We were driving from Lunenburg to Annapolis Royal in the tail end of a tropical storm when we thought we would pull over for a break in the Kejimkujik National Park. It was still pouring with rain as we went for a short walk to Mill Falls but it did not stop the mosquitoes (which the Lonely Planet Guide says are as big as humming birds) – and it did not stop me taking photographs, even though it nearly wrote off the camera with the soaking it received.
It was simply so beautiful.
We were in a watery world where late spring foliage was still a fresh and vibrant green, and the river ran like dark tea. Tall stands of eastern hemlock and pine shaded hummocks of soft saturated mosses dotting the boggy ground below. Only the occasional white flower or single red berry favoured the acid water – though ferns unfurled by paths and on the waters’ edge. Gnarled roots of trees grasped rocky outcrops on the needle-covered river banks while ancient slate tripped up the river, creating powerful cascades, and trout were fighting their way upstream through the foam.
Less lyrically, more prosaically, the place has an interesting history. Mill Falls gets its name from the time when Mr Zwicker used a portable mill to harness the energy of the waterfall in the 19th century. There is still a Zwicker company in Lunenberg operating from the waterfront. The Mi’kmaw people have been connected with the area for thousands of years. Kejimkujik is the first National Park of Canada to be officially designated as a National Historic Site because it is a cultural landscape of the Mi-kmaw nation. Over the centuries, these people have engraved over 500 petroglyphs (pictures and script carved in stone) in the glacially polished slate outcrops along the lake shores.
However, the oldest history of all belongs to the rocks themselves. They are meta-sedimentary and belong to the Halifax Formation [see the earlier post Rip-rap and rusty rocks in Halifax, N.S.]. They started out as fine silts being deposited on the continental shelf offshore of the coast of Africa 500 million years ago. This was when Africa was part of Gondwanaland and located around the South Pole. As the North American continent drifted towards and collided with Gondwanaland to form Pangea, 380 million years ago, the heat and pressures of the collision converted the silts to slate.
Then, when the North American continent separated once more, along with all the other continents that we recognise today, it drifted to its current location north of the Equator. In doing so, the slate was ripped apart, so that North America carried with it a portion of that African slate which now can be found here in Nova Scotia, leaving the rest of the formation on the coast of Africa.
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