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East Coast Boreal Region

East Coast Boreal Region

Mealy Mountains Area
Mealy Mountains Area


"The land should not be called the New land, being composed of stones and horrible rugged rocks ... I am rather inclined to believe that this is the land god gave to Cain."

Jacques Cartier, 1534


This is the easternmost extension of the Canadian Shield. Along the southern edge of the region, the coastline resembles the edge of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle, with bold, jutting headlands, bays and a frieze of islands. From the Strait of Belle Isle, the land rises abruptly 200-400 metres to forested slopes dissected by swift rivers. Inland is a rolling plateau strewn with bogs and amoeboid lakes woven together by a tracery of rivers full of rapids. Meandering eskers and lines of boulders crisscross the plateau.

The cold Labrador Current brings Arctic waters, chilling the land. Icebergs are often seen along the coast, earning it the nickname "Iceberg-Alley". Fog is frequent, and regularly buffet this region.

Several interesting historical sites are found in this area.

Mealy Mountains Area
Mealy Mountains Area

At Red Bay, site of a Basque whaling station in the fifteenth century, the oldest shipwreck north of the Caribean has been uncovered along with numerous artifacts.


The vegetation of this region is a continuous transition from boreal forest to arctic tundra. Along the exposed southeastern coast and interior uplands, the vegetation is similar to areas much further north -open stands of stunted black spruce with an understory of dwarf birch, Labrador tea, lichen and moss. Many large treeless areas exist.

Around Lake Melville, a huge inland water body, magnificent stands of black spruce and balsam fir with an understory of feathermoss are common. This "high boreal" forest is valuable for wood pulp. The slow growth of the trees results in a denser fibre content and thus more wood pulp per unit volume than can be obtained from larger trees grown in more moderate climates.


National Parks System Plan, 3 rd Edition

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