Photo 18 (Hard)

MacGillivrays Cove and the cobblestone beach at Gabarus
Photo 18 of 30: MacGillivrays Cove and the cobblestone beach at Gabarus
Taken 2008 June 11 in Gabarus from the north end of the cobblestone beach at MacGillivrays Cove
GPS 45°50.48?'N 60°08.19?'W

This view is to the south of southwest from MacGillivrays Cove in Gabarus. The heavy wood-and-creosote protective barrier is perhaps 4 m (13 ft) high and is surmounted with a promenade along which one can walk (very much easier than walking across the deep piles of cobblestones closer to the water!) and from which one can enjoy the tremendous views of the coast and of the ocean. The quantity of the cobblestones here is nothing short of amazing: notice the height of the adults on the beach in the centre left of the photo and then compare the height of the cobblestones on which they are standing with that of the water below; also, given the height of the wooden barrier, notice how close the cobblestones come to reaching the top at various points along its course. The fury of the Atlantic winds and waves can readily be gauged simply by looking at how far inland it has hurled the cobblestones—they would doubtless have been forced even further inland were it not for the barrier. (The huge boulders one sees at the far right are not, of course, cobblestones, but are similar to those behind the barrier (and seen in breakwaters all over Cape Breton Island), which are used to anchor it and give it stability; I do not know how these boulders came to be on the other (“wrong”) side of the barrier.)

The fishing community of Gabarus (population 51 in 2001—at the turn of the 20th century, it numbered a thousand inhabitants) is on the north side of the peninsula which holds the Gabarus Wilderness Area. In the photo above, it lies behind the protective barrier at the right and out of the photo’s scope, where it is sited on a harbour known as the Barachois. Gabarus Bay is to the north of the peninsula and Fourchu Bay is to its south; the peninsula comes to a point at Cape Gabarus on its northeastern end. Much of that peninsula is water, with Gabarus Lake and Belfry Lake as the two largest lakes together nearly severing the western end of the peninsula from Cape Breton Island. Many smaller lakes dot the interior of the peninsula.

The main road in Gabarus ends at the protective barrier on the Atlantic coast, where a long (roughly 6 km (3¾ mi)) crescent shore sweeps way out to Cape Gabarus in the southeast; the cobblestone beach seen above is at the near the northwestern end of that crescent. A road (labelled as Gull Cove Road in Google Earth) leads southeast from Gabarus to Harris Lake just inland of the shore, whereupon it enters the Gabarus Wilderness Area and becomes a trail (which I have not yet hiked) that passes inland behind Harris Lake, after which it turns east and follows the shore a considerable distance, ending at Gull Cove not far from Cape Gabarus. Stella Mann’s most interesting memoir of the former fishing community at Gull Cove, settled mostly by English and Loyalist families, can be found here (courtesy of the Wayback Machine archive, as the original has disappeared).