The name Canso came from the Mi’kmaq word kamsook which means “opposite the lofty cliff”, referring to the steep cliffs of Chedabucto Bay, or possibly the heights of Isle Madame, 13 km to the north of the town. This area was identified in 1686 as Canseau on Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin’s first map of Acadia, though a later map referred to the Straits of Canceaux,a slightly different spelling. In 1749, Surveyor General Charles Morris introduced the curent spelling.
Port Hastings was settled in the early 1800s, this community was originally known as Plaister Cove, and was renamed Port Hastings in 1871 for Nova Scotia’s lieutenant governor at that time. Above scenic St Georges Bay is the 260 metre (850 ft) high Creignish Mountain.
The town was designated as the spot for a connecting bridge that was commissioned to be built in 1902, but was never completed. During World War II, the Strait was shipping shortcut to the Atlantic. When Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1948, the issue of connecting the new province to the rest of Canada, required a connecting bridge. Engineering studies suggested that ice in the Strait would quickly damage any bridge and construction began on a causeway in 1952 and was completed in 1955 at a cost of $22,000,000.
The causeway makes Port Hastings the connecting point between Highway 104 on the mainland and highway 105 on Cape Breton. There is a Nova Scotia Tourism Centre on the north side of the causeway.
This causeway links the island of Cape Breton with the Nova Scotia mainland, across the Canso Strait. The causeway is 1,385 metres long, and fills the Canso Strait to a depth of 65 metres (213 ft) making it the deepest causeway in the world. Its crown is 40 m (130 ft) wide and its base is 244 m (800 ft) wide, and its construction required just over 10 million tons of rock for its construction.
The causeway prevents ice from entering the Strait making a large year-round navigable 16 km (10 mi) long harbour. A navigation lock allows the passage of sea-going traffic is part of a canal that is 570 metres (1,870 feet) long by 24 metre (80 feet) wide. A 308 ft swing bridge passes over the canal at the northern end of the causeway, enabling the largest ships to pass through.
See: Canso Causeway Operations