CLI LAND CAPABILITY OF THE GASPé MAP SHEET AREA, 22A

 

The Canada Land Inventory provides one of the most comprehensive digital map source for resource planning and management in Canada. The area covered by the CLI is indicated in the index map. For each of the map sheets areas land capability is mapped at 1:250'000 scale and usually at a 1:50'000 scale. This is an example for Map sheet 22A Gaspé, Québec. The index map on the right shows the areas mapped for land capability under the CLI. The left image shows an example of a number of overlays displayed on Google Earth.

Each of the 1.250'000 scale maps has an extensive description of the landscape ecosystem and capability perspectives. Below is an example for the Gaspé map area.



Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
CLIMATE
FISH AND WILDLIFE
SETTLEMENT AND LAND USE
RECREATION CAPABILITY
UNGULATE ECOLOGY AND CALSSIFICATION
WATERFOWL ECOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION
MAINS SOIL CHARACTERISTICS AND AGRICULTURE
FOREST ECOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS
LAND CLASSIFICATION FOR FORESTRY


INTRODUCTION

The Gaspé Peninsula, first called "Gaspeg (Gespeg)" or "end" by the Micmac Indians, does in fact constitute the south-easterly tip of Québec. From its westerly edge along the Matapedia Valley it extends 175 miles to Cap-Gaspé, its furthest extension north-east; nowhere is it more than 90 miles wide. The peninsula is everywhere marked by distinctive regional characteristics.

The northern coast is a lengthy escarpment facing the Saint Lawrence, its main characteristics being cold water, gravel and sand beaches, tiny villages and a strip of cultivated land narrowing towards the north. This landscape is dominated by a great half-circle of rugged headlands interrupted only by river valleys, which have determined the sites of the villages. The north coast ends with the sharp point of the Forillon Peninsula thrusting into the ever-present sea.

Along the Bale des Chaleurs shore a different scene prevails; the land is relatively level with open fields, coastal installations and an almost continuous shoreline bluff.

By contrast, the rugged interior is relatively inaccessible, almost completely wooded and mountainous; it is varied in relief, starting from the crests and valleys of the Monts Notre-Dame, west of the Matapedia, traversing the furrowed plateau which slopes towards the south and continuing to the Shickshocks, deeply scarred high mountains in the north and east; here is the domain of the forest worker, hunter and fisherman.

Finally the Matapedia valley severs the interior with a north-south strip of cultivated land; this of ten constitutes the final lap of the Gaspé tour. Except for the last, all the areas described above are shown on Map 22A.

The Gaspé Peninsula has only a few lakes although, for recreational purposes, its rivers largely make up for their absence. These streams are generally good-sized, without many falls or major rapids. The northern shore line, very lagged and rocky, is ill-suited to pleasure boats, whereas that along the Bale des Chaleurs, even though edged by steep limestone and conglomerate banks, is studded with ports and bays, among them Gaspé, one of Québec's finest harbours.

Gaspé's forests are sixty per cent coniferous along the periphery of the peninsula, this percentage increasing to ninety as one moves inland. Birch, aspen and poplar are found everywhere, especially in the south, as well as sugar maple groves in protected spots. The thick spruce forest of the interior, difficult to penetrate and monotonous, is therefore of little interest to the summer visitor. The profusion of balsam, however, supplies excellent fodder for moose. Throughout Gaspé, some 125 varieties of arctic and alpine plants may be found. The highest point in the Shickshocks, shown as Mont Jacques-Cartier on the Gaspé map sheet is a particularly interesting area in this respect.

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CLIMATE

The cool waters surrounding the peninsula temper the Gaspé climate. Throughout the summer, a sea breeze freshens the daylight hours; at nightfall, it reverses itself and a gentle air current from the interior flows down the valleys towards the sea. In July, mean maximum temperatures are constant at about 700 Fahrenheit along the north and east coasts, reaching 750 at the head of the Bale des Chaleurs and Gaspé Bay (for Quebec City and Montréal, the figures are 750 and 800). During the summer, rainfall totals about 3.32 inches monthly; normally, the vacationist can expect sunshine about half the time, on the average. The climate becomes harsher with altitude and is cold and damp in the Shickshocks, where it falls into the arctic-alpine category. In general, most precipitation is in the form of snow which falls from late October to late April.

