A STRIKING CONTRAST OF COAST AND MOUNTAINS
From the brilliant red-hued jutting cliffs of the Gaspe to the sombre, barren peaks of the Shickshock Mountains, this region, long renowned for its scenery, has been shaped by glaciers, by the unceasing gnawing of the sea and, most recently, by the hand of man.
Forillon National Park
© Parks Canada
The ancient Appalachian Mountains form the backbone of this region. These worn, plateau-like flat-topped mountains, many with summits over 900 metres, compose the most spectacular, accessible mountain scenery in Canada east of the Rockies. The peaks are barren and covered with broken shale. Mount Jacques Cartier is the highest, at 1320 metres. Rivers have cut deep gorges through these ranges, widened during the most recent glaciation into magnificent U-shaped valleys. At the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, the mountains meet the sea in a series of spectacular multi-hued cliffs and plunging headlands.
Highly variable, the vegetation of this region includes isolated populations of species normally expected far to the north and south. The highest peaks and exposed cliffs provide habitat for several arctic-alpine species normally found thousands of kilometres away in the Rockies or the Arctic -relics from a time when arctic conditions were prevalent throughout this region.
In the central chain of mountains, high elevations and strong maritime influences combine to produce a forest dominated by conifers. White spruce, balsam fir and black spruce, with an understory of feather moss, form a continuous cover except on the higher, more exposed peaks, where rock barrens and krummholtz (thickets of stunted twisted spruce and fir) occur. In the river valleys and at lower elevations, the vegetation has a southern flavour. Sugar maple, white pine and eastern hemlock form a rich mixedwood forest. Dry sites are characterized by red oak, red pine and white pine; wet sites by red maple, black ash and eastern white cedar.
National Parks System Plan, 3rd Edition