Donkeys for northern Cape Breton

The Adventure

We're over two-thirds of the way to achieving our fundraising goal! Many thanks to everyone who has made a contribution to our project of bringing the first pair of donkeys to northern Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

Project Update to December 2017

Here is an update on our donkey project - see pics below - from hand-dug dirt site (with turkeys) to barn building and pasture clearing. I hope all you kind donors to our fund, and potential donors, understand that we started this project from scratch, and that we're in it for the long haul. Rejean has been building the barn using as much foraged material as possible, like the guard rail posts from South Mountain road construction that now serve as a foundation, and doors and windows from various places including an old rectory. A third of the money we've collected so far has gone toward new lumber. That leaves us with enough for the Creatures, in spring. We'll be saving and soliciting more this winter for hay and expenses like vet, farrier and fencing costs, though we hope to repurpose materials for most of the fencing. Currently Rejean is putting the last battens on the boards.
ps The windows may look slanty but that's an optical illusion due to adjusting for a tapering spruce-log top beam, and two slightly-different sizes of windows. Rejean wants you to know that. :)

Why donkeys?

All over the globe, the stoic, sweet-natured donkey has shared in the labour of farming. Our terrain here in the North Highlands of Cape Breton makes growing food a challenge, but it suits donkeys to a tee: dry rocky slopes, hiking trails everywhere, miles-long beaches nearby , and here and there pockets of arable land, like our two acres of organic market gardens at South Harbour Farm.

Most of the population of this vast area lives in isolated coastal fishing villages between mountains and the Atlantic ocean. Young people have been drifting away for years, leaving sadness and worry in their place: how will our communities survive? We believe the loss of inspired youth is related to the loss of a connection with the land.

Lately, farming has been making a comeback here, mainly in the form of poultry-keeping. It's time to bring more working - and playing, and riding - farm animals to our area. Donkeys in particular have the power to inspire kids and cheer people up.

Who we are

For over 30 years Rejean Chamberland and Claudia Gahlinger have grown food, tended forest, kept poultry, and carried out community gardening projects near Cape North, at the top of Cape Breton's Cabot Trail. Our proudest creations to date are South Harbour Farm and the Cape North Farmers Market. The Market is a lively social scene that supports 15+ local micro-businesses, most of them run by women.

We've hosted local students and volunteers from around the world to help with farm chores and garden projects. Now we're getting ready for the next step in the evolution of local, small-scale, non-mechanized farming: donkeys, a good match for us, our land and community, and a future without fossil fuels.


Our goal is to bring two donkeys to South Harbour Farm by June, 2018.

Why we are asking for your support

We have the time, labour, volunteers, building skills, recycled construction materials, and ten forested acres we need for this project. $6000 would cover the start-up costs for two donkeys, trailering,  feed and bedding, fencing, hardware supplies, and farrier and vet fees.

Your support is greatly appreciated. Your reward is a visit to South Harbour Farm to commune with northern Cape Breton's first donkeys and know you are helping put the farm spirit back into our communities.

2 most recent photos at the top: Winter 2017-18, Rejean has constructed a sliding main door and a back door for the barn. The plywood was donated by friends.


  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 6 mos
  • Dianne (and Joe/Dad) MacDougall 
    • $20 
    • 19 mos
  • fb donations 
    • $150 (Offline)
    • 19 mos
  • cape north farmers market donations 
    • $200 (Offline)
    • 19 mos
  • s m c 
    • $500 (Offline)
    • 19 mos
See all


Claudia Gahlinger 
Dingwall, NS
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