Fisherman of Cape Breton have always been happy to take their friends and relatives on trips to harvest lobster, jig for squid, cod, or mackerel, or just to show them the beautiful grounds and coves where they eked out a living. The idea of making a business of it, is relatively new, starting in the 1980's. I started fishing in the mid seventies and clearly remember the large groups of tourists who would find their way to the end of the road on the Bay St. Lawrence wharf with no option but to turn around and go back to from where they came. One day, as I was returning to check on my bait net after a day of hauling lobster traps, I noticed a man, woman, and little boy looking wistfully at the Bay before them and I knew they really wanted to be on it. When I slowed my boat and called out an invitation for them to join me, they couldn't seem to get their coats and cameras fast enough. My net was quite full of herring and would take some time to pick, so I hauled the net onto my deck fish and all. I pointed to a distant cove and showed the man and his son how to steer the boat, so I could pick the net and answer their many questions, while we cruised off to enjoy the sights. What an evening it turned out to be. The vast quantities of herring had lured six huge finback whales right to the cove where we where heading. All in all we had a wonderful time and they were so happy, that I decided that day to figure out some way to get people out on the ocean for a glimpse of what we fisherman observe every day.
In the beginning there were only three whale watches in all of Nova Scotia. Briar Island down on the mainland, Bill Crawford in Cheticamp who retired in the 1990's and mine, Captain Cox's (est. 1986).