From Cook Lake, I drove into St Peter’s and stopped off at friends there; as they were away, I had some extra time and decided to take the back way to L’Ardoise. Accordingly, I drove out Highway 4 to Barra Head, where I turned on to the Salmon River Road, which I had first discovered a year ago. Some, but not a lot of colour was to be seen. During this drive, I stopped thrice, once along the road where I found some colours, once again to look at Gillis Lake, and the last time to look at Garrets Lake. Although the road passes close by both of these lakes, the trees are so much in the way at Gillis Lake that I took no photos there. Those on this page come from the first and third stops.
Salmon River is a popular name in Nova Scotia; the glossary at the end of The Nova Scotia Atlas has no fewer than twelve entries for this name, of which three are localities and nine are streams. Cape Breton Island claims one of the localities (in Richmond County) and three of the streams (one each in Victoria, Cape Breton, and Richmond Counties); in addition, Cape Breton County has a locality named Salmon River Road. These place names attest to the once thriving population of Atlantic salmon that spawned in Cape Breton’s rivers and streams. Alas, irresponsible overfishing beginning in the 1950’s, when an important ocean feeding ground for the Atlantic Canadian population was discovered near Greenland, caused the Atlantic salmon population to collapse by the 1980’s; in eastern Cape Breton, “[t]he total number of mature individuals in 5 rivers, thought to harbour the majority of the population, was only about 1150 in 2008.” The situation is no better in western Cape Breton either, where the very interesting Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada research document 2005/022, Stock Status of Altantic Salmon (Salmo salar) in the Cheticamp River, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, for 2004, shows that the estimated salmon population returning to the Chéticamp River in 2004 was a mere 270 fish, though still large enough to be a bit more than self-sustaining. In 2014, the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources asked Mi’kmaq in Cape Breton to stop taking salmon from the Middle River, which flows out Nyanza Bay into St Patricks Channel and thence into the Great Bras d’Or Lake, for food or ceremonial purposes because the fish’s population in that river has dropped below conservation levels, as described here. The situation is equally dire along the Bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia’s east coast, where Atlantic salmon numbers are very low and the species is considered endangered. In the southern Gulf of St Lawrence and along the Gaspé Peninsula, numbers are a bit higher overall, since the Miramichi River still hosts a salmon population several thousand strong. In Newfoundland, a population on the south coast is also considered threatened, although salmon numbers in the rest of the province are stable.¹ Let us hope that their numbers increase substantially in the future so that these place names reflect their original sense and do not become a testimonial to the extinction of a species due to greed and mismanagement.
Photo #1 shows a stretch of colourful trees looking southeast along the Salmon River Road, most still early, but with a spot of red showing here and there. Tamaracks and evergreens vastly outnumber hardwood trees in Richmond County, so such sustained colour is a bit unusual along this road. There are evergreens on the right side of the road intermixed with deciduous trees, which presents an interesting contrast of dark greens (evergreens), unchanged greens (hardwood trees), and some brighter coloured leaves.
Photo #2 looks along the road to the northwest, where the deciduous trees are changing, but tend towards the yellows and oranges. Notice the interesting contrast between the occluded sky and the rays of sun lighting up the trees at the right side of the road and the shoulder in the right lower foreground.
Photo #3 is a closer view of the trees at the left of centre in photo #1. Unfortunately, the sunlight was diffuse, even though it was enough to cast shadows on the road, so its effects on the foliage were insufficient to bring out all of their brilliance.
The same, alas, is true of the maple seen in photo #4, which, of course, is what brought me to a halt here in the first place. These leaves were truly red, though only recently so, and would have benefitted greatly from some bright sunlight. Still, I was right pleased to see so beautiful a red maple along this road.
Photo #5 was taken at Garrets Lake, on the west side of the road across from the lake. This tree and its near neighbours feature a great mass of multiple colours, with golds and yellows and oranges accompanied by still unchanged greens. Mostly concealed behind the big tree is a stand of smaller maples who have chosen to display reds rather than the softer colours.
Photo #6 is a wide-angled view to the east from the side of the road looking across Garrets Lake. Its shores, alas, are not getting the benefit of sun either, in spite of some blue skies, reflected in the waters below. But, if you look carefully, you can see some fall colours along the shores on the far side.
Photo #7 is a close-up showing the trees in the right third of photo #6. Here, yellows and oranges can be seen, with one red tree at the far right. Garrets Lake is one of several lakes which dot this area of Richmond County; most do not have maintained roads leading to them, so it is an especial treat to see this back country.
Photo #8 looks across the near bay of the lake at the red tree seen at the far right of of photo #6. Its neighbours tend to be more orange than red, but reds there are in at least one tree.