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FISH AND WILDLIFE

The salt waters surrounding Gaspé as well as its inland fresh waters provide excellent fishing. The principal sea varieties are cod, halibut, mackerel and smelt. In the interior, trout may be found in almost all lakes and rivers. Within the map sheet area Atlantic salmon spawn mainly in the Saint John, Dartmouth, Port-Daniel, Cascapedia and Little Cascapedia Rivers.

Deer, moose and caribou are scattered over most of the area; deer are frequently found along the land edges of the peninsula. Moose prefer the interior for their habitat and caribou may be seen in the Shickshocks, on Mont Jacques-Cartier among others, in early August. Most river mouths are stopping places for migratory birds, especially those of the York, Dartmouth, Port-Daniel and Little Cascapedia.

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SETTLEMENT AND LAND USE

Before the coming of the white man, Gaspé was inhabited by Micmac Indians, whom Jacques Cartier, French discoverer of Canada, encountered in Gaspé Bay. It is possible to visit one of their villages on the reservation near Maria. Until the end of the seventeenth century, the only establishments along the Gaspé coast were temporary posts set up, in the main, by French fishermen. French (1690), Acadian (1755-1785), Loyalist, Channel Island (1785-1800) and finally French-Canadian settlers successively came to Gaspé. Apparently the earliest centres were at Percé and Gaspé, but the whole Bale des Chaleurs shore bears the mark of colonization from outside the country, especially by people of British stock. An irregular and recently settled (1930) agricultural border strip, some miles in width, gives easy access as far as the mountains of the interior, which are difficult to penetrate and completely covered with forests. From Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Gaspé, Chandler, New Richmond and Murdochville, however, inland roads extend across the peninsula, making it easier to reach company logging camps.

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RECREATION CAPABILITY

From the tourist point of view, the map covers the most diversified portion of the peninsula. First and foremost comes Percé, the natural focal point and centre of attraction on the Gaspé tour. Its "pierced" rock, a striking geological wonder, the famous bird sanctuary on Bonaventure Island and its singularly variegated landscape are already known far and wide. The narrow Forillon Peninsula almost rivals Percé in the wild boldness of its silhouette and its numerous points of interest. Gaspé, a large institutional and commercial centre and the scene of numerous historic events, greatly benefits from its geographical position to attract salmon fishermen eager to try the Saint John, York and Dartmouth Rivers. These lead inland towards Murdochville, an important mining town not too far distant from the high Shickshock plateau and the summit of Mont Jacques-Cartier, 4,160 feet above sea level (see above). The principal asset of the Bale des Chaleurs' southerly shore lies in such characteristic village ports as Anse-8-Beaufils, Sainte-Thérèse, Newport or Paspébiac, which serve as headquarters for commercial fishermen. In this area there are still many fossil remains and sources of semi precious stones ("gem stones"); Anse-8-Beaufils, Bonaventure, Black Cape are among the places where these may be found. Mention should likewise be made of marine installations like those at Paspébiac (ship yards), Gaspé and Grande-Rivière (fishery and biological stations) and Cap-des-Rosiers (the highest lighthouse along the coast).

Baie das Chaleurs is not wanting in fine sandy beaches (Haldimand, Newport), often shelving gently far into the water. The latter is cold (not exceeding 590Fahrenheit in July) and polluted near the villages, factors which materially reduce its use for bathing. If they look for them, vacationists can find a few bay heads where the water is made surprisingly warmer by local climatic conditions about which little is yet known. But there are lengthy stretches where precipitous banks and promontories prevent any development, and this applies to a good part of the coast line. The low rating (6P) given the agricultural shore of the bay between Percé and New Richmond is especially due to the somewhat monotonous flatness of the land, with few attractive views over the water. As one approaches Maria, the landscape takes on more interesting forms, continuing so to Carleton, where sea and mountain almost meet.

Narrative prepared by J. Desy for the Quebec Department of Tourism, Fish and Game.

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UNGULATE ECOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION

A moist eastern white cedar-balsam fir forest (Thuja occidentalis-Abies balsamea) is found in the southwestern part of the area where the climate is mildest. A yellow birch (Betula lutea) fir forest dominates further east, and a white spruce (Picea glauca) fir forest in the east and southeast, where the climate is cold temperate with a maritime influence. Further north, the main river valleys support dry cedar-fir forests.

