The History of Long and Brier Islands

Balancing Rock (The Story)

by | Dec 2, 2021 | Long Island, Tiverton, Videos | 0 comments

“Balancing Rock”

Basalt rock is cooled and hardened lava. Lava contracts (shrinks) as it cools. Cracks can form, usually in a hexagonal shape, to relieve stress caused by the contracting. This often creates columnar basalt – columns – like this rock on Brier Island and Tiverton’s Balancing Rock.

The Balancing Rock dates back to the age of the dinosaurs. The North Mountain, which extends down Digby Neck and continues as a ridge along Long Island, is composed of Triassic basalt, a hard, heavy volcanic rock, sometimes found in the form of columns.

Called “Nature’s Time Post”, the Balancing Rock is a narrow vertical column of basalt, balanced on its tip; the most-photographed of Long Island’s striking basalt formations.

Balancing Rock & The Pinnacle (Pictured with Gene Tibert

Customs Officer)

Before 1954 there was two of these rock formations on Long Island, Digby Co. One was “Balancing Rock” outside Tiverton, and the other was “The Pinnacle” ( Lowells Cove) outside Freeport. The pinnacle was blown over in September of 1954, by Hurricane Edna.

Some Local History on “Balancing Rock

         Balancing Rock originally was only known by Island residents. It was in an-out-of-the-way location and was not viewed by all the Islanders.

In 1990 David and Richie Crocker, bought a new terra-jet (an amphibious six wheeled ATV) and was asked to take some people back to see Balancing Rock. They only received tips for doing this, but sometimes some good tips. At this time they travelled back a woods road farther up from where the balancing rock road is today. The word spread that they would take any person that wanted to see “Balancing Rock”. People would have to travel down the bank to the rock with the aid of ropes. After a while the word got around, and more and more people were interested in seeing Balancing Rock.

In 1994 there was a group of school children that came from Coronach, Sask. that was on a student exchange trip to our Islands. They all went back to Balancing Rock and had this photo taken, (notice this was before the stairs were built).

 Woodrow Outhouse president of the Board of Trade at Tiverton, of the time, saw that this could turn into a tourist attraction for the area. With the down-turn of the fisheries this could only but help the area. He applied for a grant from the Nova Scotia Government and was accepted. We owe Woodrow Outhouse a great debt of appreciation for starting this.

Right-of-way was obtained to put a trail on a private piece of land leading to Balancing Rock. Construction began in 1995 on the project. Richie Crocker even got a job on the project hauling gravel for the paths and the lumber for the walkway and steps going down to Balancing Rock.

Year after year, more people grew interested in the rock, and the word spread further and further until people from all over the world found their way here to this location. Money was raised locally to keep this attraction going. In 1998 this site had became a tourist mecca, and it’s popularity was given an extra boost when it was featured as a cover photo for the Nova Scotia Travel Guide. As was a lot of local labour and money was donated for this project. The residents of Tiverton even bought plants to plant around the parking lot to spruce things up.  But eventually the cost of operating, and liability costs was getting more than they could handle. So, in September, of 2011, it was decided the Board of Trade Tiverton, would pass it onto the Digby Municipal Parks and Trails.

The Digby Municipal Parks and Trails bought the land from the landowners and redid the walkways and stairs and installed new signs.

The Balancing Rock is accessible by a trail (2.5km return) which travels through the woods on a mostly level path with boardwalks provided for the boggy areas. The trail climbs as you get closer to the coast, but once there it quickly descends down a staircase to the water’s edge.

Today (2021) Balancing Rock is just as popular as it was in 1998, when you go by the parking lot during the summer months, it is crammed full of cars, number plates of most all the provinces of Canada and the USA, with people from all over the world.

The site has a well-maintained boardwalk and trail with interpretive signs describing the vegetation and geology of the area. In the late spring skunk cabbage, fiddle heads and bunch berries were all found along the way. There is a steep but interesting set of steps (253 wooden steps) down to the beach level where you can view the balancing rock. It is well worth the climb. It’s hard to imagine how that huge needle of rock is balanced and continues to stay upright.

The platform here provides a beautiful view of St. Mary’s Bay in front of you, and Balancing Rock to your right. The Balancing Rock is a giant Triassic basalt column left standing after the surrounding columns eroded and fell into the sea. This beautiful remnant of the dinosaur age may also someday do the same.

Balancing Rock is an immense basalt column, approximately four feet wide and twenty feet tall, that stands alone, after many like it have dropped back into the sea and the earth.

For those who have not seen Balancing Rock during the winter months.

This is a short movie clip of coming to our Island on a misty, foggy day, and travelling to Balancing Rock.

This is another short movie clip of looking at Balancing Rock from the Saint Mary’s Bay side from a drone’s view.

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