In 1902, the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, (DFO), built the Margaree Fish Hatchery, located at the north end of Margaree Valley, as the first salmon hatchery in Nova Scotia, the second oldest in the Maritimes. A few years ago, DFO closed the hatchery but a local volunteer group, the Aquatic Development Association of Margaree, (ADAM), managed to keep it running until the Inland Fisheries Division, NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture took over the operation. As it has in the past, the hatchery continues to raise Speckled trout and Salmon parr and smolts for release back into the Margaree watershed as well as some other Cape Breton waters. The hatchery, along with the Margaree Salmon Association, plays an important role in maintaining the health of the Margaree River, the first river in the Maritimes to be designated as a Heritage River.

The Hatchery circa 1905

Hungry fish

The Hatchery is usually open to 4 pm daily for people to take a self-guided tour. As you walk from pool to pool, you can see the different life stages of the salmon and trout as they mature. There are also some kiosks detailing this life cycle. Up behind the main building, there’s an information center where more great info and aboriginal art is on display. An observation deck can also be accessed there, from which you can often see fishers casting their lines into the beautiful Margaree River at the Hatchery Pool. Look for the salmon lying there, waiting to continue their journey upstrem, where they will reach their spawning grounds. Unlike Pacific Salmon, Atlantic Salmon do not die after spawning, but return to the ocean and can return another year.


At capacity, the Hatchery can release up to 50,000 salmon smolt (young salmon), which are ready to migrate out to sea, and 100,000 parr, which are under a year old and will stay in the river to feed and grow. Volunteers capture mature returning salmon which will produce up to 180,000 eges, which are then raised for release in the following years. The Hatchery fish also spawn up to 500,000 Brook Trout eggs; the breeding stock for these eggs are held at the hatchery.

The Hatchery is located in Margaree Valley, close to the Cabot Trail; watch for highway signs and take one of the Margaree Valley exits.



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