Yellow birch-fir forests and maple groves are found on hillsides below 1500 feet. At slightly higher altitudes, white birch-fir forests (Betula papyrifera) cover about one-third of the area. Above 1700 feet, black spruce (Picea mariana)-fir forests predominate.

Patches of sheep-laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), reindeer moss (Cladonia spp.), and alpine tundra are found on high peaks in the northwest. The vegetation on these highlands comprises shrubs, grasses, moss, and lichen. Each stage of development of these vegetational sequences can support ungulates.

In winter, the coniferous species provide shelter for ungulates, and species used as food include yellow birch, white birch, red maple (Acer rubrum), trembling aspen (Populos tremuloides), balsam fir, eastern white cedar, and black ash (Fraxinus nigra). The shrubs preferred by ungulates are mountain maple (Acer spicahrm), striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), withered (Viburnum sp.), Canadian honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), bush honeysuckle (Die~villa lonicera), mountain ash (Sorbus sp.), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), and serviceberry (Amelanchier sp.).

In order of importance, ungulates on the Gaspé Peninsula include moose (Alces alces), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and caribou (Rangifer tarandus).

Moose range throughout the area, except along the coast where human settlement has altered their habitat. Range for white-tailed deer is limited by snow depth during winter, and by the lack of variety of forest species. Caribou are found in the northwestern part of the area and prefer tundra and open climax forests.

Most of the area has been rated Classes 2 and 3 or ungulate production. The highi potenial of the area for ungulate production is slightly limited by the cold climate and snow depth in winter. Class 4 and 5 habitat covers small areas, which are mainly ; limited by soil moisture, infertility, and rockiness.

In general, snow depth is a limiting factor for moose in Class 2 habitat. The Class 2 and 3 lands can be utilized occasionally by white-tailed deer; however, they prefer habitat where the vegetation is more varied. Class 2W habitat for white-tailed deer is found particularly in valleys. These Class 2W lands are mainly limited by snow depth. Wintering grounds for moose are scattered throughout the area, particularly on mountainsides.

Class 2 habitat for caribou is found in the northwest above 2500 feet. These high peaks are characterized by alpine tundra, and by patches of sheep-laurel and reindeer moss. There is no Class 1 habitat for ungulates in the area.

Big game hunting is very popular in this part of the Gaspé Peninsula. Moose is the most abundant and most widely hunted species. This area is not being utilized to its fullest potential at present. The potential of the area to support ungulates is some-what restricted by the old forest growth. Present ungulate populations could be increased and resources better utilized if an appropriate development program were undertaken.

Capability classification by R. Bouchard and J. M. Brassard, Quebec department of Tourism, Fish and Game.

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WATERFOWL ECOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION

Waterfowl habitat is limited in the area. The river estuaries provide most of the suitable nesting and migration habitats, and are used as waterfowl hunting areas for short periods in the fall. However, some estuaries have restricted waterfowl use because they are employed by the wood pulp industries for sorting and storing pulp logs.

Several distinct physiographic units are found in the area: high plateaus of alpine tundra, an intermediate region covered by coniferous forests of spruce and fir, a coastal region with gently rolling to flat terrain covered by deciduous forests, and river valleys and estuaries. The high plateaus and intermediate region have little potential for development of waterfowl habitat, main limitations being topography and the shallow topsoil lying on bedrock. The only wetlands found in the intermediate region are widely scattered, steep-sided lakes.

The coastal region, by contrast, has a higher potential. In the shallow ponds, the following aquatic plants are common: waterlily (Nymphaea sp. and Nuphar sp.), watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sp.), cattail (Typha sp.), burreed (Sparganium sp.), pondweed (Potamogeton spp.), bushy pondweed (Najas sp.), watershield (Brasenia sp.), arrowhead (Sagittaria sp.), and duckweed (Lemna sp.). Bulrush (Scirpus spp.), beak rush (Rhyncospora sp.), sedge (Carer spp.), and sweet gale (Myrica sp.) are usually found in acid and bog lakes.

