It’s hard to come to the maritimes and not think about Rita MacNeil. The iconic Nova Scotian singer’s voice is synonymous with so much that I love about the area. As soon as you cross the Canso Causeway, you’re silly to not turn on some Rita as you weave through Cape Breton’s beautiful landscape.

So when were visiting some family in New Waterford last week, imagine our surprise when we found an airbnb listing called Rita’s Retreat. Which is actually the former home of Rita MacNeil!

Right now there are two listings, one in each guest house. And while her main house isn’t available for rent right now, it soon will be. While I was visiting my aunt, my boyfriend and doggy actually got a tour of the house from the new owners, which is situated in Coxheath, which is about a ten minute drive from downtown Sydney.

The house still features the three-time Juno winner’s piano, which obviously is incredible. Both rentals give you access to the indoor pool and the grounds, which are truly beautiful. It’s amazing to sit in her former backyard and think about all the incredible guests she must have over and songs she wrote along the water.

The suites themselves are pretty. They could use a little updating, but the owners had only owned the property for a few weeks before we stayed there, so I suspect they were just getting started.

If you’re looking for a true Cape Breton experience, I can’t think of a better way than to stay than the place where one of the island and country’s most iconic singers used to rest her head.

Mike Morrison