And part of the soil is called to wash away
In storms and streams shave close and gnaw the rocks.
Besides, whatever the earth feeds and grows
Is restored to earth. And since she surely is
The womb of all things and their common grave,
Earth must dwindle, you see and take on growth again.
~ Titus Lucretius – On the Nature of Things (1st century BC)
When Captain James Cook charted Cole Harbour on a map of Nova Scotia in the mid-1700s, it was wide and deep enough for tall ships to sail in and out. Though not as large as Halifax Harbour, it still saw its share of commercial vessels and privateers.
But over the centuries, shifting sands have narrowed the entrance to Cole Harbour. The harbour seems more like a marsh these days, leaving many residents to wonder about the exact whereabouts of Cole Harbour. Passage through the entrance is seldom undertaken by vessels of any size due to the strong currents. Though we might bemoan the recent evidence of erosion along Rainbow Haven Beach, in Cook’s time, this spit of land didn’t even exist.
In A Tale Of Two Dykes – the Story of Cole Harbour (1979), Margaret Kuhn Campbell explained:
A coast line so irregular seems to fling a challenge to the great energy of the ocean. It hurls itself at the indentations to remove them – tearing down headlands, filling in bays. Hartlen Point west of Cow Bay and Osborne Head on its east are two drumlins presently being eroded by the sea. At the mouth of a bay, it seeks to build a fishhook shaped spit anchored on the curved shore with its point reaching toward the other, constantly growing, until in time it may close the gap. Then the bay becomes a protected lagoon which catches silt from streams, grows grasses, and thus traps more silt to eventually become marshy to dry land. Through centuries of toil, the powerful waves compounded such a barrier part way across the mouth of Cole Harbour.
The increased frequency of severe storms in our area means we will see more rapid changes to our shorelines in the years ahead. While some beaches will suffer erosion, others will widen. The extent to which man can halt or alter these transformations is questionable. What is inevitable is that these changes will surely affect wildlife as well as residential, recreational and business developments along our coast.
On February 17th, HRM will be hosting a Climate Change Workshop for Eastern Passage and Cow Bay residents. Details of the event can be found at Eastern Passage Online.