Welcome to Our Neck of the Woods
The St. Ann’s Bay – North Shore region of Cape Breton Island enjoys a range of geology, topography and microclimates, that afford it a diversity of ecosystems both terrestrial and marine, all packed in to a relatively small area. Our wilderness a mix between the temperate hardwood Acadian forest typical of Mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the conifer-dominated maritime boreal forest characteristic of Newfoundland and Labrador. This difference is enhanced by elevation and topography, but is both enhanced and moderated by the ocean on our doorstep. The powerful and beautiful St. Ann’s Bay.
The water shapes the conditions of life on the edge of the continent. The Nova Scotia current, emanating from the Gulf of St Lawrence and pushing south west to the Bay of Fundy brings warm water in the summer months and tides of sea ice through late winter. If you are planning activities that involve the ocean, checking the current, wind and tides your location is crucial to a safe and enjoyable trip. Rising 300m on the west, the Highlands have a colder microclimate and are characterized by boreal forests dominated by balsam fir. Think Christmas trees covered in thick snow. Snowshoe hare bound along on a ten year cycle of population boom and bust. Followed closely by Canada lynx. Moose and deer are plentiful.
Mussels and oysters grow in the protected shallows, filtering plankton from the water. Herring and mackerel migrate into the nearshore to spawn in the summer. Sand lance and pipefish inhabit the side coves of the harbour and ice fishing for brook trout and smelt occurs there as well, in the winters that ice cover permits. Seals, especially Grey Seals (or Horseheads as they are known locally) often haul out on the Englishtown spit in the late winter. Cormorants, gulls and Eagles are common sights at the ferry. In June the bird islands on the northeast border of the bay are raucous with nesting colonies of great cormorants, puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes and guillemots.