Nova Scotia – Physical Landscape

Although there are many areas of awe-inspiring natural beauty in Canada, Nova Scotia has a reputation for the sheer variety of landscape features it contains. Nova Scotia is Canada’s second smallest province, situated on the country’s east coast. It is one of the three Maritime provinces of Canada, the others being New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island,

Part of Nova Scotia is physically connected to the mainland by the Isthmus of Chignecto. The rest of the province consists mainly of offshore islands, of which Cape Breton is the largest. In all, there are another 3,800 coastal islands over its total area of more than 55,000 square kilometres. Some of the smaller islands are privately owned, for example Kaulbach Island. Nova Scotia is bordered on the east, west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north by the Bay of Fundy.

Landscapes of Nova Scotia

There are four major geographical regions to Nova Scotia: the Nova Scotia Highlands, the Atlantic Uplands, the Annapolis Lowland and the Maritime Plain. Between them, these regions span ocean, fertile farmland, marsh, wetlands and rugged highlands. In this small province, that is quite a range of landscape.

The Atlantic Uplands reach across most of southern Nova Scotia, in places interspersed by lowlands. These uplands were formed from ancient rocks with glacial deposits overlaying them. On the Atlantic shore, the Uplands rise from sea level, to reach over 600 feet on the southern side. It is from these uplands that many of Nova Scotia’s rivers originate, including the LaHave and the Shubencadie rivers. In Cape Breton can be found the mountainous Nova Scotia Highlands. These are in fact three separate upland areas. They contain North Mountain, the Cobequid Mountains and, in the east, the Cape Breton Highlands, the highest point in Nova Scotia. A visit to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is seen as one of the highlights of a trip to Nova Scotia.

To the west of Nova Scotia is the Annapolis Lowland, a relatively smaller area also known as the Annapolis Valley. As the name suggests, the landscape here contrasts greatly with the highland regions. Geologically, it was founded on weak, sedimentary rock. At the western and eastern sides, it is at sea level, rising in the centre to around 120 feet and, at its north and south limits it reaches nearer 200 feet. Overlooking the Annapolis Lowland to the north stands the basalt-capped volcanic ridge of North Mountain (590 – 790 feet). The granite upland of South Mountain reaches to 690 feet at the southern perimeter.

The fourth region, the Maritime Plain, lies adjacent to the Northumberland Strait. The landscape here is lower, and its undulating areas contain rich, fertile soil. The deeper soil found in this region was formed from marine deposits and the erosion by glacial action of the sandstone, shale and limestone lying under these.

Road trips

It is said that, on a drive through Nova Scotia, the landscape will be seen to change dramatically, within the space of even half an hour. For those considering a road trip, there are many recommended routes which will take in the varied landscape and stunning scenery.


Share This Post