Since I discovered Point Michaud several years ago, I have been back on nearly every trip I have taken to Cape Breton: this beautiful place attracts me with its photogenic beauty and its closeness to the vast ocean that laps its shores. No ice on the waters here! Since I had spare time on Monday before paying a surprise visit to friends in St Peter’s who did not know I was in Cape Breton, I drove over here in the morning on a day that was rather challenged for sun, but that gave me some decent photos nevertheless.
Point Michaud, seen in the centre of photo #1, is not quite the southernmost point on Cape Breton Island¹—that honour goes to Bear Head on Chedabucto Bay, but it is close. However, it is geographically notable nonetheless—it marks the transition between inhabited and relatively protected coastal waters and the Atlantic Ocean: due east of Point Michaud, the nearest land is close to the Pointe-de-Grave at the mouth of the Gironde River in France, a very long ways off, while due west of Point Michaud is Cap-la-Ronde on Isle Madame, visible to the naked eye on a decent day, and adjacent to both the Lennox Passage and St Peters Bay. At Point Michaud, the coast of Cape Breton Island gradually turns to the northeast and changes character the further north it goes.
What strikes me most in photo #1 is the missing white sand beach that draws many visitors to the park and to the area, for that beach runs from the park all the way around the cove (part of which is beyond the right edge of the photo) and back out to Point Michaud. The beach is still there, of course, but lies under a mass of kelp and seaweed, seen more clearly in photo #2. As the Wikipedia article on kelp indicates, this plant is edible and provides many useful dietary supplements, including calcium, iodine, iron, and magnesium; dried, it can be burnt as a fuel; it figures in soap and glass production; it is an effective fertilizer; it is being studied as a possible renewable energy source; a derivitave even helps lose weight by reducing fat absorption! At this time of year, when the diet of deer lacks many nutrients, I am told that they make regular visits to dine on the kelp; I can certainly attest to having surprised three of them (and myself!) en route to the beach as I drove out to the park. I do not know where it all disappears to before beach weather arrives, but it is gone by mid-June, when I have seen the beach sparkling in the sun.
The waves breaking on the rocks at the park are also always enchanting, even on a cool, windy day like the one here (which was warmer than the previous ones on this trip). This headland is still quite striking on a much calmer fall day, as this photo shows (and note the kelp on the shore which has again started to collect).
¹ Note that I said Cape Breton Island. A headland (unnamed on the maps available to me) near Presqu’Île Cove on the southern coast of Isle Madame at Cap Auguet is considerably further south than either Bear Head or Point Michaud. However, the Lennox Passage separates Isle Madame from Cape Breton Island (though a road over a bridge and causeway connects the two), so Isle Madame is not part of Cape Breton Island, though it is usually thought of as part of Cape Breton.↩