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The World's Highest Tides


The Guinness Book of World Records states the world's highest tides to be in the Minas Basin, N.S., with the maximum tidal range recorded at 16.8 meters (54.6 ft). Parrsboro, the largest seaport on the Minas Basin, affords the best view of this tidal phenomenon. At this point the tide floods and ebbs over 3.2 kilometers (2 mi.) of tidal flat from the low water mark to the head of the harbour. Each phase of the cycle takes approximately 5 hrs\40 min. which results in each succeeding high or low water mark range an average 14m. (45.5 ft.) while the harbour heights are about 7.5 m (24 ft.). The initial cause of tidal action is the pull or attraction on the world's oceans by the moon, sun, planets and stars. They exert their gravitational influence most in relatively narrow bands around the earth at about 45 degrees north and south latitude. This is so because those are the areas tipped closest and farthest away from these celestial bodies. Although the gravitational pull on the earth by these bodies and particularly by the moon is strong, it is not enough to actually lift water but it can greatly influence its direction of flow, thus creating ocean tides. Along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia ocean tides account for a general rise and fall of from one of two meters. Sometimes this figure can be higher if there is a celestial alignment which would combine the gravitational influence of these bodies on the earth. However, for the Bay of Fundy Region, there are two other principal factors (geographical shape and tidal resonance) which change these two meter tides to the world record breaking sixteen meter and above variety. The pull of the ocean by the celestial bodies at the mouth of the funnel shaped Bay of Fundy creates a wave of water that continues to double up on itself as it travels to the Bay's head and then falls back. The entire trip happens to take about thirteen hours by which time the moon is ready for another pull. The timing of this cycle creates a rhythmic rocking or "sloshing effect" to the water in the Bay which amplifies the tides to such unusual heights. It is estimated that for the Fundy tides there may be as many as two hundred different factors that all in some way influence the timing and heights of tides.



The Mighty Fundy Tide


The tides in Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world. Twice a day 115 billion tones of water move in and out of the 160 mile long v-shaped pocket of sea-water. The rise and fall is 20, 30, often 40 feet in some places. During periods of high winds and a full moon, some Bay of Fundy tides have risen as high as fifty feet. The record variance between high and low has been measured as 54 feet in a place called Burncoat Head on the Minas Basin. The Glooscap Trail, named for the Micmac Indian God, follows the shoreline of Chignecto Bay, the Minas Channel, the Minas Basin, and Cobequid Bay where long stretches of mud flats are exposed during low tides and where curious backward waves called tidal bores occur during the rise. Further along the mouth of the Bay of Fundy in St. Mary's Bay, at Digby, in the Annapolis Basin and along the coast of the North Mountain are other, if less dramatic, examples of the amazing Fundy tides. As a natural phenomenon, the Bay of Fundy tide is not a sudden and dramatic event, but rather a gradual, remarkable occurrence. In some places in Cobequid Bay, the high tide comes in as fast as one inch per minute, fair warning for adventurous beachcombers who stray too far from shore. Ships and fishing boats that use the Bay of Fundy Ports like Delaps Cove, Parker's Cove, Hampton, Parrsboro, and Hall's Harbour are found flush and even with adjacent wharves during high tides, but become stranded, high and dry, 20 feet down when the tides recedes eight hours later. Rivers running into the Minas Basin, Cobequid Bay and Chignecto Bay often experience a tidal bore -- a wave of water that moves upstream against the current, making it seem like the river is running backwards. Tidal bores regularly occur in the

Macaan River and River Hebert near Amherst, the Chigonois and Salmon River near Truro, the Shubenacadie River and the Meander River near Windsor. The Salmon River on the outskirts of Truro is the most popular place to watch the tidal bore. Tide times are well posted and there is parking near the viewing sites. Unlike the gradual tide change, a tidal bore occurs in a matter of minutes. It passes in seconds. As the high tide reaches it peak, a small wave of water (the wave increases in height with wind direction and the phases of the moon) suddenly appears at the mouth of the river and works its way up stream. At some places in the stream, the bore causes white water turbulence as the river fights to push back the advancing tide. But the mighty Fundy tide always wins and soon the mud-covered river sides are engulfed in water, the river fills its banks and the advancing bore disappears gradually upstream. A remarkable and unusual sight -- found nowhere else in North America, part of the magic and mystery of the amazing Fundy tides.

Spencers Island - Advocate Harbour



Spencer's Island &endash;


which is not an island &endash; was once Nova Scotia's premier shipbuilding community. Now greatly diminished from its glory days, it is an interesting little area with a bed and breakfast, historic lighthouse, campground, gift shop and restaurant. The former lighthouse now contains an interpretive centre. 

The lighthouse was built in 1904 and first lit on July 15 of that year. The original project, supervised by the first keeper, Baxter McLellan, cost $645.87. The building, constructed of timber, was 33 feet high from the base to the ventilator on the lantern, with a main floor about l5 feet square and interior stairs leading up to the light. It was built on the beach, 63 feet back from the water to the eastward of the inner end of the Government pier. (Now gone.) The light was fixed red, visible for about 7 miles from all points of approach, with a seventh order dioptric lens.

The photograph is of this original tower, which still stands, but is much closer to the water. It does not shows the old fog bell apparatus that was used many years ago because after it was de-commisioned a local had a little too much rum and decided to ring the bell with his shotgun for one last time... and you know the rest of the story..... There was a winding mechanism, and once wound, the bell would ring for about 12 hours before re-winding was necessary. The first keeper, Baxter McLellan, was paid $100 per year at his appointment in 1904.

