From the parking lot in Cape Smokey Provincial Park on a clear day such as this one was, a great panorama stretches from Wreck Point at the northeastern tip of Cape Breton County all along its shore to Boularderie Island, then into Victoria County with Cape Dauphin, along Kellys Mountain to St Anns Harbour and across it to Murray Mountain, and then back along the western St Anns Bay shore following the edges of the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau. This is just one small segment of that panorama, showing the shore from Wreck Point beyond Glace Bay at the left to somewhere around New Waterford at the far right. With binoculars, which I don’t use, I am told that one can make out many of the landmarks along this shore; my camera’s zoom was not good enough to capture anything except the twin towers of the Nova Scotia Power plant at Lingan outside New Waterford. Since they are rather hard to see, I have added at the right an excerpt from the original photo that shows them more clearly.
The contrast between the Cape Breton County shore line and the Victoria County shore line along St Anns Bay could not be more stark. There, all is flat (though, to be fair, cliffs do raise the land above all of the waters I have seen in that area); here, all is accidented terrain, with the Cape Breton Highlands rising high above the waters. As explained in this Parks Canada web page and in the “Geology” section of David Lawley’s A Nature and Hiking Guide to Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail (pp. 99-102), this obvious difference is due to the very different geological origins and fates of these two areas. Most of Cape Breton County, and indeed the entire southeastern half of Cape Breton Island, known as the Avalon Terrane (which Lawley calls the Mira Terrane), had its origin off the northwest coast of what has become Africa, while the northwestern half of Cape Breton Island, including most of Victoria County and Inverness County (the area around Cape St Lawrence excepted), belongs to the Bras d’Or Terrane (which Lawley subdivides into the Aspy Terrane and the Bras d’Or Terrane) that formed off the northwest coast of what has become South America. As a result of continental and oceanic formation and break-up caused by the drifting tectonic plates over the æons, the multiple land masses which have fused into today’s Cape Breton Island have migrated from their original locations near the equator to their present location, undergoing repeated collisions along the way, giving us the different land shapes we now observe.