Around most of the large lakes, topography of the shoreline limits the development of suitable plant communities. For the most part, gravel-bottomed rivers and river valleys have low potential. Plant communities are limited to small zones of bulrush, buttercup (Ranunculus sp ), waterplantain (Alisma sp.), bent grass (Agrostis sp.), watermilfoil, horsetail (Equisetum sp.), and certain species of burreed, pondweed, and bushy pondweed where suitable current and topography conditions are found. The absence of soil capable of holding water, the lack of organic material, and the presence of the gravel itself are sufficiently serious limiting factors to classify these areas as only secondary in importance for waterfowl production. The river estuaries are of high value both in their present state and as potential centers of waterfowl production in Gaspé. The thick alluvial deposits of the estuaries are very fertile, and the topography makes their management for waterfowl feasible. The Gaspé estuaries are important waterfowl migration stops and as such have a high recreational value.

Plant communities are not uniform throughout the estuaries but are usually found in marginal zones where tidal influence is limited. The main communities are made up of burreed, pondweed, horned pondweed (Zannichellia sp.), widgeongrass (Ruppia so.), arrowhead, cord grass (Spertins sp.), spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), bulrush, and rush (Juncus sp.); but smartweed (Polygonum sp.), buttercup, cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.), eelgrass (Zostera sp.), and glasswort (Salicornia so.) are also present.

Capability classification by C. A. Drolet and G. Arsenault, Canadian Wildlife Service.

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MIAN SOIL CHARACTERISTICS AND AGRICULTURE

In the uplands soils are generally of the Podzol and Acid Brown Wooded groups. They have a loamy texture and a variable thickness on rock. Due to the ! nature of parent materials and drainage, the coastal region has a wide variety of soils: Brown Forest, Degraded Acid Brown Wooded, Podzol, Gleysol. Gray Wooded, and Regosol or Skeletal soils rock.

The Uplands are considered to be unsuitable for farming The coastal region are divided into two zones: the eastern section and the western section.

The eastern section, extending west to Port Daniel, has very limited agricultural possibilities. Soils of the Percé-Chandler inclusion present better possibilities and mixed farming is practiced. The western section from Port Daniel to the Coscapedia River offers good agricultural possibilities. Although mixed farming predominates, vegetables and potatoes are grown and, in the last few years, flax has also been grown for oil.

Soil classification by L. Tardif, agriculturist. Quebec Department of Agriculture.

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FOREST ECOLOGICAL REALTIONSHIPS

The yellow birch maple grove zone occurs in the southeast in the warmest and driest part of the area. Two subzones can also be distinguished. The first comprises the eastern part of the coastal plain of Chaleur Bay and extends from Saint-Omer to Port Daniel; the topography is level or slightly uneven and rises gradually for a distance of about 10 miles between Chaleur Bay and the coastal plain. In addition to bedrock weathering deposits, fluvioglacial, fluvio-lacustrine, argillaceous, and organic deposits can be found. The average annual temperature is around 380 F. The number of frost-free days varies between 130 and 140, and the growing season (mean daily temperature above 420 Fl is 165 to 170 days. The second subzone, the coastal plateau of Chaleur Bay, lies directly north of the first one, extending from New Richmond to Port Daniel. The terrain is similar to that of the first subzone: a level or slightly uneven surface sloping toward Chaleur Bay. Fairly thin glacial and fluvioglacial tills and deposits resulting from bedrock weathering are found here. The average annual temperature varies between 360 and 370 F. The frost-free period is about 120 days and the growing season is about 160 days.

The yellow birch - fir forest zone occurs directly north of the yellow birch - maple grove zone and is generally higher and colder. The southern Gaspé plateau subzone overlaps the northern part of the subzone of the coastal plateau of Chaleur Bay. Here, the surface is flat and gullied by deeply imbedded valleys. Rock alteration materials, fluvioglacial, and fluvio-lacustrine deposits, organic deposits, and glacial tills are the main geological deposits. The average annual temperature is about 360 F. The frost-free period is less than 110 days and the growing season is about 155 days.

The white birch - fir forest zone is the largest in the area. It is divided into three subzones. The largest of these is the central region of Gaspé, where the altitude varies between 1000 and 1700 feet. This region comprises the main body of the ChicChocs, except for the eastern part, which borders the sea. This is a very hilly region furrowed by deep valleys. Glacial tills, glaciolacustrine, fluvio-lacustrine deposits, and rock alteration materials are the main geological deposits found here. This is the coldest subzone of the white birch - fir forest. The average annual temperature does not exceed 350 F, the frost-free period is 80 to 100 days, and the average length of the growing season is less than 150 days.

