This Tuesday in June was not the best of days, cool with lots of clouds and haze in the air, a tad damp, and very blustery, enough so that the fishermen stayed ashore as it was too dangerous to go out on the Gulf. As I was interested in getting some good “water pictures”, I decided to drive out to Mabou Coal Mines, a beautiful spot on the Gulf of St Lawrence where the first Scottish colonists (via Prince Edward Island) of the area settled. It is reached by a gravel road which winds its way from Mabou Harbour through the Cape Mabou Highlands. Mabou Coal Mines is tucked between Cape Mabou, which rises above it to the north, east, and south, and the Gulf. It now hosts a farm, a few year-round residences, several summer homes, a beach, a fishing harbour, and one of the three trail heads of the beautiful Cape Mabou Trail Club system of eighteen trails that wend their way over and about Cape Mabou, sadly closed at the request of Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources these past two years because of many dead white spruce trees, killed by the spruce bark beetle infestation, which present two dangers to hikers: fire and falling trees.
A short road descends from the Mabou Coal Mines Road to Finlay Point Harbour below, seen in photo #2 protected by its breakwaters. Finlay Point, a significant land mark along this coast, is the focal point of this photo. The water to the right of the road is Mill Brook, which rises in Cape Mabou and follows along the western portion of MacKinnons Brook Lane to exit under a bridge on the Finlay Point Harbour Road and through the breakwaters into the Gulf. The gypsum cliffs seen in detail in photo #1 are in the center of photo #2; given the right lighting, they can sparkle brightly in the sun, but are a bit more subdued in the cloudy lighting of this day. Notice the eagle on the beach below the cliffs in the centre of photo #1, taking a breather from the fierce winds and doubtless trying to figure out where the next meal is going to come from in this weather.
Coal Mine Point is the point which juts out at the right of photo #3. The coal mines which gave the community its name were to the south of (beyond) Coal Mine Point; they have not been exploited since they were flooded in 1909. A sandy beach that is a very popular swimming spot on the hot days of summer begins beside Finlay Point Harbour Road and continues in an arc around the cove up to the gypsum face in the centre of this photo, though most of it is hidden in this view by the cliff in the foreground. This was definitely not a hot summer day, as I was forcefully reminded later on the breakwater when a wave came crashing over it and soaked me and my camera! Before it did, I got several fine shots of water breaking on the beach and on Finlay Point, so I declared victory and headed back to Mabou.
It is interesting to contrast the state of the gypsum face in Coal Mine Point in photo #3 photo with the one here taken four years earlier on a brighter day, vivid proof of the effect of erosion on this coast. Notice also the gypsum rocks lying in the grass in the middle upper left of both photos.
While I was taking the shot of Coal Mine Point, a curious horse in the pasture along the cliff came up to the guardrails at the look-off to check me out. At the time, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this fine animal and, as I was selecting photos for this essay, again felt compelled to include it here as photo #4, even though it’s not a “water picture”. As it happened, a few cattle were also in the pasture here, but they were closer to Finlay Point, lying down and chewing their cuds, and nowhere near as curious as this beautiful horse.