From Peter MacDonald to Friends of Arisaig Park

Greetings all:

2017  May: Work continues as we get ready to open the park for another season. DNR staff will be in the park this week doing final clearing of trails and planting some larger trees at the entrance. Seedlings planted in the spring and fall of 2016 are beginning to fill in the spaces –  1500 seedlings  of yellow birch and white pine.  Art Lynds will be down to assist us and train us in how to properly do the planting.

There was some restructuring within DNR this spring. The Parks division has been absorbed into the Forestry division all under the Department of Natural Resources.  We will need everyone we can get to help with the tree planting so spread the word.

More planting during the coming summer months.

Cheers, Peter

Picnic Park open for visits

During the off-season, park outside the gate and walk in.  The roads in the park are not useable during this period.  And park clearing is in progress. See below for winter usage.

 Arisaig – Northumberland Shore – A small picnic park, known for its fascinating geology. An interpretive kiosk, trails, and picnic area help ensure an interesting and enjoyable experience. Located in the community of Arisaig, 27 km (17 miles) north of Antigonish and 57 km (36 miles) northeast of New Glasgow on Route 245 on the SUNRISE TRAIL

Great Hiking and Views

(No overnight camping allowed.  Gate closes overnight.)

Arisaig Provincial Park, overlooking the warm waters of the Northumberland Strait, offers a fascinating window to life on Earth some 443 to 417 million years ago.

Park Restoration Project…

  • From Art Lynds, ecologist for NS Provincial Parks.
  • begun in 2015 and ongoing over the next decades.
  • In the response to the devastation of the spruce trees, various areas of the park must be replanted. It is intended to replace current stands with indigenous trees and bushes.  This work will be spread over many seasons with the intention of recreating the landscape the aboriginals and European settlers might have found when they arrived after the last ice age.
  • The goal is to restore the Acadian Forest growth with only growth that would have been there before the arrival of mankind.  Remember when the Park land was created, it was bare farm fields.  All the trees and plants in it have been established since that time, including several very invasive species.
  • Friends of the park formed work parties to remove seedlings of unwanted trees in the spring and summer of 2015
  • in the fall,  the park restorers began to removing the non-native plants from the park. Over the years, many  plants “from away” have established  a foothold in the park.  The plan involves leaving the fallen trees in situ to break down and return to the soil.

Some Park History:

The rocks of Arisaig Provincial Park represent a continuous record of conditions in a shallow, storm-frequented sea from the Late Ordovician period (448 million years) through the entire Silurian to the Early Devonian (401 million years).  They also highlight the differences between northern and southern Nova Scotia.  The older rocks of southern Nova Scotia contain few fossils suggesting an environment that was inhospitable to most life forms.  Arisaig is representative of northern Nova Scotia; fossils found in the rocks here show an abundance of life forms that suggest warmer waters, sunlight and an abundance of food. Between Early Silurian and Late Carboniferous time, Gondwana, North America and other continental plates collided to produce the mega-continent Pangea.  When Pangea began breaking apart some 225 million years ago, the process left southern Nova Scotia attached to northern Nova Scotia.  Most geologists consider southern Nova Scotia to be a fragment of Gondwana.

Precambrian volcanic rocks are found south of Hollow Fault, a major break in the earth’s crust. Arisaig Provincial Park is situated north of the fault on the younger Silurian rocks.  The oldest rocks, dark and light coloured lava and pyroclastic flows, are found at Arisaig Point.  The sedimentary rocks of the Arisaig Group, siltstones and sandstones (most with an abundance of fossils) begin at the Point and continue toward MacArra’s Brook.

The park is underlain by the Ross Brook Formation, a geological unit named after the bedrock exposures in Ross Brook near Arisaig Point. Cliffs on the east side of the park expose dark grey shale layers, but very few fossils. On the west side of the park, the shale layers are thinner, have more sandstones and contain abundant fossils.

Landforms and Glaciation:  Arisaig has a landscape whose history began long before glaciation and has been modified by glacial ice and running water.  Nova Scotia was covered by ice during the last glacial period, the Wisconsinan, which ended 11,000 years ago.  The Wisconsinan consisted of many glacial advances and retreats.  Glaciers erode the land using their weight to crush, pluck and grind bedrock. They also shape the land by depositing material.  When a glacier melts and retreats, it deposits various thicknesses of sand and gravel, known as till.  At Arisaig, as much as several meters of till cover the bedrock surface.  A nearly flat surface is visible at the top of the cliffs. This was created by wave erosion more than 130,000 years ago when sea level was higher than at present. This old wave-cut bench at the top is similar to the present day bedrock bench at the base of the cliffs.  Ancient beach gravels may be seen at the top of the cliffs on the older wave cut bench.

Present Landforms South of the Hollow Fault:  the Precambrian volcanic rocks are hard and resistant to erosion.  They underlie the high flat-topped hills to the south of the park.  The softer and more easily eroded rock of the Arisaig Group produces the rolling hills within the park.  The present land surface probably had its origins in events more than 60 million years ago when the surface of Nova Scotia was fairly flat with broad rivers flowing across the land. Later the land was uplifted and agents of erosion began their work. Running water, streams and rivers began cutting into the rock, creating valleys and low areas.  All of the high areas are underlain by hard resistant rocks which preserve this very old erosion surface.  The flat hills of the Antigonish Highlands are a reminder of these long ago events.

The sea cliffs of Arisaig are a popular and important tourist spot. They are also the site of extremely important fossil deposits.  Please remember that these fossils have great scientific value and it is important that they remain undisturbed and available to scientists for study.  It is against the law to remove or disturb fossils imbedded in the cliffs without a Heritage Research Permit .  The Heritage Division is currently revamping its permit system to account for collecting loose fossils on the beach. Loose fossils may be collected in the interim, although they remain the property of the Province of Nova Scotia.  Information from DNR Arisaig website.


Winter Activities


The Friends of the Park Committee are pleased to advise all and their friends, that the Arisaig Park roadways in and through the park are maintained through the winter and currently provide excellent opportunities for enjoying the winter outdoors.  In keeping with a wellness theme, everyone is invited to enjoy quality time snowshoeing, cross country skiing and walking the roadways.

Special thanks to Jonathon MacKenzie and Jimmy MacDonald for their continued work with the Park Committee.

Spread the word. 

Coastline in Arisaig, East of Arisaig Point  Pretty little falls surrounded by lots of fossils  Arisaig Falls – Central Location amongst millions of fossils

Arisaig – Northumberland Shore – A small picnic park, known for its fascinating geology. An interpretive kiosk, trails, and picnic area help ensure an interesting and enjoyable experience. Located near the community of Arisaig, 27 km (17 miles) north of Antigonish and 57 km (36 miles) northeast of New Glasgow on Route 245. Park Brochure (PDF) & Trail Brochure (PDF) GPS Coordinates:

X utm 564827.339754        Longitude 62°9′ 59.27″ W

Y utm 5067123.48204        Latitude 45°45′ 16.66″ N

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27 02 2016
Arisaig | Out and About Nova Scotia

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22 05 2016
Sunrise Trail Loop Northumberland Shore

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