Sometimes, you need a bigger map

I’ve loved maps since childhood, so our new interest in Downeast Maine has whetted an appetite to investigate more of the region’s geography, which includes a lot of water. Not just the ragged coastline and bays, but also large lakes and many bogs, marshes, and swamps plus rivers and waterfalls.

One thing that’s rather boggled my mind is discovering of what’s cut off from U.S. maps on that edge of the continent.

For instance, I had no clue of Grand Manan Island, which is 21 miles long with bluffs rising 200 to 400 feet above the Atlantic just 15 miles east of Maine. It even has three lighthouses. Getting there’s a whole other matter.

Still, I doubt that many Americans think of anything lying in the ocean east of the United States until you get to the British Isles or European mainland. So is there anything else we’re missing?

Well, there’s tiny Machias Seal Island further south, claimed by both the U.S. and Canada, which has a long lighthouse presence there.

What’s really surprised me is how far the province of Nova Scotia extends south.

From the easternmost point in the U.S., Nova Scotia is more than 82 miles to the southeast.

From Bar Harbor, Maine, it’s 113 miles to the east.

And further south, it runs down past Portland, Maine, where sits more than 200 miles to the east.

Put another way, nearly anyone sailing from Maine has to navigate around this extension of Canada.

If you follow the news, it also puts some of our fishing controversies in perspective.

From Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod, for instance, the distance to the tip of Nova Scotia is roughly 230 miles, versus 111 to Portland, Maine, meaning that the southernmost point of Canada juts that much further into what I had considered U.S. fishing grounds.

With the bigger map, one including both the New England, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia shorelines, you can see how a funnel is formed, one where ocean currents push into Fundy Bay to create the world’s highest tides.

For me, this is a reminder of how often our comprehension of a problem is limited by conventional thinking when we look at the situation.

Just how else do you get outside the box, anyway?

Real Maine

 

This year the Red Barn has featured a lot of photos from Downeast Maine, many of them taken about a five-hour drive from our home in coastal New Hampshire. (Driving the other direction would put us in Manhattan in the same amount of time.) It’s easy to imagine the remote coastline as idyllic, but the reality is that much is also economically challenged and impoverished. Here’s an example from downtown Eastport.