The photos in this essay celebrate a precious place as their subject: West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. Most of them were taken in the park itself; some were taken from vantage points that lie outside, but adjacent to, the park in order to better show its siting and features.
West Mabou Beach Provincial Park was saved from subdivision and commercial development and preserved as a wild place for the enjoyment of the general public through the efforts of a dedicated cadre of volunteers, now operating as the West Mabou Beach Committee. Within the compass of its 215 hectares (530 acres), the park contains a number of diverse ecosystems: ”sandy and rocky beaches, sand dunes, alkaline ponds, estuaries, tidal flats, a small bird island, woodlands, and coves”, in the words of the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park leaflet. Its designation as a provincial park is relatively recent, dating only from 2001, though its beautiful sand beach had been a popular recreation area long before that. While it has walking trails, benches, and picnic tables, it remains largely untouched by man and is a beautiful natural place that is easily accessible to all. It is a day-use park only; overnight camping is not allowed.
West Mabou Beach Committee
Mabou, NS B0E 1X0
Two accesses to the trail system, both marked with blue signs, are reached from the West Mabou Road, which passes through West Mabou and then follows along the Colindale shore, where it is referred to as the Colindale Road, to its end at Port Hood, well worth driving on its own just for its many splendid views.¹ Coming from Mabou, the first entrance at the top of the long hill leads to a parking area (the “river trails” parking area) from which the Mabou River trails are directly accessible; the second, further down the road at the bottom of that long hill, leads to the parking area at the beach (the “beach” parking area), from which both the coastal trails above the beach and inland trails along the Mabou River are readily reached.
The views from the coastal trails above the beach are gorgeous; I have spent many an hour wool-gathering there, soaking in the natural beauty of the beach, Green Point, the mouth of the Mabou River, the Northumberland Strait (Gulf of St Lawrence), the Cape Mabou Highlands, and the coast to the south. On the hot sunny days of summer, the beach can be busy, but the coastal trails are high enough above the beach that any noise on the beach does not interfere with one’s enjoyment of the peaceful scenery.
For the first couple of years I visited the park, I was unaware of the trails along the Mabou River, which are equally beautiful, but of a very different character. They are highly recommended for their marvellous views of the river and the Cape Mabou Highlands rising above it, for their relative solitude and wildness, and for the teeming bird life seen along the shore; prepare to spend an afternoon and pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the several picnic tables placed along the Mabou River shore.
The park is suitable to visit in any weather, for it is far more than just a beach; even in chilly, windy, cloudy weather, its beauty is breath-taking. If you are in the area, do yourself a favour and sample the natural beauty this park offers in such great variety and abundance. If you do no more than just walk from the parking lot to the bluff above the beach, less than a minute’s walk, you will still come away the richer.
Feedback on the photos and the accompanying commentary, including corrections, is welcome.
Victor Maurice Faubert
2006 January 19
¹ Officially, this road is known as the Little Mabou Road, from one end to the other, but it is rarely so called by those who live in the area, except occasionally to designate that section closest to Port Hood, northeast of which the locality of Little Mabou is found.↩