The subzone of the Percé region extends along the coast from Chandler to Prevel; it runs inland to the Grand River valley and is below 1000 feet in elevation. Topographically, it includes a region of marine erosion and a rocky plateau further north. Rock alteration materials and fluvioglacial deposits are found here. The average annual temperature varies according to the altitude and the distance from the coast, and is generally between 35 and 370 F; the frost-free period varies between 110 and 140 days; and the average growing season is 160 to 170 days.

The bay of Gaspé subzone includes the mouths of the Dartmouth, York and Saint Jean rivers. The surface of this subzone is almost level. Beach and alluvium deposits, rock alteration tills are found here. The climate is similar to that of the Percé.

The coastal region of the northwest gaspé Peninsula includes the territory between the Dartmouth and Fox rivers. Marine and fluvioglacial deposits, rock alteration materials, and glacial tills occur in this region. The rest of the area, except for the high peaks of the Chic-Chocs, belong to the blade spruce - fir forest zone, where altitudes are more than 1700 feet. The Alpine tundra zone coincides with the plateaus and high peaks of the ChicChocs near Mount Jacques Cartier and Mount McWhirter.

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LAND CLASSIFICATION FOR FORESTRY

The yellow birch maple grove is the climax vegetation of the yellow birch - maple grove zone; edaphic characteristics of most of the area are such that vegetation groups other than maple groves are found.

The sands of the upper beaches the fluvioglacial outwash basins, and the fluvioglacial deltas are characterized by rapid drainage; where these support yellow birch - fir forest, the sites have been rated Class 3. Yellow birch - fir forests also occur on soil developed from thin glacial tills or alteration deposits; these sites have been rated Class 4r/m. The soils derived from thin tills, located on high, rapidly draining slopes sustain yellow birch - maple groves and have been rated Classes 5r/m and 4r/m. Dry cedar - fir forests are found on some lithosols located on rocky crests or steep slopes; these sites have been rated Class 5r/m. Cedar - fir forests are found where the drainage is deficient, as well as on glacial tills, organic soils, poorly drained upper beach sands and some fluviatile deposits; these sites have been rated Class 4W. Poorly drained organic soils support turfy cedar groves and have been rated Classes 5W and 6W. Lastly, elm and ash groves grow on Class 3 alluvial terraces where drainage is deficient.

The yellow birch - fir forest zone lies to the north of the yellow birch - sugar maple grove zone and is more irregular in shape because it extends to inland valleys. Yellow birch - fir forests are found on well-drained tills, where they have been rated Class 3, and on thin, rapidly draining glacial tills, where they have been rated Class 4r/m or 5r/m. Steep slopes where drainage is excessive are covered by dry cedar - fir forests; these sites have been rated Class 5r/m. A few bare, high peaks belong to Class 7R. In poorly drained locations, the vegetation is the same as in the previous zone.

The white birch - fir forest zone is dominated by the white birch - fir forest found on several site types. Well-drained glacial till sites have been rated Class 3. Where the drainage is faster and the loose deposits are thinner, the rating is Class 4F or 4r/m, and thin tills with rapid drainage have been rated Class 5r/m. Sites in windswept areas have been rated Class 6r/u. Black spruce - fir forests are confined to the steep slopes of valleys, where they have been rated Class 6: Dry cedar - fir forests in similar locations have been rated Class 5r/m.

Within the zone of the black spruce - fir forest, white birch - fir forests are found only in a few locations, such as on the thick tills in the valley, where the site rating is Class 3; they are also found on thinner tills that drain more rapidly, where they have been rated Class 4r/m. However, black spruce - fir forests cover most of the area. They thrive on thin tills and, depending upon the drainage, the classifications of forest productivity vary from Class 5r/m to 6r/m or 6r/w. They are also found on high peaks, where the rating is Class 7 . Mountain laurel - black spruce forests can be found on the thin soil of steep slopes, which have been rated Class 6r/m. The sites where drainage is deficient are similar to those in the zone of the yellow birch - maple grove.

The alpine tundra zone is restricted to a small region on the northwestem edge of the area. The plateaus on the highest peaks cannot sustain forest vegetation and have therefore been rated Class 7R. Black spruce - fir forests can be found on some excessively drained steep slopes, where they have been rated Class 7r/u.

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