The light was discontinued in the 1980's because commercial shipping no longer used the channel. It was acquired by the Spencers Island Community Association from the Federal Government after 2 years of negotiations. It opened to the public in 199I as a small museum with pictures of the sailing vessels built in local shipyards, artifacts and the like. In 1995 and 1996 major renovations were made, funded by local fund raising projects. In 2006, the Canadian Coastguard gave permission to turn the light back on. Instead of attracting ships, it now attracts tourists.

A nearby cairn tells the story of the Mary Celeste, a brigantine built here as the Amazon in 1861. She was wrecked off Cape Breton in 1867, but salvaged and re-registered in 1868 in New York as the Mary Celeste. In 1872 she was found sailing herself off the Azores, with not a soul left aboard. Her abandonment is one of the enduring mysteries of the sea, and has been the subject of numerous articles, plays and novels.

The beach area is a breeding site for the Double Crested Cormorant, Black Guillemot and Blue Heron. You can usually see herons feeding in a marsh located on the land side of the beach. This is the only local nesting site for the Black Guillemot, but herons and cormorants breed all along the coastline from here to Five Islands.



Cape Chignecto Provincial Park


At Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, towering 185-meter (600-foot) cliffs rise from the Bay of Fundy while the world's highest tides lap at their base. Cape Chignecto is a 4,200-hectare natural environment park on a dramatic coastal peninsula. The park features 29 kilometres (18 miles) of pristine coastline, some of Nova Scotia's most significant geological features, deep valleys, sheltered coves, rare plants, remnant old growth forest, scenic views, and a rich cultural heritage. We offer wilderness camping in secluded coves and ravines, while a spectacular coastal hiking trail leads visitors along high cliffs and deep valleys. 



The Joggins Fossil Cliffs


The fossil cliffs of Joggins are a world-class palaeontological site, and they have been designated a Special Place under the Province of Nova Scotia's Special Places Protection Act. Joggins is located near the head of the Bay of Fundy, in an area where the tides are some of the world's highest (over 15 meters). This tidal action causes steady erosion of the 23 meter high cliffs.



The cliffs have yielded fossils which give an unprecedented glimpse into life during the Carboniferous Period, including: a rich variety of flora; a diverse fauna of amphibians; some exciting trackways of the Arthropleura; and, some of the world's first reptiles.



The Cape d'Or Lighthouse, established in 1922


A fog whistle was established on the cape in 1875 to warn mariners of the tidal rips. The first light, a square wooden tower, painted white, standing on a red wooden trestle, was built in 1922.

From the evidence in photographs, the first keeper's house was built at the site of the current lighthouse.

The current keeper's bungalows were built in 1958/59, and the concrete lighthouse in 1965. The light was automated and de-staffed in 1989.

In 1980, an archaeological dig just west of the lighthouse discovered tool fragments of aboriginal people which were dated to about 2000 years ago.

Cape d'Or was the last verified nesting site in Nova Scotia for the rare Peregrine Falcon. When attempts to re-establish the birds began in 1982 it became a falcon release site. You may see these birds if you visit. Rare plants, normally found only at high altitudes in the Rocky Mountains grow on the cliffs.



The Town of Parrsboro


Parrsboro i sthe nearest town to the old Shipyard Beach Campground.

Tucked away on the Northern Shore of the Minas Basin, Parrsboro has been called "Nova Scotia's best- kept secret". From our harbour one can view the world's highest tides. An article in the Nov/Dec issue of National Geographic Traveler Magazine quotes New Brunswick Professor Bob Rosebrugh as saying "The world's highest tides are in the Bay of Fundy, and the area around Parrsboro has to be the prettiest place to watch them sweep in and out". The author of the article, Barbara Peck, says "This sweet northwestern corner, around the coastal town of Parrsboro, is more than picturesque; it's full of unusual things to see and do."

Situated approximately 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Trans-Canada highway linking Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Parrsboro is less than two hours drive to the airports of Moncton and Halifax.

As one of the oldest settled areas of Canada, our past encompasses the early Minas Basin explorations of Champlain, longstanding ties with New England and the American Revolution. Shipbuilding and commerce along the Parrsboro shore add to the captivating past of our area. 

On August 10, 1776, a grant of land, 2000 acres in all, was given to Messrs. Avery, Bacon and Lockhart on condition that they operate a ferry with a craft capable of carrying passengers and cattle from the Partridge Island community, (the original settlement) to Windsor. The land was later conveyed to Thomas William Moore, James Ratchford & Company. This marked the beginning of the Ratchford's influence in Parrsboro, the settlement being renamed in 1784 in honour of Governor Parr, who was at that time the Governor of Nova Scotia.

At the turn of the 20th century, Parrsboro was second only to Halifax in the number of ships sailing on the Canadian east coast.

Through a series of fateful events beginning with the emergency landing of the Handley- Page airplane "Atlantic" in 1919, Parrsboro later became a sister community to Greenport, New York. In October of that year, the repaired "Atlantic" carried the first international air mail from Canada to the United States on a flight from Parrsboro to Greenport.



Spencer's Island Historic Site:


Mary Celeste CairnBeaches with sea shells, driftwood and the wold's highesttides - 25' to 50' in height.  Nova Scotia Adventures, Bay of Fundy Kayak tours operating from June to September.  Spencer's Island Lighthouse opens to the public with original pictures and artifacts of ship building in the 1800'sThe Beach Cafe is located across the streetCape d'Or Lighthouse, Restaurant and LodgingAdvocate "Farmers' Market" every Saturday morning, all local produce, crafts, baked goods, a "must see" event!  Cape Chignecto Provincial ParkAge of Sailing Shipbuilding Museum, Joggins Fossil Centre and Museum


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