St. Lawrence Slopes
The St. Lawrence Slopes is physically separated into three sub-Units:
(a) Squirrel Mountain
(b) Polletts Cove
(c) Meat Cove
Geology and Landscape Development
St. Lawrence Slopes is a narrow band of resistant Early Carboniferous rocks which shoulder the Highlands Region massif along its west side from Margaree Harbour to Cape North (see Figure 21).
Squirrel Mountain (sub-Unit 592a)
In the Squirrel Mountain area the strata are dominated by Early Carboniferous volcanic lavas. These are very resistant, and the slope from the Highlands plateau drops steeply to the coast where it meets a narrow coastal plain (sub-Unit 551b). At Corney Brook, all the main rock groups in this part of Cape Breton are exposed within a short distance of one another. The Horton strata contain angular pieces of the basement rock.
Polletts Cove (sub-Unit 592b)
The Polletts Cove area lies beside Pleasant Bay and presents unremittingly steep slopes which form a continuum with the underlying Highlands block. Pleasant River flows along a fault and across a small triangle of Windsor Group rocks before reaching the Northumberland Strait.
Click to enlarge
Meat Cove (sub-Unit 592c)
A larger area of Early Carboniferous strata is found at Meat Cove, but because these rocks are almost as resistant as the granites and gneisses, the landscape remains steep and rugged, with high cliffs bordering Bay St. Lawrence.
Freshwater and Coastal Aquatic Environments
Surface water in all three sub-Units consists mainly of steep, straight streams that originate in the surrounding highlands and drain into the Northumberland and Cabot straits. Many of the streams in sub-Units 592a and 592c are isolated first-order streams that drain in a parallel pattern.
Fresh water is alkaline; for example, Grand Lake in sub-Unit 592a has a pH of 8.0 and a conductivity reading of 200 micromhos/cm. There are colluvial deposits in stream ravines in sub-Units 592b and 592c, as well as several seep and spring zones. A number of barachois ponds and several small salt marshes are found along the coast.
Softwoods predominate: spruce, hemlock, pine, and fir, with maple and birch. Pure stands of White Spruce occur on oldfields, with better stands of shade-tolerant Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch and American Beech on better-drained slopes and rich intervale soils.
Freshwater habitats support a diverse aquatic fauna. The unit also provides some scattered eagle-breeding habitat. A moderate number of Black Guillemot are believed to breed in part of Bay St. Lawrence.
A Snow Crab fishery predominates at Pleasant Bay (sub-Unit 592b). Meat Cove was so named because of the smell of the rotting flesh of hundreds of moose slaughtered by a nineteenth-century hunting expedition.
Sites of Special Interest
- Corney Brook - a complete section of local Carboniferous strata
- North Aspy River (IBP Proposed Ecological Site 21) - old deciduous forest
Provincial Parks and Park Reserves
Proposed Parks and Protected Areas System includes Natural Landscapes 75a and 75b and Candidate Protected Area 1 Pollet Cove-Aspy Fault
- Sub-Unit 592b: Pleasant Bay (viewed from Cabot Trail on west side)
- Sub-Unit 592c: North of Capstick (view towards Cape North)
|T2.4 The Carboniferous Basin|
|T7.3 Coastal Landforms|
|T11.7 Seabirds and Other Birds of Marine Habitats|
|T12.11 Animals and Resources|
|H2.1 Rocky Shore|
|H5.3 Cliff and Bank|
|H3.1 Freshwater Open-Water Lotic|
|H6.1 Hardwood Forest (Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, Beech Association)|
|H6.2 Softwood Forest (White Spruce Association; Spruce, Hemlock, Pine Association)|
|H6.3 Mixedwood Forest (Spruce, Fir, Pine-Maple, Birch Association)|
|Associated Offshore Unit|
|914 Northumberland Strait|