Harbour Breton, NL
Harbour Breton is located in Fortune Bay on the South Coast of Newfoundland, the eastern-most province of Canada.
The topography of Harbour Breton and the surrounding area is all about glaciers: deep U-shaped valleys, hummocky moraines, small kettle lakes and scenic fjords.
Just a few kilometers inland from the coastal town, one encounters what is basically a plateau, with a general level of about 1,000 feet. It is a peneplain elevated above sea level in relatively late geological time via isostatic rebound - the tendancy of the earth's surface to adjust after removing a great weight (like a glacier). The plateau is bounded by fairly straight steep coastlines and scattered over the plateau surface are many striking peaks or "tolts" rising several hundred feet above general land level.
Because the terrain is built up of very ancient rock and the scouring effects of glaciation removed much of the arable soil layer (depositing it on the submerged Grand Banks) the land is largely unsuitable for agriculture under the climatic conditions of Newfoundland. The south coast growing-season length is typically 150 days, and most suitable for the growing of root vegetables, such as potatoes and turnips, which are the most important of the few crops grown in Newfoundland.
The moose is the most plentiful of the large wild mammals found in the region, outnumbering the herds of woodland caribou. Other species include the black bears, red foxes, beaver, lynx, and the range of small fur-bearing animals common to the northern coniferous forests. Marine mammals including pilot whales, minke whale, finback whale and harbour seals may occassionaly be seen in the deep bays and fjords throughout the summer as they feed and disport themselves in coastal waters.
Seabirds, notably murres, Atlantic puffins, northern gannets, petrels, and eider ducks, inhabit the offshore islands and headlands. Several species of gulls and terns are ubiquitous, and substantial breeding populations of black ducks and Canada geese are maintained, together with lesser populations of other ducks. Migratory shore and wading birds frequent the coast seasonally. Upland game birds include ptarmigan, grouse, and snipes, while birds of prey like the osprey and bald eagle are common.
Temperature - The temperature difference between the warmest and coldest months in Harbour Breton is about 20C. Spring comes rather slowly and is short. Summer is also short and cool however sunny summer days in Harbour Breton are among the most delightful anywhere in Canada. With afternoon highs in the low twenties, they are warm enough to be comfortable and yet cool enough to permit vigorous activity. Because of the moderating effects of the ocean, the average winter temperates are between -2C and -4C.
Sunshine and Sea Smoke - In Harbour Breton, the summer months are the sunniest, with an average of 187 hours of sunshine a month, about 42% of the total possible. In late spring and early summer visitors will likely experience the remarkable fogs known as "sea smoke." Sea smoke develops when warm, humid air from the south strikes the cold, sometimes ice-infested, waters of the Labrador Current. Surprisingly, the fogs are often accompanied by strong winds. Normally, winds can be expected to disperse fog, but here the fog is so dense and widespread that the winds simply push it ashore. Hikers will note a marked increase in temperature and brightness as they make their way inland on the plateau.
Cold Ocean - Surface water temperatures in the bays and inlets around Harbour Breton range from summer highs of 11 to 13C to winter lows of -1 C. The open sea keeps winter air temperatures a little higher and summer temperatures slightly lower on the coast than at places inland. The marine climate means generally more changeable weather, ample precipitation in a variety of forms (sometimes all at once), higher humidity, lower visibility, more cloud, less sunshine, and stronger winds than a continental climate.
Geography section courtesy of John S. Crant, BA Dip GIS.