A tour of the Cape Breton Highlands

Sandra Barr and Rob Raeside have worked in the Cape Breton Highlands off and on for over 20 years. Below are some scenes they have captured in the course of their travels [click on images for larger versions].


Cape Porcupine sits on the Nova Scotia mainland opposite Cape Breton Island on the Strait of Canso. The quarry originally opened to build the Canso Causeway now supplies rock for gravel carried up and down the east coast of North America, and even as far as the Mississippi River and the Netherlands.

Looking northwest across St. Anns Harbour to the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau.  The impressive boulder bar across the harbour provides sheltered anchorage and is traversed by the road to the Englishtown ferry.



Middle Head separates North Bay Ingonish from South Bay Ingonish. The headland is underlain by granite and diorite, while the bays are underlain by softer sandstone and gypsum. In June the lupins bloom and frame the Keltic Lodge, perched on the narrowest part of the Middle Head.

Middle Head, as viewed from the air, stretches out like a narrow finger into the Atlantic Ocean. The Ingonish golf course extends along part of it.

tl_files/sites/ees/Images/info/cb-neils_harbour-s.jpg On the northeast coast of the Cape Breton Highlands, the extensive Devonian Black Brook Granite is exposed on the shoreline at Neils Harbour.

The North Aspy River flows along the ruler-straight Aspy Fault, which cuts into Cape Breton Island from the north. Metamorphic rocks of the North Mountain (left in photo) abut against softer sandstone.

tl_files/sites/ees/Images/info/money_point-s.jpg The Aspy Fault continues out to sea, along the east coast of Money Point. The lowlands to the east are underlain by sandstone and gypsum in Aspy Bay.
The location where the fault comes to the shore is marked by the offset of the wave-cut platform. This platform was cut during the Sangoman Interglacial, 120,000 years ago, implying that the 17 m offset on the Aspy Fault visible in this photo has happened in the Late Pleistocene or Holocene. tl_files/sites/ees/Images/info/cb-aspy_neotectonics-s.jpg
tl_files/sites/ees/Images/info/cb-aspy_fault_aerial-s.jpg The Aspy Fault offsets the raised beach on the right (north side), 5 m above modern sea level and the same beach level on the left (south side), 23 m above modern sea level - almost at the level of the trees.

Along the Aspy Fault, the steep scarp is the site of several landslides, including this large one at Archies Brook, which is reported to have slid in the early 20th Century.

tl_files/sites/ees/Images/info/cb-polletts_cove-s.jpg Polletts Cove River drains the Grenville-aged rocks of the Blair River Inlier in the northwestern Highlands. This must be one of Nova Scotia's best-kept wilderness secrets!

The hike into Polletts Cove involves a three-hour trek along the hillside, with a couple of 250 m climbs thrown in for good measure. However the cow-path is well marked!

tl_files/sites/ees/Images/info/cb-pleasant_bay_hlcptr-s.jpg Overlooking Pleasant Bay.

Cheticamp River is one of the largest streams on the west coast of the highlands, and flows through an impressive 300 m gorge.

tl_files/sites/ees/Images/info/cb-grand_falaise-s.jpg The Cabot Trail snakes through the Rigwash à Bernard, and on the left (east side) Cambrian rocks of the Cheticamp Pluton are thrust over Devonian rhyolite of the Fisset Brook Formation, along a prominent gypsum seam.

Looking northwest along the Margaree Valley from Margaree Forks.



Upstream from the Margaree Salmon Hatchery, the Northeast Margaree River has incised the Windsor Group limestone and spreads out into a braided stream.

One of the small active coal mines in the Inverness area - this one is the Sainte-Rose quarry.