Unit 412 is divided into three sub-Units with similar features:
(a) Lake Rossignol
(b) Millipsigate Lake
(c) Rocky Lake
Geology and Landscape Development
The three sub-Units of the Mersey Meadows are blanketed with quartzite till but have only a few scattered drumlins of the
same material (see Figure 13). Glacial outwash deposits and ice-contact drift (such as collects in crevasses) are found on
the upper reaches of the Argyle River. Eskers are common in many river valleys but particularly those of the Argyle, Jordan,
and Sable rivers (sub-Unit 412a).
The area has a number of lakes, but drainage is relatively unimpeded and the rivers form dendritic patterns.
Here the rivers
flow perpendicularly to the bands of interfolded quartzite and shale, sometimes forming small waterfalls where resistant
quartzite ridges are encountered. Many of Nova Scotia's major rivers flow north-south through this Unit, i.e., the Clyde,
Roseway, Jordan, Sable, and Broad rivers. Lake Rossignol is the largest lake, dominating surface-water coverage in the
northeast. This Unit has the largest concentration of fens and raised and sloped peat bogs in Nova Scotia (see Figure 11).
Surface water is fairly acidic, with pH levels ranging from 4.0 to 6.1. Dissolved solids are limited, and conductivity and primary
productivity are low.
Click to enlarge
Lake Rossignol (sub-Unit 412a)
Moderately coarse-textured soils that developed from schistose parent materials include large areas of well-drained Mersey
soils, and imperfectly drained and mottled Liverpool soils. Towards the coast, imperfectly drained Danesville soils are
common, while inland are large areas of well-drained Halifax and Gibraltar gravelly, sandy loams. Around Greenfield is a large
area of well-drained Bridgewater sandy loam. A feature of this sub-Unit is the substantial acreage of barrens, some of it
caused by repeated burning, but some underlain by a dense ortstein layer. The effects of repeated burning have been
profound for these soils. A band of heavily burned forest extends from the Municipality of Argyle eastwards to the Broad
River in Queens County. Organic matter loss to fires has severely reduced the ability of this area to support good forest
growth. Lands to the north of this burnt section, extending from the Roseway River to the Medway River, south of Lake
Rossignol, are able to support good forest growth, even though their origins are similar, because they have been less severely
Millipsigate Lake (sub-Unit 412b)
Soils in this sub-Unit are predominantly shallow, Bridgewater series. North of Minamkeak Lake, and between Millipsigate and
Hebb lakes, Rockland occurs.
Rocky Lake (sub-Unit 412c)
Well-drained but shallow Farmville soils derived from slaty to gravelly tills occur with Farmville and occasional Bridgewater
The southwestern part of this Unit has been the most extensively burned, regenerating as a mixed forest with
pockets of White Pine and Red Oak. The natural vegetation appears to have been White Pine and Red Oak, but now many
of the hills support only low shrubs and scattered Black Spruce. Barren and semi-barren areas with depleted soils are now
colonized by huckleberry, which appears after cutting and after fires. In deeper soil areas, White Pine with shade-intolerant
hardwoods occur, with Red Oak on the ridges. Open peatlands are dominated by low ericaceous shrubs such as Leather-leaf,
Sheep Laurel, Rhodora, and Labrador Tea.
Describing the southwestern section of this Unit in 1912, C.D. Howe wrote: "Deep sands to coarse materials covered
only with a thin layer of sand may be found spread out in billowy masses. Such sands are very common ... giving rise to
extensive areas of white pine forests; while the coarse materials are frequent along the southern border of the granite.
Being heavy and coarse they never got far from their original source. ... They are barren or semi-barren because of too
thorough drainage and natural poverty of plant food materials. ... One frequently finds drained lake beds in the possession
of coarse grasses and sedges. ... The lower and middle courses of the rivers ... from the Clyde to the Sable are characterized
by low undulating deposits of sand interspersed by rocky or gravelly ridges, bogs and swamps. The two latter are most
extensive in the valleys of the Clyde and Sable where they occupy from one-third to one-half of the area. They contain spruce
and fir pulpwood in about equal proportions, usually, however, the spruce predominates. One finds in these regions blocks
of several thousand acres, not over five percent of which are forested, the rest being barren, open bogs and brushland.
Thickets of wire birch, red maple and red oak cover the gravelly and rocky ridges. Along the bases of the ridges the young
hardwoods are mixed with spruce and fir."
In the less-severely burned areas south of Lake Rossignol, the undulating terrain supports Eastern Hemlock and Red
Spruce, with some shade-tolerant hardwoods on well-drained sites. Very large Yellow Birch are found in these forests. Large
expanses of organic soils support mature trees. Deeper organic soils are characterized by Red Maple and Ash, while shallower
organic soils support larch. The luxurious understory in these larch swamps contains larger-than-usual Interrupted Fern.
In the lower valleys of the Jordan and Sable rivers, sandy soils are found which are extensively burnt and support White
Pine stands with Red Oak. Further inland, the Upper Ohio area, which has not been heavily burned, is characterized by Red
Spruce, Eastern Hemlock, and White Pine on the drier ridges, with more Yellow Birch than elsewhere.
Coastal-plain plants are relatively common in this Unit.
Large areas of barren and bog limit the productive wildlife habitat. Snowshoe Hare and bobcat are relatively abundant, and
Black Bear occur, particularly where berry bushes are abundant on the barrens. There are large concentrations of deer. The
Common Shrew, Short-tailed Shrew, Red-Backed Vole, and White-footed Mouse are the most common small mammals. Rivers
and lakes are acidic and often dystrophic, with low natural productivity. Painted Turtles and endangered Blanding's Turtles
are found here. Snakes are unusually common in the larch swamps.
The barren nature of much of the land has left this area sparsely settled. Repeated fires have contributed to the widespread
barrens. However, hunting, fishing, and canoeing have long been popular pursuits in the Mersey Meadows, and the Mersey
River was a traditional transport route for the Mi'kmaq and the French. New immigrants cut the forests, especially White Pine,
to supply timber to the shipbuilding market. Log drives transported timber down the Mersey River, which connects the
hinterland with the port of Liverpool.
Lake Rossignol was flooded in the 1920s for hydro power use by pulp and paper companies. Today, six hydroelectric
generating stations are located on the Mersey River. The flooding of Lake Rossignol affected animal wildlife populations and,
consequently, Mi'kmaq hunting and fishing guides could no longer fish salmon or hunt moose here for a period of time.
The Tobeatic Wildlife Management Area spans part of the Mersey Meadows and is one of the largest remaining wildland
areas in Nova Scotia.
Sites of Special Interest
- Tobeatic Game Sanctuary (provincial) (see also sub-District 440a)
- Burnaby Lake (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 42) - mature Red Spruce stand
- Shelburne River (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 43) - old Eastern Hemlock stand
- Sixth Lake (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 44) - Red Spruce, Eastern Hemlock forest
- Broad River (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 45) - Red Spruce forest
- Silvery Lake (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 47) - old Eastern Hemlock forest
- Quinan Lake (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 50) - an example of old mixed forest
- Lake Rossignol - significant archeological site
Provincial Parks and Park Reserves
Proposed Parks and Protected Areas System includes Natural Landscape 13, and Candidate Protected Areas 28 Lake
Rossignol and 30 Tidney River.
The Avalon and Meguma Zones
Terrestrial Glacial Deposits and Landscape Features
Vegetation and the Environment
Amphibians and Reptiles
Fresh Water and Resources
Hardwood Forest (Maple, Oak, Birch Association)
Softwood Forest (Spruce, Fir, Pine Association; Spruce, Fir