughter Catherine during last summer’s trip to Cape Breton.
Stéphane Poitras and girlfriend Shanshan Liu pose with Poitras’ daughter Chloé, left, and Liu’s daughter Catherine during last summer’s trip to Cape Breton. - Contributed

SOUTH HARBOUR, VICTORIA Co. - An Ontario couple who visited Cape Breton last summer are now looking to put down roots with the construction of a campground in the heart of the highlands.

After a four-night stay in August, Stéphane Poitras and his girlfriend Shanshan Liu knew one thing about the island – they simply didn’t want to leave.

One of their more memorable adventures was a family kayaking excursion around South Harbour where they noticed a property for sale.

“We saw a sign for sale on White Point Road and when we drove back to our campsite, we just looked it up online and we were like ‘Hmmm, that’s pretty interesting,’” said Poitras. “It was just an amazing area.

“When I was leaving I was like ‘Oh my God, we didn’t stay here long enough’ — I wanted to do this, I wanted to go see that.”

Poitras said ideas started rolling off their tongues as they discussed what could be done with the property.

“I camped a lot in my past and I knew that glamping was getting bigger and bigger,” he said.

“I just love that area, it’s beautiful and the fact that we’re in the middle of everything — when you leave the (Cape Breton Highlands) national park, we’re only a few hundred metres away.”

Poitras has being living in Burlington, Ont., for the last 18 years where he works in home renovation by flipping houses.

Poitras and Liu took possession of two South Harbour properties this past fall (totalling about seven hectares) and are now preparing to construct roughly 30 campsites comprised of about 10 teepees and 20 geodesic domes, along with a separate washroom facility.

Each dome will have its own three-piece bathroom, with 16 domes and about eight teepees to be finished by the campsite’s opening on May 31.

New Brunswick native Stéphane Poitras and girlfriend Shanshan Liu purchased two properties along White Point Road in Victoria County facing South Harbour.
New Brunswick native Stéphane Poitras and girlfriend Shanshan Liu purchased two properties along White Point Road in Victoria County facing South Harbour.

An Acadian, who is originally from Grand Falls, N.B., Poitras named the campground Blue Bayou Resort because he says his experience visiting Cape Breton fit with the lyrics of the Roy Orbison song of the same name.

“It’s just breathtaking,” said Poitras of the property he purchased. “The same harbour I’ve probably got like 10 pictures of it and they’re all beautiful in a different way, and it’s the same background just a different time of year or different time of day.”

Poitras spent two months in South Harbour this past fall working on the project before the snowfall interrupted his progress.

During his inaugural trip to Cape Breton, Poitras said he pulled a fifth wheel. He said at times, it was difficult to find accommodation in the area.

“All the spots in the park were taken, they probably were taken for the longest time,” he said. “Even when we were driving around we’d keep seeing no vacancy signs.”

Poitras also believes self-driving vehicles will become relevant within the next few years, making destinations like the Cape Breton Highlands easier to conquer and therefore a more popular place to visit.

erin.pottie@cbpost.com

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